Monday, 19 October 2009

Terrain Project Part 2 – Adding the Hill

Now, any good terrain just has to have hills and just like the Games Workshop Realm of Battle Gameboard we wanted them as well! Taking the same modular approach we also decided on having one big hill spread across 4 of the board squares and the material of choice just had to be polystyrene. To be honest, that's mainly because I couldn't get any foam-board!

Polystyrene is fairly difficult to work on without a hot wire cutter, as well as being really messy. I don't have a hot wire cutter (and yes, I did go out and try to buy one!) but I do have an old, cheap soldering iron. It's one of those soldering irons that uses a metal loop between two points on the hand grip and an electrical current passes through the wire to generate the heat. By stripping a length of electrical cable to get at the copper wire and replacing the original soldering iron element with my new, really long one I had a makeshift wire cutter! What's more, it actually worked (you can see it in the first image).

The rest was pretty much plain sailing and I happily carved out a hill:

That's about it for now, though there is still the problem of carving that hill in to four pieces, one for each section of the base. As you can see, we created a nicely sloping section to the hill and topped it with a much more steep inclined section - ideal for gun emplacements to hang out on!

Terrain Project Part 1 - Creating the Game Board

We finally got around to starting our terrain project this weekend. The intention was to create something modular, a bit like the Citadel Realm of Battle Gameboard, only for a fraction of the cost. After checking out quite a few blogs we decided to go with MDF as the basis for our designs. A quick trip to B&Q found large MDF sheet which was about 8 feet by 2 feet. Unlike a lot of places B&Q will happily cut MDF for you (up to 4 free cuts!) and moments later we had 8 'nearly' squares of MDF.

Once home I took to sizing them up. To have a truly modular board that we could have in any configuration I realised that each square would have to be just that - square. By measuring each board to find the smallest dimensions amongst them I decided that 600mm squares would be possible with a bit of planing. I'll be honest, I'm no carpenter and I did expect this to all go horribly wrong leaving me with a load of scrap MDF. Luckily I remembered the electric planer that I bought a couple of years ago to do one door in the house. I know that one small and simple job is a really ridiculous reason to buy a new electrical tool but I was glad I'd done it now. Besides, can you imagine what a mess I might have made of the door if I'd used a manual plane?

Some careful measuring and planing left me with 8 600mm squares of MDF. Well, nearly. I'd say that they were within about 0.5mm. I considered that a great success and continued on...

Fixing them together was going to be the hard bit. The Games Workshop board comes with lots of clips to attach the bases neatly, but that was unlikely to be an option here. I had noticed one blogger (the link to which I have since lost) attached them using dowel rods and this seemed like a reasonable idea.

Unfortunately this requires very accurate drilling along every edge and again I thought this could be the undoing of the entire project. But after the success of the square-cutting I thought I'd give it a go anyway. Ever the sensible person I decided to create a template for cutting the holes to at least make it easier to get them in the same place on each board. I really didn't fancy having to measure and mark every hole before drilling either.

After being careful to drill the pilot holes using the template on the same face of each board (to make sure the holes match as well as they can) I drilled 9mm holes to fit some 9mm dowelling pegs I had cut up. A quick test showed that, perhaps surprisingly, the boards did actually match up using the dowel pegs to keep them in position. Admittedly the joins were a little tight and sometimes needed a little 'persuasion' to push the boards close enough to prevent gaps, but after a few fits the holes seemed to loosen a little and it became easier to push them together. Another result for amateur carpentry!

The final task of the day was to get a bit of colour on them. For the sake of simplicity we just sprayed them brown. I'm hopeful that the later flocking will mean the mottled colouration won't be visible and it should also help hide the joins in the board.