Mean Streets – Part 1

For over a decade I’ve harboured an ambition to own my own terrain board. Surely for many hobbyists this is the big one, the ultimate goal to aspire to. If you’re a keen gamer then what better than to be able to roll dice in style within the comfort of your own home? If your predilections lie more towards the painting and modelling then what project can compare to capturing not just the characters that inhabit your chosen world but the actual world itself?

The downside of course is that it’s expensive, it takes up a lot of space and it’s a lot of work to build. Leaving aside the lack of disposable income, which in itself lead to a lot of careful budgeting and saving up, until recently I just didn’t have the room to store such a comparatively massive construction. However at the end of the day life won’t wait. I’ve been made keenly aware over the last year or so that whilst planning for the future is a very sensible and intelligent move, putting off all your plans to an unspecified future date might just mean they never happen at all. Having managed to set aside a space in the house for it occupy I’ve set about building a section of Imperial cityscape.

Building a terrain board isn’t like other hobby projects. It takes a certain amount of preparation and self justification before you even think about spending all that money (assuming of course you’re not one of those geniuses who can make a convincing fusion reactor out of an egg box and a Pringles tin, which I am most certainly not).

Having convinced myself, with some difficulty, that it was ok, and that buying a few model buildings wasn’t the sort of fiscal irresponsibility that would see me reduced to fighting the other tramps for food in a matter of weeks, the next question is; what kind of board to build? Of course the answer to that very much depends on the kind of games it might be used for. The fantastic landscapes of the Mortal Realms may look amazing but my heart still lies in the 41st Millennium. You can keep the flyers and tanks of 40k proper, I lean towards Necromunda, Inq28 and perhaps a little bit of Killteam so my board in turn will be the close-packed warrens of the Underhive, the decaying depths of a crumbling Imperial city where Inquisitors roam and gangers hold sway.

In spite of my recent resurgence of interest in building this board its story actually began a few years ago when, following some kind of fit of fiscal frivolity, I bought myself the Sector Imperialis board from GW, and then froze like a rabbit in headlights and never painted the damn thing. Instead it just sat there, a brooding avatar of my decadence, lurking in the corner of the room to guilt me. No more I say! We’ve scowled at each other long enough, time to set aside our differences and get some paint on it. After all I may have spent rather a lot on it, and I may have regretted it afterwards, but the deed is done, I may as well enjoy it! For the last few months, in between other projects, I’ve been chipping away at it and at last the first section is ready to show off.

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Rukk and Grak set out to explore the crumbling deaths of their territory.

Terrain Imperial Convert Or Die Necromunda (8)

Meanwhile the girls from the Ladykillers gang discover a lurking sump horror has been making its home beneath their streets…

Terrain Imperial Convert Or Die Necromunda (9)

Over the coming months I’ll keep working away on this, adding the rusty, crumbling buildings and industrial structures of the Underhive’s heart. Naturally a project like this takes time (or at least it does if you happen to be me, I know some people power through terrain projects like they’re going out of style but alas my progress tends to be rather slower). Nonetheless keep an eye out and hopefully soon a city will begin to grow here.

43 responses to “Mean Streets – Part 1

  • theimperfectmodeller

    Good luck with this project mate. I’m not a gamer but a board is just a very large diorama as far as I’m concerned so looking forward to seeing what you achieve.

    • Wudugast

      Honestly that’s very much the aesthetic I’m going for. I’m not much of a gamer myself so I’m thinking of this almost as a very large, interactive diorama. Capturing the world of Necromunda and looking good is more important here than pure functionality, and my inspiration comes more from the huge dioramas they have at Warhammer World than from set-ups purely designed as gaming tables.

  • Djar

    WOW!! It’s a really impressive scenario

  • Alexis West

    Painting those tiles is a very intimidating project. Well done for not only sticking through it, but getting it to come out looking that nice, with the detail and weathering all taken care of!

    In the last pic, tho, I think it might have looked a little better if you put the tentacle over the actual manhole there. Or maybe it’s just because I’m familiar enough with the SI boards that I know there wouldn’t be another that close.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! It certainly took me several sessions to get this far and there are still more boards to do. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever painted by a very long way.

      I did take some pictures with the tentacle emerging from the existing manhole but in the end I decided it looked better to set it a bit further back and, comparing the two images side by side, I felt that looked better. Its personal preference though 🙂

  • Alex

    Good luck dude – beast of a project!

  • Ad

    That’s why you never get rid of anything, never. This worth the wait, it looks great!

