Friday, March 9, 2012

Projects lead to projects…

 One possible problem I’m facing is finding a convenient place to play. Denver used to be blessed with two really excellent game shops that had open tables, “Valhalla’s” and “Attactix.” You could bring an army and play whenever they were open as long as they were open. Sadly, both closed last year.

There are still a couple of good venues in the Denver metro area, but none is close to my house. I don’t particularly like transporting miniatures, as I always seem to break something in transit.Sure, I use foam-lined "Sabol" cases, but there's always a broken bayonet or two no matter how careful I am.

I hate playing on bad tables. I know this is silly, but a huge appeal of wargaming is how it looks; playing on a table-tennis table with soda cans and books for terrain just doesn't work for me.

And, let’s face it, playing on a well-built table in my own basement (or backyard, weather permitting) could be great. There’s a refrigerator in my basement for snacks and beer – you can’t beat that for convenience. And nothing beats a game on a sand-table in the open air.

So I’m tossing around ideas for construction projects, working on possible set-ups in AutoCAD.

I think the way to go is to use modular boards. If I use relatively little permanent terrain I could use them for Napoleonics or other eras, like Ancients or WWII. After all, an open field is an open field. This would also give me a chance to build my own terrain over time, perhaps a couple of hills, some trees, and perhaps a farm house or two for the troops to fight over.

I think the way to go is with 2’ by 4’ sections. I’m thinking in terms of building four “open” boards for field battles and two “trench” boards that could work for WWI. By making the boards so that they all can match up with each other I could come up with many different configurations. I could set up three boards lengthwise for a 6’ x 4’ Flames of War or Warhammer table, four for a 4’ x 8’ table, and I could swap in the “trenches” into either set up.

I’ve been looking over materials at the local hardware stores and I think that the way to go is to have a ½” think MDF/fiberboard base for each section. I’ll put 1 ½” foam over this, with plenty of screws and "liquid nails" to keep it in place, then sculpt the top a bit for some terrain relief. I’ll also cut trenches into two of the foam boards with a foam-cutter. Dress up the top with a thin layer of spackling compound for texture, paint, and I’m done enough to play. I can always go back and add detail, particularly in the trenches. It won’t be quick work, but once I’m finished I’ll have a great table.

Any comments or suggestions on building a terrain board are welcome.

Storage is a consideration, but I have room in my basement to stack them on their sides on shelves in my furnace room – most of my wargame stuff is stored in there anyway.

But first I have to clean out that room. If I tidy up and reorganize I’ll have enough space to start construction. So guess who is cleaning out the basement this weekend?


  1. Building my tables with Lee was quite enjoyable. How you are designing your boards is relatively similar to how Lee and I made mine. However, we did 2x2 sections and framed each section with 2x4 basically. When put the foam on the boards, make sure your first cut is decently larger than the board you are putting them on, then glue them down and let them sit for a day or two. Then go back and trim them to size. Making a shelf box is a great way to store boards. Lee and I are making one that should fit in my car.

  2. Nick, does the foam shrink after cutting?

    One of the reasons I'm thinking 2' x 4' is because both the MDF and heavy foam is pre-cut in these sizes, and I can just carve out trenches and terrain...

  3. We just used a sharp knife to cut the foam so we didn't have any shrink issues. If the heavey foam and MDF is pre-cut to size then that will make your life easy.