Playing Surface Advice

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Philotomy
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Playing Surface Advice

Post by Philotomy » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:57 am

I've acquired two 3 x 4 pieces of MDF (3/4" thick). The idea is to use them as portable (well, semi-portable, at least) gaming surfaces. I can use one for smaller battles (starter army sized or so) or both together for a full 6 x 4 playing field.

My question is on the surfacing. Should I flock them, or should I get some felt or a terrain mat and fix it to the surface with glue or staples? I have no experience with this kind of thing, so any advice is appreciated (including stuff like what kind of adhesive).

Oh, I also have the Citadel 6 x 4 cloth-backed battlemat. I suppose I could cut it to fit the two sections if I decide to go that route. Although it seems a shame to cut it or glue it down. What do you think?

zoltan
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Post by zoltan » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:11 am

My friend uses the same two 3x4 table pieces approach. As long as there is a decent sized table underneath the two pieces sit nicely together. He then throws a GW battlemat over the top.

So don't cut the battle mat up and don't try and stick anything to the table pieces. Just let it hang over the edges if you only use half a table, and its perfect when you use the whole table.

Polkovnik
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Post by Polkovnik » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:38 pm

I wouldn't bother flocking the boards. The flock will come off and it doesn't provide a particularly good surface for figures to sit on.

You could stick or staple a felt cloth to the boards, or just lay the boards down and lay a large cloth over them.

ravenflight
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Re: Playing Surface Advice

Post by ravenflight » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:40 pm

Philotomy wrote:I've acquired two 3 x 4 pieces of MDF (3/4" thick). The idea is to use them as portable (well, semi-portable, at least) gaming surfaces. I can use one for smaller battles (starter army sized or so) or both together for a full 6 x 4 playing field.

My question is on the surfacing. Should I flock them, or should I get some felt or a terrain mat and fix it to the surface with glue or staples? I have no experience with this kind of thing, so any advice is appreciated (including stuff like what kind of adhesive).

Oh, I also have the Citadel 6 x 4 cloth-backed battlemat. I suppose I could cut it to fit the two sections if I decide to go that route. Although it seems a shame to cut it or glue it down. What do you think?
I've had lots of experience with this, and been complimented several times about my gaming boards. I've been commissioned a couple of times to build gaming boards.

I'd definitely flock them BUT there are a few tricks.

Firstly, use Woodland Scenics. I suggest this one because I really don't know any other, and wouldn't want you to 'go astray' with problems.

Secondly, don't use small rocks/ballast (which I did in my first board - looks great, but is painful when you try to slide a big block of figures.

Here's how you build it:

What you'll need:

Paint, White Glue, Water, a bag each of Woodland Scenics Blended Turf T50 and T49 (might be worth buying an extra couple of bags, it's not that expensive), a sifter, groundsheet.

1 - paint the entire board... both sides and edges. Go to your local hardware store and buy a 1L tin of paint in your 'favourite base colour'. Generally, I use a dirt colour, but green will work as well. It depends on the after effect you want. The boards will shed some flock (not a great deal) but the 'patchy bit' will show through brown/dirt or green... whatever you base coat it in. Personally, I think dirt is better because there are patches of uncovered ground everywhere in the world, but it looks kinda 'unkept' if its green because nowhere in the world is a bald patch of the planet green under the grass.

2 - allow to dry.

3 - allow to dry.

4 - allow to dry (have I made my point?)

5 - mix up a batch of white glue mixed with water. This is kinda the tricky part, and takes a little bit of trial and error. It's find if you get it wrong, just allow the glue to dry and try again. Basically, what will happen is that the glue will peel back off the paint and form small islands of 'no glue' as the glue is repelled from the surface of the paint. The more viscous the glue is the more it will 'peel back', so you want to water it down a bit, but you don't want to water it down too far otherwise the glue wont be strong enough. So, just keep adding water little by little until such time as the trial bit that you paint doesn't 'peel back'. This will make more sense when you try it. One other thing, don't worry about 'thick and thin' bits. You want to have areas of really thick glue (a mm thick of glue) and areas that is just covering the paint.

6 - hold the sifter over the board and pour in the T49. Sift it over the entire surface. Some of the glue will pull through the flock. Don't worry about it.

7 - Empty the sifter of any residual T49.

