Monday, December 17, 2007

AT-43 Terrain Project: Recreating the poster map

When I started work on my first board for AT-43, I actually had no idea what I was going for (a common state for me...). I did not have the rules, the miniatures, nothing but an interest in the game and what knowledge I could find in the official AT-43 forum. I discuss this more in depth in other posts, so I will simply leave it that the "final" board (it is actually still not finished yet) is much different than it's original form.

After this, I borrowed a copy of Cry Havoc #14 from Joe, another member of our fledgling group. In this issue, the details of the Damocles Campaign are laid out with several special rules and four new scenarios. The common factor for all of the scenarios is that they all use the poster game board that come with Operation Damocles. I had originally planned on making a 3D version of this board but I had later decided against it. Well, having seen this I changed my mind yet again and I started work on the easiest of the two sides, the open space with the large elevator. Very simple to build and it is featured in all four of the scenarios from phase 1 of the campaign.

To start out, I needed a board to build it all on. Since I decided to work with materials that I have on hand for now, I settled on a board that is 24" x 32" (roughly 60cm x 80cm) which is actually slightly shorter than the original poster. The difference is pretty minor though, which is why I was not too worried about this.

One of the key features of the poster map is several hatches located at various points on the board. They are actually used as objectives in the game, so I needed to find some way to model these quickly, easily and cheaply. Oddly enough, I found the solution while I was playing Play Dough with my daughter.

Play Dough actually comes with two different types of lids, one with just a lip (seen on the left) and one with a lip and a raised center (on the right in case you hadn't guessed). These are the lids from the really small containers, not the big ones like I used to grow up with. I used the lids with the raised up center for the closed hatchways while the others became the open hatchways. Above the two lids is a medium sized base from GW and this is what I actually used for the hatches. I cut a shallow line into the closed ones, while the open ones were actually cut in half and hot glued to the lip of the lid so that they look like the hatches on the poster. (I did actually have WIP pics of these but they were unfortunately deleted before I had a chance to download them. D'oh!!!)

Having made the hatches, the next step was to position them on the board. I measured the distances on the poster from the nearest two edges for each hatch and then positioned them on the board. I pushed them down into the board to make an indentation to mark where they were supposed to go, and then went back and hot glued them down.

Once these were attached, I needed to make the elevator. On the poster the elevator is irregularly shaped, but to keep things simple I decided to just make mine rectangular. The edge is cut at roughly a 45 degree angle and I also cut a line to mark the edge of the elevator floor. I don't know how well it will show up once I actually get some paint on it but hopefully it is visible enough that it will be apparent what it is. I also put indentations on the board to represent various seams in the concrete. They are hard to see now, but once the paint is on there they should be more obvious.

Here is the board laid out as it is written up in the third mission of phase 1 of the campaign (minus a few terrain elements since I don't have enough containers yet). Overall I am pleased with how it came out, but then again it still isn't finished. Hopefully I will be able to get some paint on it over the next couple of days so that I can show the finished product.