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  • Writer's pictureMatt

The Table Top

Ever since I was a kid, well aged 14 when the 2001 City Fight Codex came out I was determined to one day build a proper table top. One to rival those I saw in the book, ruined buildings and all.

I think that city battlefields have far more character than your standard forest/desert and opens up a lot more options than a few trees kicking about.

Time, space and or money was always the issue but recently the trifecta has happened and it dawned on me, I could at the grand old age of 35 get this started. (I even paint striped my old classic Cadians in preparation too).

Technically I started this project a good few years ago with the construction of a multi-storey building with removable floors. Even back then I knew roughly what I was aiming for. Each piece of terrain would be mounted on a 4x8", 8x8", 12x8" etc base plate and all the roads will be raised above the base of the table top to the same height as the terrain. This will allow for a modular approach to the battlefield and keeps the ground level. No more pieces of terrain placed on the table that due to their base board, sits 5mm above everything else.

So this building is on a 12x8" base and technically occupies 1.5 sections of available real estate space.

You can also see 1 of 3 two by four foot plyboard sheets with the roads carefully drawn on. As a standard terrain piece for this battlefield will be 8x8", you could fit 3 pieces of terrain across the short section of the board and 6 along the longer side. Or with all 3 plyboard sheets, 9x6 spaces for terrain.

The roads however will also occupy sections of the board. Whereas the terrain is 8x8 inches, the roads are not as wide. I've deliberately done this to allow for that extra room when placing multiple bits of terrain down to fill the non-road voids. Would be nothing worse than for the sake of a millimetre, a piece of terrain doesn't fit in the gap.

Below is my current plan. With the 3 boards planned out (A, B and C).

  • Each small square represents a square inch of the board.

  • The blue and white spaces are standard gaps for terrain. So from now on when talking about terrain and how much space it will occupy, 1 unit of terrain is 8x8 inches. 1.5 units of terrain is 12x8 inches and so on.

  • The lightest grey areas are road sections. Mid grey square are pavement and the darkest grey 2x6" spaces are the removable road sections that will allow for road blocks etc.

  • The red section running the length of board B will be railway track. Thought it would mix things up a bit and one day gives me a reason to build the heresy train!

Over the last few days I've been working on board C and the first thing to do was cut the road sections out and stick them to the plyboard.

I used a few G-clamps to hold the edges down while heavy items kept the middle sections down while the PVA dried.

When that was done I textured the road with sheets of coarse sand paper. Once painted it will look like a level and consistent road surface.

I ended up painting on filler over the joins in the sand paper. Not sure about the rest of the world but in the UK when road surfaces are repaired, tar is set over the edges of the new road to (I guess) seal it to the existing blacktop. With this in mind I also painted the filler over some areas of the road to make it look like potholes have been repaired in the past.

However the road was still looking pretty new at this point so used the Dremel to hollow out some blast marks in it. PVA was poured in and painted outwards in a star shape before sand was sprinkled over, to hopefully make it look like explosions have hit the road.

The one other road detail so far is a manhole cover. I raided the bits box to create something suitably 40Kish and then made an instant mold of this. I assume this feature is going to appear on the other boards too.

It's raised above the road a little more than I would have liked but it works.

As for the pavement, well this was created with many 2x2cm cut-outs from cereal boxes. Match sticks then made up the kerbstones and milliput used for the corners.

As for the removable sections of the road, I've created 4 so far. Couple of tank traps, rubble and open carriageway to provide options.

The little traffic cones where made with the same process as the manhole cover. Milliput pressed into an instant mold. This was mainly for that open road section, as I needed something on it so I can pick it out of the recess.

So best part of my week off work spent on a single board but I'm happy with the progress so far. Honestly the roads won't be the difficult part. Creating enough terrain sections to fill the battlefield, that's the longer project.

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