26 October 2017

Dammit, Frank!

Around about this point in the year (October half term for us teachers), I start thinking about what gaming projects and ambitions I want to set for myself for next year. For painting miniatures, I've got three priorities: more progress on my Chaos project, finish the World's Edge Wyverns bloodbowl team, and crack on with all the space orks I bought over the last month (more on them over the next couple of months as well). BUT, that's not the only part of this hobby that I enjoy, I also like to write and refine rules or scenarios (I'm excited about contributing to Whiskey Priest's dark ages mythology skirmish... thing for example), and increasingly to build terrain.

So, there I was, idly browsing t'internet and pondering future projects, when Frank happened.

Oh, Frank, Frank, Frank. Why'd you have to do this to me? Some of you may know Frank. If you're a German gamer, or attended any of the big Bloodbowl tournaments in the early 2000s, you've probably seen (maybe played on, like I have) one or more of his custom pitches. Wonderful stuff. But it's his SpaceHulk work that I'm talking about here.

Let me take a step or two back and explain from the start.

Waaaay back in June 2013 I was one of 620 backers who collectively pledged about $90,000 on the Itar's Workshop resin dungeon terrain project. This is what was on offer for a mere $45:

It was just perfect for the dungeon-crawling I had in mind, whichever iteration of my rule-noodling bubbled to the top at any given moment: Quest, Goblin/Knights' Quest, Catacombs, or perhaps a bit or D&D if "theatre of the mind" palled. Unfortunately, after a long, long wait I got an email last week admitting that the massively oversubscribed project had failed, and that I was one of the 57 unlucky fellows who would never get their stuff. It does sound like (and I've had it from other sources as well) that he had some pretty serious illness in the family and (living in the capitalist utopia of the US) this bankrupted him.

So, what to do? I still wanted to have fancy-schmancy dungeon tiles to adventure through for those rare occasions when the excellently old-school flat tiles I have by Billiam Babble just don't scratch the itch.

Nice, aren't they? In fact, they're so nice that I nearly didn't bother going 3d. I printed mine off onto A4 labels and stuck them to 3mm thick card (mountboard?) that I got in a huge sheet from a local art shop, then used a marker pen to blacken the edges.

For Catacombs (which began as a straight medieval fantasy reskinning of Space Hulk but is now developing something of its own flavour) I needed particular shaped corridors and rooms, so I did a bit of photoshopping to turn those tiles from Bill's set into what I needed:

Perfect for playtesting and portability, but I still wanted to move it up a notch from a boardgame.

What, then, are the options? As usual, buy it or build it. Buying it is obviously quicker (assuming it's not a kickstarter!) but more expensive and might not be available in the exact format I want. There are loads of sellers out there:


Dwarven Forge:

Fat Dragon Games, better known for their papercraft offerings have moved into 3d printing:

And others, so many others! Most of them seem to be a variation on pre-assembled pieces of Hirst Arts moulds designed so they look a bit like the Dwarven Forge pieces, but the walls are often a bit ugly. Hmm.

Ok, so the other route is to make my own, and once again there are a range of options.


Fat Dragon Games again

or a more 3d version from Billiam at Inked Adventures:


Cork? Matikishi, of course! Photo from his website.

And now we're back to where we came in, with Frank. Neither of the solutions above were quite what I was after but his Space Hulk set is AMAZING!

First he made masters:

Then moulds:

Then luvverly resin playing pieces:

I strongly suggest you go and read through his article on how he did this, it's just crafting and modelling gold.

So, that's the plan that has filled my fevered imagination, a medieval fantasy version of that precise layout. Nothing else I've spotted so far seems to hold a candle to it - he has spoiled me and left me fixed on a potentially unreachable goal!

I've sent him an email to ask about practicalities, including costs, before I get too carried away, though, and shall keep browsing through other projects in the meantime. Feel free to point me towards any other approaches I may have missed in the comments.


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