Sunday, 15 January 2012

Working in a winter wonderland

Not the best pic... I was worried the bases were not white enough. My camera flash disagrees
Well Cancon is less than 2 weeks away, and I have tons of models I need to paint for my army. It is only natural then, that I allow myself to be completely sidetracked by making terrain for the tournament. Despite what the title would suggest, we are not in the middle of winter here in Australia. However, I am surrounded by snowy trees and hills in various stages of completion.

Our club put our hands up to help run Warhammer Fantasy at Cancon when it was becoming apparent that the event might find itself without a TO and not run at all this year. This would have been unacceptable for us, as it's the one big road trip a year that a large number of us take part in, and has always been great fun. We were not going to let a decade-long tradition fall in a heap so easily. Anyway, it turned out we would also need to supply the terrain for the event. This is a bit of a logistical headache - needing to transport terrain for an entire tournament's worth of tables, an 8 hour drive away from home. Even so, we decided we could do it. But the headaches do not end there.

The Hampton Games Club has a fairly substantial stock of terrain, and can fairly comfortably lay out 20 tables at once for Warhammer Fantasy. We've done this the last few years for Axemaster, and we've always been able to make it work. However, I set the nominal limit of players at Cancon to 70. I figured we would probably not get this many players, really. The largest tournament in Australia since 8th edition came out was around 50 players, so there was no real danger of needing to supply terrain for 35 tables. Well, apparently I was wrong. At the time of writing, I have a list of 70 names, 66 of whom have sent me their army lists. It looks like we will be hitting out limits after all.

So, where to find 15 more tables of terrain?

A year ago, I chanced upon the Christmas clearance section in my local Myer store, and found that they had a range of miniature scenery designed for Christmas displays - so trees, some houses, snowy white wadding to lay on the ground as snow, etc. This was cute, however it was expensive - or at least, it was up until Christmas. In the rush to get rid of their Christmas stock after the event, Myer were dropping prices to bargain basement prices. I got bags of trees marked at $40 for $5, and some cool cobblestone mats at the same price. This is a lesson for everyone - go check the post Christmas clearance areas, as you never know what you might find.

Anyway, after my initial excitement at having snapped up such a bargain (I completely cleared out their trees and cobblestone mats), I then put them in our spare room and left them there. For a year. As exciting as the value of the trees was, we simply didn't need them at the time. Cancon changes that.
The same shot as the earlier one. Without the blinding glare
The trees come with various sizes in each bag. The biggest ones are larger than any other trees we currently use, and the smallest ones are really cute and could just about be used for 6mm games. We base all our trees so that they can be unplugged from the forest base in order to allow units to move through (like the current GW plastic woods). This has resulted in us clumping large and small trees together, and even little clusters of the tiniest trees onto what would normally be a single tree base. The upshot of all this (and the raised bases of the trees representing mounds of snow) is that some of these forests may even manage to block True Line of Sight from the right angles. This might make for some interesting games.
The bases have been covered in builder's sand, which is extremely fine and the most durable thing we could think of that would give a reasonable effect
In all, we have constructed 20 forests with a total of 95 trees (counting pairings and small clusters as a single tree). We still need to glue the trees back into their bases, however the rest of the work is done.

My Kislevite stands atop a mountain of tree bases
A shout out to Owen, Pete, Nick and Ben, who all pitched in at various points of the process.
The mighty bag o trees lurks behind the snowy white bases
In addition, we need more hills. Specifically we need hills that match the new white-based forests. I have a stockpile of white insulation polystyrene in my garage, however it's extremely thick - too thick for anything except the largest of hills. As such, it needs to be cut in half to thin it out before making the hills. Unfortunately the only "suitable" tool I have at my disposal is a kitchen knife. This is hard, messy work and makes for some fairly rough cuts. Anyway, I called it quits after producing 20 relatively small hills. These have been sanded, however they need some touching up before we paint them white.
A teetering tower of half-done hills
What we have produced is not really enough for 15 tables, however when we spread things out in regard to our existing supplies, I think we can make it work. Now I can get on with painting my army, so that I can try to put in a good showing in the largest Fantasy tournament the country has seen in the last year and a half!


  1. If you think the number '95 trees' seems like a lot, but it feels a bit abstract, I should mention that it took me about an hour and a half just to hot glue them to their individual bases. Just standing all the trees up waiting to be glued took up about 2/3 of a standard 6X4 warhammer table at HGC on saturday.

  2. I saw your link over at the ogre forums, The Stronghold. Glad to see someone else busy making terrain on this scale for a tournament! We're doing the same thing here trying to get ready for a 70 man 40K tournament. We've already sold out the event in exactly two weeks, but luckily we got a head start on the terrain this year. Check it out at The Istvaanians.