Greetings from the War Games Con Manufactorum!
This year JWolf tasked me with adding a little more terrain to the War Games Con collection. We'll have more tables going than last year and we also wanted a few larger pieces that would be good for blocking line of sight. With those goals in mind, I set about creating some flat-topped hills and rock formations. While these aren't going to be the most decorative and realistic looking pieces, they should look nice and be very playable. Here are a few tips the next time you're tasked with making a few hundred hills.
I've found a three inch height offers good protection for many models and I also wanted two tiers so I went with 3/4" double stacked foam cut into pieces and then assembled two cut pieces together for the final product. First, cut the 4'x8' sheet of foam into four 2'x4' sections and glue them together as pairs. I used a general 3M spray adhesive and put it on light so that I didn't have any issues with it burning the foam. (I couldn't find the 3M Styrofoam Adhesive locally.) I wanted to use a thin spray adhesive since I'd be cutting through the foam later-- nothing sucks more than having to run your hot knife through a thick layer of glue. Spray both sides to be glued from about 12", stick them together and then peel them apart and wait about 15 seconds before sticking them into the final position. (Also, don't forget to peel the protective clear sheets from the foam. If you forgot, well, peel off that protective sheet sandwich you just made and try again.)
Once you've got your double stack of 2 by 4 foam, lay out some guide lines.
Shown is my tester piece of terrain. Place it in the middle of the long edge, give a little room on either side for cutting and place a few marks along the center line. These marks ended up being about 7" apart. To give the terrain some variety, mark at the short edge of the board about 5" apart and then connect the dots. Depending on how you vary your rows, you'll have slices that taper, widest edges about 9" long and narrow edges about 3" long-- this will make sure that you'll have a good variety of sizes and since we're basically cutting out squares of foam, a little variety goes a long way. It will also make sure you have enough topper pieces to fit your larger bottom pieces.
Then fire up your favorite 130W foam cutting implement and crank it to 11. Ok, maybe just to 4. Anything higher than that and this thing was melting a spectacular amount of foam.
Definitely don't try this with one of those battery powered foam cutters; you'll just drive yourself crazy. I was able to cut up the whole sheet of foam in about 45 minutes and it would have taken at least twice as long with a lower-powered foam cutter. Once you get your slices cut, you should have something like this:
For this two by four I went with two wedge shaped slices, one narrow slice and one slice of the same width all the way across. Next step is more cutting: grab each slice and start hacking off chunks. While relatively square pieces won't be that interesting, they will reduce your amount of waste and keep your costs down. When you're done, mix and match the chunks until you've got your hills. I secured my layers with Liquid Nail construction adhesive, using the same stick-unstick-restick technique for the larger foam layers.
I've found a 4'x8' sheet of 3/4" foam will yield 36-40 hills of this type and cover about 10 square feet of table area. That's almost two tables worth of terrain using the 25% rule, so for those of you at home, a $12 piece of rigid insulation foam from your local big box construction store can fill up your tables nicely.
Not the most exciting terrain, but once it is painted and textured by Darkwynn and his minions this weekend it should get the job done. Now I've just got to cut up a couple hundred more and I can move on to making some of the more exciting and interesting terrain for the Narrative Track tables. In fact, here's a little teaser of a piece I'm working on for the Macragge track.
Look for more updates in the coming weeks as the countdown to War Games Con continues.