It’s been ages since I got to do any work on the table, but things have started up again over the weekend – I’ve reduced my work hours over the next month, and have (hopefully!) finally started to recover from a few weeks of illness.
I have now added the retainer walls to separate the low and high ground, and built some stairs to connect the two. When I realised how big the stairs would be, I decided to break them up into two short flights + flat areas large enough for a 50mm base. That way, there will be less confusion over where a model actually sits: each section of stairs only runs for about 1″, and it’s now possible to sit a model halfway up.
Next up: finish the ground texture, and move on to the buildings. I’ll try out a few ideas for the dock, too – it will eventually be glued down onto the edge of the paving shown in these photos, but needs to be kept separate for now so that I can paint and texture the water areas.
It looks like the total width of exposed water will be 50mm, which is good – just enough space to fit a 50mm base, in case anyone ends up slamming or throwing a heavy warjack off the side…
I’ve decided to cut out flagstones for the upper and lower ground levels by hand, inspired by Psycosm’s awesome Malifaux table on WargamerAU, and Pete the Butcher’s city board on the Privateer Press forums.
I’ve tried a few test pieces of road using the blue foam, and while it holds a cobblestone texture very well it’s just a bit too soft for a horizontal playing surface that will have metal figures on it. I learned my lesson a few years ago when I made a shallow water terrain piece using the one-part Woodland Scenics polyurethane water – it stayed slightly soft, and after a metal Leviathan was parked on it during a game the swamp retained a base imprint for almost two years… I’ll use the textured foam surface for walls, stairs etc, but will go for something more hard wearing for the surfaces that have models sitting on them.
When I get a chance to go through my old No Quarter magazines, I vaguely remember seeing this technique used on one of their terrain pieces. After the flagstones are glued down, you can paint a thin layer of PVA on top to seal them – and then sand the whole lot back a bit once the glue has dried. That smooths them out a bit, and removes incongruous-looking point edges on what should look like a well-worn road.
I also found four of these stashed away in my box of random modelling gear, bought on a whim in an earlier order from Back 2 Base-ix… I think they’ll work well for breaking up the street paving a bit, and adding some more detail. It’s all too easy to end up with large slabs of bland repetition that prevent you from seeing the scale of a large terrain piece.
At 3mm (cut from MDF) they’re a bit too thick to just sit on top of things. I picked up a roll of thin (2.4mm) cork sheet from Riot, and it looks pretty much perfect for raising the road up to match the ornamental gears. The picture above shows some holes roughly cut through the cork, testing out the idea. I’m planning to add some fine gravel or model railway ballast to fill the internal detail up to road level.
One bout of insomnia later and I’ve ended up with this to show for my weekend…
Now it’s starting to look more like a piece of terrain, and less like a collection of random components 🙂
The Day of Parcels, long prophesied, has finally come to pass. Today’s mail included the Warmachine: Tactics Kickstarter character models, a package of Epic Eldar, and my Battleframe 5000 boards from Back 2 Base-ix 🙂
These things are pretty awesome. Here’s what they look like assembled…
The 300×300 boards don’t fit together quite as well as the 300×100 version – I’m not sure whether it’s just because they were the first ones I assembled, or if the pieces are very slightly out. It’s just a matter of trimming a tiny bit of timber off some of the vertical slats, though, so there’s no major problem there. The newer 300×100 ones are extremely precise, and fit together perfectly in all orientations.
Magnets were very easy to add, though I’ve been paranoid about getting the orientation wrong! Most of my boards will be glued together in two larger panels, but I’m keeping magnets on the edge so that I can attach more terrain in future, or use picture frame moulding to make a bevelled edge for the demo board.
I have four more 300×100 boards (63mm height) to assemble, and then I’ll put some figures on the board to test out gameplay considerations – particularly looking at movement and control areas, starting with models right at the edge of the board. If 2×2 looks too small, I can add another 100mm of width with two more rectangular sections.
In theory, 2′ x 2′ is an ideal size for a demo game: there’s a single turn of manoeuvre, and then combat starts immediately. If the first player runs forward, the second player might even get some shots off in turn 1. Melee combat usually starts on turn 2/3 – a huge improvement on spending multiple turns watching people moving about and avoiding combat…
For Warmachine or Hordes demo games I’ll only bother measuring a model’s Control area when they use their feat – after one move, almost the entire area is in range for focus/fury allocation. Fewer rules up front = faster demos, letting people get to the fun stuff straight away (i.e. slamming and throwing giant robots off the dock and into the water).
