Sunday, 26 July 2015

A Dark Deranged Structure: Building McDeath's Winwood Harbour on the cheap!

Hello once more, my friends. As you will recall, one of the challenges I set myself some time ago in regards to my McDeath project was a custom board on which to play each scenario. Unfortunately, pressures of life (not to mention rather grotty weather) held me back from achieving this goal. However, with a week to go until the Oldhammer Weekend I needed to pull something out of the hat in order to get the game put on at all. So with the knowledge about how to create a Wargames table for next to nothing, I set about creating a small skirmish board from stuff I found lying about the house. This blog post will show you how I did it. 

As you can see from the image above the two main components for the Wargames table were foam board and two pin boards. Both of these items are strong and more importantly, light and make an ideal base for the cost effective gamer who lacks storage space.

The second stage is two cut out the foam board so that the interior of the pin boards are totally filled. Careful measurement beforehand will ensure that the foam board you buy will fit the recess of the pin board. I used PVA glue to stick down the foamboard ad left the glue to dry overnight.

Once suitably dry, I used a felt pen (and the Winwood Garbour map in McDeath) to design the layout of the gaming board. I included a little coastal area to represent the sea, space for the village as well as the road, hills and playing field. I used the card buildings as a rough guide to what I wanted scale wise around the the village area. Finally, I cut out the foam board in the bottom corner to create a little depth for the beach. 

Sand is the familiar friend to many a modeller and I added it to the parts of the board that would require texture. In the past, I have covered the whole board only to end up never seeing my handiwork once the flock and static grass stages have been completed. 

To create some height I used some more foam board to create hills. From experience, nicely contoured hills look great on the table but are a bit of a pain to balance metal models on. As a compromise, I opted to use staggered stage hills inspired on the classic set up in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition. I just cut them out with my knife and glued them down along with the sand. 

Again, I left this overnight to dry.

I undercoated the board in brown paint and left it to dry in the sun. I have always been amazed how useful a good hot day is for building Wargames tables as a good thirty minutes outside can dry glue or paint rapidly. Any bits of paint that the sun's heat missed, especially around the edges of the hills, were finished off with the hair dryer. 

Using a white spray paint can, I gently undercoated the lighter textured areas of the board. I sprayed along the road and the beach area quite carefully and then completed a second coat along the centre of the path and the top of the beach. 

For the next stage, I mixed up some very watery paints. Using an earthy brown as a base, I created a darker shade, a mid tone (by adding a great deal of yellow) and a lighter yellow. These mixes are extremely thinned down and have a similar consistency to washes. 

It was then very straightforward to apply them. Using a large brush, I dabbed them on along the textured area and allowed the different tones to mix together, spending a little more time on the beach area and attempting to get the beach a little more sandy in tone than the roads. 

Strategic use of the hairdryer helped here too, and after a while the whole of the board was covered and dry to the touch. 

I drybruhed up the textured areas in much the same way as I do my bases. I used a mixture of brushes and tried to keep the directions of the strokes different. I ended up using a white for the final highlights. Be warned though, this process will kill your brushes! 

The final stage, and my favourite, was the flocking. I just coated the board in PVA and sprinkiled on my darkest green static grass. Over the next few hours, I added other tones of static grass to try and create a more natural feel to the surface. I also took advantage of the Gale Force 9 and Army Painter products I had hidden away. These helped me create patches of flowers, bushes and tuffs of high grass, all of which add character to the table. 

A quick test with the models and scenery and we are nearly finished. I just have to add the water effects to the beach area tonight. 

As a final touch, I painted the edges of the pinboard black to create some definition and tidy the table up. 

I am now all ready for the first game! 


  1. Great stuff. Especially like the the pinboard\foamcore base idea. Will keep that in mind for an future boards. Also like the hills. I was a bit uncertain with the look from the initial "bare" pictures (but appreciate the practical reason), but once the flocks were applied they look the business. Well done :)

    1. Practical indeed. Cheap and quick to build. I have since added the water effects but in this dreary weather they still haven't dried properly! ):

  2. Superb bit of work there! Can't wait to read the bat rep =)

    1. Both parts are up now if you are interested in seeing how things went!