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Roman Ruins at Subaytlah
#1
In the last couple of years I've gotten more into historical wargaming, particularly WW2. Since my previous armies in 40K were Tallarn Desert Raiders and Necrons (also desert-themed), I had a bit of desert-themed terrain already in my possession. Additionally, the cheapest way to get into WW2 in 28mm is with the Perry Miniatures boxes of 8th Army Desert Rats and Deutsches Afrika Korps, each of which runs about $30 for essentially a complete force (I play Chain of Command, which is a platoon-scale game). As such, North Africa was pretty much what I'd decided I wanted to start with. Also, everybody and their brother does Normandy, and I wanted to do something a little different.

A while back I decided to run an event at a local gaming convention, and I decided to set the scenario in Tunisia in February of 1943, right at the beginning of the German counterattack that would culminate in the battle of Kasserine Pass. This action saw the seasoned, veteran DAK forces thrown against raw (but very well-equipped) American units, many of whom had not previously seen combat. Part of that action took place in Subaytlah (there are many different spellings, BTW), a Tunisian village know for its olive groves and Roman ruins. It lies sort of smack between Faid Pass (where the battle started) and Kasserine Pass (where it ended).
Part of the joy of playing these kinds of games at cons is playing on a cool-looking board. Hence, I needed to make one. This thread is about that process.

The most notable ruin in Subaytlah is a temple complex:
[Image: 49c0879262912e866ec8cc61e390b151.jpg]


[Image: cartoline-da-sbeitla.jpg]

There's also a really nice Arch of Diocletian there:
[Image: 300px-Sbeitla_10.jpg]

I'm not sure how crazy I'll get, but I've already cut out stuff for Diocletian's Arch and one of the main temples, as well as building a raised area for the temple plaza. I have two weeks to go, so we'll see how much I can get accomplished between now and then!
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#2
I finished applying the same to the temple plaza, and it's ready for paint. I also finished texturing the main body of Diocletian's Arch, and it's ready to have the columns attached. I'm fighting with my inner perfectionist self to copy every little architectural detail, so I need to tone that tendency back a bit. So long as it gets the impression across, it's good - and I need to remember that!
I'll try to post pictures of my progress so far this evening.
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#3
Progress!

First off, I made a raised plaza area, paved in flagstones. This was made from 1" foam insulation, the edges of which I had attacked with a screwdriver. The flagstones were irregularly-cut bits of cereal-box card. This particular one is most of a family-sized Cheerios box:
[Image: m7b-zVw-xtXuODU70XHIco4JWDOCtNMiSQb4z3fD...00-no?.jpg]
 Then, I brushed the whole thing with watered-down PVA glue and hit it with fine-grit play sand:
[Image: H5UzuCGOpLhPmZC8lfmCCwi__hO3RhEiUgkk-sP3...00-no?.jpg]
I airbrushed the base coat of paint on it last night, but foolishly forgot to take photos.

I was also able to make progress on Diocletian's Arch. Here is the main body:
[Image: lWxQ-Fn3DV6D4GBpQ29lvJZjEdojWmcKzVZZzTMS...00-no?.jpg]
I have the part that goes on top of the columns on the little pediments cut out but they're not textured yet. I'll put scribed card inserts into the alcoves to give them a stone texture. I need to cut and texture the top part, which should happen tomorrow.

I've also laser-cut and glued together all of the column pediments for the temples:
[Image: Cu9bFWL098iaFnGtb4Exd5KXpaLM9FSc8SiHFRwd...00-no?.jpg]
I am also working on some low stone walls (the kind of stuff that locals generally build by stealing stone from the ruins). For these, I took a page from the Terrain Tutor and stole some of my kid's Legos to build a mold:
[Image: iMa0Ykywz1qhuNuXWgsG7AFBlOOvF6-c981CfzBc...00-no?.jpg]
For the stones themselves, I bought a bottle of Xeolite crystals (used in fish-tanks) at the local pet store. They're a nice size and fairly sharp, which looks good at scale. The process here is to put some wax-paper in the mold, then pack in the stones mixed with PVA glue. Let it dry overnight, pull the resulting wall-bit out of the mold, and peel off the wax paper:
[Image: YhkGdsY_-qBmK0mq7gdRuqIQFCjyhcju9bSWU-dw...00-no?.jpg]
Voila! Stone walls! I then affix them to an MDF base that has been cut to length and had its edges beveled. I made four sections that are roughly 9" long and four more that are 6" long, giving me about 5 linear feet of wall sections, which is a pretty good amount, I think. I base-coasted these last night with the airbrush as well. I'll pick out individual stones here and there with a different color, then dry-brush the lot. I hope to have these done tonight.
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#4
That rock wall method is genius! - Not reason enough to have children of my own though.... I guess I will have to buy some lego!
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#5
You can order Lego bricks of various colors and sizes in bulk for fairly cheap, especially if you're not looking for any specialty bricks. This mold was one lug wide and two blocks high (with a flat in the bottom to keep the lower surface suitable for gluing to a base). My first try was three blocks high, but that was too tall for 28mm miniatures.

