I originally published this article on Dropship in the 90’s and is part of the archives I brought across when the site was retired. As a result many of the images won’t be that high a quality by today’s standards. That’s progress for you ~ CW
Terrain making for me is almost as much fun as collecting and painting an army, so it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that making my own blast markers for my games was high on the list of priorities of things to do for the launch of Epic.
I’ve found over the past twenty years that how you game is almost as individual as how you paint or field an army. I’ve played against gamers who meticulously use specific tokens as aide’s to memory for everything from casualties to how many wounds a model has left. Others simply jot everything down on a scrap of paper or use a certain coloured dice to indicate which dice roll is for the ‘Space Marine with Plasma gun etc. All of these things are referred to as gaming aid’s and include the basics such as dice and a method of measuring distance. Ok, all of this is pretty obvious I know and by now you must be wondering why I’m rambling on about such fundamentals as dice and tape measures. The reason is every gaming system introduces its own types of tokens, or to be more accurate ‘need for tokens’. In the case of Epic the most obvious is Blast Markers. There are others however, such as objective markers, hidden set-up tiles, turn markers and so on, each important to some and irrelevant to others. I am not going to give examples showing how to produce most of these kinds of gaming aids, most gamers will have their own preferred methods and can do so just fine by themselves (its actually part of the fun of the hobby coming up with your own). What I am going to look at however is a few ideas for more common items such as Blast Markers which can add a whole new element to your games.
Epic Armageddon: return of the Blast Marker
When Epic 40,000 was released in ’97 it introduced the concept of the Blast Marker and even provided some in the box in the form of pre-cut card little explosions. Personally I thought they were one of the most inspired gaming ideas ever; their simplicity conveying at a glance the state of the battle and the effect of formations coming under fire. Following a similar approach to what was in the Epic 40K rule book, I created my own blast markers and found them to to be both cheap and easy to make. If you want to find out how, read on.
You will need: A big bag of wire wool, some super glue, scissors, round infantry bases (20mm and a few 40mm), PVA glue, sand and gravel mix, a can of black spray primer and paints (bestial brown, bleached bone, blood red, blazing orange, bad moon yellow)
Pour a large blob of super glue onto an infantry base and stick down a medium sized clump of iron wool (taking care not to stick your fingers to either the wool or plastic base). Using the scissors to trim any loose strands, twist clumps of the stuck down wire wool between your thumb and forefinger ‘teasing’ them out into a spiky shape similar to the one shown in the picture. Paint some watered down PVA glue onto the base ensuring it is well covered (even the rim), then dip into the sand and gravel mix, shaking off any excess back into the bag. Repeat this process with as many of the bases as you want to make into blast markers. With the larger bases use a little more wire wool or multiple clumps as these will represent 5x Blast Markers, so you want them to look larger and easily identifiable at a glance from the individual Blast Markers. Once finished leave them all to set.
Once the PVA has set, liberally spray all of them with the chaos black primer so that none of the wire wool shows. Leave for a while for the primer to dry then dry brush the bases with bestial brown and bleached bone in that order. Dab the red, orange and yellow paint onto the wire wool towards the base of each plume or explosion to help create the effect and then once dry spray varnish the finished Blast Markers. Its that easy and even though they initially look flimsy they are actually remarkably resilient; the ones shown here having survived the part two years of regular use and storage in an old box.
If you don’t fancy making your own out of wire wool, you could also use the ones supplied by Fanatic for Epic Armageddon, the card ones that came with the previous edition if you have them, or even others of your own design. Whatever you choose, have fun.