Some Sadness and Scenery Advice from an Upset Wargamer


As you know, I love making scenery for my wargames. I'm one of those gamers who loves lots of different game systems and milieu from sci-fi to fantasy, historical to alternate realities, modern to ancient, skirmish scale to large scale gaming. Although I do have to confess to playing more of the former than the latter. This is mainly due to the time I take to paint. Of course, the main problem with skirmish gaming is that it becomes scenery heavy. This may actually be one of the main reasons I love it.

And whereas many people have their gaming storage area dominated by an ever expanding miniatures collection, I find myself coping with an ever expanding collection of scenery instead. This, I consider to be a good thing.
So imagine my dismay when I went to the loft and began to see an alarming trend. My modern city boards, which have been the backdrop to my All Things Zombie campaign, have begun to warp. So too have the building frontages I had spent so much time on last autumn. When I realised this was the case, there was definitely a Bruce Banner moment...

This, you will understand, is why my 'Burbs boards have not progressed any further.

So what could I have done to avoid this problem? Well, the large buildings are just that. They're large. Cutting so many windows was bound to conpromise their rigidity, but I hadn't realised by how much. So if you're tempted to make anything like the size of these buildings, please, please make sure you add in some more internal supports, whether vertical or horizontal to save yourself from the same fate. Because this bowing is really upsetting.

And what about the boards themselves? Well, I can only conclude that the polystyrene boards are liable to warp over time when foamcore is stuck to them. Should have saved up for some mdf really, shouldn't I?

So what am I going to do? Well, therein lies the rub.

The boards aren't strong enough to withstand the necessary pressure of weighing them down until they flatten out. And as they stand, they don't sit together well. That much was becoming apparent towards the end of our ATZ campaign. It's probably going to be best to throw them out. Although I will need to cut out the magnets first. No point wasting them.
This of course poses a conundrum. As usual, there are a number of games I'm looking forwards to playing. And a number of them are going to need a city location.  The simple thing would be to try and rescue the base boards by fixing them to some MDF.
Then there's the opportunity it affords me to go one step further and actually redesign the base boards.  It's an opportunity at least to go for a layout that will give more variety to the setup.
This of course leads to the perennial supplemental conundrum: to scratch build the buildings or buy the MDF.  I put out one of those polls on G+ on this very topic.  The winning view was to scratch build.  What I found even more interesting was how balanced the voting was between scratch building and purchasing kits.  That wasn't something I'd expected.  I had actually thought purchasing plastic and MDF kits would be more popular.  And with some good manufacturers out there like Gafecraft, Sarissa Precision and 4Ground, I thought they would win the day.  I wonder though if their saturation of the displays at various conventions is maybe making people look wistfully to a simpler time?
The bottom line is simple.  If you're going to play a lot of different games in a lot of different settings,  you're going to need a lot of different scenery, both in terms of base boards and the stuff that goes on top.  What have I learned so far?

Firstly, go drop on with your terrain.  I love the idea of specifically themed boards, each one modelled as if it were a railway layout with everything in one place.  There's a lotto this stuff going on out in the wargaming community.  They look lovely.  But let's be honest, they don't get used all year round. If you want to go this way, go ahead and enjoy.  But you're going to need a lot more space than the average gamer will ever have.  For that reason I go drop on.

Secondly, make sure your scenery can withstand a lot of moving and handling.  All the more so if you need to store most of your stuff in the loft.  I've found that its best to get your stuff protected.  I use Really Useful Boxes wherever possible.  And I never go beyond 32litre boxes if i want to get them in and out of the loft.  I hope to have sufficient funds in the future to replace all my storage in this way.  Right now I have a lot of buildings in those office cardboard boxes.

Thirdly, don't use polystyrene boards and expect them to last!  Conversely, don't make everything out of plaster and thick MDF unless you have enough surplus funds for a new dining table.

So there you go.  A few thoughts from a gamer with over thirty years of trying to figure all this out.  I haven't achieved that status yet, but I am blessed with a very understanding wife who's seen me run round in circles on this problem!

Right, I need to decide what to do with these city boards.  There's so many uses for them, raining from ATZ to A Fistful of Kung Fu.  And then there's the back alleys I'll need for some Pulp gaming.  And gangsters...
...Oh, and I should really get on with that Frostgrave project.  And the Bavarian WWII buildings.  And my medieval buildings for Lion Rampant.  Oh, and I've got to do something for In Her Majesty's Name.

Oh, crumbs!





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