Saturday, 14 March 2009

Necromunda Terrain

After my computer problems of last week, I’ve got a lot to report, I’ve been playing Necromunda (a draw), kiddies games with my daughter and I’ve even managed to arrange the first boardgaming night of the year with a group of my friends. My friends have never really been gamers so I’ve had to introduce them gently to the world of boardgaming. We’ve been playing together for about a year now and I think they’re actually starting to enjoy it! This week we played Citadels, Guillotine and It’s Alive! (for more information on these games click the pictures on the right hand side of this screen) all three are fantastic games and firm favourites of our group. As per usual I lost every single one, but it’s the taking part that counts. Or so I’ve been told.

Anyway the main chunk of this week’s post is a look at producing a modular terrain board for Necromunda...

Necromunda Terrain Making
A couple of weeks ago I gave a brief introduction to creating moulds to cast detail pieces for some Necromunda Terrain. I’d come to the idea of this method for making terrain after my Necromunda opponent Matt asked if I could recreate some of the Cities of Death buildings from Games Workshop. I set to work making moulds, Matt bought some MDF board and had it cut into 30cm squares and I knocked up some templates for the building walls.

The idea of the buildings was for them to be:

  • Modular - A square shape so they fit together to cover the table.
  • Quick - Easy and cheap to make.
  • Simple - Relatively plain pieces that can have other pieces added.
  • Uniform - All the pieces must have similar features so they look natural when fitted together.

I’ve started on a simple ‘test piece’ to get an idea of how best to make the buildings, so here’s my instructions for making your own terrain board pieces:

  • 6mm thick MDF. Large sheets are about £10 and will give you enough MDF to cover an entire table. Many shops will cut it for you for a small fee, and it’s much easier than doing it yourself!
  • 3mm Foamcard. Available from craft shops. Expect to pay a couple of pounds for an A3 size sheet, enough for plenty of buildings.
  • 25mm thick polystyrene. Available in (very) large sheets from DIY stores. Only £4 or £5 per sheet.
  • Cross-stitch sheet. Available from craft shops, this is a fine plastic mesh sheet that is an excellent basis for floors. It’s a couple of pounds for a small sheet, so use it sparingly!
  • Detail pieces. Whether pieces from your bits box, cut out pieces of card, decorative beads or home made cast pieces. Use these pieces to add detail to your buildings.
The basic structure is made from foamcard. To make this easier, make a template out of card or paper. This can then be laid over the top of the foamcard and the locations of windows and doors drawn onto the foamcard. The windows and doors should then be cut out using a sharp knife. The sharper the knife the better as it will give you a much cleaner cut.

When you have your pieces cut out, stick them together to make the basic shape, don’t stick it to the base yet! Use PVA glue and hold the foamcard in place with pins while the glue sets. When this has set, add your detail pieces to enhance windows and doors and leave them to set in place.
While all this is drying you can be adding any shaping to the MDF board using the polystyrene. Cut the sheet to whatever shape you wish and glue it to the MDF board, I normally do this using a hot glue gun.

(EDIT: Better pictures of the detail pieces are available here).

The building structure can then be added to the base board, I again use a hot glue gun for this, but PVA could be used. I find that the hot glue gun gives a better bond and fills any smalls gaps between the foam and the MDF.

At this stage, I give any polystyrene I have used in the terrain a thick coat of paint, this ‘seals’ it to prevent it being damaged when you use spray paints.
The model is then ready to have ground texture added using whatever method you prefer. I give the base a liberal coating of watered down PVA and sprinkle on mixed sizes of sand. Leave this to set and then shake off any excess.

I always prime, undercoat and then use a basecoat. You may choose to combine your basecoat and primer, use whatever you find easiest. I prime using cheap (£1) grey spray primer, which gives a good even coat for successive coats of paint to stick to. The undercoat is then added using Chaos Black spray, this ensures that any parts that are missed by the base coat (such as in cracks and corners) will be black and not a light grey.

The base coat is applied with a brush using cheap acrylics from a craft shop. I use a brand called ‘Anita’s’ which costs £1 for 60ml and gives really good coverage. Make sure you water it down to make it easier to apply.

Complete the main structure of the terrain by giving it successive drybrushes up to light grey. Add walkways made from cross stitch mesh over foamcard, spray black and drybrush silver.
Finish off the terrain by painting any details such as vents and lights and adding some small patches of flock or static grass. Your terrain is then ready to hit the table.

Conclusion and Frugal Thoughts
This is a big project and will take a lot of time to complete. It could also be costly doing it on your own. The best idea is to undertake the project with a friend or a gaming club and share the work (and cost!). When the terrain is complete (it’ll probably take a while) we’ll have a fantastic modular gaming surface, that can be added to or adapted as required.

If you play a game and want to tackle a large project with a couple of friends, I’d highly recommend having a go. It’s good fun, will improve your modelling skills and from a Frugal Gaming point of view; for a small outlay this will give you a fantastic gaming resource that will last for years of happy gaming.


Ruarigh said...

Nice terrain piece. Can't wait to see how it all looks together on a table.

Dave said...

Thanks, I'm looking forward to having a table full of the stuff.

It's gonna take a while...

jModule said...

Found your blog from Terragenesis. I'm interested in seeing more on how you are using the plaster parts you cast earlier to detail your buildings.

Dave said...

Hi JM,

If you have a look at the first photo on this week's post (the one with no miniatures in it, click on it for a much larger image), you should be able to tell the columns, vents, plaques and windowsills I added to the foam core building. The parts are only small and are just there to add detail.

Hope this helps.