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"this terrain cost 20 bucks" Topic

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2,221 hits since 21 Jan 2013
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MrMerkava Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 4:28 p.m. PST

this board cost about twenty dollars of q tips and paint

it took two months of work

it will be used for modern micro armor battles

layers of cardboard make the best kinds of wargame boards

Feet up now Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 4:33 p.m. PST

Totally amazing considering the materials used .
I would love to use it for battletech.
It also looks like a game my little girl plays on the PC called minecraft.
Great job ,enjoy your games on it.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2013 4:34 p.m. PST

Nice work. Would like to see some more photos of the various stages and tips you may have learned. Also, some closeups with units on it would be great.


Meiczyslaw21 Jan 2013 4:39 p.m. PST

it took two months of work

And this is why I throw money at problems sometimes.

Well done.

MrMerkava Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 4:52 p.m. PST

thanks guys
that is nice of you

I am very bored and had nothing to do, I felt like getting back into wargaming and decided to make a board that would challenge me

I was sick of using a green sheet on a table top. thats how I always used to play back in college

but now I wanted something more three dimensional

this is about a hundred sheets of cardboard glued together. I carved them according to a usgs topo map of worlds end state park. it is not exactly like the map though. made a lot of mistakes

three thousand q-tips made it a nice overall effect. when youre dealing with that much detail, it doesnt matter if youre using such a cheap imitaion of a tree, the gestalt takes over and it looks good

right now I am putting finishing touches, including boulders (gravel_ and dead-falls (broken toothpicks painted brown) to simulate the many tree which were knocked over there a few years ago by tornados.

next time you decide to make a board, I strongly urge using cardboard layers glued together

more photos soon

Rupert of Hentzau Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 5:05 p.m. PST

Whats a Q tip? Not sure I have heard on those in New Zealand!

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian21 Jan 2013 5:06 p.m. PST

Will be interesting to see how the models fit among the trees, for gaming purposes.

Jeigheff21 Jan 2013 5:12 p.m. PST

Impressive, very impressive!

MrMerkava Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 5:14 p.m. PST

a Q-tip is a small cotton swab on a paper stick, used to cleanout your ears after washing

what do you do down in new zealand?

what? I cant hear you!

yes, editor, and as soon as I play a game on it there will be pictures of t72's and m1's all over this terrain.

the trees are spaced so that even the big M1's can just barely fit between the trees in the forests.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2013 5:24 p.m. PST

Pretty cool for what it is.

PJ Parent Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 6:09 p.m. PST

How heavy is it?

WarrenB Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 6:39 p.m. PST

Very nice! A great effect.

next time you decide to make a board, I strongly urge using cardboard layers glued together

I need a couple of hills in a month or two – I think I'll try this out.

Whats a Q tip? Not sure I have heard on those in New Zealand!

I don't know about NZ, but in Blighty they're called cotton buds.

GoGators Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 7:29 p.m. PST

Quanity has a quality all its own.

Neat effect!

M C MonkeyDew21 Jan 2013 7:48 p.m. PST


Lee Metford21 Jan 2013 11:49 p.m. PST

I think it looks really good and a great way to use all that disposable cardboard. Inspirational and well done!

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:03 a.m. PST

I like it!

Rupert of Hentzau Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 1:03 a.m. PST

Cotton Buds, why didnt he say so in the first place. Is very impressive and tempting to have a crack at, I think I have $20 USD

MrMerkava Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 4:54 a.m. PST

PJ – it weighs about thirty-five or forty pounds. kinda heavy and difficult to move around. next time… hollow hills

Lee- yes, it was made almost entirely out of recycled materials. the only things I had to buy were the Q-tips (cotton buds) and some small amounts of various shades of green paint. I enjoy using recycled materials. youd be surprised just how much good cardboard gets thrown away around here

thanks to all who liked this. maybe I should post step by step instructions, or at least some general guidelines, on how to make these things properly. I learned a lot of lessons from making mistakes on this one and you could benefit from hearing about them

heres what it looked like before painting…

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 5:05 a.m. PST

World's End State Park! I've been there and it is appropriately named! Northern Pennsylvania of all places!

Beautiful table!

MrMerkava Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 5:32 a.m. PST

cool! it is a great spot for hiking.
yes, it is appropriately-named for a wargame. thats not why I chose this place though. I wanted some really sinuous, winding, deep forest gorges for a complex game. too little terrain in a game makes for a boring game, in my opinion

I know theres no chance of t72's ever making it to america, but I guess there are places like this all over the world, in the black forests of germany, and in the mountains of russia as well.

snurl1 Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 6:24 a.m. PST

I've been to Worlds End too. Appropriately named for an apocalyptic battle.

richarDISNEY Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 8:31 a.m. PST

Really inspiring!

streetline Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:52 a.m. PST

only things I had to buy were the Q-tips

Recycling used ones would have given a nice autumnal effect, I guess…

WarrenB Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 10:09 a.m. PST

maybe I should post step by step instructions, or at least some general guidelines, on how to make these things properly. I learned a lot of lessons from making mistakes on this one and you could benefit from hearing about them

Yes please! Although, one question first: when you say 'carved', do you mean the whole table in one piece, or individual levels before gluing? Looks like the latter.

