Terrain Blog 03: Paint it Black

Today was the first Friday in my new Terrain-Fridays plan, and for some reason I couldn’t get the Rolling Stones song ‘Paint it Black‘ out of my head.  It might be that it’s their best song IMO, but more likely it’s because I spent several hours just painting black.  Over.  And over.  And then over again.

This week was an Infinity Table week, and I wanted to do something dramatic to show some immediate progress.  I decided to paint the big impressive building backdrop of the table.  I figured a couple layers of paint would give the look of a sudden and immediate jump forward in the process.  This, I hoped, would give myself and others reason to get excited about the project again.  Well I wasn’t able to finish the paint job exactly, because the first primer layer — of black – – took forever surprisingly.  There was so much surface area, and so many nooks and crannies, that it took much longer than I expected.  Even more surprising was that even though I wasn’t able to finish the paint job in its entirety it still accomplished its goal!  That simple, flat, finished layer of black made the back buildings look fantastic all of a sudden.  I guess it’s sort of like priming your minis, or even basing them.  It took it from a bunch of mismatched components all stuck together and turned them in to a solid mass.  It was no longer some wood, putty, foam-board, and detailing.  It was now a set of matching buildings.

I had many people come to me after last week’s article to express interest in coming in on Fridays to help out.  And while nobody dropped by today (which was probably a lucky thing since black paint isn’t the most glamorous), I am excited to see others join in and get their hands dirty.  It will be a great motivator for me to keep up the work, and it will give you a chance to learn a bit about terrain building!

Next week will be a non-Infinity week, and I promise it will be more interesting than black paint.  We will be working on a series of swamps for Chris F’s fundraiser perk.  He wanted some swampy marshes to give his gators a cozy home when he’s playing Hordes, and I intend to give them to him!  We will be working on a set of swamps, and will include many types of grasses and flocks, as well as some trees.  And we will of course be using some water effects as well.  Hope to see you there!

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The mono-black buildings, in all their glory!!!

Terrain Blog 02: Let’s Try This Again

Several months ago I started a blog called ‘Summer of Terrain’.  In it I discussed grandiose plans to update and improve our store’s terrain selection.  I’ve always loved good terrain, and I have always making it too.  I’ve long wanted to have a stack of great, matching scenery in my shop.  Beautiful display boards, and plenty of variety were my goals.  I failed pretty spectacularly.  Now, months later, I am left with a New Year’s resolution to restart, and do it right this time.  But while I often have lofty goals, I can be flawed when it comes to sticking to them, so I am hoping to set up a series of parameters to ensure that THIS TIME I am able to carry through.

1.  ‘When I feel like it’ vs. ‘scheduled time’

A big chunk of the problem that I had the first time was that I decided to work on the terrain whenever I had a spare moment (and of course whenever I actually felt like doing so with that spare moment).  Being a store owner there is no end of little tasks to work on, and no shortage of fun distractions as well.  While it was easy to stay motivated early when there was fun and new stuff to work on, it was hard to stay so afterwards.  I plan on fixing this by instead dedicating a specific time each week to the building of terrain for the store.  Every Friday, from 1:00pm – 6:00pm I will be working on terrain, and I would love to have you join me!  If you have an interest about learning about terrain building, or just pitching in, show up any Friday during those hours and you are welcome to help.  This will have the added benefit of making me stick to the schedule as well.  If I can get a minimum of 5 hours of work done one the store terrain each week we will be in good shape.

2. Remaining Accountable

The hardest part about not carrying though with my original goals was that this isn’t my own personal army I’m working one.  It’s not my collection, or deck I’m working on here.  Many of my initial terrain projects were supposed to be the fulfillment of our fundraiser pledges.  Which means that I haven’t fulfilled my end of the bargain to many of our very best and loyal customers.  That cannot do.  I need to do a better job of remembering that, and push through to not only finish their projects, but do so at the quality they deserve.  To those that have waited so long without seeing their ideas completed – I apologize, and will redouble my efforts in the New Year.

3. The First Hurdle

Part of my problem was planning.  I began with the most ambitious project of all of them: Justin’s Infinity Table.  I grossly underestimated the amount of work that would go in to this behemoth.  It has been a very big task to say the least, and it is in part because of this long-term project that I think I fell off a bit.  There wasn’t enough moments of ‘Haha!  I finished!’ to keep the motivation up.  Had I started with some of the smaller tasks I likely would have finished many of them in the amount of time I have put into this one big task.  But it would be unfair to just drop his project to the bottom of the list too.  So I have decided to alternate weeks.  One week I will put towards the Infinity Table, the next I will put towards some of the smaller projects to get them completed too.

