Sunday, June 29, 2008

AT-43 Terrain Project: the first step in freshly fallen snow

Hey everyone,

I finally have some progress on my Frostbite boards! Yay!!! I have only managed to finish one of them but the rest of them have the basic shape cut out and I should be able to get them finished off relatively quickly. I do have one of them finished though which is enough for us to start taking a look at how I am doing this.

The first step for this project was deciding how exactly I wanted to lay it out. For my Damocles boards, I was duplicating the poster map so it was simply a case of measure on the map and mark it out on my board. For the Frostbite board the only information that we have so far is about the game effects of the terrain and some small pictures of what the individual features will look like. Going with this information, I decided to make my boards modular and reversible so that I could get the most out of them, plus it would make it very easy to expand the size of the table later on. I made a quick sketch of how I would lay out the various terrain features on the boards and then I hit the hardware store to get some Styrofoam.

Living in Las Vegas makes it a little tricky to find the good Styrofoam. If you are looking for the white flaky stuff then you are all set but for good quality boards it can be a little trickier. Luckily the Lowe's near my house does carry the blue board in 8' x 2' sheets so I was able to get some without too much difficulty. Here is the board cut into pieces so that I can fit it in my car.

This board only comes in one thickness out here (at least that I have found...) but since thankfully it is 1" which I find it easy to work with. It is much easier to stack the stuff to make it thicker than to try and slice it in half.

Next I needed to start cutting out some of my basic shapes. I decided to make several 1'x1' squares and a 1'x2' rectangle out of this one piece of board with the pieces double stacked so that I can cut into through one layer to create the ice flows and crevasses. Here are my first couple of squares to show you what I mean.

The downside of double stacking the pieces is that I was only able to make enough pieces for a 2'x3' board, but with the whole thing being modular that is much less of a concern since I can just make some more boards later.

Here is a picture of the pieces all cut out; a total of four squares and one rectangle plus an extra chunk that I might use to make some small hills.

I decided that for the first piece I would build a square with a crevasse on it. According to the rules, units can jump up to half of their move to get over these so using that as a guide I cut a 9" long crevasse into one of the boards, making the opening 3" across at the widest point. This is wide enough for most of the units to be able to get across it easily but still adds something visual to the game.

Having cut the crevasse out of one of the boards, I then glued it onto another full square board so that I could make the reverse side a open snow field. Once this was dry, I started painting the board but then I ran into a problem. When I laid out the measurements of the crevasse, I had marked the board with a light blue Sharpie which the white paint was not covering up even with multiple coats.

I hit the internet to find something that might help and did find a very interesting article about using a mixture of baking powder and glue to create snow on miniature bases. I thought about using this technique but since I want to make the boards reversible I decided against it since that would require a pretty consistent thickness on all of the boards to make sure that they lay properly next to each other. In the end I decided to glue white fabric onto the board and finally settled on fleece since my local Wally World didn't carry any white felt by the yard. Here is how the finished piece looks with some of my Therians to give some scale.

This easily hides the lines on the board and I am also hoping that the texture of the fabric will help the individual boards blend in together better. One piece down and four more to go!

That is all for now but there will be more on this project soon plus maybe another battle report as well. Until next time, may all of your dice come up Dragons!

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