Sunday, 22 April 2012

Making your own 40k scenery - part 2

Couple of quick updates before the main part of the post:

  • I've written a guest post on Mywargame reviewing the really nice Mizuchi miniature I got recently.  I'll blog the finished job soon as he's all but finished now (assuming the varnish I just applied doesn't ruin it).
  • Played a game of Warhammer Fantasy, Tomb Kings vs. my Vampires.  Ended up a fairly convincing win even though my general fell to the curse of the Tomb Prince.  Luck was very much with me at several key points and I still made several "I should know better" mistakes, so all in all a fun game (thanks Rob) with some good take homes.

So back to the scenery...

I've been casting up extra blocks on and off for months and having ideas about making a big fortification of some kind.  I've looked through the planet strike rules and fancied having a go at some point so this was partly driving me, but I'd also been given a nice big Imperial double door by my brother that I wanted to stick on to something.

A few weeks ago I decided I would see if I could build something in a week, just in time for a scenario game I was hosting for some friends.  You can have a look at the scenario here if you wish.

The idea was that this bigger fortification should be usable on its own, but also look in keeping with the bunkers I'd already made, so a line of fortifications could be put together that looked quite nice.  With this in mind I used the design of the bunkers as the template to construct a much larger building, with 2 floors.

There's a few challenges with a building of this size made of plaster of paris that's going to be used for gaming rather than just display.

  1. It needs to be strong enough to support its own weight plus that of miniatures.
  2. It needs to have access points for miniatures to enter/exit the structure and also ideally to see out from for line of sight while shooting.
  3. It needs to be of a size that I can store it safely somewhere.
So here's what I did:

This is the ground floor.  It's pretty large, each of those tiles holds a 40k miniature easily.
Using the bunker walls as a design starting point (especially the window slots) I started dry assembling a front wall that included the big double doors.  The doors were a bit higher than I wanted the entire structure to be so they influenced the shape of the front quite a lot as you'll see on later pictures.  Once I had an idea of the size of the front I quickly dry built walls for the side and rear to make sure I had enough bricks - it was looking good so I started designing the side and rear walls in more detail.  I wanted a rear entrance that was recessed hence the 'C' shape design.  It also saved me tiles as it was looking very tight for that particular brick type.
The 1st floor, the centre section is mostly enclosed, the sides sheltered and the front exposed.
Having worked out the rough footprint of the ground floor, I started planning the 1st floor.  This I wanted to have a command bunker section, but be overall smaller than the ground floor so I wasn't building a tower block.  I also took a very simple shortcut in terms of access between floors - I didn't worry about it.  I did leave a hole in one of the sections to suggest that there's different hatches to allow for this.
The roof!  I ran out of tiles at this point so it was brownie blocks to the rescue!
The roof was more complex than I first thought.  Having now designed the ground and 1st floors in detail, I was running seriously low on bricks.  I did have a pile of brownie bricks spare, but they aren't quite the same dimensions as the Hirst moulds.  I found a combination that almost worked and then did some trimming with a knife and filling with wooden stirrers.
Front view with all levels assembled
So having worked out the overall design I started sticking the various sections together with PVA.  I generally started by making lots of subsections that were very similar to the walls of the original bunkers.  The plan was that rather than trying to build it all in one go and discover there was a fault in one brick that compromised the entire thing, at most this would affect a small section and hopefully could be compensated for when I assembled the sections.

Rear view and a sneaky sandbag lizard
Due to the size of the structure I needed a sturdy base and also decided to base the 1st floor as well.  The Hirst power station I've already built does have a large roof without a base, but this was going to be larger and heavier than that so I didn't want to risk it.  Both the ground and first floors were constructed before gluing them to their bases, again to avoid any defects in the bricks affecting the overall shape.  The ground base is mounting card, the 1st floor some plasti-card.
Side view, gives an idea of how the front is offset   
Like the bunkers and power station before it, all the touch points between floors have had a generous coating of PVA after painting to try and reduce wear and tear due to in game moving of the sections.  This is especially likely near the front door arch as its a fair tight fit.
The finished product - not 100% on the base but there's so many other things to  paint
After coating it in gesso primer, I painted it in a series of GW paints, starting with a foundation (now base) paint that goes a long way even when diluted.  I had a suitably large Aquilla left from the 40k basing kit to mimic the motif from the bunker so I added that to the 1st floor bunker.
The bastion laid out with my walls and bunkers.  Looks ok to me, need more walls!
Finally here's the "bastion" lined up with my other fortifications.  I think as a defence line it looks quite good and certainly fills a big part of a gaming table.

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