Terrain

Terrain: The Mos Eisley Project

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How cool would it be to play on a table like this? We’re going to see if we can make it happen.

We’re calling it the Mos Eisley Project. But, no, the Corvus Cluster is not transitioning to a Star Wars theme.

We’ve simply been fighting a number of battles in the deserts of Hegira, and we’re enamored by the potential of an exotic, sci-fi-oriented urban setting.

The Gaffer and I have a sizable collection of desert-themed buildings, mostly historical but including a few Star Wars-specific  structures. We’ve also been watching the Disney Channel’s “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett.”

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This is only a portion of the Middle Eastern-themed buildings that’s available to the Corvus Cluster. We’re busy collecting a few 3D printed buildings that will promote a stronger “Star Wars” architectural style.

All of this has conspired to fuel a new terrain project for us. There are many desert worlds across the Corvus Cluster, so why not create a really detailed, desert-themed community?

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The dome and thick pipes jutting out of the building’s corner fit the Star Wars look. Add a computer terminal at the front door and a small radar dish on the roof, and this building will pass for a run-down home in the 41st millennium.

Not only would it be a fun terrain project, it would provide a great setting for some narrative skirmish games at conventions (if we finally shake the hold of Nurgle).

As we’re enamored by the architectural look of Mos Eisley, and our historical buildings are easily convertible to that style, we’re going to go for it.

We’re not going for an overtly Star Wars look, mind you. We’re going to add a bit of 40K gothic to tie it together. The Imperium is a galaxy-wide empire, so it’s obvious that in a backwater region like the Corvus Cluster, you can expect local architectural styles (along with practical climate considerations) to lead to a variety of “looks” for a city.

(I mean, when they built Notre Dame and the Taj Majal, the “common people” of early M2 were living in mud-and-wattle huts. So it fits to have a clash of styles between the rulers and the rabble.)

Step by Step

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An adobe/stucco look doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, if done right, it can really evoke a sci-fi feel. The little touches of color help.

Our ambition is huge but likely attainable. (I’m a good nudger. The Gaffer) We’d like a good 5-foot-by 6-foot town, another section of city walls with trenches and bunkers outside, and a space port. Of course, that would take a 5-foot-by-12-foot table (at least) (Nudge, nudge. TheGaffer).

Yeah, maybe. But we’re smart enough to know that we begin with baby steps.

Right now, we’ve enough existing buildings to fill a 5-foot-by-5-foot table. So our first goal is figuring out a nice-looking layout. Do we want wide streets for vehicles? Or do we want a maze of narrow alleys and a series of walled compounds, so as to create a nasty environment for skirmish gaming? (Why not both? The Gaffer)

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There are a lot of resin and 3D printed buildings out there that, intermixed with our medieval/20th century desert buildings, will enhance a sci-fi theme.

As we ponder all this, I’m working on roofs. Most of our historical buildings have roofs that are just dirt-covered boards. I’m cutting MDF sheets to replace these removable resin roofs, so I can build a skyline that’s more high-tech. I want to see solar panels, radar dishes, antennae, and other technology that suggests the sci-fi theme we’re going for.

I also want more domes. A few colorful domes will add a little flavor to the skyline, particularly if there’s a few antennae sticking out of them. (How-to article coming soon. TheGaffer)

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Replace the stormtroopers with Arbites Enforcers and the giraffe-like mounted trooper with a Sentinel, and you’ve got a great little vignette for the entrance of a 40K town.

Fun Vignettes

Although not absolutely necessary, I like to sprinkle a convention game table with little surprises. I get a kick when people notice these little “extras,” as they take such delight in them and often take photos.

For example, I’ve got a model railroad neon sign that screams “girls, girls, girls,” and I want that flashing at the entrance of a sizable 16-inch-in-diameter cantina I’ve bought online.  I also have a scantily clad pole dancer miniature (don’t ask).

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The orange canopies to the market stalls and the red flag add some needed color and “pop” to this building.

Elsewhere, I might put some women in tech overalls, just home from work, watering a trellis with flowering vines. Or an Administratum official being carried down the street on a palanquin. I might even slip a rusty Dalek peaking out of a pile of rubble. (Maybe I’ll finally get to build my bar vignette in  your Cantina? TheGaffer.)

