Building a Salute Game Table
The "ApOrkalypse" game we are putting on at this year's Salute is something of a departure for us at the Warlords. It's the first time we have put on a game in our own show that is set in Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 universe. The Warlords have put on many fantastic historical games over the years, covering just about every period there is, and we've also put on some spectacular and fondly remembered Sci-Fi games based on just about all of the well loved Sci-Fi franchises, but we've never done a 40K based game. We have a large number of very active 40K players at the club, who all play the game regularly and we even have a tournament every year, so it came as a surprise to realise that we hadn't done one before now. Time to put that right!
We set ourselves a number of main objectives for the game, firstly, and possibly most importantly, we wanted to show that, yes the Warlords as a club do in fact play 40K!
Secondly, this being a Salute game, we wanted something that would look suitably impressive. The models we will be using in the game will all be coming from the existing collections of a number of Warlord members. So apart from frantically adding a few of the latest shiny things to our armies, this really just leaves the Game Table itself to build.
The normal sized club night game of 40K, played over a couple of hills, some trees and the odd ruin was fine for a Monday night but that was not going to cut it at the show! We had a number of discussions about what sort of terrain we wanted and a number of suggestions were put forward. A Necron Tomb world or an Eldar Exodite planet were amongst the suggestions, but although as a Club we could field a fairly large Necron Army between us, we didn't have any "super-heavies" - and we really wanted some "super-heavies" on the table! Looking at the models that club members had we realised that it was going to have to be Orks vs an Imperial/Eldar alliance. This led to the idea of an Imperial City being overrun by a massive Ork Warrgh (Very 40K!). It also had the added advantage of being able to use the City Fight scenery I all ready had. However, while I had a reasonably sized collection of 40K ruined buildings we felt it still needed to be extended somewhat.
The next objective to address was that it needed to be simple to make. While we are very lucky in that we have a number of very talented scenery builders here at the Warlords, sadly I am not one of them. Scratch building all of the ruins that I had envisaged were needed to cover the size of table we wanted was probably beyond me, especially in the time frame available. I decided that using readily available plastic kits would be easiest; fortunately these were exactly what I had made my existing scenery from, so in a way the Salute table was already half built!
Whilst still at the planning stage we were very lucky to get a great offer from Wayland Games, who generously gave us a huge box of additional 40K building kits which helped tremendously. Wayland Games sell a large range of 40K models (amongst other ranges) and have a trade stand located adjacent to our game.
Despite this very generous contribution from Wayland Games I still felt that we needed something to give the table more impact on the day. To this end we built raised areas at one end of the table and are planning a canal at the other. These will be the only main features of the table that are not made from commercially available kits.
The last main consideration for the game was that the table needed to be modular in nature. While a fully sculpted table with lots of levels and buildings fixed and modelled in place would have looked more spectacular, this would have caused a number of problems. The foremost of these would be storage - we would simply have nowhere to keep it after the show. It would be a shame to go to all that trouble and then have to dispose of it after the show. Secondly, by not fixing the buildings in place, we could re-arrange them to give us a new table layout every time we set it up. Lastly, due to the size of the Salute table, we are not going to have many chances to use all the sections at the same time. As the buildings are removable we can split them up to make two or three good size tables for more regular sized games.
With all these considerations in mind, I started by drawing a "concept sketch" showing how I intend to lay everything out. When undertaking a project of this size, I find that having a good grasp of what is required before starting is essential.
Once I had settled on a basic layout, it was time to get busy. I started with the main raised areas at the end of the table. As I have said, we wanted to keep it straight forward, so the raised areas are made very simply from large blocks of expanded polystyrene (the kind used to insulate loft areas at home) cut to size with a section removed from the centre of one of the pieces to take the stair case.
The staircase was made from strips of "foam-card" stuck on top of each other and then fixed in place. The front of the raised sections were dressed with two sheets of card. One just plain, to cover the rough edge of cut polystyrene, while the second had a series of arches cut out to give it the 40K gothic feeling.
Once these were stuck in place the balustrade was fixed to the front edge. These were spare parts taken from the 40K building sets. Once everything was in place, the whole thing (except for the plastic parts) was given a couple of coats of textured masonry paint. This helps disguise the polystyrene nature of the boards and gives it all a texture that would take dry brushing.
Next up will be the buildings themselves. These will all be made from the standard 40K building sets, provided by Wayland Games, with very little modification. The only notable exception will be the walkways running between the two front towers and the raised sections, whilst these will also be made from parts obtained from the standard kits, they will need a fair amount of conversion work. The legs of the walkways will be taken from the Sky shield landing pad, while the walkways themselves will be the floor sections from the standard kits with low walls along their length. The landing pad itself will form the first floor of the two tower sections in front of the raised areas.
At least that is the plan! The vagaries of print deadlines for the programme, mean that at the time of writing only the raised areas have been built so far. Come along and see the finished table on the day and find out how close to the concept sketch we actually got.
In parting I would like to thank Warlords club member Colin Hagreen for all his help with the detail parts, Neil McJannet for help with the painting and Wayland Games for their generous contribution.