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“CITY OF THE DAMNED” SPECIAL PROJECT part one

“CITY OF THE DAMNED” SPECIAL PROJECT part one

“It is a Dark Time.
The might of the Empire is dust, their crown is lost to them and their glory forgotten.
The promise of an age of peace and prosperity is drowned in blood.
This is your time. For the ruins of Mordheim hold prize beyond imagination: stones of power which can grant all your wishes.
But beware of your enemies.
Fear the Possessed, the Beasts of the Pit which roam the night.
Watch for the thieves of the Rat men, the Skaven of the Underworld.
Dread the corpses who walk like the living: the foul Vampires and their rotting minions.
This is Mordheim, the city of the Damned. This is the home of all your hopes. Be wary or it will be your grave as well.”

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CITY OF THE DAMNED - part one: VENTURE

It all started with a single idea that came to me one day. I remember it as if it were yesterday, cause this was the glorious day when I installed Mordheim: City of the Damned and tried it out for the first time. I saw Mordheim in it’s full dark glory and thought ‘Damn! This looks so effective. I should make myself a gaming board based on this…’ You see – terrain making is similar to PC map building. You take base shapes, you texturize them and then colour them. If you happen to plan it beforehand, you will have just that: base shapes, texture pieces and paints – to work with. So , the idea was one of the ‘good ones’ and totally within my reach. Not a priority – just ‘an idea’. From then on it was haunting me throughout my everyday life. Sometimes it stayed dormant for couple of weeks just to emerge from the depth of my imagination without any warning. Many times I was on the verge of realizing it into existence, then just hid it deeper within me like “meh, takes up too much time, I don’t need it right now”. But, not so long ago, the right moment finally came. I was gaming in a local hobby store, where I saw an inspiring collecrion of Mordheim terrain. This was too much – I couldn’t resist. There was just too much inspiration to walk by. I broke that invissible mental barrier – took this like a man – a day later I went to Leroy Merlin, purchased all necessary materials and started working on this project…

GOAL:

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I already had a Mordheim Gaming Board along with all the terrain that  might come in handy throughout a vast campaign. The old scenery set was rather solid but lacked some key features in terms of theme and looks – the most important of which was texture. Back in the days I praised short construction time and playability over looks and strong theme. I produced terrain pieces really fast, but at a cost of visuals. This time I wanted to set looks and theme as the highest priority with playability a bit lower, followed by durability and other usual stuff, along with construction time being the lowest priority. Due to my current Nomad’ish way of life I also wanted for this gaming board to be transportation friendly and rather light. To achieve that I had to fulfill these assumptions:

  • A lot of texture, looks
  • A lot of detail, looks
  • No bases, re-playability,
  • Light, transportation,
  • Easy setup, playability,

As with most terrain projects, I started with preparing a simple visualisation of how much space the foundations will take up on the gaming board. By ‘the foundations’ I mean the simple terrain pieces that will take up most space, creating different levels on the gaming board. In case of “The Colony” gaming board these would obviously be buildings, but this time I’ve decided to use urban hills for the job. This was just a formality, but as usual I wanted to be prepared for what’s to come…

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The base concept was to create four urban hills, that migh be combined in many different ways to create a large elevated space, or set up individually. Along with these, two small urban hills and two platforms were to be made. While small hills might be used for shape diversity and to link the bigger ones, platforms were to provide easy access to elevated positions on the map…

EQUIPMENT:

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One of the most important thing in terrain building is choosing the right materials. Let’s say that I wanted to provide a lot of texture and detail while at the same time I wanted my gaming board/scenery to be rather durable, easy to setup and easy to transport (Not to mention – wallet friendly). Plaster was obviously a bad choice as it’s not only heavy but also not very good to paint on. Plaster tends to get damaged all the time and I personally try to avoid it. Any type of Resin or Hardfoam might do but these are extremely expensive and in case of a project on such a grand scale, they would have required professional equipment to be fully implemented. So I decided to go for styrofoam for base shapes and wallpaper for texture. (I personally hate light terrain pieces, that tend to fly all over the table, but in this case – solid buildings could keep the rest pinned to the table, fulfilling all the assumptions of my initial idea at the same time.

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COBBLESTONE STREETS:

I had all the materials needed along with the concept. The only thing to do at that point was to start working on the project. I started with the most simple of tasks – preparing the ‘cobblestone’ gameboard. It bassicaly took like half an hour with me just applying a lot of basing glue onto the board and then cutting large pieces of a wallpaper to be glued upon it. The picture looks nothing special, but once painted – small cobblestone could be seen all over the game board…

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FIRST STEPS:

As soon as I took on the platforms, an idea of additional items appeared. Having in mind that the upper level should be rather accessible for all the miniatures I added four sets of stairs to the fold. Started with base shape cut out of rough pieces of styrofoam, then added texture on the sides to finally cover certain places with handmade stones. The stones (or just ‘huge bricks’) were made by cutting the base rectangular shape out of styrofoam and then rolling droves of these in my hands so that all the hard angles became nicely rounded.

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DEEP ALLEYS:

Along with all the platforms and stairways I also prepared a set of urban hills. I used ‘Legend of the five rings ccg’ boxes to gain access to base shapes of a similar height. The best method to texturise them was to cover entirety of them with glue and then use wallpaper all over it. Once glue dried out I added styrofoam pieces cut out of the fridge protecting casing ( I like to keep such stuff in case it’ll come in handy – and guess what – it did…). Just like with stairs and platforms, I texturized urban hills with styrofoam bricks/blocks of stone.

Usually at this point I would have spent a lot of time correcting small imperfections, but I’ve figured out to cover them with a finishing touch of fake autumn leaves, once the paint job is done. This way I wanted to strenghten the mood of the entire table while having all the small holes and defects covered.

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ARCHED BRIDGES:

One of the things I usually messed up were bridges. Up to now I can’t recall any of these that would actually turn out to look good. Having excess materials I decided to give it a try, this time tho I used the same concept as in case of urban hills. I tweaked the design a little to better suit the gaming board and added two short bridges to the set.

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FINAL TESTS:

Just after undercoating the this scenery set up couple of different battlefields to take proper pictures. I was able to confront the idea of a modular table with what I’ve created. Checked out different layouts but also made mental notes of what and how many buildings I would require in the future…

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PROVIDING COLOURS:

Paint job followed soon after. I used entire 200ml of Vallejo Black Surface Primer, mixing it with gray and white to provide different layers of both wet paint job and drybrush. After that I also edged all corner stones with GW’s Pale Wych Flesh and added some extras in form of broken skulls, torches and Wyrdstone Shards. I also covered some spots with Autumn Leaves made out of Birch-tree seeds. This set a strong, dark mood to the scenery and comboed nicely with aldready painted ‘Toad Fountain’ and ‘Dead Tree’ pieces…

Epilogue:

More than happy with the visual results I hold the project until end of the year and get back to it with some cool looking buildings later on. We’ll see how it goes once 2017th hits the callendar…

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