The Ministry of Works!
As some of you may realize from seeing our participation games at various shows, terrain making is part of my wargaming hobby.
It began back when we were going to launch Daisho at Salute. I had dabbled for years making terrain for Warhammer (Fantasy & 40K), but this was the first time I would show my work in public.
I look back on the Samurai village I made then and cringe, The houses were not awful, but they were certainly amateurish. Cardboard from Whiskas boxes and fences from coffee stirrers. The house were roofed with brush bristles to represent thatch.
Next to my board was one by our friend Billy. He had wisely bought 4Ground houses and fencing, added a buddha shrine and created an autumn-themed board. It was beautiful.
A couple of years later and it was the Blood Eagle launch. This time I made a board showing a small Norse village by a fjord. So, I purchased some 4Ground buildings and a plastic longship.
The board was plywood, 30″ (60cms) square, with a sheet of 5mm foam board, that had previously been an advertising board with a glossy dark blue finish, which represented the waters of the fjord. Note: the size of the board matches the width of standard event tables.
I covered about two thirds of the blue board with another layer of foam board which I painted and flocked.
I also built all the fencing (from match sticks and brush bristles), detailed the board with flock and rocks, added some barrels and trees.
For the first time I actually felt proud of my work, and it was the first board where event go’ers actually took pictures of it.
A year later we were launching IHMN Gothic, so I decided to create a Transylvanian village. Between the two events I had discovered Dave Graffam and his marvellous print and build card designs. So, I built a dozen or so of his houses, created a heap of scatter terrain and constructed a new 30″ (60cms) plywood board.
Again, I used 5mm foam board to cover the plywood, and removed the top layer of paper where I wanted roads and paths. I wanted these to be cobbled, so hunted around for an easy way to do rough cobbling. Most methods seemed quite complex, so I created my own.
Standard, plastic ball point pens have a pen cap with a 2.5mm hole in the top to prevent suffocation if swallowed. Hold the pen like a dagger and rapidly stab the exposed foam in the areas you want cobbled. I painted the cobles black then dry-brushed with grey, green and a little white. In under an hour, I had all the board’s roads and paths done.
I was pleased with my board, and then I saw Billy’s effort. A board based upon High Gate cemetery in London, and guess which one all the photographers were drawn to… ho-hum, back to the drawing board.
So, two years pass and we’re back at Salute launching Thud & Blunder. I had spent the intervening time making medieval houses from mounting card, coffee stirrers, matchsticks, and filler. The roofs were individually tiled, and they lifted off to give figures access to the inside. I built a marketplace and bought tons of scatter terrain.
I had given up on boards as these were a pain to transport and had acquired one of Deep Cut’s lovely neoprene cobbled mats.
Of course, Billy turned up with a 4’x2′ (120x60cms) rocky ravine, with one side nearly 30″ (60cms) high. In the ravine were numerous small buildings and former bridge supports, criss-crossed with wooden walkways. I love Billy, but there are times I could pinch him 🙂
It should be said that over these years I have honed my craft. From cat food containers to bespoke and original pieces. Nowhere near the Terrain Tutor’s standard, but good enough for gaming.
Since then, I have received a 3D Printer as a birthday gift. It is a remarkable tool, and I have trial printed a couple of buildings from the Ulvheim range (free designs from Thingiverse). They are really quite beautiful, but when I did, I felt a pang of hobby guilt. Was this the end of my terrain building hobby?
No, it isn’t. I’m mostly using the printer to print off scatter terrain, doors, and windows. The latter are always fiddly to do, so I am glad I have this tool.
Anyway, this year we have launched IHMN 2nd edition, but Salute and Partizan, our favourite shows, have been pushed back to the Autumn, so what am I planning?
Well, over the next few weeks I am going to document how I intend to represent the Barony of Grand Fenwick, where two desperate companies shall compete to capture the Q-bomb.
I will create a brand-new layout, with buildings and other terrain pieces to represent this quaint little corner of old Europe (or Shepperton Studios).
So, keep your eyes peeled for there shall be articles on the blog, and pictures on Instagram.
I wonder what Billy’s doing…?