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All You Need To Know About Dw Scale Part 1

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There seems to be lot's of confusion and questions about the scale of Dystopian Wars, hopefully this will clear it up.

Disclaimer: There are averages and approximations all throughout this article but nothing that has been rounded in such a way to make any appreciable difference so please, for all that is holy, don’t nitpick. Also, I use a lot of Woodland Scenic products, they work well but can be a bit expensive. You can find similar products from other places but I will be referencing them a lot, and no I don’t work for them or get any commissions. But you can check out their products here:


What scale is Dystopian Wars? Answer, 1:1200 from Spartan Games themselves.

So what is 1:1200 scale anyway?

1:1200 scale means, 1 inch = 100 feet. Breaking that down, there are about 25 millimeters in one inch and if you divide the 25 mm by the 100 feet you get 1mm = 4 feet.

So are the DW figs actually 1:1200 scale or are they closer to some other scale?

Yes DW figs are 1:1200 scale. Measure them. Spartan Games did a very good job on the scale of their figs and have kept it consistent. Measure a hatch on a ship model, give or take they are about 1mm wide by 1.5mm tall which makes them 4 feet by 6 feet i.e. the size of a regular door. If you look at the wingspan of the bombers yeah they are a bit large, but they are about the size of a modern jet bomber. The Prussian bomber has a 57 mm which is about 228 feet and about the same size of a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

But wait a minute, why would DW bombers be so big? And I also measured some of the guns on the ships and they are 1mm plus in size, that’s 4 plus feet, that’s huge what gives? That’s the point my friends. Spartan Games chose 1:1200 scale because it allows for epically huge machines of war that wage battle scale on an grand scale scale. BTW that’s not my opinion that was Spartan Games thinking from the start. I’ve only paraphrased a post from Spartan off the first forum.

So what does this mean to you and your terrain building?

First you need to decide if you want to do things to scale or if you just ‘want to be close’. Regardless of which you choose I offer this advice. First building terrain should be fun, don’t worry if your first pieces are not as good as you would like. If you keep at it you will get better just like anything else. Second decide if you want to be accurate (i.e. to scale) or not (i.e. looks about right) and then stick with it. If you don’t, and you switch back and forth your stuff will never look right together in any sense of the word.

So which should I choose?

That’s up to you, do what you want, it’s your terrain.

So here is some advice and how-to’s for common terrain items in 1:1200 scale.

Ground: You only really have 1 of 2 choices here. You can either paint ground (I’ve use a sponge technique that works well) or you need to find the finest flock that you can get your hands on. Woodland Scenic makes some fine flock that works. One thing to remember about flock is that you should mix different colors together before you apply them to avoid the ‘golf course’ effect, (i.e. everything looks the same). Static grass and anything above a fine grade flock are too large, but medium grade flock could be used for tall bushes.

Trees: The easiest way I have found to make trees is to use clump foliage from Woodland Scenic. If you break them into smaller pieces and mix the colors you can get a good effect. I went the extra bit and actually made trunks and lifted them off the ground a bit. Straight pins work well for they, as they are a bit less than 1mm in diameter (which is a 4 foot diameter, so it’s a bit big for an average tree trunk, but the closest easiest material that works).

Tree Tutorial:

Build a jig using ¼” basswood and screen (like from a screen door) for the base, the screen is a key point because you don’t actually want the clump foliage to stick to it.


Mix up some different colors and size of clump foliage and pack tightly into jig, then soak the clump foliage with Woodland Scenic, Scenic Cement (It’s basically watered down PVA, but regular PVA dries with a shine to it, the Scenic Cement dries flat). Let dry COMPLETELY (elevate the piece so the glue can drain through the screen) and use a knife to separate the trees from the sides of the jig and the rest should pull up easily.


When it's dry you get a tree 'pad' that you can then cut the the shape you need or glue to other piece if you need it bigger.


For the tree trunks I took a 1/4" inch piece of pink foam and made a stand out of more foam about an inch tall for the edges. Then I took some wax paper and aluminum foil sprayed them down with cooking spray, put one on top of the other, and then folded it in half. Next I placed the painted styrene with holes already drilled in it, on top of the aluminum foil wax paper sandwich, and on top of the foam stand.


At this point I pushed the pins through, then once they were all in and at the right height, I then covered the piece in thin set super glue and let dry. I was then able to remove the styrene from the stand and cut off the protruding end of the pins and then glue on the clump foliage for the tree top.

As for the why I did it this way...

Sticking the pins through anything thicker than the 1/4" foam made it impossible to separate if from the foam without pulling all the pins out in the process.

