Friday, 30 March 2012

Terrain Boards - a sneak peek!

The flower pot is not to scale!
Well I did say that MDF is the way forward on the terrain board front, so I thought I would show the process I am using to make them (for those who like that sort of thing). I helped make the boards that you can see if you look at the excellent and it's also the place where I spend my Thursdays nights btw. The stories I could tell, but as everyone knows, Whats said in the Shed stays in the Shed...but I digress.

Drying rack in Shed 2
 The big problem we had encountered when making those boards was the chipboard base warping. We decided after much discussion that there were a number of reasons for this, but mostly it was to do with the mixture we had spread over the top of the board to give the rough ground effect. The combination of PVA, sawdust and white emulsion (known in the Shed as gloop, and yes I can tell you that!) had taken over a week to dry in many cases and this had caused 18mm chipboard to curl up quite spectacularly even though it had been sealed. The net effect had been to add a framework of 1" wood around the base of each board. Something that would not be an option to me because of the transport and weight implications. So this is the approach I have adopted.
Undercoated boards drying
I had decided on 12mm MDF as the base material and had this cut into 600mm x 600mm squares when I bought it (worth doing, the cuts are straight and transportation is so much easier, of course!), then Step 1 was to seal the boards with a primer undercoat, on all surfaces including the edges. Fortunately I have 2 sheds (no I'm not Arthur Jackson), and because I'm likely to be doing this on a bit of an industrial scale, my Dad created a drying rack (pictured above right) which is a real boon as space to allow these boards to dry is at a premium.

The stuff of gloop
Step 2 is to decide whether boards will have any hills on. I have decided to embed some hills into the terrain and create some other free standing ones to to allow for some scenario flexibility. Also I wont be adding roads or rivers, these will be made in sections and laid over the terrain as appropriate to the game. When the hills have been selected these as trimmed with my heated wire cutter (worth the effort finding), glued into place with PVA, and when firmly dried, any sections of hill which look too steep are given a more gentle gradient using filler. The idea being that the least amount of gloop that needs to go onto the board, the better.

Step 3 is my favourite, ask anyone at the shed. And yes it's information not covered by the shed official secrets act. Its gloop time!! There is not set formula for gloop in my experience. I use about 2 cups of PVA , 4 to 5 cups of white emulsion and an ice cream tub full of saw dust.When it looks like porridge but a lot whiter, you are onto a winner. Simple scoop it up with a trowel and dab it on. I decided to keep the application as thin as possible and also to flatten down any bits that stand too proud as these would only be broken off in transport at some point. There is an argument for using brown or green paint instead of white. This would effectively pre-colour the base of the board. The main reason that I have not done this is cost. Gloop does use a lot of emulsion and white is by far the cheapest colour. Where I only producing a few boards I might bite the bullet and get coloured emulsion - but I'm going to produce have have to find economies somewhere!

Step 4 really sees the board starting to look like something worth fighting on, even if it does seem a bit bright. The base coat choice is Dublin Bay 2. Its a bit of a pain to work into various nooks and crannies of the gloop, and definitely needs a once over after it has dried so that you have re-apply paint to the white bits. Its worth slightly thinning the paint that I use for the touching up process (oh please!!) as some of the unpainted sections are always in those hard to reach spots.
Step 5 is the addition of a dry brushed highlight coat of Dublin bay 3. I know it still looks a bit bright but the colours really do work! The boards pictured here have embedded hills and my plan is to add some brown shading to the hill tops and also to some parts of the board to break up the green, and add a dry brush yellow high-light. When that is done I will post the new pictures here. So far by applying the gloop fairly thinly, warping has been very limited and the boards are not overly heavy. When the are finished I will lay a sheet of bubble wrap over the top of each one and then package them ready for a couple of planned demo games and of course the up-coming Mega-game. For now though it's 24 boards under construction and just 226 to go. But it's not like I have to do them all next week. This is a two year plan. Perhaps I should post updates with  Soviet style production figures. Cue back drop of workers gathering an unending harvest, massive factories churning out products at never before seen rates, and a voice telling us we are all in this together. 
Join me, brothers, join me...Its time to gloop.  


Just finished a couple of boards and here they are!!

And more boards sunning themselves - Its like the film Birds, there were only 2 of them earlier I'm sure. Again the flower pot is not to scale.

Friday, 16 March 2012

I was looking for a heated wire thingy....

You know one of those things that you use to sculpt polystyrene. Ok, ok I said Polystyrene was dead and it is, but, it turns out it is very handy for making hills out of, and the new terrain boards will have these built into them. So I decided to look in the shed.

But there was one problem...This is where some of the Mega-games terrain lives when its not being used. The shed is 8ft deep and completely full. Somewhere in here lives the heated wire cutter. Oh but hang on, it could also be in the loft.
This is where the rest of the Megagames stuff lives. For those who have been to a game, the hundreds of pizza boxes will bring back either happy memories or nightmares of just trying to find odd bits of kit. In the end I found the heated wire cutter....Where you may ask? Well look at the first pic again. See the big green box on the right. Just inside there on the very top. Of course I did this after emptying the shed and spending an hour in the loft. One day I will get the loft and shed day...

And by the way the motorcycle and space hopper are my son's and not to be used as therapy sometime during the evening of a megagame event. But perhaps thats not a bad idea...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Polystyrene is dead.....Long live MDF

Part of the re-organisation for next year is already underway. While I intend use some of the snow terrain (which you can see lower down the blog in selection of photos) the older green terrain is going to bite the dust. And talking of biting dust, the new stuff will be made from MDF (if you have every cut the stuff you will get that tenuous link). However there will also be new roads, rivers and town sectors. I will publish some pics as the new stuff rolls of the production line. And to give you an example of the scale of the task, we usually play on around 800 odd square feet of terrain. Oh and I am re-basing kit too....who needs sleep :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Err yes ...when I said there was no crash hot rush!!

Ok, as of this morning we have about 10 places left (allowing for promissory notes from players and bookings from a couple of old stagers). I have discussed options with Mike M. (part of the Umpiring team) and I think the maximum we can run with is around 46 players on table. There is a lot of planning and preparation going on behind the scenes, most of which I can't go into now, and some I don't even know about, but there are already a number of quite enthused individuals (and there are still 10 months to go). I must say this does have a feeling of one of the very early mega games in terms of the excitement it is generating and the degree of pre-game planning required. While I am consulting with the Umpiring team and placing various players within the command framework for the game, I won't suggest any individual Divisional commands until around September. But if you have a command post you wish to request, there is no harm in mentioning it early in the piece.