You’ve got to start somewhere.

A few weeks ago, TastyTaste asked me to contribute my hobby tips to Blood of Kittens.  While I have agreed to do so, I do have some reservations.  I in no way claim to be an expert in the field of hobby miniatures.  All I can claim to bring to the table are twenty years of experience, and the lessons I have learned along the way.  I am not a hardcore gamer, and honestly, I only get about one or two games in per month.  I do however listen to 40k podcasts during my commute each day, and at night spend at least one to two hours working in my hobby studio.  I express my love for the game through my collections, conversions and painting.  That said, I hope that my input is of use!

For me, seeing the boxed game of Space Hulk in a local hobby shop back in 1990, was all it took to make an everlasting impression on my subconscious.  Twenty years later, I have the good fortune of a job that can fund my interests, and a girlfriend who supports my addiction to mini-monster-men.  I started collecting a Genestealer Cult / Tyranid army in 2nd edition 40k, and luckily still have 6 Zoats to run as Hive Guard in the new codex.  From bugs, I moved to Chaos Space marines, then 2nd edition Necrons.  For good or for ill, I am currently sitting on about 4k points of all pewter Necrons;  hopefully the new codex doesn’t nullify my collection.  After Necrons, I moved towards a more specialized Chaos force, and used the 3.5 edition CSM codex to build my Emperor’s Children.  Although I rarely play them these days, I did buy an armorcast Reaver titan for them last winter.  In the late 90’s early 00’s, I was lucky enough to attend college at the University of Maryland, which was a mere 30 minute drive away from the now-defunct Glen Burnie Battle Bunker.  While the gaming atmosphere at the bunker did throw my attitude towards the hobby into disrepair (GW employees should never watch a customer’s game shouting “PEW PEW”), my love for miniatures persisted.  I took a break from gaming while I cemented my career in the field of teaching high school English, but a few years ago, dove back in with the conversion and painting of a 10k point Chaos Daemon army.

This past summer, I built and painted a long-time dream project, which was a Forgeworld Vraksian Renegade Imperial Guard army.  After some hobby success with my Vraksian Militia back in October at my first GT, Battle for Salvation, I started writing a hobby blog.  Ten Inch Template has since gotten some attention, which was certainly a surprise to me.  Keeping a journal of my obsessions seemed like a self-serving task, but apparently some people get a kick out of it.  I was glad that my hobby tips were helping people, so I branched out.  I spent some time this past fall recording a podcast segment for The Eleventh Company, known as “Hobby Tactics”.  With the help of Neil Gilstrap as well as Old Shatter Hands of Tau of War, we recorded six episodes that served as a walk-through for planning, collecting and building an army as economically and quickly as possible.  Being more involved with our hobby was becoming more enjoyable, and pretty easy considering our blogo/podo-sphere.  As of late, my blog has been focused on my newest project, “The Kabal of the Fursaken”, a total conversion that uses all Skaven-based miniatures with the Dark Eldar codex.   While not exactly presenting a universal appeal with such a niche project, my work continued to attract interest…

I thought that for a first post, I would begin with the creation of a gaming table.  The hobby that we all engage in can have many dependencies.  While some of these necessary items are obvious, such as miniatures and dice, other elements, such as gaming space, are sometimes overlooked.  For me, I am lucky enough to live near a few gaming stores that have always been supportive of tabletop gaming, and provide tables and terrain.  I recognize that not everyone has this option.  Last summer, I decided to make sure that even if local hobby stores were no longer available, due to moving my home or stores closing down, I would still be able to game.  I decided to take the plunge, and build a gaming board.  The photo above is the end result, but let me share how I put this together.  It is worth noting here that I will not be discussing terrain today.  The absurd variety and amount of terrain I have built will certainly be shared in the future, as I explain the cheapest and easiest way to build your own collection.  Today however, will be all about the board itself.

Here we have an unassuming dining room table, in suburban New Jersey.  Aside from the miniature cabinet in the background, this is not very Grimdark, eh?  That will change soon enough.  Having a room that is large enough to accommodate a temporary 4’x6′ gaming table is essential.  While this garage-sale bought dining room table is not nearly that size, the structural integrity of the table as well as the surrounding space made this a natural choice for placing my modular battlefield.  Next, comes the framework on which the gaming surface itself will rest:This wooden frame was made from a few 2″x4″ beams.  I had this wood cut at the store where I bought them, for maybe $0.50 a cut.  The frame is a full 4’x6′ in size, but fairly lightweight, and easily hidden against the wall of my storage room.  I laid this frame down on my dining room table, and marked off the four corners of the oval-shaped table.  At each of these locations, I nailed a small block of wood.  These blocks keep the frame from shifting while placed on the table:Hopefully, this will avoid a mid-game catastrophe, which could spill hundreds of hours of modeling work into a “broken heap” formation on the floor.  Here is the frame in place, “locked” onto the table:This frame serves three purposes.  First off, it reduces the over-all size of the textured gaming board, as modular pieces can now be affixed to this movable structure.  Secondly, the frame’s ability to “grab” the table itself makes the idea of using an expensive Forgeworld model far less risky.  Lastly, the frame actually raises the soon-to-be-in-place gaming surface 4″ higher, which makes players like me, who have shifty backs and horde armies, much happier.

Now that the frame was in place, I could focus on the gaming surface itself.  I bought a 4’x6′ sheet of masonite, and had it cut into two separate 2’x6′ sheets.  These smaller sheets would be far easier to manipulate inside the confines of a house, and could also easily be hidden behind a couch or cabinet.  I mixed some paint texture with a gallon of black latex paint, and rolled a few coats on.  After drying, I built up a variety of colors and highlights, with brushed-on browns, greys, and finally whites.  I made sure that these abstract patterns flowed from one board to the next, in order to unify the sheets.  I then rolled on two coats of polyurethane, and sprayed a few cans of Testor’s Dullcote to reduce the sheen of the sealer.  Here is what one of these sheets looks like:Having spent time and effort making sure my frame affixed to the table, I wanted to make sure my gaming surface would be locked to the frame as well.  In order to achieve this, I drilled a small hole on the inside corners of these sheets, wide enough to drop a nail down through the board and into the frame:These nails would serve as “pins”, and keep the gaming surface from sliding:With this half of the board in place, the table begins to take shape:I labeled both the frame and underside of each board to make sure the abstract patterns I had painted onto the surface were aligned correctly, corner to corner.  The finished product:So there you have it.  It is not perfect:  for one thing, there is a line running down the center of the table giving both players a 24″ ruler to visualize.  However, I am currently in the process of basing a solution to this in the form of an urban roads set.  Regardless, the GW “Realm of Battle” board has far less forgivable demarcation lines.  Either way, this modular board that I built can be set-up or taken-down in less than ten minutes, and is easily hidden away.  As I said at the beginning, I do not claim to have all the answers, just a variety of experience to share.  Anyone who has a differing technique or pointers to share, I would love to hear them.

That’s all for now.  I hope that this post has served as a “foundation” for my future contributions to Blood of Kittens.  I hope that at the very least, those of you who had not seen my work before can see that I spend a fair amount of time planning out my projects, and typically work to an acceptable finished standard.  In the future, I plan to share a variety of “How To” projects such as terrain, conversions, army collecting, painting and transportation.  Although, I would like to consider these articles less of a  “How To”, and more of a “How I Did This”.  I am currently elbow-deep in a 40k project for this year’s NOVA, so I will try to keep my Blood of Kittens posts from overflowing with my current work, but then again as bloggers, we write what we know.

So  go ahead and roll for deployment.  And yes, feel free to re-roll if you get Dawn of War.


You can find nyhil at his very own blog