The aluminum foil / wax paper sandwich was necessary to contain the super glue and keep it from stick everything together. The wax paper by itself stuck to the styrene like crazy but was heavy enough to keep the glue from reaching the foam underneath. The aluminum foil on the other hand didn't stick to the styrene (as much) but did allow the glue to seep through to the foam. But the two together, with some cooking spray so the pins wouldn't grip worked out well.

And the results look like this:



One other thing to consider is how you can move your figs through the trees. What I do is cut out a piece of paper the same shape as the base of the forest and place that on the table and then the forest on top of it. This way if I peace needs to move through or over it, you can remove the terrain, but still have a template as to where it was and it's boundaries.


You can however, just attach the clump foliage to the ground and it will be fine. Just remember a 50 foot tree which is pretty tall is still only 10mm (less than ½”) tall which is pretty darn small. I’ve also seen interdental brushes (teeth cleaning brushes) that have been used as pine trees that (once trimmed into shape) worked well. Just keep in mind the actual size of the trees that you are trying to make.


Rocks: This is a pretty easy one. Rocks can be and are any size, so it’s as necessary / important that you are paying attention to what size you are making them. In addition there are lots ways to model them from craving up foam, to cork bark, to plaster and molds, and even using real rocks. However, different types of rock formations appear in different parts of the world.

If you are playing in the fridge waters of the North Sea then you would see a lot of rock formations like the White Cliffs of Dover. But if you are playing in sultry Coral Sea, you would completely different types of rock formation and coast lines. If you do some research on your area for reference pictures you can stay consistent with your work.

Buildings: Here is where things can get a bit tricky. Buildings can be just about any size or shape, however there are a few things that you want to keep in mind. The average height of a floor is 8 – 10 feet which works out to 2mm to 2.5mm. In addition, roofs on the average tend to be around 6 feet height from the peak of the roof to the roof line, which is 1.5mm. (Although roofs can be much higher with steeper slopes it’s a style choice) So in a nut shell you are looking at making single story buildings that are about 4mm. But wait there’s more…

Also you need to consider doors and windows. One of the things that you can do, is just leave them off and have your buildings be blocks with roofs so to say. There is nothing wrong with this approach but if your prefer detail I suggest a couple of ways. You can either make decals (Testors) or print on regular paper and glue that to your buildings, or use very small pieces of plastic for doors and windows which will give the piece some depth. Regardless, for a scale door you’re looking at 1mm wide by 1.5mm tall, and windows in the same range (you could do squares or rectangles).

Here’s the good news. Making building can be some easier by using 1/8” * ¼” balsa or basswood, that should be available at the local craft or hobby store. 1/8” is just a touch under 3mm so it’s close enough for a single story building, and ¼” is just touch over 6mm so it works for a two story building.

But what about the roofs you ask? You can do it the easy way and find some triangular balsa and just attach it, or modify it a bit with carving or sanding. Or you make your own roofs.

Roof Tutorial:

You can make Japanese style roofs by stacking pieces of decreasing size cardboard on top of each other, filing in the slope with spackle, and then use wire for the roof lines.

So they started out like this: (the material is card board, and you glue them one on top of the other)


and ended up like this: (that's wire for the roof lines, and spackle that has been shaped and sanded)


The problem here is the time required to do this. From the cutting to the gluing, plus the shaping it took well over an hour per roof. So I simplified the process and made a mold.


This process can be used to make any style that you would like. Also for those of you who are handy with GreenStuff you could sculpt your roofs and then make your mold.

For how-to's on mold making and products check out http://www.alumilite.com


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The issue of scale kept coming up on the old forum and when it popped up here I figured I'd try to get things straight for everyone, because let's face it, it's not like there are a lot of 1:1200 scale games out there for references and resources. People here show the basic skills necessary to make good terrain (granted mine isn't great or anything) it just seemed to me some understand of scale would help take their work to the next level. I'm happy to help, Spartan puts out great games this is just my way of giving back.

To the Moderator, please feel free to sticky this (and part 2) if you think it should be.

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Just stumbled across these fantastic posts. I've had some experience with mastering and casting in small scale (here's some 28mm Pulp luggage I made in the past) and I'm very tempted to try putting together some appropriate 1:1200 scale buildings for my self and my war gaming buddies. Nice sculpting on the roofs, have you tried creating and casting an entire building?

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have you tried creating and casting an entire building?

No I haven't for 2 reasons. First, to get the over hang off a roof it would have to be a two part mold, and second it's really easy just to glue the roof to a block of balsa. I like easy :)

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I really love these Woods, and thanks so much for posting your results.


I have been thinking of making some lately and it occurred to that it might be worth trying a variation on your approach.  After the clumps have set up in the jig, might it be worth putting the trunks into the bottom of the clumps through the screen?  Then the tree patches can just sit on the flocked and painted base, and be removable for placing models, leaving the base itself behind to mark the boundaries, instead of the paper silhouette.



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