Saturday 10 May 2014

Undersea Terrain/Hellscape - Sand Tables and Expanding Foam 2.0

Just a few shots of a table that builds on a few other posts I've done in the past. It was extremely fast to build.

The new sand table is so transportable I took it outside for a game. 
"Submarine fighters" are from EM4 and cost about 30c each.
Indoor Sand Table
I like sand tables but the chance of sand escaping onto the floor stop them from being used indoors (an issue in the cold weather). You occasionally can also find sand annoyingly adhering to crevices in minis.

So I knocked up one of my 20-minute tables, and painted the bottom with a 50/50 PVA/water mix (a spraybottle would have worked better but I didn't have one to hand). 

I "liberated" the wife's flour sieve and some sand from my 1-year-olds sandpit and sprinkled it lightly over it.   After it dried I turned it over and banged off any loose sand (using the wife's dustpan to brush away any remaining crumbs - she doesn't know how much she unwittingly contributes to my projects).  Now there was no chance any sand "falling off".   I duel-wielded two spraycans over it (which also helped "seal in" the sand) and "voila" - indoor-friendly table.

The table is only 4x4.  
Random thought: The spraypainted fine sand would make decent bitumen/asphalt roads for 28mm games.
Expanding Foam - yes, you can spraypaint it
I had some leftover expanding foam cliffs from my desert table.  Someone pointed out to me that expanding foam DOES NOT melt when spraypainted like polystyrene, and they were right - it took me under 5 minutes to make the cliffs (cut, glue sand on the top and spray). I love spraypaint.

Overall it took me 20 minutes to make the table itself from MDF, 30 minutes to PVA glue sand to it and spray it black, and 2hrs for the spray-can-lid buildings and various terrain pieces. Total cost ~$40 and about ~3hours. 

What is it meant to be?
Well, the table is serving a dual role as a "hellscape" - for my Conquistadors-invade-hell skirmish game (basically, I'm borrowing the concept of Helldorado, without their expensive minis or convoluted rules). The second use is as pictured - a "undersea" board where 300-knot sub-fighters duel amongst giant kelp forests and spray-can-lid undersea bases.  

The expanding foam spraypaints fine. However it "bulges" underneath and does not sit flat.
The "kelp forests" are aquarium plants from the $2 shop and would make good alien jungles for a land game.
Undersea sub game?
I've adapted damage mechanics similar to Check Your Six but it should have more of a "WW2 PT-boats/MTBs" feel where subs sneak around slowly undetected at under 20-kts then "go loud" when attacking, engaging supercavitating rocket engines in 300-kt WW2-style dogfights. 

I hate writing down orders, so each pilot chooses 3+ action cards (turn left, shoot, climb etc) and rolls above a target number with 2D6 to see how many actions he can actually perform.  Better pilots naturally have a better chance of performing more actions but whilst 2D6 gives a predictable "bell curve"  there is no "absolute certainty" pilots will act at all - a failed roll means the sub continues to move straight ahead, simply showing the pilot did not react within the "snapshot" of time that the turn represents. 


  1. A very marvelous and unique terrain board!

  2. That expanding foam can be sanded and carved up just as easily as regular sheets of insulation foam. So if you want flat sitting rocks, that always an option.

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  5. Done any more with this concept Mike? I really enjoyed following this. Made me think of Seaquest, and also of a great RPG setting I love "Blue Planet" on an Earth like world covered in archipelagos. I also just happen to have 4 sprues of those Em4 fighters kicking around myself...

    1. Plus I was thinking that one of those Star Blazer style model kits from Japan would make a cracking Submarine Carrier...

    2. I already have two Starblazers sub-carriers undercoated. (Naturally!)

      The rules for this is quite complete (mish-mash of Lardies card activation, Warmaster orders, and CY6 damage) - I'll dig it up and send it over but I've only tried it once. I'd say the core ideas are OK but a lot of tweaking would be needed.

      I suspect you'd like the design goal - recreate PT-boat warfare under the sea... Sub fighters defending/attacking big submarine mothership convoys - sneaking in at 20kts until it's time to go "loud" and dogfighting at 200kts+

    3. Great minds think alike once again then. I wonder if there are some bits from 5150 Star Fighter worth adopting, but I am a big fan of the 2FL card mechanics for swirling maelstroms like this.

      Coincidentally, I went to an exposition for Underwater Unmanned Vehicles today. Lots of ideas there for remote sensors and acoustic decoys.

      PS Here is some further motivation for you: