Battlefield Gun Emplacements

The spare weapon arms from the plastic heavy warjack kits can be used to make some effective battlefield gun emplacements. The guns can be used simply as terrain details, as objectives to be captured, or you can go so far as to create house rules for controlling and firing the guns during game play.

In this tutorial we'll focus on 3 different guns: The Destroyer bombard cannon, the Decimator's dozer repeating cannon, and the Defender's heavy barrel cannon. The techniques and painting will not be faction-specific so they can be applied to any of the gun arms. With slight modifications and painting you can make them more faction-themed.


  • Foam core, hardboard, or styrene card (for basing)
  • Pink insulation foam
  • Wood filler putty
  • Basswood strips
  • Styrene strips and rod
  • Thick and thin styrene card
  • 30mm WARMACHINE bases
  • Wood glue
  • Construction adhesive
  • Small watch parts and gears
  • Tools:

  • Formula P3 Super Glue
  • Formula P3 Hobby Knife
  • Formula P3 Clippers
  • Formula P3 Modeling Drill & Pinning Set
  • Formula P3 Pinning Expansion: .50mm
  • Formula P3 Pinning Expansion: 1.25mm
  • Formula P3 Pinning Expansion: 1.90mm
  • Formula P3 Modeling Putty
  • Formula P3 Sculpting Set
  • Rotary hand sewing punch
  • Model Parts:

    War Hog Small Stack
    Plastic heavy warjack weapon arms

    Converting the Guns

    To turn the warjack weapon arms into gun emplacements they will need to be converted with a gun mount and base and some kind of trigger mechanism for the weapon operator.

    On the bombard and dozer guns clip off the upper arm linkages. Leave the heavy barrel cannon arm intact; it will be inverted and the arm linkage will become part of the mount.

    To make the weapon triggers, bend a length of 1.25mm brass rod into the shape (Image 1). Form a handle by rolling Formula P3 Modeling Putty around the end. Smooth it out and use a sculpting tool to create an indent around the top of the grip (Image 2). Give the putty time to cure before moving on to the next step.

    Use clippers to split a length of thick, round styrene rod. Smooth the flat side with a hobby knife to create a half-round piece (Image 3). Drill a hole through the styrene rod with a .50mm drill bit (Image 4). Cut a small section off around the hole and super glue it to the handle just above the putty grip. Bend a piece of .50mm brass rod to the shape of the trigger (Image 5). Glue the trigger into the hole you drilled in the styrene piece and clip off the excess (Image 6). Use this process to make a pair of trigger grips for each gun.

    For the dozer cannon, flip it over and build the weapon mount where the arm attachment used to be. Cut a piece of 1/8" styrene card for the trigger attachment and make two panels to attach to the sides out of thinner card (Image 1). Super glue these in place as shown (Image 2). Use a 1.25mm bit to drill holes in the back of the styrene card (Image 3). Fill the underside with modeling putty and shape it to resemble gears. Finally, attach the trigger grips (Image 4).

    On the bombard cannon, add a section of modeling putty to the underside and smooth it out. Add screws to the new putty plate by pressing a circle with a thin tube and then using a sculpting tool to press the slot into the center of the screw head (Image 1). Once the putty has cured, use a sharp hobby knife blade to cut out the center of the plate where the weapon mount will attach. Build up an area to attach the trigger grips using styrene card. Cover the arm attachment on top with a square of styrene punched with rivets using the rotary hand sewing punch (Image 2).

    The heavy barrel cannon requires the least amount of work. Cut a small scrap of styrene card and drill holes to insert the brass arms of the triggers through. Finally, drill holes in the cannon and super glue the trigger mechanism into place (Image 3).

    The finished guns:

    Building the Gun Mounts

    Adding a base to the weapon will ensure that it stays upright on the battlefield. It will also allow you to invent some house rules and treat the weapon as a model in its own regard. The 30mm base can serve as the guide for determining line of sight and measuring distances to and from the weapon.

    Use a 30mm base for the bottom of each gun mount. Cut a circle of plastic card that will fit into the top of the base and punch it with rivets. Glue the riveted circle onto the base.

    To make the mounts for the dozer and bombard cannons, start with two styrene L-strips. Rivet punch one side and super glue them back-to-back to form a "T" (Image 1). Use clippers to cut the ends and angle the top. Use a hobby knife or file to smooth the cut edges (Image 2). Along the seam of the flat side use a round file to file a groove into the part. Then, super glue a length of 1.90mm brass into the groove (Image 3). Drill a hole into the center of the base and insert the bottom of the brass through the hole. Super glue the part in place (Image 4). Finally, bend another piece of brass rod and glue it into place to form a second support beam. Clip the tops of the brass to equal lengths (Image 5).