    • Wudugast

      Aye, when it comes to miniatures I never, ever chuck anything. I found the arm of a space marine the other day, I’d chopped off everything above the elbow and below the wrist, and I’d carved away the front of the forearm, all for various projects down the years, and it still took some willpower to chuck the remains in the bin. Everything has a use eventually. 😀

      • Ad

        Totally agree on that, I’ve got tons of unnecessary bits but can never find the will to throw it away, just in case you know…

      • Wudugast

        Yeah, in some ways it’s a sickness, but in other ways it’s the genesis of so many cool projects! 😀

      • Alexis West

        The frustrating thing is how many times I’ve thrown away something seemingly useless like that, only to have it turn out that it would have been absolutely perfect for something I’m doing a few days or weeks later. That really reinforces my packrat tendencies.

  • daggerandbrush

    Cool project and excellent paintjob. I am looking forward to the other additions to the board. The painting looks good and the weathering spot on. Did you take some of the pictures with a flash or under harsh light? Would love to see another photo in daylight (basically outside).

    • Wudugast

      Thank you – I have big plans for this! No flash used for these, just the same lighting set up as normal, although I was finding it challenging properly lighting something so much bigger than normal. If I can get some decent light outdoors (not always easy where I live as we get into winter, it’s often either harsh sun or raining) I’ll haul it out onto the street and snap some pictures. That’ll give the neighbours something to look at!

  • heresyofus

    I love painting scenery and creating worlds. It’s probably the most rewarding of projects in this hobby of ours. I look forward to seeing this progress.

  • Thomas

    Wow! Now this is proper project.

  • Pete S/ SP

    That looks like a great start- I’ll enjoy seeing how it progresses.



  • imperialrebelork

    Excellent mate. I’m really very excited to see this come together. I’ve been waiting for it for a while. I too, like many, hope to one day build a big board. I have a long list of notes on what I want. Good luck Mr Wudu

    • Wudugast

      I’d love to see you build a big board, the sort of grand scale madness I think you’d come up with would be something to see. I know you’ve been championing this project of mine for a while, hopefully you’ll enjoy what I end up producing 🙂

      • imperialrebelork

        Something tells me I’ll love what you do mate. I’m hoping 2019 will be the year of getting shit done. As much as it’s my nature to be a hobby butterfly I very much want to finish some bigger projects so hopefully next year there will be a board.

  • Faust

    That’s pretty awesome, man! Did you say this is just one section? If so, how many sections will there be all together?

    I keep hoping to getting around to some terrain painting. I don’t think I have the space for boards, as I tend to collect so much. So if/when I go that route, it will likely be terrain pieces and a game mat that I can roll up. Doesn’t have the same awesomeness as your setup though.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers man. There’s six boards in the set, three each of two designs (which is slightly unfortunate, more designs would be better but once it’s covered in buildings etc it won’t be that obvious). At the moment I’m aiming to get a second one done (so I’ll have one of each design), then I’ll probably leave it at that for a while, it’ll mostly be used for Necromunda, maybe some Kill Team, so I don’t need a huge board. I’ll be trying to pack on lots of buildings to create a suitably dense and claustrophobic cityscape, and each will be a separate piece so they can be rearranged between games (otherwise you tend to end up always sending the same models to the same places which gets a little repetitive).

      I know what you mean about not having space for terrain, I never did for a long time. Still don’t really but I thought, “damn it, I’ll make space somehow”. It’s one of the nice things about the new edition of Necromunda actually, the previous editions required lots of 3d terrain as far as I understand, whereas I’ve enjoyed playing the new edition just on the tiles from the starter box.

      • Faust

        Hmm, wouldn’t you want to do 4? To have an even square shape? I guess you could put them in a straight line for a rectangle too.

        It’s funny, because owning an American house in a suburb…I likely have tons more space than a number of people. But I’ve used most all of the space available to me, so it’s often a game of ‘if I buy this, what am I going to sell off to make room?’.

      • Wudugast

        Yeah, as a friend of mine once wisely said “the bigger a house you live in the more stuff you end up having to dust”. Of course as I was living in a single room at the time I may not have felt that was entirely a bad deal…

        Long term I want to paint all six but in the short term two should be fine for small games. It breaks the project into manageable chunks this way. Plus I prefer small boards packed with character to large boards where everything becomes a little thinly spread.

      • Faust

        Well at first I thought it wouldn’t work with an odd number, but it does lend to some interesting combinations. Either a straight line of tiles, switching them around before game. Or you can have an ‘L’ shape, which puts the middle tile in an interesting spot and lessens long distance shots. Made me stretch my brain a bit and that could lead to some interesting scenarios just based on map shape.

