Mudhutistan

Middle Eastern or Afghan terrain
Ok, not the best name, its actually kind of disrespectful. Alas, it has stuck for now. I didn't want it to represent a specific place. So it got that name from an old wargaming joke. Sigh.

First up... some idea of what I wanted it to look like. Then we can get to what it turned out to look like.
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Here is a test run I did at my local store. I used my stuff for a Kill Team game I ran. They had a desert table for the Flames of War guys and I wanted to see what my work on the buildings looked like. I think it came out quite nice. There isn't any extra detail at this point. I didn't get to any of the smaller scenic scatter.
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This started out as a project for Pulp Gaming back in late 2008 or 2009. I finally got the bug to finish it all. Its made from the 28mm buildings from Crescent Root Studios. I seriously can not say enough good things about them. The models are beyond fantastic and their customer service is top notch. All the buildings come with removable doors (heck even the ones in the fences come off) and removable roof sections so you can game inside as well as on top of them. You can buy them prepainted in three different shades or unpainted. I wanted to paint them myself (funny old bird I is), so I went for the unpainted versions.
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I ended up buying two of everything except the main huge building. Did I say it was huge? It covers about two square feet if you pick up the extensions. I really recommend that you do pick them up too! One of the extensions works as a single building by itself and the smaller one looks good as a "veranda" on the side of one of the other houses.
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The buildings have lots of realistic surface detail. So they are a simple model to paint up well using washes and drybrushing. I hit mine with a brown primer (not the cheapest stuff Lowes has, but one or two steps up). Then a coat of sand colored spray paint leaving a little of the brown along the bottom edges and in the deep cracks. I went back with GW's Devlan Mud wash and deepened the shadows around the cracks and broken sections of mud wall (where the bricks are). After the wash had dried I drybrushed it with white paint. Very simple but it looks great. I'd like to say that it was all skill envolved, but its just the way the models are sculpted.
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The scenic scatter is just a mix of things I've had for a loooooong time. The barrels go back to the late 80's or early 90's. The blue tarp is just paper towels painted with Elmers glue. The fountain is from the Miniature Building Authority and was just repainted. The truck is from a dollar store. The rusty trailer is from AT-43 (I have a tutorial on how I painted it here). The trees are a mix of old GW trees and some train trees. The leantos are just balsa and dowels superglued together. I left one edge on them flat to butt up to the buildings. There is no reason why you can't just round all the sides and use it as a bazaar stall.
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The table is just three pieces of pressboard covered in sand and painted. I bought it thick so it wouldn't warp when I glued down the sand. It warped. So I just brushed on some water on the other side, put it down on a level surface and put the 50 pound container of play sand I bought from Lowes on top. Next day... no warpage! Then I painted it brown with some normal house paint. Over that I spraypainted it with a creamy sand color leaving some of the brown in spots. Over that I just drybrushed it white. Viola! Desert.
Updated stuff... made some bushes for the flower bed spots in the houses, a metal front door for the big house and darkened up the well. I also painted the rest of the doors on the big house. I've been told that Muslims whom have taken the Hajj tend to paint a scene on their home to show they have made the pilgramage. Since no one in this little mountain village has an artistic tallent (or just lack of paint) the Mullah has painted his doors blue to differentiate his home from those who have not made the Hajj. Nice little detail for my local color.
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I need (want?) to make some hills for it too. Thinking of trying the pink foam and pine chips style. Not going to be for a while though. I'm stretched thin enough as it is. Damn it. I made some anyway. Couldn't stop thinking of how it would turn out.
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I'll put up a tutorial on them once I make some more. I have one more started and plans for two larger ones. I wanted to make the larger ones as if they were the openings to a cave system. After all, the bad guys need somewhere to hide all the guns and ammo to shoot up some convoys.
An interesting question about wargaming.
I've been asked a few times about wargaming "modern" conflicts. A person I work with wondered if it was somehow disrespectful or even something kind of like sacrilege (in not really a religious sense, but its the closest term we could come up with) to put what people are actually going through right now into what is basically something we do for fun. Wargaming things like Ancient Greek, Napoleonic or even World War II conflicts don't effect us as much because they have the weight of history to them. It isn't quite as "creepy" to see a GI shot by a German as it would be to see a Navy Seal killed by a Taliban gunman. Almost no one cares if a Spartan cuts down an Athenian. That happened so long ago that most things from then are dust.
Morally and ethically am I doing something wrong? Am I glorifying war and belittling the experience of our soldiers?
