Monday, August 28, 2017

First Star Wars Terrain: McQuarrie Style Rocks

With a burning urge to get some Star Wars terrain done but just a handful of pieces of foam board left, I decided to keep it simple and start with the basics of any wargaming table: rocks.

Although rocks are pretty generic and can be used in any other tabletop game as well, I felt the need to embed them into the Star Wars universe in some form. After seeing rowdyoctopus's pics of the demo tables at Gencon I knew exactly what to do. If there's something like a "typical Star Wars rock concept", it's Ralph McQuarrie's original Dantooine concept art that was later used for EU Alderaan lore and the design of Lothal in Star Wars Rebels.

´Time to get started: I stacked a couple of pieces of foam board and stuck them together using wood glue and wooden barbecue skewers. After letting them dry I used a box knife to work out the basic shape. Sandpaper was used later in the process to smoothen rough areas. You don't have to worry too much about the surface of your rocks at this point, since you're going to sandcoat them later on anyways.

For giving them a sandstone look and feel, I coated the entire rock with a mix of wood glue, acrylic colour (just some dark sandtone), bird sand and some leftover acrylic sealant which I still had from creating the gaming mat (This one is highly optional...)

For detailing, I mixed the base colour with a variety of yellow, red and brown pigments. Even if it's "just a rock" it should never been just grey but have a variety of earth tones in it. The original McQuarrie/Lothal concept uses green to give the surface some depth. Since I'm going for a Jedha-inspired desert terrain, I stuck with the colours I already used for the mat.

After that, it's just some final drybrush with your basecolour + a little white and you're done: Some basic rocks that should have some Star Wars feel to them.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

How to Store a Gaming Mat

Many people asked if the mat would crack if rolled up. Well, although it's perfectly possible that this will happen at one point in time, I don't see it happening soon. The acrylic sealant makes the mat extremely flexible and bonds the paint and sand nicely to the cloth.

The mat's first field test was pretty successful. I left it on the back porch for a whole day. The dog and the kid walked over it constantly and I even folded and bent it on purpose several times. So far I can't see any real tear. A proper gaming table would probably be wrecked right now...

For storage I use rubber foam pipe isolation. It's quite cheap, lightweight and supports the mat nicely when stored so we won't get any visible folds on the battlefield.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One Day Build: Jedha Gaming Mat

FFG’s announcement of Star Wars: Legion at GenCon got me pretty hyped and I immediately started working on some terrain I originally had intended to use with my West End/Grenadier miniatures. 

Since I love Rogue One and especially the Jedha set, I'm obviously looking forward to have some games in this setting. Moreover, I am quite confident that the desert moon provides plenty of opportunity for thrilling scenarios, even if we might have to wait for Saw Gerrera and his Partisans for quite a while before they hit the battlefields. Therefore, I started a 6’x3’ Jedha gaming mat right away. 

Although proper gaming boards might offer better opportunites to detail your scenery, I prefer gaming mats over regular gaming boards since they are inexpensive, much easier to store and really easy to build. Furthermore, my wife had some spare cloth lying around...

I went for a rather fancy approach and used a sewing machine to seam the edges of my mat. This is highly optional though...

After that, I took all the material needed outside and prepared for texturing. For a simple desert scenery like Jedha, you basically just need cheap (!) acrylic sealant, acrylic paints and sand.

Just mix the sealant, the sand and the colours of choice and spread them violently on the prepared piece of cloth.

At this point you are actually good to go. You could already use your mat after it's fully dry. Thanks to the acrylic sealant, the mat will stay flexible and can be rolled up for easy storage and transportation. (Note that there's a lot of loose sand on the mat in this picture. This will come off once it's dry.)

I decided to add just a little extra detail by giving it a light drybrush just to make the structure of the mat pop a little.

And this is the result after a couple of hours of work. I might still add some little extra detail (grass tufts etc.) once it's fully dried, but for now my first Star Wars: Legion gaming mat is finished and ready to go...