Friday, 22 March 2013

Terrain Mega-Project: Giant Ruined Building

Porky, this is your fault! The other day I put up a tutorial on making a ruined apartment building, which reminded Porky of an old Necromunda demonstration building. He found a picture here, and my deranged mind began to work its mad magic. First, I am not making a ruin with that many storeys, although this plan calls for 3" storeys, whereas the ones in the picture look to be about 2" with pretty thick floors. Anyway, I went up to the attic and peered at things. I knew I would have to get something pretty sturdy. I had bought some wood the other week, and was considering using that when I had a Eureka! moment. In short, I had found the perfect thing: an old table. It's sturdy, so I don't need to worry about it falling apart. It has no legs, but instead some bits of chipboard which go to the floor in an X-shape.

I have a vague conception of how the building will look, but for once I am going to make some proper plans before plunging ahead. This is not because I am getting sensible, but because I don't have enough hot glue to put the floors in place, and will not acquire any until Tuesday afternoon. So until then there will be lots of scribbling and preparation. If anyone has any handy suggestions, by all means send them in! For the time being I present a few shots for you of this planned insanity. The playing space here will be pretty sizeable. My back of the envelope calculation suggests it will be a little over six square feet, if one includes the base. Though I freely admit it won't be much use for tanks (except the base). Take a gander at the sheer size of this bonkers idea. This is going to be a hell of a project, so don't expect it to be finished any time soon.

Until next time, folks, happy 'gaming!


  1. If it's my fault, I think I'll reserve any apology for a bit - this could be amazing, and to be honest, it already is. Consider me very impressed indeed you're running with this at all and that you've done so much in just a day.

    As for ideas, beyond the basic construction, which you seem to have very well in hand, I'd say there are two key elements, which could be generalised as connectivity and content.

    By connectivity I mean how the occupants will be able to move internally from floor to floor and from quadrant to quadrant on the same floor. Moving between floors could be as easy as adding a lift shaft running from the ground to the top floor. This could even be a simple closed structure, a narrow oblong running up in the corner of one of the quadrants.

    Getting movement between the quadrants looks like it could be much trickier, because cutting doors through the core wooden structure could be hard work. You could model the doors on though, maybe with raised doorframes of thick plasticard and simple detailing made with thinner plasticard. An alternative could be to have the floors project out of each quadrant, beyond the core frame by a couple of inches, then connect them with a short walkway element.

    For modular connectivity with future structures, just keeping the quadrants open as they are looks like it could work. That would also allow you to build a lift shaft or stairwell as a modular structure to be pushed up against the main body.

    By content I mean having the floors and quadrants suggest different purposes. For example, maybe the lower couple of floors are commercial premises like shops, the next couple office spaces and the upper levels residential. The shops might be largely open spaces, to allow vehicles to be driven in too, while the offices could have glass partitions made with clear plasticard, or low cubicles, and residential might have full height partitions radiating from the centre to mark out different rooms. Later if you had the energy you could go back and add details like plumbing etc. Also, one level could be the kind of utility level modern towers have, with the air circulation machinery and power generators for unusual cover forms.

    However you end up approaching it, it should be something very special. It's very inspirational for sure. Since seeing your ruin and remembering that old Necromunda wall I've also been pondering whether I could find the space for something as big as this, or whether something similar could be built for the local game store. Hopefully, seeing you working on it will help clarify that thinking and get a lot of other people's creative juices flowing too.

  2. Haha, amazing!! I had my fingers crossed when Porky made that comment.

    this'll be corkin'!! ;-)

  3. if you have one, use a hole saw to cut circular doors. That old sci-fi standby of what lies ahead in door technology. If you are unfamiliar with the item, a hole saw is a round saw blade used like a drill bit to cut neat round holes. Put one in your drill and you're in business. Given that you've taken on this project you are probably in the know when it comes to tool.

    I'll subscribe to your blog to keep up on your progress.

  4. Cheers, folks! Unfortunately, Marc, while we've got lots of tools, very few are modern ones. My Granddad was a joiner, and so we inherited a large number of thing. We've more lathes than you can shake a stick at! In short, no hole saw here. I'll be taking the easy route, and have already started work on a few plasticard doors to be glued onto the table's legs at appropriate points.

    Mammoth bit of advice, Porky – thankee! I had been wondering about tying it all together as a structure, and had been thinking of some sort of Resident Evil thing, with a security floor, labs and so on, but on balance I prefer your vision. As you say, I can always expand it later, if I go a bit mad! In terms of modularity, it wouldn't be too tricky. In terms of storage space, if I were worried about it, I think it wouldn't be too tricky. First, I'd cut the circular table down to a square. Then add a square of plywood to the base of the legs. Next use some plasticard/plywood (well, not for me)/MDF to craft simple walls – these could be further detailed to appear to be the exterior of the building. Then you've got a small table which will fit quietly into the corner of a room when not needed for gaming. If it looked a bit odd, you could just drape a tablecloth over it when it wasn't in use.

    I had two ideas for vertical connectivity. First, an internal elevator shaft positioned in one of the quadrants, just as you describe. Second, ladders internal and external. I'm not too keen on stairs, as they tend to be a great deal of effort, but I won't rule them out completely. I am very taken with your idea of an external liftshaft, as this would allow me to change things around a bit, rendering games a bit more fluid, as one can't just sit on a lift and wait for people to come up or down. Horizontal connectivity, as I say, is probably going to be based on having some plasticard doors here and there on the structure, just as you describe.

    A final thought: if building this for a games store, it could be designed in such a way as to serve as a display case. You wouldn't be able to use this X-legged creation I have here, but with three permanent legs forming three sides of a square, you'd have a fourth removed side allowing you access to the building for display or gaming purposes. A much larger version of my small ruined apartment building, in other words.

  5. Some excellent ideas in there. I love the terrain as furniture feature, that you can just tuck it away as a table. That's a bonus for everyone else who has to use the space, or isn't happy with how much gaming can take up.

    The display case idea is also brilliant, especially if the models in the case are likely to be the ones used in games over the terrain, in that they'd all come out together.

    Re modular adjacent elements, the liftshaft and stairwells are just the tip of the iceberg I think. Most obviously there could also be connected transport links, like a monorail platform or landing pad.

    If you are going to model walls, even balconies, terraces and ledges come into play. It would be very cool to carry a game out of a window onto a sculpted ledge and around the outside at a great height. I don't think I've never seen ledges used like that in wargaming or skirmish gaming.

    The construction would be the tricky part, but it could be as easy as having a slight groove in the surface of the wall above the ledge, a groove the height of the base, so a model's base could be tucked into it and the model wouldn't then tip off and fall.

    1. High praise - thankee!

      I adore the monorail platform idea! A few years back I got a plastic curtain-rail, which over-ran what I needed by 6" or so. I have been thinking how apt it looked for a rail system ever since! You have been making me think about securing a helipad or similar to the top of the building. I do love that idea of a lip around the edge of a walkway, but I think it might need to wait for an add-on. That said, since the floors thus far are foamcard, I could just drive a pin through later on!


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