Monday, September 5, 2011

Hobby: Tidal Flats Table

My judgement was obviously compromised when I told the guys I could supply 6 tables at our GT this year, along with assembling and painting a new GK army in less than 5 months.  Those of you who know me well know I love every aspect of the hobby from painting to converting, basing, building terrain, and writing scenarios.  Some people have army a.d.d., but my attention issues encompass all aspects of the hobby.  Some days I feel like painting, then I need a break and build some terrain, then I build lists and write for the blog.

This week I was inspired to build terrain.  We've been hitting up the pet stores and hobby shops that have been advertising sales and sending us coupons, so I've built up enough supplies to make 4 new tables.  If you've been reading long, you're familiar with my snow and jungle tables.

Here's the thing about me and terrain.  I want it to look nice while being cheapish to build and functional to play on.  No, I don't have the cash to buy 6-8 boxes of GW ruins at $25 a pop.  There's enough ruined cities out there anyways.  I prefer to create alien planets for my battlescapes.  You know by now my armies are painted with unusual schemes and I like my tables to be unique too.  In the grim dark of the 41st millennium, there is only war, but all wars aren't fought on the same planets and same battlefields every time.  I want my armies to experience the sights and scenes of the planets they conquer.

Anyways, I start with a sheet of fleece fabric which is usually $10/yd and I watch the sales and they're 40% off quite often.  The tie-dyed patterns appeal to me the most as they have some interesting patterns that make a more appealing field than flat-colored mats.  My first two tables were designed and terrain pieces built before I started shopping for a cheap mat.  Recently, I let the fabric patterns and colors inspire my table designs.  I bought four new sections of fabric last week and I've been waiting for inspiration.  Something came to me this week while lying in bed so I decided to tackle it while the vision was fresh.

I noticed some aquarium plants on sale at Pet Smart and decided to try something new.  I wanted to see if I could take the most brightly colored aquarium plants and whip up an alien planet.  Thus, Por'cea was born; the ocean moon of Sa'cea, deep within the the Tau empire.

This ocean moon is dwarfed by the planet it orbits.  So dramatic are the contrasting forces of gravity, they create tides that shift nearly a dozen meters.  Por'cea's orbit and rotation are such that the drastic tide shifts from high to low over the course of 6 months.  This has caused the floral life to evolve into an amphibious state, able to survive under meters of water and on dry rock.  Many of the plants have developed photosynthetic capabilities in the form of neon chloroplasts adapted to an intense ultraviolet spectrum.  Others have evolved toxins and predatory instincts to gather nutrients when light is absent.

So there's the concept, here's the execution.  I started with some blue tie-dyed fleece from JoAnne's Fabrics.  I cut out a gross amount of 1" thick foam shapes last week, so I chose several and nearly filled a 2'x3' (25% of a table) with different pieces.  I also fooled around with Great Stuff spray foam insulation and made some rocks with it.  Here is the table with 25% terrain measured out.
I painted it all black, dry brushed it with medium grey and then dove grey.  I cut up the aquarium plants and glued them into the foam terrain pieces.  I made some tall pieces to count as impassible terrain.  They're large enough to provide cover to even the largest monsters.
There is some rocky area terrain with a high enough profile to cover most transports and MC's with proper positioning.
Dense area terrain to cover your advance.
And multi-level area terrain to provide better firing positions and cover support units.
Here's what 25% coverage with multiple terrain types looks like.

Did I mention I did all this in 3 nights?  I know it's not the most detailed table, but it's interesting and was quick and affordable.  Here's the shopping list:

Blue tie-dyed fleece - 2 yards - $12 on sale
Assorted aquarium plants - 4 large, 4 medium, 4 small - $44
Great Stuff spray foam - 1 can - $5
1" Insulation foam - 1 sheet - $14
Folk Arts Paints - pure black, medium grey, dove grey - $3

$78 and 3 nights for a fun table with lots of materials left over.  I have 3.5 tables done now and making this table gave me some great new ideas as I was playing with the foam.  Stay tuned for more terrain articles on my final two concepts and a six table showcase before the DaBoyz GT in October.


  1. first thought: wtf is that?
    closer inspection: that is actually really cool! this is a massive galaxy with "unlimited" planets and moons after all, so why does everything have to be grass or desert?

  2. Thanks man, that was my thought exactly. I've got a couple more "outside the box" terrain ideas, but I'm back to finishing the army now. I just hope I have enough time to execute them, else it's back to building grass and desert =)

  3. Very nice. Hope I get to see it at the next Millenium tourney I attend.

  4. The water fabric is great!

    What do you use to cut the styrofoam? I really like the edges you have there.

  5. I use this hot wire to cute the foam:


    This is what I have been using lately . We also plan on giving some out at the DaBoyz GT.

  7. That's a really cool idea! *yoink*

  8. Thanks Nurglitch. Go ahead and use the concept. I only ask one thing: add/improve/alter one aspect of the concept and send me pictures so I can re-steal the idea =)

  9. @ PoliticalOfficerKrad ~ This Saturday man! DaBoyz GT primer tournament @ Millennium Games. Fill up a car with your buds and make the drive, it will be worth it.

  10. After playing on the table I do have to say that there wasn't any line of sight blocking terrain. Missle launchers had a field day. Besides that, It was pretty cool.

  11. Idk man I can hide a dreadknight out of sight behind at least 3 of the pieces. Remember you can't shoot if all you see is weapons or wings. The missiles you couldn't hide from were on fast skimmers so yeah, you won't be able to hide from something that can move 12" and fire that also sits 3x higher than a long fang.

  12. I shut those skimmers down early, so they weren't really a problem. It was the cyclones on the terminators that were getting shots everywhere, and they stayed stationary for the game on the table, not on a rise. There were a couple of pieces that gave cover to a MC, but nothing that blocked LOS. I even had trouble hiding my 5 man shrike unit behind the biggest piece (albeit, medium bases with scenic basing is a large footprint).

  13. Ahh I see the evil combo of mission + table + cyclones now. He kept giving you the shrikes back as reinforcements and instagibbing them. Yeah, I can see where BLoS terrain becomes important there. I'll see about carving up some taller foam pieces.

  14. Is this the "blizzard fleece fabric" that joann has listed on thier website? or is it something else?

  15. I believe that's what it's called, yes. Never been on their website. It's usually $11/yd and I watch for the 40% off fabric sales.