Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zone Mortalis Terrain on a Budget!

Taking a look around the Forge World website, it looks like they've introduced a new set of terrain for games of Warhammer 40,000. The Zone Mortalis terrain sets look pretty sweet, and the fact that they're modular and compatible with the Games Workshop Realm of Battle boards is absolutely fantastic.

The price, however, leaves much to be desired. The terrain costs 90 pounds sterling for a 2'x2' section. Hardly worthwhile for questionable and unreliable quality. So used my thinker box and came up with an inexpensive alternative. I'll use some Pegasus Gothic City terrain along with a 1'x1' piece of quarter-inch sintra to create a Zone Mortalis tile.

I took some photos along the way to provide a helpful tutorial in case any my readers want to try this out with some nice looking terrain and don't feel like mortgaging their home to get some tunnel-fighting action in.

The first thing to do is to gather your materials. Obviously, you need your standard hobby supplies. Glue, X-Acto knives, hobby saws, etc. You're also going to need a box or three of the Pegasus terrain sets and the aforementioned quarter-inch sintra cut into 1'x1' squares. Sintra is available at most sign-making stores; I usually ask if they have any scraps. If you can't find sintra, some sort of wood can be used as a substitute with some adjustments to the procedure. Now that you've got your supplies handy, it's time to get down to business.

The first thing you're going to do is mark the sintra along the edges in two-inch intervals.

After marking, connect the marks to form a grid. Each square should be about two inches, making a grid consisting of 36 squares.

All of this is to create a "tiled" look for the floor of the terrain, in addition to easily lining up the wall sections, which will come later. The next thing you're going to have to do is find a way to score these lines on your sintra board. I found the easiest way to do this is to use a rotary tool with a cutting head and lightly score along the grid lines.

If you use the rotary tool route, be sure to do so very lightly. The next step is to deepen the scoring to form the individual floor tiles. To do this, grab yourself a square file and, a small bit at a time, gouge the lines you just scored deeper. Not only will this provide a nice 3D effect, but it will also help to straighten out any waviness in the score line.

When it's done, you'll have a piece like this:

Aside from a bit of smoothing out the surface and maybe adding battle damage and other details if you feel so inclined, the board is done. The next step is to prepare your wall sections. In order to create a claustrophobic feel, using the windowless wall sections of the Pegasus terrain set would be ideal, but considering there are only six that come with the box, you'll either have to make due with with windowed sections or find a way to get more.

So long as you don't plan to sell them, I recommend creating your wall sections and casting them in resin. You're going to have to decide how you want your walls laid out. Taking a look at the end of the Zone Mortalis rule set, you can find out how the individual tiles are laid out and copy that or make your own tile configuration. If you're going to do an entire table with this stuff, putting a bit of fore-thought into how your tiles interact and connect is definitely worthwhile. Connect the parts in a way that suits you and lay them out on the board.

You'll notice that parts of the Pegasus walls hang off the end. Fear not! This is all part of the design. The Pegasus wall sections (including the pillars at either end) are exactly 4 inches. This makes measuring and resizing the wall sections easy. Place one of the pillars in the middle of one of the tiles where you want it to end or form a corner. From there you can figure out where you need to cut the wall section. Unless you're trying out something a bit freaky, it's either going to be in the very middle of the wall section, or you're going to be cutting off one of the end pillars. In my example, I've had to cut two middle sections and two pillars. Wall section cut:

Pillar cut:

Pegasus terrain is pretty modular, meaning you're going to end up cutting off a small handful of the locking tabs and the ends of the wall sections:

I used a rotary tool, but clippers or a hobby saw work just as well. Now that you've got your wall sections prepared, you can glue the pieces together:

After that's done, very carefully align your wall sections with the grid on your board and glue the sections down:

Sintra takes super glue like a boss and creates an extremely rigid and durable hold. Pegasus includes extra sprues filled with stuff you can put in the open gaps on the pillars. I decided to use the fillers instead of anything fancy like the gargoyles or torches included with the set.

They slide right in.

After the wall sections are glued down, the gaps are filled, and any additional work is done, your "Zone Mortalis" tile is complete

The only thing left to do is paint it. Given that this is a relatively quick tutorial, I only bothered to use two shades of grey to paint this tile up. Not exactly impressive, but it serves the purpose. Those with the inclination to do so can go much farther with the painting than I have. Folks out there with air brushes will have an easy time creating subtle terrain effects that I'm sure will look excellent.

Lastly, a lone Death Korps Engineer scouts the tile out:

That's pretty much it! I plan to create at least a 4'x4' table using this technique, along with the nifty blast doors that are a part of the Forge World terrain set. I'll figure out how to do that using the materials here and post another tutorial about it here and on DakkaDakka.

From start to finish, this tile took about three hours, that's with figuring out exactly what I had to do in order to make it work and photographing the project. I imagine an entire board like this could easily be completed within a week.

The box of Pegasus terrain ran me almost fifty dollars at my local hobby store, which probably contains enough wall sections for at least three 1'x1' tiles. I buy my sintra from a local sign store for $3.25 per square foot. In total, each 1'x1' tile will cost less than $20. The cost will be even less if you decide to cast up wall sections in resin and use those instead of buying the plastic terrain sets.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, post 'em! I'll be happy to answer any questions and help you out if you decide to make use of this tutorial and take and post additional photos if you guys so desire.

 Thanks for reading,