When building my gaming board I tried to make it as good looking as possible while still staying as flexible as possible. I wanted to combine two important aspects of gaming table design, that seemed to be important to me. First I wanted to have submersible sections for rivers and second I wanted a sectional gaming board that didn't take a lot of room to store.
The solution is a hybrid-modular gaming table, as I call it, consisting of a frame to hold 3x4 tiles which are 40x40cm large each. These tiles are mounted on little 10cm high pillars so a completely flat tile would only be a 1.2cm thick board. Flat tiles are easily storable as they take away only little space.
River tiles are up to 10cm high and they fit together at predefined edges. Raised sections as mountains or hills can be distributed normally as on any other flat gaming table.
While I have completed a flat green Warhammer battlefield, the jewel of my collection of gaming boards is the Mordheim board. When designing those tiles I asked myself what floors would show up in a ruined city section? On one side, streets with flagstone or wooden floors and on the other side broken and burned areas with dirt ground. This should give Mordheim a dark and sinister feeling.
After some calculating and the obligatory pilgrimage to the craft store came the interesting part: All tiles were built using Hirst Arts Castlemolds(TM) sets. The board tiles consist of 5 different molds: flagstone floor (1x1" and 1,5x1,5"), cobblestone floor and normal floor tiles. To fill a 40x40cm tile with flagstone floor I have to cast it 26 times. Hmm.
If I combined the different techniques and used sand as well (no casts at all!) I should be able to get the number of castings to reasonable dimensions. (26 times...) Later, I added wooden areas from the wooden floor mold as well.
An important feature of the board is that it is completely flat. This might not add to character but sure helps keeping your miniatures upright. It also adds to flexibility. I wanted to add lots of little details to the earthen areas, skeletons, branches, wooden doors, skulls, weapons and other things - these areas had to be as flat as possible, too.
All buildings and floor tiles were painted using the same outdoor latex dispersion paint from the craft store.
Most pieces were spray painted black prior to this to avoid the paint softening the glue and especially the buildings subsequently would start to fall apart. I tried waterproof wood glue, but it wasn't as waterproof as stated on the bottle...
The paint techniques are the same as in all my pieces. I use 3 shades mostly, a dark undercoat and a medium drybrush followed by a highlight of a very light grey.
After the first test game our experts discovered that it was fairly easy to guess distances on a board that is composed of 1x1" tiles. So I left the normal floor tiles out and went back to flagstone, cobblestone and wooden floors.
Flagstone must be assembled in a way that does not form an easily recognizable pattern.
Then I felt ready for the river sections. The width of the river gave me something to think of, a wider river would give an interesting bridge ensemble, but the question arose, would such a terrain be gaming-friendly? So I settled with a nearer river, about 10-15cm wide.
Every river segement has at least one bridge assembled with it. A gaming board with areas that are impossible or hard to reach (which is practically the same) would lead to a one-sided game. All bridges are modular, they can be taken out and replaced with a railing section. Additionally this allows for some interchangeability at game setup, I planned to make different bridges in different styles. The railings come off, too, this helps with storage.
I also added a pond, the water was made by filling gloss finish into a trough on the tile. The finish was added in several layers and I used up almost half a litre for the complete pond. The ponds bed consists of sand and stones arranged in a natural fashion and was painted and drybrushed in browns. It has been completely finished and painted before the the lacquer was poured in. Some areas of the finish were covered with watered down brown paint to indicate dirty water.
It took me about a year to complete the whole table and gaming board. But it surely paid off! Enjoy some photos of our games in progress (click on the image for a larger version).
If you want to see more pictures of games in progress, visit the Mighty Pages' Mordheim section.
Copyright & Credits
TerraGenesis was created in 1997 by Gary James and is currently owned, edited and maintained by Andy Slater, however the ideas and opinions expressed are those of the individual contributors. TerraGenesis and its content are © Andy Slater, unless otherwise stated, and should not be reproduced without permission.
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