Ruminating on "Rommel" with Mike Hobbs

I’m hugely pleased to welcome a contributor who brings a touch of class - some might say "celebrity" even, to the blog. Someone who has had a very positive influence upon me (and many others I’m sure) as I returned to the hobby – Mr Mike Hobbs. (Andrew)

It was a week or so ago (from time of writing this) that a message popped into my DM’s from Andrew asking if I fancied writing something for this wonderful new site and of course I jumped at the offer. Then the realization hit home that I had no idea what to write about, as with many of us the recent Covid lockdown has meant I’ve had no face to face gaming time with my mates for months and my wargaming was in hiatus. But luckily, I have been keeping myself busy by attacking one of those jobs that I’ve been putting off for ages and this dear reader is going to be the subject of this post.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know loads of really talented game designers and one of these is Sam Mustafa the author of numerous historical texts and more importantly for us some pretty amazing games. See

Sam was kind enough to invite me to take part in the playtesting for a WW2 game called Rommel and so over many months myself and a few close mates took part in some pretty intensive playtesting of these rules (which is a story in itself). Finally, the great day arrived Rommel was released and Sam was good enough to send us all signed copies of the rules (what a nice bloke he is)

For those that don’t know Rommel is an operational level game that’s grid based and a standard 6x4 table represents an area of 12x8 kilometers, players control multiple divisions of troops and it really gives you that strategic level where limited resources and supply chains are hugely important. I loved it when I first tried it out and I still love it now (see for more details).

The thing I really like about it is it allows you to do something really different when it comes to basing your figures as each base represents a supported company, so somewhere around 250 troops, this allows you to go to town if you want. I obviously went to town with this.

I was lucky to have a sizable collection of painted 6mm forces but I wasn’t happy with the basing as each vehicle was on a small base and I wanted to do something different. So I took inspiration from the work of my good friend Gareth Beamish (he runs ADC painting) and a blog post he shared on this very subject however I’m not as talented as Gareth so I had to come up with a similar approach to his, which means that finally we come to the subject of this post so welcome to the dummies guide to making Rommel bases or how I made 70 Russian bases in 10 days. The first step is to get everything you need figure wise painted up, I spent a bit of time making sure I had a good supply of scenic stuff all ready to go, this included sandbags, oil drums boxes etc. and once that’s done it’s time to work out a base size.

Rommel uses a grid system and each square in the grid needs to be able to contain 6 bases, as my squares were 15cm wide/long I went for base sizes of 70x50mm. this is big enough to get a few vehicles on the bases with out looking cluttered, I also decided to leave a 5mm gap at the bottom that I could use to apply an ID marker. With that worked out it was time to start the basing.

For this example, I’m concentrating on some Russian Katyusha multiple rocket launchers And the first step was to paint them

Once that’s done I placed them on the bases working out roughly the position of where they would sit, I also added figures and terrain bits (which were glued down) and I marked out were roads were going to go

then it’s onto applying the basing gunk. I use AK terrain products for this as its water soluble, easy to use and dries quickly, first up I used Dark Earth ( and applied it with a brush, I used this for places where the ground would be compacted like roads or areas around the vehicles. Once it was applied I put the vehicles in place, the terrain gunk actually holds the models in place so there is no need to glue them down

Next I applied Wet Ground by AK to the other areas and again put any vehicles onto that once it was applied Wet Ground does dry with a shine, but I really like the colour so it’s my first choice for soil, the picture below shows it just after it was applied, it dries a darker colour

Once the bases are all dried I paint them using a rough drybrush, the dark earth is given a buff colour and the wet ground a bone colour, I also added black scorch marks behind each vehicles to show the effect firing off the rockets would do to the ground. This might look really rough but trust me it all works out ok

Finally, it’s time to flock the bases and add some foliage. I use a 9v flock box for the static grass as it gives amazing results, mine is from Warpainter ( I use different colours of 2mm static grass and once its applied I leave it to dry off and then use small clump foliage to add even more texture to the bases here's the finished result;

Here’s some more pictures of some of my German bases to give you more inspiration, the urban base was made using a ruined building I picked up on eBay and the rubble is sharp sand and bird grit.

I hope this has been of use to you all, it’s amazing what you can do with a few simple techniques, but for more advanced work check out Gareth’s other blog post on how he makes his bases, he really is the master of this

(Mike is too modest to mention but he also keeps a great blog of his own which can be found here:

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