8 - hold the sifter over bits of the glue showing through the T49 and pour the T50 into the sifter. Sift it into the thick parts of the glue that is showing through.

9 - Allow to dry.

10 - Beg your 'other half' for forgiveness.

11 - Lift the boards up so that the excess flock falls onto the groundsheet (best done outside if you ask me :) ).

12 - Collect the flock. It will naturally be a mix of T49 and T50, but that's ok, you can use it to patch any areas.

Now - to patch them, you buy a spray gun and mix up a really really really runny version of the glue, spray it on and just dump the flock on.

Works a treat.

Let me know how you get on.

ravenflight
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Post by ravenflight » Thu Sep 15, 2011 2:43 pm

PS

Here is a tile section of my gaming board done as I suggested:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/83 ... e463p.jpg/

Philotomy
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Post by Philotomy » Thu Sep 15, 2011 4:48 pm

Thanks, guys, I appreciate it. Will let you know how it turns out. (Already thinking I probably should have gone 1/2" MDF instead of 3/4" -- the MDF boards are heavy.)

pezhetairoi
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Post by pezhetairoi » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:20 am

Looks good ravenflight! I agree wholeheartedly with your methods.
I decorate the ground of my architectural scale models in a similar manner.
I'd recommend static-grass instead of flocking. Blend a few colours together to match your own lawn, and sprinkle away. It is more expensive, but very pretty with the little fibers sticking up.
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zeitoun
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Post by zeitoun » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:04 am

MDF 9mm should be enough.
Olivier Marceau
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Philotomy
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Post by Philotomy » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:04 pm

zeitoun wrote:MDF 9mm should be enough.
Yeah the 3/4" is serious overkill, I think. Oh well, too late, now.

ravenflight
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Post by ravenflight » Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:03 pm

pezhetairoi wrote:Looks good ravenflight! I agree wholeheartedly with your methods.
I decorate the ground of my architectural scale models in a similar manner.
I'd recommend static-grass instead of flocking. Blend a few colours together to match your own lawn, and sprinkle away. It is more expensive, but very pretty with the little fibers sticking up.
Thanks Pezhetaroi,

I have no doubt that static grass will work... I just have no experience using it and some of the results I've seen look bad to say the best. That's why I 'strongly' recommended Woodland Scenics T49 and T50... I've used it and know it works, but your thoughts look good too :D

By the way Philotomy, don't despair on using the 3/4" MDF. It is probably overkill, but your risk of warp-age is very minimised. I've seen thinner MDF warp quite badly. 6-9mm MDF doesn't warp if you seal the whole board, but sometimes people get lazy :oops:

Additionally, consider using both sides of the table, so you can create a desert on one side and a green fields of mother England/France/Germany on the other. If you do this, be careful to put down an old blanket underneath the game boards each time you use it. Doing so gives you the advantage of grip (the flock will actually help to hold the table in place on the blanket) and the flock will be fine because it will be protected by the blanket. The 'other half' will be pleased that their precious 25 year old oak dining table isn't scratched too :shock:

pikeman666
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superb results!

Post by pikeman666 » Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:02 pm

ravenflight wrote:PS

Here is a tile section of my gaming board done as I suggested:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/83 ... e463p.jpg/
I agree that this is a great method and very durable. I learned it from some model RR guys who had the most incredible layout at a show. I was mystified that something so realistic and well done would survive transport until one of them explained the "hardshell" terrain construction method.
Pete

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Post by titanu » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:05 am

A chap that used to come to the Northern League competition iused to bring his won board made of expanded polystyrene. It was in 3 pieces taped together with green Duct tape. He also protected the edges with the same tape. I thought at first that it would not stand up to the strain but he kept coming back year after year with it.

Legionbuilder
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Post by Legionbuilder » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:19 am

I LOVE the suggestion from RavenFlight - fantastic

I would suggest at least painting the MDF on both sides - it will keep it "cleaner" and somewhat keep it from flaking on the edges

then at least you can game with it - if you use a brown or a nice field drab green paint -- or better yet brown on one side and greeen on the other.

Then flock that board up when you get time

I use 3/4" cement form board that is a nice yellow brown color and can be used as is - but it is pricey - I bring it home from work

3/4" is the right choice - as it is and will be way more durable over the decades and will not warp or bend as much as 1/2" or 5/8" or whatever the heck that translates into in Millimeters or Centimeters

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