Well that’s the plan, and I need to your help to stick to it.  Show up on Fridays, and pitch in a bit.  Remind me and ask me how different projects are going.  Most importantly don’t let me off the hook!  Together we can turn this false start in to a game winner!  Now I’d better get off and get working – It’s Friday!

Summer of Terrain Blog 01: Seven Years

Now that the move is over and we are fine-tuning things here I finally have the chance to begin a project that has been seven years in the making.

Seven years ago Black Knight Games was not in our exciting new location, it wasn’t in the original location, it wasn’t even a registered business.  Seven years ago Black Knight Games was a dream I had, that I was actively working towards.  I was living in Ottawa working as a manager at Games Workshop and taking night classes in the hopes that I might learn something useful about opening my own shop (I didn’t). I had this idea about what I wanted my store to be, it was clean, spacious, and had a fun environment.  People could play all kinds of games in the shop, but our specialty was to be wargames.  And one thing was certain: we would have AMAZING terrain for those games.

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Working at Games Workshop I had acquired a love of really nice scenery, and I had a knack for making it too.  I knew that no matter what my store’s scenery would impress…I was wrong.  Turns out opening a business is hard work, and when you are dealing with mandatory things like ordering inventory, opening a bank account, and painting the walls the fun stuff like store terrain falls to the back of the cue.  So, we ended up with some great pieces, but mostly quick and dirty and functional terrain.  It didn’t match, there wasn’t a great theme to it, but it would do.

Until now.  Now that we have moved, we have upgraded pretty much everything here at Black Knight Games.  We have more space, we have more shiny, and the shop is much closer to the dream I had seven years ago.  So now it is time to dust off my old goal of having amazing terrain for the shop.  I am declaring this the Summer of Terrain!  My goal is that by summer’s end (September 21st) that we will have purged all the old ‘good enough’ terrain, and replaced it with themed sets, matching terrain, and premium tables.  Every week I will be scheduling myself and another staffer to work on new tables, updating terrain, and adding new stuff – and I plan to document it all here so that you can get as excited about the new scenery as I am, and so you can see the process for yourselves.

Justin’s Infinity Table

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There is a lot we are planning to do, but you’ve got to start somewhere and to me the natural starting point is with the terrain and tables that we owe to our generous BUILDER and LANDSCAPER perk-holders from our fundraiser. This will give you a chance to watch our progress as we fulfill the requests of our perk-holders as well adding some transparency to the process.

The first project I will be working on is the first Premium Table.  Premium tables are special display tables that will be set up all the time, allowing us to do all sorts of things we can’t do with usual modular tables.  The first premium table was claimed by Justin who wanted us to address our lack of terrain for Infinity.  He wanted a congested city with lots of levels, and lots of cover and terrain.  This kind of project is a perfect use of a Premium table as Infinity requires more complex terrain elements than a table for 40K or Warmachine, so I couldn’t wait to sink me teeth in to it.

Initial inspiration came from the idea of a crowded, high-tech sci-fi city like in the picture to the right, and movies like Blade Runner, Minority Report, or A.I..  I also really liked the idea of tying elements of Time Square in with advertisements everywhere.  Billboards and signs would be a fun way of taking this table to the next level and playing with the lines of sight.  After exploring websites of companies that deal in infinity-style scenery it became clear that an affordable and very detailed style of terrain, using laser-cut MDF, was very common.  So I have scoured the internet and ordered from five different companies, acquiring a great selection of buildings.  I have also snagged a bunch of great little details like com-panels, furniture for inside the buildings, phone booths, and sci-fi vehicles.  Honestly I may have gone a bit overboard, but truthfully it’s for a good cause as our Infinity players have been forced to bodge together terrain scraps up until now.

I have given the design to Fred who will make us the frame and base of the table which will have two levels to it, as well as a tunnel.  Total price tag so far: $725.00.

Join me next week when we begin to put the terrain together, and hopefully have the base table built!  I will also share details on the layout.

I hope you enjoy following our progress as we quest to have the terrain our gamers deserve!

~The Black Knight

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