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Creating a Game Table

I enjoy setting up a gaming table. Basic setup is a lot of fun as you watch the terrain of your playing surface come to life. Several years ago I took these photos of a table I set up to do a Celtic Roman game at Historicon.

Classical Hack is a terrain-intensive game system. Each player can select up to 8 pieces each. I personally like more, but a total of 16 pieces makes for an authentic looking battle field. Let me show you how I did this.

#Start with a flat surface, ideally a table top. Here, I started with a pair of tables pushed together. Next, I placed the hills on the playing surface to form the required ground swells which creates an uneven playing field. The hills here were eventually covered with a cloth, a commodity I stock up on when I can find it at a dollar a yard. I learned this technique from Dave Bonk and Chris Hughes at Siege of Augusta 1994. I like to use light brown or tan cloth, and in this case fine velour.

#With the hills set down under the cloth I had the general contours finished. If you prefer, you can always place the cloth first and then add the hills by lifting the cloth and inserting the styrene shapes underneath. In this case, it helps to have two people set up.

Next I added other terrain features, primarily trees. With the hills down and the woods placed, I sprinkled plenty of grass. I like to make a mix of different flocking grasses in different colors. I was sure to cover the bases so they look like real trees.

#Remember, you want those tree bases covered with flocking. Much of it will get dispersed during the game but at set up it looks great. Notice I have left some of the tree bases bare in the foreground to show what not to do. In the background they are thoroughly flocked. You do not have to bury the cloth with flocking grass, just sprinkle enough to give the ground texture. If you are careful you can actually highlight areas by using it sparingly; a kind of painting with flock and creating highlights.

#Well there you have it: a neat looking piece of battlefield. Like in a real battle, the ground on which they fight is anything but level. Terrain determines victory as much as your army. Good leaders use terrain to their advantage in real life and in miniature gaming. Set up the armies and you are ready to go.

#Here is what you will create with your own hills, cloth, woods and other terrain, and your flocking grass. You might want to add Spanish moss and cedar chips to create an even more realistic looking terrain.

#But your ultimate enjoyment and satisfaction will come from the gamers who surround the battlefield and make full use of your efforts.

I have made several pdfs which are downloadable about building not just terrain but also buildings too. Plastic or styrene makes everything easier. Are we performing in a Craft or an Art? You decide.