Also, hollow hills. Duly noted. Thanks.

emckinney22 Jan 2013 11:37 a.m. PST

I'd have to categorize this as the exact opposite of "tank country."

emckinney22 Jan 2013 11:48 a.m. PST




( link


more: link

This includes notes about building a board: link (click the pictures to see them full-sized).

And a less-necessary 3D map: link

Lonkka1Actual22 Jan 2013 1:52 p.m. PST

At Gemigabok we used the same layers method with our Albuera, but just covered the layers with filler. Would've worked just fine as it was.


Later on the same method was used Russo-Swedish War of 1808 boards.


Noticed that PVA actually isn't that good an adhesive as it tends to cause warping. Acrylic filler is much better as it doesn't contract.

MrMerkava Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 2:26 p.m. PST

streetline rolf, lmao
yeah, I actually considered that for a while, but the thing is once you use a q tip, the wax would prevent the paint from soaking up the colors. if you really wanted an orange and yellow forest, youd need a lot of people's ear wax to really color the field. lol, yeah, gross.

warrenB -

1. select an area youd like to game on, obtain good quality topo map at the smallest scale possible

2. pick your scale. one inch to fifty meters wont cover much of an area. I settle for one inch to a hundred meters. the vertical scale should match the linear scale, in order to facilitate line of sight rules. one contour of cardboard represented about twenty meters.

3. transfer topo map to the sheets of cardboard. select the best quality cardboard you can. pick nice flat sheets, not too thick. draw each contour line on the cardboard and cut each layer out with a sharp razor. it takes practice. to get the curves right will take a few attempts. an X-acto knife would have been preferable

4. glue together. I used ordinary white glue which worked very well, and went a long way to sealing up the edges of the corrugation, which are unsightly and unreal. glue from the bottom level, working your way up to the tops of the mountains. starting at the top is asking for serious warping. clamp the sheets together when glued, weighing it down with lead or heavy books.

5. paint with cheap acrylic paints or cheap Tempra brand powdered paint mix which worked beautifully. it gave a nice rich velvety finish which was flat and bright.

6. seal the edges. if youre a perfectionist, you will want to seal up all the edges with green paint mixed with putty. a caulking gun would have worked well but I didnt have the money for all that. if you caulk, obviously do it before painting. if youre not a perfectionist, dont worry about this step.

7. cover the finished painted board with terrain such as forests, boulders, roads, and buildings. I made building out of clay (smaller than a half inch) and the boulders were simple gravel which I sifted for the right size. the roads were cut from thin cardstock and painted black before gluing to the board. the river was a real bitch kitty, as I had to paint swirling blues, browns, and greens on the underside of long sheets of plastic sheeting, the tarp quality stuff sold at painters shops. then I had to line both banks of the river with cardstock painted gree.

8. I made trees by buying five boxes of q-tips (before I used them) and I cut the tips off around a third of an inch long. five boxes of q tips equals three thousand trees, which was just enough to cover this board at a rate of three per square inch the tips were not all the same size. there should be variation. at this point, you should really really spend a couple days fluffing up the cotton puffs, so they are all different sizes. I didnt do this step and all the trees are the same shape (dumb) Then I mixed up six different shades of green paint with warm water and soaked the q tips in the paints. so after drying, I had about four hundred trees of each color. it takes a long time to dry, and they could have gotten moldy in that time if I didnt have a dehumidifier on, for my own health purposes. once dry, I mixed equal parts of brown paint and white glue, to a thich brown paste, and dipped EACH FRICKIN TREE in the brown paint, to cover the tree trunk up to the foliage, and then planted each tree in a tiny hole I made in the cardboard with a small screwdriver, just the right size.

you should wipe the excess glue/paint off the tree trunks before 'planting' each tree or else the excess will run down slowly and leave small brown rings at the base of each tree, which you would have to go back and touch-up later

I used a satellite image of this park to find out where the forests of coniferous forest really are, and used trees color with a mix of green and BLACK to represnt these forests, where movement and sighting rules change.

if youve got major plans for tank battles, you have to leave room for tanks to maneuver around the trees where tanks will be allowed to go. I found that three trees per square inch of forest allows an M1 tank to maneuver but still gives a deep forest feeling to the area

9. a tornado once touched down at this park, so I made hundreds of tiny dead trees out of simmple twigs from the trees around here, cedar tree twigs worked well. broken into third of inch lengths and glued together to form impassable 'dead-falls'

if youre going hollow, you want to start from step three and cut out the unwanted portion before gluing, obviously. I would leave at least an inch wide border to glue together. if you expect a lot of bouncing around in a car, I would leave more like two inches border for each level.

I hope I covered most of the important stages of making this thing. it was two months well spent, I think. then again I am pretty boring

I feel it invaluable to be able to make a good map of whatever area I want, not some wargame designer who doesnt think tanks should be properly challenged.

any questions, dont hesitate to ask

MrMerkava Inactive Member26 Jan 2013 7:10 a.m. PST

pictures from the first game this terrain has seen
russian infantry battalion with attached tank company, recon and helicopter support against an american infantry company with A10, Apache, and F15 support

MrMerkava Inactive Member26 Jan 2013 7:12 a.m. PST

F15 flies in to the rescue of a besieged tank platoon

MrMerkava Inactive Member26 Jan 2013 7:13 a.m. PST

image showing overview of american position before assault

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