Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Building Buildings for 15mm Games on the Cheap

As part of the prep for the Flames of War tournament we are having in Huntsville, Alabama on 16 Feb 13 I we had to either make or buy 6 Italian style buildings and 3 stone bridges.  If we were to buy that for say $25 for 2 buildings and at least $10 per stone bridge we would be talking at least $100 we would have to spend....in addition to the other items on our "Make or Buy" list. 

A buddy of mine who is new to Flames of War just happened to show me some buildings he made for his Napoleonics game using Mat board (the stiff board used in frame that gives you a colored "inner" frame within the frame).  These were pretty slick.  Then it got me thinking...Maybe I could do that for these Italian buildings and bridges.

So what would I need:

- A Plan
- Matboard
- SHARP Hobby Knife
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks
- Waterproof Micron pens
- Paint in various colors
- Superglue (Zap-A-Gap)

I had pretty much all of these supplies on hand except for a a few certain paint colors I was able to make 8 buildings and 4 bridges for under $10 and about 3 weeks of my time (off and on a few hours a day).  If you have to buy a 32"x40" matboard you can find these for under $10....so 8 Buildings, 4 Bridges for 20% of the price!


You need to do a little research if you don't want to do a standard square house.

I based my Italian houses of off some JR Miniatures houses and some real life street scenes I found on the Internet.

Then you break the house into floors and each floor into the sides.  In the picture above if you look at the level that is on the upper right corner of the concept picture you will see the sides that come into a point to support the roof.

As you make your plan, make sure you include the dimensions for the figures that will fit inside.  For these, I planned to have 2 medium sized Infantry Bases to fit into each level.

Once you have the base side down, cut out the pieces the you need and do a "semi- dry fit" where you use tape to hold the pieces together.

If all is well, take the pieces apart and use these as templates for the rest of the pieces you will need.

Special note on the roofs...The "Triangle" roof is the simplest.  It is just 2 pieces slightly longer and wider than the floor. I just eyeballed the slope so I didn't have TOO much of the roof overhanging the sides of the building.  When you cut the supports they ....  Glue them into place close to the ends, but not at the edge.  They need to be just inside the wall to help prevent the roof from sliding off side to side.

The "Square" roof is a little trickier. The Square Roofs fit on a flat square section, whereas the Triangle Roofs need the end piece of the floor level to be pointed.  Cut out the sections and when you assemble them start with the trapezoid (long) sections first and then glue the triangle end pieces on.  When you glue the end pieces, line the piece up so the base is level with the edge of the long sections.  You most likely will have "overlap" along the edges to the top point, but don't worry you can just trim that up with your hobby knife. Then glue to supports along the center seam.

The last step is to cut a square a little smaller in width and length than the floor section and glue this in the center of each level, except the ground level.  These help keep the upper levels from sliding foo the lower level.

Bridges are similar.  You have the 2 sides, an upper road section, and 2 ramp sections.  When you construct the bridge start by tacking (using just a little glue) the upper road section on to one of the side sections and then glue the end ramps.  It takes a little fiddling to make sure everything lives up level and straight.  The last step is to glue on the other side section so it is level.  Since you tacked the pieces in place, you can slide them around a little.  Once all is in place, lay a nice solid bead of super glue along the seams to hold it all in place.

The next step is to lay a bead of hot glue along the edges and seams.  On the roofs, this will be the capping level of tiles on the tile roof and for the building levels and bridges it is the decorative brick/stone edging.
Next is to paint in whatever you color scheme you have chosen, to include any shading and highlighting. You also paint in all the windows and decorative art (window boxes, flowers, etc...).  And don't forget to paint the inside...floors, windows, doors, etc... This helps make it readily apparent where the openings are just by looking at the inside.
A word on openings.  In Flames of War, units can only attack and be attacked through an opening.  Most buildings for sale have openings on all sides.  I built these intentionally to have some levels that did not have openings (windows) on the ends.  This creates a few tactical challenges for the player now...which could be overcome by using the "Loopholes" rule on page 108 in the V3 Rulebook.  This allows a player in the building to to make a Skill Check (just like "Digging In") and allows that team to be able to shoot (and be shot) through all sides it is adjacent to as long as that team is there.  It can not be assaulted through the loophole. Now, just think of the tactical challenges this present to the attacker and defender!
The final step is the most time consuming...using the Waterproof Micron pens to make draw in the tiles, bricks, stones, cobblestones.  Waterproof pen is vital.  If you don't use one, a drop of water could cause the ink to run.  I made this mistake and didn't discover it until I was about 25% done.  :-(
After the Micron pen work is dos finished you are technically done.  You could add propaganda posters if you wish and if you used Waterproof pens you could matte varnish your work to protect it.
That's all there is to it.  I am going to try and build a larger "L" shaped building and another with an arch next,  Will keep you posted!