Sunday, April 27, 2014

6mm Gaming Table

Background

For years, I have been attracted to the allure of 6mm figures.  Early on, I was convinced by the prophet of 6, Peter Berry of Baccus Miniatures.  So much so, I sold all of my 15mm ancients armies 10 years ago after losing interest in playing DBM tournaments (I kept bringing Gauls, which while impressive looking on the table, are not terribly competitive against armored knights from 1500 years in the future.)

His excellent article outlining his philosophy can be found here, if you are unfamiliar.

About 5 years ago, I developed an itch to get into some sort of horse and musket period, and commissioned French and Austrians for the 1809 campaign from a figure painting outfit.  Why those?  I had never been a Napoleonics buff, but knew that 1809 was the first time Napoleon suffered a defeat on the battlefield personally, and the armies seemed semi-balanced.  Plus, everyone in the world seems to do the Peninsula.  So many dollars later, I found myself the proud owner of two decently sized forces.  And they proceeded to sit in boxes for the next 5 years...

Anyway, with various life upheavals, I have never come close to bringing a 6mm project to completion... until now.

I finally pulled them out, based them up, and began to work on terrain for them.  I will show off the troops and talk rules in future posts, but for now I would like to walk you through my terrain build.

The Plan

I am very fortunate that Mrs. Tin Man is very supportive of the hobby and we have a dedicated game room at the front of the house.  Also, when we moved, I inherited our old kitchen table, which is 4 feet by 4 feet and counter height with nice bar stools.  I have played skirmish games on it in 28mm, and I probably could set a 6 x 4 foot top on the table, but frankly, I don't want to.   It would significantly intrude in to the room, and I'd like to be able to sit down at my nice table, with room for quick reference sheets, a drink, plaec for my elbows, and dice towers so dice don't go tumbling all over the place.

Then inspiration struck via the excellent Battlefields and Warriors blog.  I have been following Norm's pin board gaming project, and it inspired me to try something similar myself.

A quick read through my copy of Black Powder finally locked my plan in place. "Standard" infantry frontage is 240mm.  My 6mm armies are based with four x 20mm square stands per unit, for a total frontage of 80mm.  Scaling Black Powder down to 1/3 scale is my perfect solution!!!!  Unit movement rates will still be easy enough, with infantry moving 4 inches per move.  And best of all, a 2' x 4' gaming board would equate to a 6' x 12', just like the Perry's play on!  I could put it on my table and still have room for elbows, sheets, etc. and game sitting down in comfort, with enough room to maneuver 32 figure battalions!

I began to gather materials, and here is how it worked out...

(Click photos below to enlarge)

Execution

First, there was a visit to my local lumber store for a 2' x 4', 1/2" thick oak project panel.  I also bought the same thing in 2' x 2' to use for hills, more later.

I also went down to my local train shop and bought a Woodland Scenics grass mat.  I purchased the "Grass Green" version, next time, I will go with "Summer Grass," as it does not quit look so much like a golf course.  this is a neat product, basically a flocked, vinyl mat.
I cut it roughly to fit, glued it down with white glue, rolled out the air bubbles with a rolling pin, stack books on it, and left it to dry overnight.
After drying overnight, I went back and trimmed the excess on the edges with an exacto knife.  My original plan was to frame the edges with molding, but my attempts to miter the corners with a hand saw failed miserably.
So, back to the home improvement store.  I purchased some oak strips that were 1 1/2" x 1/2" and decided to frame the bard with that, no mitering required.  The downside is that I lose 3" off of the 2' depth of the board, but it was easy to cut and gue, then nail in to place using small, brass nails.
The next step was to head to the garage and using my trusty jig saw, I cut out hill shapes with a 45 degree slant. Fully contoured hills look amazing, but I am looking for practical and would like to be able to indicate substantial elevation changes on my table if I want to.  The raw results look like this, with a lone 6mm battalion wandering the field.

I next went back outside, and spray painted the hills with the cheapest brown spray paint I could find. Green may have been a better pick, but brown blends OK too.  I then cut pieces of the grass mat and glued them down to the tops of the hill sections.
Hills were done, now I needed some woods.  Years ago, when I had the troops painted, I also picked up a box of trees on the cheap from a model railroad supplier from China on eBay called "We Honest."  I have to say they are, because I got a couple hundred trees in the mail in less than a week, and if I need mroe, I will certainly buy from them again.

I started out making tree based from some black foamcore I had laying around, beveling the edges with an exacto knife, gluing small pieces of the grass mat to the top, and painting the edges green.
I finished them off by gluing down trees to the perimeter, ad I read about as a kid in a CS Grant book, Wargame Tactics.  It does not look to bad, here are some 6mm individually base sci-fi infantry wandering passed a copse.
And here is what the finished table looks like with a Miniature World Maker road, farmhouse from Baccus Miniatures, and field from the carpet sample pile at Lowe's!  I am playing a solo game to learn the Black Powder rules, and have made quick reference sheets that scale the game down to 1/3.

I am running identical Austrian and French brigades against each other, will provide some commentary in a future post.

Here is a closeup of some of the French.

And here are the Austrians!

So there it is, my gaming table.  I intend to do a desert version for the Sudan, and both will work for the 6mm Sci-Fi skirmish stuff I want to do.  Just goes to show you, you don't need a huge area to have an enjoyable, pretty game!

2 comments: