Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reblog: Building a Better City From the Ground Up Part 1

In May of 2009 I composed this blog post and took the below photos. It was supposed to be Part 1 of a series of articles on getting the most out of Cities of Death terrain and attempting to truly capture the "city feel" that I think most city boards lack. Not surprisingly because I work so slowly, I never composed a Part 2 to this article. I've still be working on this concept off and on for 3 years now and as I prepare the 4 Cities of Death boards needed for the 40K Warzone Tournament at Adepticon, I figured I'd resurrect this post rather than rewrite it all over again, starting with the original intro.

The spectacle of the game is one of the most important things to me. As such, city fighting has fantastic opportunities for stunning visuals. One of the principle visual hang ups I have with most city boards is that they don't take into account city blocks and roads. Instead, the board is a haphazard collection of buildings randomly spaced about creating a maze of totally irregular fire lanes. These boards are very suitable for game play but they just don't convey the same feel I get from walking the streets of Chicago.

When I am out and about I think about terrain a lot. I look at the architecture around me and I pick out details that can be translated into the game board. After much analysis I decided that my randomly sized city buildings, however nice, were no longer suitable as they were. I needed to create city blocks. The solution I came up with was movement trays for my buildings. Though I'm actually a lot further along in the process of making these city blocks, I have only really spent the last couple of days detailing out the city block movement trays themselves so I took some step by step photos.
The above picture shows a piece of 1/8" masonite or hardboard cut to 24"x12". My city blocks currently are in 24"x12" and 12"x12" sections to start. To frame in the movement try I have applied strips of 1" wide foam core. You will also notice the 1"x1" gap in this photo. That space was left so that I can later create 1"x1" bases for sign posts, street lamps, statues, and the like.
The next picture is a close up of the sidewalk tiling. I cut 1"x1" squares out of card stock and glued them down. Sidewalks are rarely perfect so every so often I cut the 1" square into 2-3 pieces and glued them down to create cracks in the sidewalk.
This corner is heavily damaged. I actually am running low on foam core so I used some scraps that were not perfect. In beat up older neighborhoods like mine, cement this busted up happens occasionally. In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium where there is only war, I'm sure its the norm. You might notice I threw in some sprue offcuts under the sand.
Another broken section of sidewalk - again with sprue offcuts. Notice how I didn't let the sand extend onto the bare masonite in the center as that would prevent the buildings from sitting flat.
Its the little details that bring a piece of scenery to life. This random piece of plastic I beam that was laying on the table was promptly glued down onto the sidewalk when I saw it sitting there. After it sat for a moment I went back, added a bit more watered down white glue and sprinkled some sand around it.
In one of my terrain boxes I have an old Soy Yogurt cut labeled "dome things". This random plastic "dome" was glued down to represent some sort of waste water access. Again, just a sparse sprinkle of sand was added around it.
Here is a photo of the movement try with it filled with buildings. The fit was a little snug so the two large Chicago style "3 flats" a leaning out. I need to trim the ruined building at the end like 1/16" to take that pressure off. You will notice a couple of rings. Those are man holes. I have another Soy Yogurt cup labeled "ring things" and these metal rings were glued down and then card stock circles were glued into the center of each as covers.Here's the same block shot from the left. The large ruin was a building made before I standardized the bases for the movement trays so I literally glued the hardboard base onto a properly sized pink foam base and added sidewalk tiling to make it seem like the it was actually deliberate.
I don't want to get into the manufacture of the specific buildings in this first part of the article but I wanted to show how each of the building sections is on a semi-standardized base that is then dropped onto the movement tray, allowing for different looking city blocks to be set up each time.In my Chicago neighborhood there are vacant lots interspersed between buildings on most blocks. Some of them are makeshift parks or community gardens and others are just overgrown detritus collectors. Sometimes they are fenced in, sometimes there are walls, and other times they are wide open. This represents what was likely once one of the nicer vacant lots on the block - probably a community garden or tiny park.When placed together you can see how the movement tray creates a more genuine looking city block.

Okay, so that's pretty much it from the original article. Part 2 will continue onward with the "From the Ground Up" and focus more on the movement trays themselves as they are base coated, painted, and laid out on the board along with thoughts on the streets themselves.
Thanks for reading. xNickBaranx


Knight of Infinite Resignation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Knight of Infinite Resignation said...

Thats a fanatastic idea and certainly results in a more realistic looking city. Extra use from the plastic building bits too!

Siph_Horridus said...

Great stuff, and a whole bucket load cheaper than FW's urban tile!!

btw... you may nee to update your painting race >>>> still says 2011

xNickBaranx said...

Thank you both for popping by and for the kind words!

@Siph_Horridus Yeah, we decided not to do the painting race this year. Scott got bored of kicking my ass I think. Haha.

xNickBaranx said...

I'll also add that Scott is the only one who can edit the look of the blog and modify those sort of details.

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