Thursday, 5 May 2011
Making my Normandy Table: "Trois Ponts" Part 1
DiceHex here to share some of the work I've been doing on my most recent wargames table. Having taken the plunge into the exciting world of FoW, I realised I needed a good looking table on which to game. Having a well painted army is great, but putting it on a nice terrain table as well is just awesome. I'd like some more of my gaming group to get involved in Flames, and I figured that an impressive, picturesque setting would be a good way to generate some enthusiasm.
The picture above gives a fairly good idea of the style of table I'm building, with hedges, trees, inset roads, and quaint buildings. I also took a lot of inspiration from other gaming blogs, many of which you can find linked on the right hand side of this page. Instead of using an actual aerial photo for my table map, I decided to invent a little town outside of Caen somewhere, called "Three Bridges", or in this case "Trois Ponts".
STRUCTURE AND SURFACE
I started with some mdf board 12mm thick, and sketched a rough layout onto it in pencil. I included roads, canals and bridges. I tried to keep the balance of terrain in mind, so players could deploy forces on any side without much disadvantage.
The first issue I had was how to set the canal into the table, so it seemed lower than the land around it. I've made tables almost entirely surfaced in polystyrene foam sheeting before, enabling me to shape contours or inset water features, but I wanted to try something a little different, and hopefully more durable.
Knowing the canals and roads would need to be lower than the majority of the land, I began cutting 5mm foam-core board into the shapes of the land masses, and glueing it down to the mdf. (white PVA glue - so many uses)
I found it a little odd to be cutting the shape of every bit of land which wasn't road or canal at first, because it's like shaping the negative space of a table, rather than the features.
Using a sharp retractable hobby knife, I cut a bevilled edge onto each land section, where it will meet road. I left the edges of the canal unshaped, as I wanted a man-made look to it.
Pretty soon, the table looked like this:
I slathered a heavy coat of PVA glue onto all of the roads and paths, being careful to have brush strokes running with the road, rather than across it. I then rapidly scattered a coating of ordinary sand onto the glue, being fairly liberal with it. Any excess which does not stick after the glue has dried can be easily brushed off. A rough base coat of dark brown acrylic paint then went on the roads, and a rough green base coat on all of the foam-core land sections.
Once all of the paint was dry, I painted a neat, even coat of PVA onto the green landmasses. I then scattered a heavy coat of green flock over the glue. Once that dried (arrg, drying time sucks), I dabbed (heavy stippling) uneven patches of PVA on top of the flock with an old brush, than carefully sprinkled static grass on top. Always use a little more than you need, so you can gently pat it down, to make sure most of it gets in contact with the glue. Remember to gently brush the excess flock or grass back into your packet to reclaim it.
This method produces a patchy dappled grass surface like this:
I realised that another great thing about working with foam-core, is that craters can be hacked out of it! A town near Caen during the invasion would hardly have been left unscathed by bombings. The one in the picture above is a first test, and will need to look more burnt and blackened. Some ordinary garden pebbles and sand form the edges of the little creek which leads to the canal.
Tune in soon for part two.