Insider 1-17-2011

Starting today Privateer Hobby will collect and display the best parts of the Privateer Press hobby experience! Starting with gallery shots of our terrain and figures, we'll soon be adding galleries of our painting competition winners, player submissions, and tutorials for hobby projects! You can check out the new page here.

In addition, I’ll be kicking off a new series of tutorial blogs featuring WARMACHINE and HORDES battlefield terrain. I’ll be showing off some of my secret tips and tricks, and there will be a way for you, the readers, to win the actual piece featured in the blog (more on that later).

I’m pretty psyched because the blog format will allow me to use a ton of photos, and there will be a linked forum thread to encourage questions and discussion about the specific terrain and techniques. I might even be able to drop in a short video clip to demonstrate a specific technique or tool use.

The Contest: How you can get your hands on an original terrain piece from Privateer Press
The tutorials will go up bi-monthly beginning in February and will feature one style of terrain (IK-themed buildings, for example). We want the readers to get together with their respective gaming groups or stores and make some terrain of their own based on what was featured in the tutorial. Send in pictures of your finished creations, and I’ll post images of the coolest one and send the winner the original terrain piece I built for the blog.

Tutorial blogs will go live on the first Monday of the month. Photos of the contest entries are due by the end of the same month. The winner will be announced the week following the entry deadline.

A couple points to remember:
Entries don’t have to be exact recreations of the terrain in the blog, but should be along the same lines. The idea is to inspire you to make terrain that suits your gaming board aesthetics and faction themes. Readers can enter as part of a group or as individuals. There’s only one prize, though, so if people enter as a group, the terrain prize will be sent to the group to become part of their collection.

Gather Your Supplies
Having the right tools for the job is essential. Check out No Quarter Magazine #15 for an article called Staging the Battle, which contains a comprehensive list of tools, materials, and costs. I’m not going to reiterate it all here, but I’ll briefly cover some of the essentials and make a couple of additions.

You’ll definitely want to pick up an extendable snap-off knife and a steel ruler.

You probably already have a hobby knife for model cleaning and assembly. Make sure you keep some new blades on hand. Remember, when cutting foam, it’s important to use a sharp blade. The sharp edge will become dull quickly, and the duller the blade the more likely it is the foam will tear as you cut.

A trick I use is to keep two hobby knives on hand. One has a brand-new blade I only use for my foam cuts where sharpness is important. The second knife has a blade that’s still sharp, but has lost its “freshness.” I use this one for cutting basswood and plastic card, scraping mold lines, and such. When my fresh blades wear down to the point I can’t get smooth cuts anymore, I rotate them into the second knife handle and toss the older blade.
Another tool that is a lifesaver is a rotary hand sewing punch. It will run you about thirty dollars and can be found wherever leather-working tools are sold.

This thing has almost eliminated my need to cut plastic rod into little rivet “chads” and glue them on one by one. The tool presses dimples into plastic card, which have the appearance of rivets on the reverse side.

Building Materials

Pink or blue insulation sheets and foam core are indispensable for most projects. Gluing them together quickly can be a challenge. A hot glue gun works pretty well, but it’s difficult to get a permanent bond and you risk melting the surface or burning yourself. (Oh, the humanity!)

Construction Adhesive for paneling is the best way to bond insulation foam, but it can take a while to set up. When gluing large sheets, adding a bead of hot glue surrounded by the construction adhesive can work like a charm. The hot glue will dry quickly and hold the piece in place while the construction adhesive sets up for a permanent bond. Hot glue by itself is best for attaching foam core to foam core (for example, when framing out the walls of a building).

Wood Filler Putty works really well for smoothing over hills and for applying a cracked plaster texture to the outside of a building. You can get a 32 oz. tub for around six dollars.

Some materials to avoid:

Packing styrofoam (like the kind that comes in a stereo box) is pretty useless. On rare occasion a unique shape can work for a building, but you’ll need to cover it with wood filler to hide the obvious surface texture and to prevent it from cracking, chipping, or dissolving when you paint it. For basic hills or wall shapes, this stuff is right out.

Whether you’re making molds and casting parts or using it as a covering layer, I find that plaster isn’t very good for gaming terrain. It chips easily; leaving a white powdery edge that will continue to crumble. It also adds a lot of unnecessary weight to the piece. Plaster has its uses, but for a covering surface you’re better off using wood filler putty. For casting components, use a two-part resin.

Model Parts & Found Objects
Found objects and model parts can add a lot of detail to a terrain piece and help to tie it into the Iron Kingdoms aesthetic. You can find some real gems in the toy bin at garage sales and thrift stores. Cheap wind-up toys are of particular value to us because they can be cannibalized for the gears inside.

Parts from the WARMACHINE and HORDES miniatures range are also really useful, and I incorporate them into my terrain as often as possible. Here are a few examples of the parts I keep on hand to use in construction.

Behemoth Stacks

Deathjack Chimney #1

Mariner Cannon

Centurion Boiler

Devastator Back

Man-O-War Kovnik Banner

Thunderhead Piston

Next Month’s Project
At the end of each tutorial I’ll list any parts I plan to use in the following project. That way, anyone building the terrain will have plenty of time to order the parts and build something in time to enter it in the contest.

The first project is going to be a set of Trollkin waystones carved with runes and adorned with scrolls. The Stone Scribe Elder Scroll Bundle works perfectly for our purposes, but there are a number of scrolls in the WARMACHINE and HORDES range that will allow you to add variety to your terrain piece.

‘Til next time!