Wargaming in practical terms makes war "sanitary". It doesn't deal with the horrific factors such as terror, suffering, war crimes, politics, blood and mud. It does deal with the more... I don't want to say "fun" or "enjoyable"... less horrific details. Armchair and even real historians tend to like the details like uniforms, weapons and equipment, heroism, gallantry and even bonds of brotherhood. We've been writing about war since we as a species developed the ability to write. The shiney medals are fantastic, but the things they represent might not be. I'm quite sure that before then we passed down stories of conflict back as far as when we had to fight cave bears for shelter. Is it something that our modern society has expunged from our collective feelings? It seems wrong to enjoy war and fighting now. Does that mean we are more "weak" or "civilized" compaired to Ancient Rome? Not really the idea I wanted to get into with this... ugh... essay. After all, I find the idea of a Roman soldier or a Goth warrior getting upset about their contemporaries doing what I am now quite ridiculous. Or even the contemporaries themselves.
What would really make me very very very uncomfortable would be details. A WWII or Napoleonic gamer can point to a miniature on the table and say this is so-and-so from such-and-such unit who actually died in this battle. I most definatly do not want to do this with what I'm planning. My soldiers are generalizations of people. I'm not wargaming any specific units or battles. If one of my troops is "killed" he goes into a display case and fights another day.
I think what some of my apathy toward wargaming recently is due to the fact that it doesn't effect any emotions beyond the need to compete (or at least play). I don't care if my squad of scifi guys get wiped out. Modern conflict gaming gives me more of an emotional game. I can get nervous when my stupidly placed lone soldier is slowly getting surrounded by the enemy. I obviously root for the Colilition Forces to win even when I'm playing the bad guys. They are REAL bad guys. Not some quasi-historical rip off of something a game developer saw on tv or read a book about. So it feels more interesting to me. Is that wrong? When I play the Taliban, I am doing so to win. That is part of the game. It isn't like a fictional movie where you know the bad guys are going to lose. We're simulating warfare. I'm obviously not doing so because I want to kill Colilition soldiers (obvious to me at least). Am I being disrespectful?
Personally I do not feel this is disrespectful or I wouldn't have put so much effort into this scenery (or any effort actually). I grew up with period adventure stories. It always seemed that boys wanted to go to war but couldn't. The closest thing was playing with toy soldiers. The boy always wanted to be the big hero in his games (just like myself, the almost 40 year old little boy). The problem is that I don't get enjoyment out of pushing plastic army men around and making bomb and machine gun noises like I used too. Alright, not as MUCH enjoyment as I used too. My tastes have grown up and my toys have as well.
I do NOT want to upset anyone who has fought over in Afghanistan (or anywhere else), their families or friends and loved ones. I see it as a form of hero worship. After all I spend hours and hours and hours painting models and putting work into a game. Its not the same as plugging in a console game and just blazing away at terrorists and bad guys. What troubles me a little is that I put as much work into the bad guys as the heroes. I don't want to make my enemy models into caricatures of what they really are. Someone HAS to play the bad guys after all. Why make the experience for them less enjoyable? That doesn't mean I want them to win. It does happen though. Maybe not on the grand scale of the current conflicts, but there have been losses.
So what do you think? Am I a bad person for doing this? I do have guilty feelings about it once in a while. If someone who has fought in any conflict in the past up to the present stumbles on this page, could you let me know how you feel? Send me an email if you have an opinion you think I'd like to hear (possitive or not). AshHammers.Alcove@gmail.com
Please don't be offended, but I'm not going to stop doing this. I have put a LOT of work into this project. It is after all my hobby and I get great enjoyment out of the technical completion of a complicated goal. Getting to play a game with my friends who also enjoy my work is icing on the cake. I also don't think that anything you can say will mollify my intermittent feelings of guilt.
"Bandit Actual. Bandit Actual. This is Bandit Six. Humvees are taking small arms and RPG fire from the Mosque. Six, repeat, six casualties and we're boxed in. Request permission to return fire. Bandit Six over."
Small pings could be heard over the radio net as AK rounds bounced off the command hummer's body. A loud shriek like a cat throwing up then a muffled explosion and screaming followed up Bandit Six's transmission.
"Bandit Six, this is Bandit Actual." The commander's slow Southern drawl blared out of Bandit Six's headphones. "Permission denied. Structure classified as historical. No collateral damage. Bandit Actual, over."
Bandit Six's string of curses was smothered by another RPG explosion.
"Fuck this. Ok guys. Smoke the Mosque. I didn't want to stay a Lieutenant anyway."