More progress! Here's what the walls look like when base-coated:
[Image: aXBCpfEVVmRaKucNXIrcG4HcfxZnpna3MeTUZiRh...00-no?.jpg]
As mentioned previously, this step was done with an airbrush. It's really the only way to get into all the resulting little nooks and crannies, although even with the airbrush you have to spray from a couple of different directions to get good coverage into the rocks. Once the base coating was done, I picked out a few stones here and there with either a dark gray or an olive green, just to give some visual interest. The resulting wall was then heavily dry-brushed with a medium tan and highlighted with a light dry-brush of an ivory-tan. This is a set of walls at each stage of the process shown together:
[Image: hCJptHG7avz2xgbZrozcq6be2EJUrmTWAp2JM5hi...00-no?.jpg]
And here's what they look like under natural light when they're finished and based with natural sand:
[Image: YhNhJ16zzJF3HsSPeVSXgj4DW1bNRP7xgTxKZSXV...00-no?.jpg]
A closer look:
[Image: oGZjpn9t77Uuo3L2pK0nJl7N_iJomJKYeyrSPG4Y...00-no?.jpg]
I'll likely attach a few little bushes or tufts of grass to them to give them a little bit more visual interest, but on the whole I am really happy with how they turned out.

I also base-coated my raised plaza and inscribed the base of a temple:
[Image: J2_uJu75fqi87-sST7v0TgK-LcB62E16aGOBWu-h...00-no?.jpg]
[Image: uQvjmqxqEdXFFTAsVRAdTsc4kshA0UMLT62UrR2s...00-no?.jpg]
Finally, I cut the columns for the temple. Tonight I'll sand them and attach them to their plinths, and likely finish off inscribing the stonework on the first of the temples. I only have four more nights to work on this stuff, though, so it's undoubtedly going to come down to the wire.

Wish me luck!
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#6
Good luck!

Everything looks great so far.

I will definitely be stealing this technique though I think some BakingSoda+Liquid CA to give it more of a mortared look....
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#7
I finished cutting all of the extra pieces for my Diocletian's Arch last night and assembled the whole thing. I also base-coated my temple base and another small set of stand-alone wall ruins. Tonight is the final assembly of the temple, base-coat of the Arch, and final paint on the plaza, base, and stand-alone ruins. Hopefully I'll be able to post more photos tonight! 
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#8
Update: I made it! Granted, I was finishing up the last few bits the morning of the convention, but I was able to complete the projects in time for the game! I'll post pics of the completed pieces tomorrow.
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#9
As promised, I was finally able to take some pictures!
First off, the finished plaza piece. Had I had more time, I'd have applied some bushes and/or tufts of grass around the edges to give it more variability, but for my purposes this was good enough:
[Image: u8oa7cxeYJOrvSNOn4Xf8aavZgxF7KgLfRzoStH6...00-no?.jpg]
Next up, Diocletian's Arch:
[Image: fU7e5SWPbxUsqkps_mtYrZ5S9zwq5QkC_oNc8Dq6...00-no?.jpg]
[Image: K0QpPM2hgX43njRi-o9BMWAJaWFAsMCWgWaSNn39...00-no?.jpg]
The Temple of Minerva:
[Image: 60rlO_K_putYTDXyKvGg-F6-gXFPT4QibzqCvbsd...00-no?.jpg]
I initially set the columns, but one of them wandered on me as the clue was drying. I didn't notice it until everything had already set. It's just PVA glue, so I need to get a damp brush in there, dissolve it, and re-glue it. But I was literally finishing pieces the morning of the event, so this was on my list of "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!" things. A side/rear view:
[Image: 3wLhx_XdzDzcqN3G7-nuc7WqlQqOvvK0hZhulAtE...00-no?.jpg]
I also peeled the paper backing off both sides of a couple of bits of foamcore and made some low ruins:
[Image: r8IUhMh-qpBcYbvCCBL8DENfjn7bhUa_kv6HhsSl...00-no?.jpg]
I added some column plinths and offcuts from the temple columns to give a little bit of extra ruin-ness to them. This piece was a last-minute addition, but I was happy with the way it turned out:
[Image: iZjoBfCU_acMDyzG6Fpo_J3pVqgemEruUqcDGVAk...00-no?.jpg]
[Image: RVDqf7ijxyv4rRMm0zXzOfu3qmdeKC_8wi2hBdda...00-no?.jpg]
The rubble scatter around the base is made from the same Xeolite crystals I used to make the dry-stone walls.
All in all, everything turned out pretty well. I was pressed for time and ended up having to take a couple of shortcuts, but for the most part stuff came out more or less as I had envisioned it. Given time more I'd have made the other two ruined temples, but I had to prioritize based on playability rather than historical accuracy. And on that score, it worked out well, as the folks that played in my games enjoyed them and thought the scenery was very evocative.
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