Sunday, 14 December 2014

The 2015 Game - Building Malta

Way back in January, I set out the projects I wanted to complete over the course of the year. Well, things didn't quite go as well as planned, but by far the biggest task was our plan for the Wyrley Retinue's 2015 game. As has become habit now, we went with a theme that would have some sort of anniversary in 2015. Rather than the obvious choices like Agincourt or Waterloo, we went with the slightly more obscure (i.e. the sort of thing only Gary would know the date of...) Great Siege of Malta as 2015 marks the 450th anniversary of the Ottoman invasion of the island. 

Of course, Malta looks nothing like our existing set of boards and so a whole new bunch of terrain boards were called for. While Gary took on the task of getting all the figures painted, I tackled the building of all the terrain (with intermittent help from Paul...). The deadline, as usual, was the local Wargamer show on November 30th. Nine months to build a completely new set of boards to make an 8'x6' gaming table, with all the accoutrements necessary to go with it. No problem, right?

The initial MDF boards laid out in the intended arrangement.

Each board was edged with wooden batons to ensure a flush fit next to each other. At least, that was the plan...

The three non-water boards lined up next to each other.

With the wooden batons added, the frames were filled up with dense polystyrene and raised to the height of the batons. All the gaps were plastered over and once everything was dry, the boards were textured with two layers of sharp sand.

The harbour boards took  a bit more trial and error to get right...

The initial placement of the boom towers.

The boom begins to take shape!

The simple yet elegant boom mechanism - wooden clothes pegs!
With the flat boards constructed, I set about building the add-ons. First up was the "castle board" - the raised hill area that would represent the town. The base was built with foamboard and more 50mm polystyrene, with plenty of carving to get the "right" slope (although you'd still need some muscle to push a siege tower up there...)

The town laid out next to the early dock board.

Foamboard buildings inside Citadel Fortress walls - the buildings would ultimately end up outside the walls...

The view from the bottom of the slope

The pictures stop at this point, but there's still plenty of construction to do. Copious amounts of cork bark slivers were used to add cliffs to both tower boards, and the dock board was built up to a slope before the frame of the docks themselves were added. At this stage, the painting began with each board receiving a thorough coat of a mid-brown (roughly GW Graveyard Earth) before getting a heavy overbrushing of the appropriately named "Sand" (pretty much GW Bleached Bone). With all the earth/rock painted, it was time for the trickiest task - the water. The majority was simple enough, but the water needed some careful blending where the deep water met the shallows around the shoreline. Despite having been painting figures for years, blending is something that still scares me and it would show up even more on such a large surface as terrain boards. In the end, I think I got away with it...

The boards with water painted - not as bad as I expected!

With everything painted, it was time to add the water. If I hadn't left it quite so late in the day, I'd have taken much more time to get the water effects just right. In the end, I resorted to simply pouring a layer of PVA onto each of the boards. You can see the results in the next couple of posts!


  1. Impressive set up. I've seen photos of the finished results but looking forward to how you made it.

    1. Thanks Matt. I obviously stopped taking photos halfway through the construction process, because there's a big jump from everything halfway built to nearly completed! Unfortunately, I seem to have missed taking pictures of the interesting bits!