Thursday, October 25, 2018

Monte Cassino Display Board: Phase 1

Stage 1 of the Monte Cassino display board begins with a collection of refuse I have been collecting for years.  Normally I would toss out these styrofoam chunks from various heavy packaging, but it seemed like it could be useful for making taller hills for my Bolt Action terrain boards.

While I could use the sheets of pink foam, piling those up for huge terrain pieces such as these would get very expensive very rapidly!!

I positioned these on my primary sheet of harder white foam, hoping to utilize the flatter surfaces and even the "archways" that you see in the two foam pieces!  You can even see where I started to hack away at parts of the foam in the corner.

Around the stronger central "square" that provided the structure, I took more chunks of the softer foam and began breaking it up to form the shattered hillsides around the monastery.  So many bombs were dropped on it, even parts of the hill itself were blasted away.

I used a heavy wood glue to keep them in place.  If I had some liquid nails, I would have also added that for long term strength.  However, I did put dozens of very long metal pins into each piece of foam, so I suppose that I did have a type of nail!

To create a few 'floor' sections, I used my normal thin underlayment foam.

I will try to include a few of my reference pics in the next post to show you what I was trying to get, and how I had to fudge things.

It is important to keep in mind that this had to serve as a display board and playable terrain piece, so I could not create the entire gigantic monastery on this one board.  In effect, I took several iconic pieces of the building to create this vignette.

I love the blue painters tape, as it helps to hold things together as the glue dries, and it peels away nicely if need be.

The rows of small rectangular windows were a very recognizable feature of the ruins, so I brought out the matt cutting machine to slice those out in a hurry, using the pink underlayment foam.

I made two sections to cover the corner, realizing that I wanted to have a second floor there to display my units, and for subsequent games.

The tricky part would be the interior, which would face into a courtyard.  I also had to match a colonnade with arches that 'connected' the outer ring to an open plaza with stairs.  You will see what I mean a bit later.

As you can see, the interior walls support that second floor, which is where the troops will be standing.  It is important for them to be visible for people to see, and also easy for me to get at during a game!

The insert shows the interior arches and columns that will add support along the outer edges where the rubble piles will be placed.

To make things more complex, this had to be removed for painting, so I could not glue everything in place.  That can create a nightmare of trying to get things measured and in place, as stuff never seems to fit the same when it is glued, no matter how many times you dry fit it!

I will be adding a few broken walls to the interior of that second floor for stability and a touch of realism.  As I will mention several times, you have to balance stability, playability and utility all at the same time, which means compromising on certain things.

I also did not have a huge amount to time to spend on this, so getting the most out of each element is key.

All along, I was using pieces from other armies as a scale reference.

I made a few changes to the interior arches, since they did not fall where I wanted them to.  That is OK, because what too its place was easier to work with, and actually looked better while providing the same support to that second floor.

I think you can see what I was trying to achieve with the archways.  The idea is to have a few broken sections, and even a few pieces of those broken arches on the bases of my weapon teams!

I was able to create a few of those sections for the Machine gun team and the Mortar crew.

Here's what we had at the end of Phase 1.  I needed to let all the glue dry so that I could start to add the largest rubble pieces, and the plaster too!

Stay tuned for the next episode...

This kind of tutorial is something that I am hoping to add in video form to the Patreon Page, but will require a host of new equipment.  I might make that the next "goal" of the Patreon Page.  Another camera, mount and other equipment is still needed.

The side bonus of having this equipment would mean a huge improvement to battle reports, where I can show much more of the battlefield in sweeping views that don't shake, better sound, and a secondary camera for dice rolls and for tactic cards, etc.

Here is a link to the page!