      • Wudugast

        Definitely, any number of boards would work for Necromunda. I thought about using two boards separated by a strip of black cloth, but placing the buildings so they reached across the gap from one board to the next. The gap would represent a chasm which the gangers could cross by getting up high and sticking to the walkways, but of course if you fall off you’re disappearing into the depths never to be seen again.

        Another thing you could do with three boards is set up two together and have the third somewhere else, with a lift shaft connecting them. Different goals need to be completed on each board so if you can achieve your objective on one section you can then pull your gangers out, sending them down the lift shaft to support their mates on the other board (equally if they’re struggling you can send someone up to help). It would make controlling the lifts key to success, but the more gangers you leave guarding the lifts to stop their rivals using them, the fewer you have to deal with your real objectives.

      • Faust

        Those are some really interesting ideas! Did you cook those up yourself?

        I guess that’s something that Necromunda likely has over most War game setups I’ve seen….it’s essentially like a big dungeon where you can have lots of traps and pits and whatnot. Lots of possibilities there!

      • Wudugast

        In the main those are the product of mine own brain (churned out in stream of consciousness style earlier this morning I’m afraid). However, as with my conversions, they’re most likely a result of looking at lots of things other people have come up with and having the ideas accrete inside my skull, so I very much doubt that any of it is wholly original.

        My all time favourite battle report from White Dwarf is the Assault on Fort Wrath from issue 351 (March 2009). It was actually the first issue of White Dwarf I went out and bought, and to me it epitomises everything a miniatures game can be, if the players choose to really let their hair down and do something memorable. It’s also one of the few battle reports that I’ve read in full, and without doubt the only one that I’ve read over and over again. (Just looked it up and discovered that the writer for it was Andy Hoare, the main man behind the current incarnations of Necromunda and Blood Bowl).

        In it there are two teams of players (Orks vs Imperium). Most of the players are fighting on one huge board, but some of them are playing on other boards representing battles happening elsewhere on the planet at the same time – with objectives that affect the outcome on the main board. Flyers can go from one board to another. The two team captains however are up in space (or rather shut away in a different room), trying to seize control of the huge defence laser emplacement that guards the planet. After each turn a photograph is taken of the main board and shown to the captains. They then set objectives which their team have to complete. However there’s a time delay between the picture being taken, them being shown it and the new objectives being relayed, in which time the objectives could have been completely superseded. Whoever controls the defence laser at the end of each turn can also choose a spot on the photo and bomb it but again there’s a time delay, so what you think is an enemy titan that you’re blowing to smithereens may in fact be a few squads of your own troops by the time the bombs actually fall.

        As well as all these shifting objectives every player also has a secret objective, but sometimes these contradict each other – or their team mates. For instance one of the Ork Warbosses was supposedly planning a coup to take over the Waaagh! so one of the other Ork players had a secret objective to kill him off (supposedly he’d been hired by the main warboss to assassinate his rival). One of the Imperial Guard players had to martyr his Colonel in as glorious a manner as possible, but his team mate (with a space marine army) had an objective to ensure at all costs that the heroic Colonel was protected and didn’t die.

        The whole thing is utterly crazy but it really woke me up to the idea that a game can be a lot more than just killing off a certain number of points, or moving a troops unit onto a certain objective. So many people play “math hammer” where they work out all the odds and the game is halfway decided before any dice roll, and fair enough if that’s what they enjoy but it sounds hellishly dull to me. I still wouldn’t pretend to be much of a gamer, I don’t have a head for memorising rules, but I love the idea of games as memorable spectacles and I always try to keep the spirit of that battle report in mind when I’m thinking about how a game could work.

      • Faust

        Sounds pretty awesome and I can definitely see why that would stick in your mind. Also sounds along the lines of some of the big games that Pete S/P plays, with tons of people. Might be where some of the ideas came from.

        I think most of our games are going to be 2 people, 3 at best. So I don’t know that I’ll ever have people in separate rooms. But the concept is intriguing and opens the mind to more possibilities. Also, sometimes when you get all the cool stuff together for these types of games, you’ll end up finding more players one way or the other.

  • Azazel

    Very cool project there, mate. I’m planning/hoping to start on my own boards (not the GW ones, unfortunately) in January, which will be Terrain Month, so I’ll see how much I can get done in that time.. It’d be great to also have you on board for it!

  • steinbergshedspace

    That looks brilliant. Some great details in that board. Loving the sewers.

  • Old Mini Monday 28 – Double Down Dice

    […] might have touched on this one before, but it just sparked in my head once again while reading Wudugast’s post about terrain boards. He mentioned how interested he was when seeing terrain boards initially. Which reminded me about […]

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