Details will be important for helping fix the scale of this terrain, so I decided to add some nail holes with a pin vice:
The dock is still going to be the largest flat area on the table, but I’m hoping I can break it up a bit with scatter terrain and some uneven, weathered painting.
Remember those offcuts from earlier? I used them on the upper surface, helping to sandwich the edges in place. It also gives the impression of a slightly thicker dock, which helps a bit… the models in the game will be multi-tonne Warjacks, and I don’t want them stomping around on a flimsy bit of balsa wood.
This is as far as I’ve gotten over the weekend. I needed to get a clearer image of just how big things will be, so I’ve used some foam offcuts to make a rough mockup of where the elevation changes happen.
Now, back to work again… I’ll keep chipping away at this one during evenings and lunchbreaks. If you have any terrain-making links bookmarked, feel free to send them my way – I’m slowly building up a library of reference images and techniques to try on this project…
The design changed a bit after that last sketch, and I decided on a broad wooden dock for most of the low ground (as shown in the plan view on that image). That seems a bit more natural, but also requires a whole lot of wooden bits cut and glued in place.
So, a trip to Riot happened, and I bought (and promptly hacked up) a packet of wooden craft sticks. Wider and thinner than icypole sticks; more like the kind of thing a doctor would use to help peer down your throat. They were easy enough to cut with a craft knife, scoring (both sides!) and snapping them across the grain – or just scoring them twice when cutting lengthwise.
I fell into a bit of a trance while my daughter was asleep during the afternoon, and eventually churned out a couple of hundred pieces of trimmed-down timber…
This shows the ends being cut off, and a few variant widths. Having a few narrower planks helps to break up the monotony, and produces handy offcuts that I’ll use in a minute.
I then started gluing them down to a supporting framework. Some planks have been cut more-or-less in half – that gives the total length I needed, and lets me alternate short-long, long-short across the structure.
After trimming the ragged edge (I did say my cutting was more-or-less accurate), I added more pieces to help stop the ends from warping. I’ve had to split some sticks in half for this, as I actually used up the entire packet in one go…
Over the weekend it occurred to me that I need to find a way of storing this, as even a 2×2 board could be awkward to fit in a wardrobe if it has too much detail on it. Then I remembered about Back 2 Base-ix and their modular terrain boards.
I still want to glue most sections together so I can have a seamless stretch of water at the front, but I like the idea of potentially adding other pieces over time – so having magnets built into the frame is a great idea. If I get really tricky, I could even magnetise some pieces of bevelled picture framing timber… that way the board could have a “finished” edge on it, removable when expansion is needed.
Being a nerd who never really used that Geology degree for much, I started drawing cross sections of elevation across the board…
I think I’ll use 16mm boards for the front of the table, keeping the water level as low as possible. Then, I want to use a few 63mm boards at the back of the table. That will really lift up the higher road, and give me an excuse to make some stairs for the centre of the table…
I mucked around with graph paper trying to sort out 300×300, 300×100 and 150×150 shapes – the basic plan is to have two sections, each made of four boards glued together.
The front section (water, dock and low ground) will be 600mm x 400mm, built up from the 16mm base boards. The rear section will be 600mm x 200mm, built from a 63mm base. This will have an overhang at the front: both for the stone texture on that large retaining wall (shown above), and for the stairwell. The whole piece should sit neatly on the flat docks, and it’s narrow enough to fit on a high bookshelf without too much overhang.
This is a project log for some terrain I’ve wanted to make for ages: an Iron Kingdoms dock table. I’m making it for two major reasons: firstly, it will be used as a demo board for Warmachine learn-to-play games at PAX Australia later this year. It’ll also be a handy bit of terrain for my Iron Kingdoms RPG group, as the Red Shields mercenary company spend a lot of their time getting into trouble on the Ordic waterfront…
It’s early days yet on this project: a bunch of the parts I want are currently in transit, so I’ve started off by sketching out some ideas and planning it all out. The table will be 2′ x 2′ to remove those early-game turns of running everyone forwards. That also conveniently reduces the surface area I’m working on, and lets me put more detail into it.
Textures and surfaces that I want to include:
- Aged (silvered) timber
- Water ripples
- Stone blocks
- Rusted metal
Next post will have some of the sketches – I’m still sorting out what it’ll look like, but I really like the idea of a tiered board that runs from a high city backdrop down to the water level. The buildings will sit at the back of the table (so the people running demo games can stand behind it), while the players will deploy opposite each other on the same level… playing left to right, or vice versa.
So, what might it look like? Something like this:
With a few ideas for reference material and details: