12 September 2010

The Terrain Project: Introduction

So, GenCon meant that I got to play a few games that don't seem to have many players in the local area. Specifically, Reaper's Warlord game. It's a miniatures game, a skirmish-level combat game where small groups of fantasy races battle it out. Dwarves, orcs, elves, humans, demons. I really like the new version, despite the fact that there doesn't seem to be a local following.

Therefore, when a friend's children got excited about gaming at GenCon, I got excited about roping them into playing. Luckily, my friend is a cool sort of woman who doesn't mind her pre-teen sons playing with little metal figures against a crotchety old fart like me. By the way, I got pwned by a 12 year old during our first game. Dangit.

Nonetheless, I've been excited about creating a battleboard for us to game on. I already have several building from the Miniature Building Authority, so I can construct a pretty big village right now. But, playing on a kitchen table leaves a lot to be desired. It worked, but I want something bigger and better. Yes, at this point you should begin to be afraid. Mrs. Workshop was.

Games Workshop put out a battleboard of their own, and I really liked the concept. Modular plastic tiles, 2 ft by 2 ft, held together by clips so that the modules don't move. Six by four feet. Since I wanted a four by four area, their board would provide a good amount of variation. In addition, it stores fairly easily, is rugged, and expandable. You know, should I ever want an absolutely huge area to play on! The downsides, though, were enormous. First was the price. Almost $300 retail. Second, all that gets you is the molded plastic. You still need to paint the thing! And, some of the sculpting is wacky. I suppose it works for GW, but I wasn't really getting into it. Especially for $300. Oh yeah, no rivers, no extra hills (the battleboard modules have small rises sculpted into them).

Thus my brain started churning. Images of modular terrain filled my imagination. Rivers carved into the base, craggy hills rising to provide an overlook. Standing stones, ruins! I could construct a frame of 2x2's, supported by 1x2's, and place the terrain modules inside so that they wouldn't be knocked around. I even came up with a way to add hinges so that I could store the frame easily.

For the past two weeks, I made plans to buy the lumber, the MDF for the modules, the polystyrene for the hills. I tweaked the frame design, trying to find a way to get a stronger hinge. I started thinking about just how much flock I would need to cover all the modules I had envisioned.

This morning, reality hit me square in the face. I was tasked with watching Little Workshop while Mrs. Workshop went to lunch with friends. Little Workshop was tired, he cried, he couldn't get comfortable in my arms. Today was going to be the big day! Menard's was calling! And there was going to be no way I could get all the stuff I wanted while making sure my son didn't have a melt-down in the store. After our morning nap (because I napped too!), I loaded him into my truck and off we went. As I was driving, I realized there was no way I could dedicate the time to build the terrain I wanted. Gaming is fun, but my son deserves more of my time.

So I caved. Instead of Menard's, I drove to a fabric store. A half-yard of blue felt. A half yard of tan felt. For rivers and roads, repectively. I lucked out in that the store was having a half-off sale, so I managed to spend about $5.50 and get material for more roads and rivers than I will probably ever use.

I also stopped by Michael's Craft Store. They had their Christmas Village stuff out, and I found some birch trees I might pick up later. They also had a roll of rubber flagstone that may work for city streets. A quick check online showed there's a 50% off coupon, so I may not have to wait until after Christmas for some of this stuff.

As I ate dinner, I resigned myself to playing on MDF painted green. I could still do the polystyrene hills, since those smaller projects could be accomplished without interfering in my fatherly duties. But the big cool modular terrain, the rivers, the crags . . . those would have to wait. Of course, what about trees? It's a shame Michael's didn't carry the Woodland Scenics stuff like Hobby Lobby does. That 50% off coupon would come in handy. . . .

And as I was going to bed, I realized that Hobby Lobby routinely runs a 40% off coupon. I wonder if they had the large grass mats that Woodland Scenics makes . . . . A quick internet search says yes.

So I've been unable to sleep for the past two hours as my creativity has been sparked again. Creativity coupled with 40% off coupons is a scary thing for me. Mrs. Workshop agrees, and she's resigned herself to the fact that tomorrow I'll likely have a 4' x 8' mat of grass spread over our dining room table.

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