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Modular Arena with Hirst


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 The best games I've played in 10 years of going to Origins and Gencon have been Dragons Night Out and the Ebontop Dungeon Crawl. This year, I've decided to get off my but and make a smaller, home version of the latter. I don't have the space to do a massive table like they do at the cons, so I've opted for a plan that will fit on a 3'x 3' table.  This means making smaller, 6"x 6" modules that can be swapped and rotated to change up the arena between sessions. Over the weekend, I've made my first two modules out of Hirst Arts bricks as a kind of proof of concept. 

 

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I've ordered some mold making compound to try and make some floor molds and speed up the building process, but I wanted to show off a little after spending all day gluing and placing. i have no idea how long this will take, what with the realities of life slowing down construction time, but my plan is to update this thread any time significant progress is made.

 

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Ronald is right; 2"x2" are great for flexibility and repurposed use, but larger are much more convenient for setup. I use 12"x12" for my 4'x8' dungeon crawl, and the size and customization of each piece means it only goes together right one way. I think you'll find your 6"x6" sections much more flexible.

 

Any particular reason for making the big 1.5"x1.5" corners blocks? Seems like they are chewing up a considerably amount of real estate on tiles of this size. If you do 4 of them on a tile, they consume 9 square inches of 36 square inches of the tile, a whopping loss of 1/4 of your tile.

 

While you are working on these, do a lot of dry builds, and photograph them. Don't commit to glue until you have to; by having pics of you ideas, you can build and rebuild, making tweaks along the way, and then use the photographs to rebuild the tiles you want exactly the way you want them. Like you, I made some test pieces when I was first starting on my crawl. I was able to salvage one of them, but the other two were ultimately useless to me when I settled on my final build, because I thought I knew what I was doing. :;):

 

Good luck!

 

~v

Edited by Shakandara
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I would also suggest downloading what used to be Google's Sketchup. You can still Google Sketchup and download the newest version for free. It is a great 3D modeling program, and as a bonus, most of the Hirst Arts molds are located in the Warehouse already. This way, you can plan out a lot of your pieces and see how they join together before actually building them.

 

Another trick I learned for large boards: do not glue all of the walls onto the floors. If you have a few walls that can be moved, rotated across tiles, or even used to close off that opening that leads to the table, then it gives a more cohesive look to the board.

 

If you have any HA related questions, I would be glad to help!

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Thanks for the encouragement and advice! I figured if I posted here, I would have to stick with the project and not get distracted, just so I wouldn't feel like I let you folks down. 
I actually have a smaller, more customization dungeon project that I'm working on as well. It is made up of (Dwarven Forge style) wall and floor sections, based off of some stuff I bought from Table Table Top Plus I consider that style to be more useful for RPG adventure dungeons.
 
modular-dungeon1.jpg 
I'm referring to this project as my "Arena" because I think of it as a separate set, useful for one off games and thunder-dome-esque battles. 
 
As far as the 1.5" corner posts go, they are really just part of the plan to make things a little different between modules. I plan on having ones with smaller corner posts as well. The fat ones are just the ones I had laid out at first to see if I like them, so they became the first ones I made. 
 
I didn't think of sketch up! I have a graph notebook full of all of my gaming ideas, and I just sketched a bunch of stuff in there, but having the ability to handle the virtual bricks in a 3D setting would have been helpful to planning. 
 
As far as 30 minutes a day goes,-- that is another trick for starting this project. Hopefully it will encourage me to clean out a corner of the basement to use as my casting lab, so i don't have to haul out all of my materials and then pack everything up again each time I want to cast. I'd be able to have things ready to go so I could make a few bricks each night before bed.

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Gluing and casting does take up a lot of time, but if you can devote as little as 30 minutes to it every evening you will make progress quickly.

 

This is exactly how I get the majority of my casting done. If I can run one pass of 10-12 molds once a day in the evening when I get home from work, by the end of the week, I've got 50-60 castings done, and it hardly impacts my days. With custom and duplicate molds of certain things, that means I can be ready to work on multiple projects in just a couple weeks.

 

If I try to devote a Saturday to it, I get less castings done than in a week, and feel like I've blown a whole day.

 

~v

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I've never found a solution to the tile floor/wall conundrum that I'm 100% happy with. So that's why I've yet to start my modular dungeon. Yeah, that's the reason, let's go with that...

 

I think I'm going to go with 1/2" floor tiles under the walls. I know folks say it decreases strength, but half floor tiles showing around the wall edges drives me nuts...

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 I like having the the half floor tiles sticking out from under the walls because it allows for a little more room, for those minis that are sticking out arms or spears or horns or whatever, to stand two abreast in a 2 square wide hallway.

Plus it will allow me a little room to start adding fiddly bits of decoration, once I figure out what they will be. 

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My decorations are the barrels, crates and sacks from the dungeon accessories mold, or the furniture from the inn accessories mold.  Though I've never had much luck making bookshelves.  I just use regular plaster and I've never gotten one of the shelves out of the mold without breaking it, so I'm loading up on bookshelves from the Zealot Twisting Catacombs kickstarter.

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There's probably a building/cement supply place somewhere near you that carries Hydrostone/Drystone/whatever. At the very worst, you could probably get decent results with a container of Hydrocal from your local Hobby Lobby/Michael's/train supply shop. If you are stuck with that option, just use that container only for casting that mold, and use your other plaster for everything else.

 

~v

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@Shakandara.. I wish.  Really difficult to find around here, The Michael's around here doesn't even carry regular plaster, and the only hobby store left in the city focuses on card and dice games, very few minis/paints and no casting supplies.  I'd have to get it in from out of town (~90 min drive one way), and ordering online/shipping that kind of weight is expensive.  I can get plaster from an artist supply store about 30 min away, that's as far as I'm really willing to go.  So I make do.  ;)

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