As  I’ve just bought a bunch of Arbites Enforcers, I’m thinking of a scenario involving a cult uprising or a food riot. So I’ll need to add sufficient lighting so that I can create the illusion of burning buildings.

The nice part of this is that such vignettes aren’t a burden. I just add them to the town as they occur to me, and as I feel the urge to create them.

A Space Port

The Gaffer has a sizable collection of aircraft and space shuttles, so he has in mind to add a space port in the future.

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A traditional runway, a concrete landing pad, or a Mos Eisley circular landing bay? Hmmm, maybe all three for the space port?

As it happened, I’d purchased some time ago a laser-cut aircraft hangar from Impudent Mortal Terrain, which happened to be at the Historicon gaming convention last November. (Nudge, Nudge, Nudge! TheGaffer.) While there, The Gaffer picked up a laser-printed warehouse.  So, we suddenly had ourselves the beginnings of that space port. (As soon as I get the shanties, the market, and the MBA building upgrades done…TheGaffer)

We haven’t focused too much on the details. (We’re trying to get the basics done at the moment. TheGaffer.) Until we get these two buildings completed, it’s all talk now. I’m playing with the idea of creating a runway out of the vinyl floor tiles I use for my asphalt roads, but The Gaffer has some other ideas we need to discuss. (A landing pad in addition to the runway! TheGaffer.)

Between us, we’ve got a whole bunch of cargo containers, shipping crates, and other odds and ends. Once we add a control tower, and a bunch of other junk, we should be able to pull it off. If only I can get The Gaffer to stop harping (nudging. The gaffer) about that Forge World Thunderhawk that’s been sitting in a box, still in pieces, on my shelf for the last five years. (Six, but who’s counting? TheGaffer)

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Great concept art. How do we build or modify our buildings to give them that realistic look. What little details, such as vegetation, stone walls, cables, flags, statues, etc. will bring the town to life? That’s the real challenge.

Artistic Stuff

As you can see, I’ve collected a number of photos of various Mos Eisley buildings to provide inspiration and ideas for future projects. But one of the big challenges has been to figure out the “look” we want.

A lot of our Middle East-themed buildings are historical buildings purchased from the Miniature Building Authority (MBA). These pre-colored resin buildings come out of the box ready for play, and we’ve decided that we’ll use their factory-set color as our base. But we’ve a bunch of laser-cut, resin, and homemade buildings as well. This latter batch needs to be repainted so they match more closely with the MBA buildings.

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Just a teeny bit of faded color can break up an otherwise bland landscape of adobe.

They don’t need to be a perfect match, mind you. It would look weird if the town was monochromatic. But, in an old desert town, sun-baked and sand-blased stucco ensures a somewhat similar “look,” particularly when they’re all built from the same local rock and clay. So a garish mishmash of colors won’t do.

We also don’t want to overdo the conformity. There needs to be a bit of color, perhaps faded, to some of the buildings.

Now, I’m a paint-by-numbers painter—I make no bones about it. So, I’m relying on The Gaffer to provide the guidance. He’s got a talent for colors. (Plagiarism is the most sincere form of flattery. I ain’t that talented. TheGaffer)  My only contribution is to point at some of these Mos Eisley photos and say, “I like that combination.” (You’re too modest. TheGaffer)

What Next?

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This 3D building is was designed by Corvus Games Terrain, but Panhandle 3D is the company that printed my cantina. I love the building, but it’ll stand out too much because of all the detail . . . so I may cover some with stucco so it fits in with the neighborhood.

The Gaffer already has repainted a number of our non-MBA buildings, and I’ve got a bunch of homemade buildings to start painting. I’ve got the beginning of six high-tech roofs planned, and the pieces all ready for priming.

I’m also painting my 3D-printed cantina with Mod Podge and sprinkling fine grout over it to recreate a stucco look. These projects should keep me busy for the next few weeks. (Photos will come.)

We’ve got a vague plan to run some games at Historicon 2022. Whether we’ll submit to host games at a few 40K conventions will depend on what happens to our current issues with Nurgle’s pestilence.

In any case, this project should provide us with fodder for a number of practical how-to articles on terrain, so you’ll be hearing more about this project. Cheers!

NOTE: Except for the photo of our game table, all of these photos are just concept art and terrain on our wish list, courtesy of cyberspace.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

 

 

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