Monday, January 31, 2011

My Dilemma, or Why I'm Basing Marines, Rather Than Blowing Up the World

When I build terrain pieces that have any character, I usually develop a bit of a storyline for them, as I build them.  Generally it is something that never really relates to a game, but helps me visualize the evolution of the piece, as it came to be the way that it appears on the table.  It is kind of like having the evil twin of Bob Ross, the painter, talking in my head as I build, but instead of "... and a little bunny lives here, and nearby is his friend Mr. Tree...", it is more like "... and a psycho with claymore mines lived here, but he was cut in half by his cannibal friend with a minigun on a acid trip...". 

Anyway, a story develops, a pictures appears in my mind, and I create the terrain piece.  In the case of my little house, the story that developed involved the house being caught is a crossfire between the National Guard and group of thugs that occupied the police station, which is located across the street (as is the real house and police station on which my terrain is based). 

The house gets shot up by riflemen, a 20mm gatling, and grenades, scavenged and stripped, left to decay, and sometime later caught on fire by transient survivers taking refuge in its remains.  Then comes the time of my games with the shot up, blown out, cut down, burned out, pillaged little house.

While I was painting the foundation, I was considering whether to build the wrecked house out of styrene or bass wood.  I like styrene, as it is very fast to work with and gives a very clean finished product.  The bass wood is nice, as it is strong, has a fine grain, and lovely texture.  The down side of the styrene is that it does not have the earthy texture, and produces an almost too clean product for what I want in this messed up little house.  Meanwhile, the bass wood is much slower and tedious to work with (requiring super glue, rather than solvent with the styrene), can be damaged by dampness in my basement, and is a little trickier to paint as water based paints can cause the wood to warp.

In the end I was leaning toward the bass wood, thinking that the texture would lend more character to the final product.  So I went through my stash of wood, and found that I am way short of what I need to complete the house.  And looking at my plastic, I have enough textured plastic sheet and strips on hand to build it right away.  I know that in the end though, that I will not get the same splintered wood effect with the styrene, and my paint job won't be as good.

So my foundation sets...

... without a house, while I base 15mm Peter Pig US Marines and ponder what to do.


  1. Looks really good to me so far:) And I like the idea of developing a story it add so much.

  2. Whatever material you decide to use, based on the other photos of your work, I'm sure it will look great and make me just as envious of your skills ...

    I guess something else to consider is how you'll feel when you come to use the piece in a year or so's time. If you use styrene and then in a year you look at it and think 'I wish I used bass wood' then the extra time investment now will be worth it in the long run?