Midweek block war

Nothing to do with Judge Dredd sorry, I have just finished tonights casting quota so thought I would settle down with a cuppa and post a quick midweek update on how the first Sedition Wars board is progressing. Rather well, as it happens progress wise. Although to the regular vistor it may not look like it has moved forward much from the last update, take it from me, it has. Quite often with Hirst Arts projects things can look like they are progressing slowly, in the main due to the amount of time spent casting the blocks and creating the right sub-assemblies. With all of the interest this project has generated I thought I would perhaps throw out a few cautionary facts to any would-be Alabaster Station Architects out there considering a similar challenge.

Reality Check Number One:

You are going to cast lots of bricks. And by lots, I mean thousands. I don’t use that number lightly. For the basic Space Hulk setup I started a few years back, I estimated somewhere in the region of four and a half thousand individual components. The Sedition Wars boards will require more. A lot more. Quite a few sections may require a large number of a particular brick or floor piece and that piece may quite possibly only appear on the mold once. So you are going to be casting that mold over and over again to get it and probably a lot of all of its little buddies. The trick is to make use of as many parts as you can in the design to avoid wastage. You could also maybe only pour plaster into the parts you are interested in, that would save on wasted material, but won’t save you a jot of time.

Bricks glorious bricks. And that is just tonight’s batch (on the rack that is, stop panicking!)

Reality Check Number Two:

Time is the biggest resource you are going to invest in a project like this. All of that casting uses up more of it than you can possibly imagine. There are ways to be more efficient, such as casting up four molds at a time and having the next batch ready to pour before you de-mold the first batch. Even if you get a system going, you are still going to find your free time is continuously eaten up by getting molds and materials ready, levelling them at the appointed time, de-molding, cleaning up. All of these things will interrupt anything else you try to do should you multi-task. It is probably this which burns out the majority of projects early into their cycle, so expect to hit a ‘wall’ at some stage in the casting (sorry, I really couldn’t resist that pun). Bruce Hirst has a few suggestions to deal with getting demoralised during the long casting session and I really do recommend following his tips, as well as his casting guide.

To put this project into perspective, there are ten unique board sections in the Sedition Wars boxed game. Each of these is 35cm x 35cm, or, more importantly a 12 x 12 grid. Between now and the games intended launch in November there are approximately five months, which by my simple calculations mean I need to produce a new board roughly every two and a half weeks. That is design, cast, construct and paint.

Reality Check Number Three: 

Plaster is heavy. Well, it is a form of finely ground up rock after all! Those ten gaming sections are going to weigh a fair chunk. We are not talking workout territory here, but storing them is something that you probably want to give some consideration to. Good quality casting (or dental) plasters can hold a level of detail on par with resin. It is also very strong (especially the dental stuff, unfortunately it is expensive too). However it is prone to chipping or snapping. one of the reasons I design the walls on my boards to have overlapping double thickness is to give them some internal strength. despite that, drop a section and it will likely chip at best, or at worst fracture. Handle with care.

Reality Check Number Four:

Hirst Arts molds are an investment. Used right they will last literally years and you can make some amazing scenery with them. But that investment is paid up front in the purchase of the molds. I recommend trying one or two first before jumping in with both feet. Especially if you hit point number two. There is also a bit of a myth that making your own scenery is cheaper. Take it from me, it isn’t, its just better because you made it yourself. When you factor in the cost of molds, material, tools, mounting board, glues, exotic dishwasher chemicals, time, chasing the cat out, more time, cleaning up you will be wishing you just bought that Zone Mortalis set from Forgeworld instead.

It may sound like I am building a case for not making the terrain by hand and just sticking with the tiles in the game. I am not, I still think there is no substitute for a fully 3D painted game board to  fight over, it really is an awesome experience. However, I can see from the Sedition Wars Kickstarter comments and the Studio McVey forum there are already a few people looking to start their own 3D gaming board projects. I absolutely applaud that, but wanted to make sure via this blog anyone doing so goes into it eyes open to just what they are getting themselves into. Sure, there are short cuts that can be made on materials or the design, but care has to be taken when making those compromises. Simplify too much and there is a danger that the end result will not live up to expectations and they dont get used, or worse finished, and either would be a dreadful outcome.

So, if you are still with me and want to be a Citizen of the Federation, well good for you. Sign up and find out. Mobile Infantry made me the man I am today!

Now that is out of the way, on to the week’s progress. When I last left things the floor tiles were dry-fitted and I was looking at filling the casting gaps where I was short a few tiles. The flooring is now fixed down and the missing tiles sourced, so I now have a complete board section base wise. The four pillar sections I have tweaked the design and gone back to the original Sketch-Up I did at the start which includes two short wall sections leading to the north facing exit. The photo below is oriented slightly differently where I have been gluing tiles down, but you probably get the idea. I also made a few adjustments to the placing as well as the inner face of those panels lined up really nicely with the pillar ends shape wise. This meant I could use the new detailed edging pieces on the pipework side which looks much better. Quite often I will tweak and play around with the layout almost right up to the point just before I glue it together. Just because I designed it one way doesn’t mean I don’t change my mind. As long as I am happy before the glue goes on, its all good.

The pillar pieces and surrounding tiles I have not stuck down yet as I want to treat these as sub-assemblies in their own right to make it easier to get at the detailing when painting.

Construction wise, all that is left to do now is two sections of exterior wall, the door frames and some pipe detailing. All of these I should be able to complete with ease tomorrow, so I am still on schedule to start attacking it with the paint over the weekend. An activity I am very much looking forward to as I already have an idea of the end look and feel. Casting is naturally relentless (remember point one?) Even though I have the parts I need for this section, I am already looking ahead to what will be needed for the Cargo Bay.

Outside of my little world, the Kickstarter campaign continues to roll along merrily, I noticed Vasquez … sorry Ramirez just got added to the optional extras along with a truly nasty looking Strain version going by the concept art. The quality of the designs for the miniatures has continued to impress me throughout this project and I am hugely looking forward to seeing just where Mike and Rob take us with the Sedition Wars universe. I have to confess I am hugely more excited by this as a product than I am with the impending release of 40K 6th Edition. But you probably already knew that.

So that is the midweek skinny on where things have gotten to since the weekend. On schedule and although not much to look at right now, I have a good vibe how this section will turn out when painted. Until next time, have a great week.

CW


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