Blood Bowl is a real classic and Games Workshop have made the fantastic move of making it available for free! Well, not really free, you can download the rules from the Specialist Games website, but you still need a cards, rulers, some figures, special dice (available from the NAF), and, of course, a pitch. After printing the rules, obtaining the dice and sourcing two teams, I needed to make a pitch. I had a look around the web and came up with the idea of a polystyrene board covered in flock (cheap and light) with a wooden border to protect it from any knocks and make it look pretty.
Tools and Materials
This is quite a cheap and easy construction so few tools and material are required. Ensure you take care when using any tools! (Don’t blame me if you hurt yourself!)
- Small Wood Saw
- Mitre Block (for cutting 45 degree angles)
- Hot wire cutter/Sharp knife
- Old water sprayer
- Various Clamps
- 30-40mm wide wood strip, over 3mm thick.
- 25mm thick Polystyrene sheet
- PVA glue
- Wood Glue
- Small nails/panel pins
- Cheap brown and white/cream paints
The first thing to do was to find out was how big the squares were. I found a few pictures on BoardGameGeek which showed miniatures stood on the board supplied with the game. By comparing the mini base size with the square it was on, I worked out the squares to be 30mm wide. Later, I looked on a couple of forums and found that people (mainly Americans) were saying that the squares were ‘a little over an inch and an eighth’. Which is the same as 30mm. The metric system eh?
By looking on the Games Workshop website, you can count the number of squares on the board and how they are split into endzones and widezones. Multiply the length of each square by the number of squares to get the total length of the pitch and then do the same for the width. I added 50mm to each measurement to give a 25mm border around the pitch.
This now gives the total size of board that you need. The next step is to make the frame to hold it.
Building the Frame
The frame was built using 35mm wide pine strip, 5mm thick. I bought this from my local DIY superstore and it was only £5 or so for a long length. I cut the pieces to the length calculated above and then cut the ends to 45 degree angles Using a mitre block.
These were then glued together with wood glue. Glue a piece at a time, holding them in place with clamps and then knocking a couple of small nails or ‘pins’ in when the glue has set to give extra strength. Carry on adding pieces until all four sides are glued and pinned together. To ensure the piece is square and to give it extra strength, I added an extra piece of wood to the bottom of the frame. It’s vital to ensure that the frame is held square (use a set square) before this extra piece is added. Glue and pin it as you did the other pieces. Your frame is now complete! Add any extra pieces you feel necessary, I added small triangles in the corner for even more strength and to ensure that the polystyrene would be level when added.
Now the frame is complete, the polystyrene can be added. The idea for this stage is to measure the frame, cut the polystyrene to size using a hot wire cutter or sharp knife and simply slot it into the frame. In reality this is a bit trickier and you’ll probably have to try fitting the foam into the frame and then shaving bits off it (the polystyrene) to get it to fit in snugly. When you’re happy with the fit, take the polystyrene back out, apply some wood glue into the frame and then put the poly back in. Make sure that the surface of the polystyrene is parallel with the edge of the frame (i.e. not sloping) and then leave it somewhere to dry fully. When it’s all set, you can fill in any gaps around the edges using plaster, again, leave this to dry before adding the surface.
The Playing surface
There are a huge range of playing surfaces you could use on your pitch. I decided to make a standard grass pitch that had been a little worn over time. This was done by mixing some fine sand with cheap brown paint (I used a small pot of emulsion I had around the house) and painting it over the polystyrene, making sure not to go onto the frame. When this had dried I added some cream to the emulsion (no sand this time) and drybrushed the board to bring out the detail of the texturing.
The next step is gluing on the flock. You can do this a number of ways, both ways I considered use PVA glue which has been watered down. You can either brush this on, over the textured surface or spray it from a sprayer bottle (after masking off the frame and surrounding area). The flock is then sprinkled on and left to dry (there’s a lot of waiting involved in this construction). When all is dry, brush off the excess flock and you will probably find some bare patches where the ‘mud’ is showing through. If not, give the flock a rub in a few places to let it show through.
I used the sprayer method and found it good to get an even coat, but was very messy and a lot of effort was involved to clean the sprayer out afterwards. I’d recommend using a brush instead!
The final step is to paint the lines and squares onto the pitch, rather than painting every square, I created a stencil with crosses to mark the corners of the squares. After marking out a provisional outline using very carefully placed cotton and pins, I set to work with my stencil, dabbing white paint through with a brush.
This is a tedious job and it took me a few days to get it all done in small stints, but the results are worth it. The last step was to join some of the crosses together to mark the endzones and widezones.
This has been a relatively cheap and easy build, the main problem encountered was the drying times for each stage, but with a little patience a great finish can be achieved. Looking at the pitch now, I think I'd like to add a central decoration in the pitch, such as the skull on the standard board. I might also add some advertising hoardings round the side, but that's work for another day.
If you play or fancy playing Blood Bowl, give it a try and let me know how you get on.