    Drill holes in the undersides of the dozer and bombard to accommodate the brass rod, and super glue each cannon atop its mount. You can create an aiming mechanism using watch parts. For the bombard, I used three small watch gears and a piece of .85mm brass rod to create a crank. On the dozer, the putty on the bottom has been sculpted to resemble gears, so the brass post of the weapon mount was simply inserted into the bottom. (Note: the tiny gears don't actually work– Everything is just super glued in place. I may be detail-crazy but I'm not crazy-crazy!)

    Since the heavy barrel cannon has the warjack arm as part of its mounting, a simpler approach can be taken. Pin a length of 1.90mm brass into the center of the arm. Insert this through a War Hog Small Stack and into a hole in the base. Since the smokestack is hollow, pinning the parts in this way will add more stability.

    Constructing the Battlefield Emplacements

    The gun emplacements need a little cover in the form of a reinforced embankment. The construction of these is similar to building a trench wall.

    Start by cutting out a base for the emplacement (I used 1/8" hardboard, cut about 4" inches in diameter). Cut pink insulation foam to form the embankments and attach it with construction adhesive. Be sure to leave enough room on the base to accommodate the gun mount and a controlling model.

    Smooth over the gaps at the edge with wood filler putty.

    Use basswood flat and square strips to build up a retaining wall for the gun emplacement.

    Apply sand to the bases with wood glue. All that remains is to paint them. Simply paint the weapons as you would a normal model, and paint and flock the emplacement bases to match your gaming table.

    Using Gun Emplacements in the Game

    A fun aspect of creating thematic scenery is generating house rules to give the terrain elements in-game effects. What follows are some ideas for incorporating the gun emplacements into your games of WARMACHINE and HORDES. I've tried these house rules in a couple games, but they are in no way what I would consider properly play-tested.

    The emplacement terrain provides cover. The cannon itself is treated as a model with the volume of a small-based figure. Each cannon has the same range, POW, and effects as listed on the warjack's stat card (14 inch range, POW 14, AOE 3, with Arcing Fire for the bombard). To operate the gun, a warrior model must be in base-to-base contact with the gun and use it's action to fire the cannon. The firing model's RAT is used for the ranged attack roll. LOS and range are measured from the front of the cannons' base. The cannon can only have one operator per turn, and if the operator ran this turn it cannot fire the cannon.

    The weapons each retain their original ROF stat. Since most models only have one action to take, that means they would only be able to fire the cannon once, but if a warcaster were to take control of the dozer cannon, he or she could spend a focus to take a second shooting action since the dozer has ROF 2.

    The cannons cannot be moved or knocked down. They have a 180-degree front arc (its firing arc). All cannons have ARM 20, damage 5, DEF 5, and are automatically hit by melee attacks. Cannons cannot be repaired.

    That should be enough of a springboard to get players started, but I expect people to modify the house rules to suit their tastes. In our games we have been allowing the cannon operator to move into base-to-base contact and fire the cannon in the same turn (but not if he ran). Making the cannons unable to be repaired prevents a Mechanik unit from camping on the gun. I also don't allow the weapons to benefit from any buff effects. The operators could take advantage of any buffs on them (Winter Guard with Grigorovich's "For the Motherland" speech, for example), but the guns themselves could not receive DEF and ARM bonuses from Defender's Ward.

    We deploy the gun emplacements when setting up terrain and try to space them evenly about the table so each army has an equal chance to reach and control a couple of guns. I could foresee a scenario where the defender has a few emplacements in an area of the battlefield and the attacker has more army points. You could assign a point value to the weapons and allow players to purchase them as part of their force. The possibilities are limitless.

    Conclusion and Contest

    For the contest, the challenge is to build your own gun emplacements. Send in pics of your finished creations, and the best one will win the three original gun emplacements I built for this blog.

    Photos of the contest entries are due by the end of the day November 1st. The winner will be announced the week following the entry deadline. Send your photos along with your name and address to:

    Entries don't have to be exact recreations of the terrain in the blog, but should be along the same lines. The idea is to inspire you to make your own terrain that will suit your gaming board aesthetics and faction themes. Readers can enter as part of a group or as individuals. However, there's only one prize, so if a group wins, the terrain prize will be sent to the group to become part of their collection.

    'Til next time!