Will Build To Suit
by Phil "ForcedPerfect" Duple
It is the end of this godforsaken mine run. A quick stop to load and then a hasty retreat to the main road and on our way to home, a warm meal and an ale or three. As we approach we see that there are two groups at the mine with designs of their own. This isn't going to be good for somebody...
Alright, I admit it. I have a weakness—I really like short people.
They're great! They're tiny and cute and fun to be around and when they're packing oversized guns they're all the more fun. When I was stumped for ideas for this week's tutorial, I went digging through my model cases for inspiration. I found the Driller I painted (but failed to enter) in the Brass Balls challenge, and remembered an old scenario in No Quarter from back around the time Superiority was released. It was a ton of fun, and as memory served, it had some pretty specific scenery involved. I pulled my copy of NQ 11 and studied up.
For those that have a copy, the scenario is called "Powder Keg," and can be found on page 40. Without giving too much away, it's built around the idea that Madhammer and Grundback are facing off at the entrance to a mine full of folks that Gorten is trying to evacuate. Madhammer has decided that the mine needs to be closed regardless of who might be left inside, and is rushing to destroy the gate before Gorten completes his plan.
I like building terrain to fit a specific need, like a scenario objective or a tournament centerpiece to grab attention. The idea to build all the scenery needed for a specific scenario presented a fun challenge: Making eye-catching scenery that's largely background stuff. The most important terrain feature in this scenario is the mine gate, which Durgen must destroy. The scenario calls for nothing more than a 3" wide area at the Grundback player's table edge to be marked off and treated as the gate. I say build the face of a mountain mine onto the defending player's edge!
The scenario comes complete with a map of the terrain features needed. As I still had the board and tree stands that I built for my last article on hand, I decided to replace the areas of rough terrain that the scenario calls for with forests and build onto the table I already had. The only other major feature on the map is a 4" square building or ruin directly in the center of the table. I decided I could build a fun little wooden shack there, and once I started laying down plans, I realized it could be fun to have a small rail for mining carts connecting the gate to the shack. I know from nothing about mining, but imagined that the shack might be some kind of storage shed for minerals hauled out of the mine while waiting for pickup.
So the idea was there, time to go to the workshop!
Bachmann N-Scale EZ-Track (the kind that has the hard-molded bed on it)
Bass wood rods
1 6-pack of Smithwick's
2" thick insulation foam
8 small bases
8 small barrel models (preferably wood)
Step 1: The Gate
Alright. The most important part of this board is the gate. This actually presents an interesting challenge because as it's the focus of the whole scenario it should look cool since both players are likely going to be staring at it for most of the game. However, my usual approach of "make it huge" is impractical here for two reasons: first, the gate IS the table edge, so it can't be too tall or it'll bug the defending player, and second, a lot of the action is probably going to happen right next to it, so it can't take up a lot of real estate on the playing area.
I decided to compromise between my gut instinct to find a way to build a 2" thick mountain face to loom over the table and the saner approach of just slapping a model door on the board. I made the gate itself sunk into a 2" thick, 15" wide, 5" tall slab of pink foam (1A).
First, I cut the basic shape of the wall section with a hot wire foam cutter. Then I marked the gate area and gouged it out about 3/4 of the way through the foam (1B). I cut a frame for the gate out of thin cardboard and kept the removed part to make a base for the doors. I drove small nails through the cardboard and foam to look like really large rivets (1C).
The doors were made from trusty popsicle sticks, clipped down to the dimensions of the removed part of the main gate cardboard. After they were all lined up, I cut smaller frames for the doors out of cardboard and glued them on (1D). I then added nails just like in the above step. The completed assembly was put inside of a large book and placed at the bottom of a stack of books for about an hour so that the cardboard wouldn't curl while it dried. After everything was dry, I glued the doors into the recess I'd gouged in the foam (1E).
The walls around the gate were made using the same scoring technique I used to make my Trollkin Village I posted on the Privateer Press forums back when Hordes was released (1F). This technique is illustrated expertly (and more competently) both by Delgrieve's stone tutorials on the Terrainthralls site and by Rob Hawkins' article in No Quarter (1G).
Part 2: The Shack
I made the shack by building a frame out of bass wood posts and pinning and gluing popsicle sticks to the frame (2A). The roof and arch sections were made from cardboard strips, using a protractor to get the correct angles (30 degrees in this case). The metal roof sections are just cardboard strips that my wife glued down in a shingle pattern. I cut a cardboard door frame just like those on the mine gate for the shack.
Part 3: The Rail
The mine cart rail was simply assembled and nailed down to the board. I actually had to slice away some of the turf and snow that I made to cover the board to allow the rails to lay flat. Which all the other scenery on the board is modular and removable, the track is nw part of the board. It's too much of a problem, and if I should decide that it looks too goofy when not being used for this scenario. I'll just run the rail all the way across the board (3A).
Part 4: The Log Barricades
The scenario includes a few walls on the map, and I can't tell if they're supposed to be Gorten walls or just walls that happen to be there. Just in case, I made a barricade out of wood dowel logs, simply sawn-down dowels glued together in a pyramid pile and painted in browns.
Part 5: The Powder Kegs
the scenario also calls for 8 powder kegs to be placed on the table. These kegs explode when struck or shot, and are a ton of fun. The first time I played this scenario, we used dice to mark the kegs. This time, I wanted to use some proper barrel models.
I had a couple of great wood barrels laying around that were given to me by my friend Jon for scenery projects, and the rest are just old 40k tank sprue fuel barrels. The wood ones look far more appropriate, but he, I had only two, and my sculpting skills are mediocre enough to shy away from scratchbuilding small objects (5A & 5B).
Anyway, the barrels were mounted into small bases with a little bit of foam scrap around them to resemble earthly piles. The bases were covered in woodglue and kitty litter and painted in colors to match the surface of the board.
Part 6: Painting
The painting of this one was pretty straightforward. Stone surfaces were painted in dark-to-light grays, wood surfaces in dark-to-light browns, and the metal surfaces were painted using the same rust technique I used in my Grind Area tutorial on the Terrainthralls site. I made the rust a brighter orange on this project since the entire board is painted in neutrals. The more realistic brown rust effect I favor just blended in with the rest of the scenery, so I turned up the intensity a bit to compensate for the washout.
Part 7: The Final Product
This was a ton of fun to make, and a totally entertaining scenario to play. I can't wait to play Powder Keg on a table that's really built for it. Maybe this'll give me some incentive to finish painting the little Rhulic army I've been slooooowly building for a couple of years. I'd strongly recommend anyone try building scenery specifically for a scenario that wither they or someone else has written. It's a really satisfying modeling project and after doing it a few times, you'd have a pretty sizeable collection of modular scenery to play with (7A, 7B & 7C).
A Note of Apology
So... observant readers of my tutorials will notice that this tutorial is not the promised Legion of Everblight project that i've been working on for a few months. The fact of the matter is that it just kind of fell on its face. Everything I try just doesn't feel right or looks awful. I'm going to respectfully ask the more experienced and capable 'Thrall members to try their hands at LoE terrain, as I am apparently not the man for the job. If anyone was waiting for Legion ideas, I'm really sorry. I hope this tutorial still has some ideas that you can use. Until next time, happy building!