Wednesday, July 23, 2014

River City Table, Part 1

I've been thinking for a long time, maybe over a year, about creating a small gaming table upon which to play All Things Zombie or other modern-ish game.  For my previous ATZ campaign, I played on an old 4' by 4' table that I made for Mordheim ages ago. It's big, a bit unwieldy, and is pretty uniformly green.

What I wanted was a 3' by 3' square table which would come in two halves (18 inches by 36 inches), and have built into it roads, sidewalks, etc. on which I could arrange buildings.  I considered getting a pre-made mat, but those are expensive and I could never find exactly what I want.  Printing out a cardstock table would offer lots of two-dimensional detail, but would cost a fortune in printing costs (and also be two dimensional).  So I decided to make my own.  I'm pretty crafty, but regardless my plan wouldn't be complicated.  After a lot of sketching on the mist-covered door of my shower stall, I finally decided to move on my plan.

So I thought I would share it with you, step by step.  I'll be building the first half, just to see if it works before I build the second.  Here's the stuff you need for the first half:

  • a 2' by 4' MDF board
  • black spray paint
  • green grass-textured paper (the kind you use for model train layouts)
  • wood glue
  • spray adhesive
First, get the guy at Home Depot to cut your MDF sheet.  You want to cut one foot off the short end, then six inches off the long end of the large piece, then cut the small side piece in half.  This will leave you with four pieces:
  • 18" by 36"
  • 12" by 24"
  • 6" by 18"
  • 6" by 18"
If that sounds unclear, here's a helpful photo of the pieces.

The large piece will make up the base of the table.  On the big piece, spray black on the part where the road will go.  The road will be about six inches across.  Here's a photo of how I wanted it to look.

Now, take the 12" by 24" piece and cut a piece of the grass paper to make the shape.  Spray adhesive on the piece and carefully lay the grass paper on top of it (weigh it down with some odd pieces of plywood) and let it dry for several hours.  Do the same for the 6" by 18" piece.  Save the last piece for the next half of the project.

Attach the two grassy pieces of MDF to the base around the painted roads, creating a layout like I've shown.

Now you have a roughly three-dimensional layout that's pretty inexpensive and easy to build.  I'm going to basically do a second one in a similar fashion to finish up the table, plus add some additional detail, as you'll see.  Stay tuned, and comments always welcome!


  1. Fantastic! A project like this is always a pretty big endeavour, but see it through and they're always well worth the time and expense. Looks great so far!

  2. Best of luck with this project. I'll be following your progress with interest.

  3. Great start dude! Watching with interest.

  4. Very interesting idea, I'm intrigued how this will turn out.