Monday, 1 February 2010

Emperor Ming's Laboratory

Last year I was interested to read a post that was up-loaded on a number of 40mm Yahoo Sites;
40mm Table Set Ups - or what size gaming tables do you use?

My reply is details below;
Ive'a used a 2 foot x 2 foot board with Fantastic Worlds. In addition I know that Rattrap Productions run a number of games on 2 foot x 2 foot terrain or skirmish boards.

With 40mm I would suggest that you can have interesting skirmish or small actions on boards that are less than 3 foot x 3 foot. Just build in loads of terrain to limit line-of-site.

Think of the action around the opening sequence of Hellboy (the original or first film), a Scottish Church in the rain. I would further suggest that this as a wargame could easily be fought on a 3 foot x 3 foot board with 40mm miniatures. In the same way, any Flash Gordon 40mm game should be fought on small tables (with just a few characters) as if a black and white film set.

I am lucky in that I have three sizes of gaming boards;
5 foot x 3 foot 6 inches red map board (or Martian terrain) for Aeronef/Space 1889.
4 foot 6 inches x 3 foot (green flocked terrain) for medium or small scale Flintloque actions.
and four 2 foot x 2 foot terrain or fully modelled boards for Flash Gordon skirmish actions (one is in fact 2 foot 6 inches x 2 foot 6 inches).

I also have a couple of friends with larger tables that I can also use. For inspiration try the Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy Battles Skirmish Booklet, which is full of great terrain and small action scenarios.

I feel that one of the main reasons people/modellers do not start wargaming is they see the huge demonstration games at conventions and shows and then feel that nothing they do will do the game (or their memory of the game) justice. However I can confirm that great games do not need huge tables or hundreds of figures - in fact some of the best games I have taken part in were on small boards with just a couple of character figures per side.

I have also been lucky enough to game on some huge tables - really huge tables like those at the Wargames Holiday Centre, great fun - but mainly because of the company rather than the size of the tables!

This got me thinking and I started (yet another) gaming table - one that I have been thinking about for some time Emperor Ming's Laboratory board, built on a 2 foot x 2 foot chipboard shelf, bought from IKEA for 99p (for two). Even this small space will not be fully used as I plan on having an even smaller gaming area - 400mm x 400mm in an attempt to prove that size doesn't matter. In addition and just to press the point home - the figures I will be using are 40mm.

Read on.....

Photo One - A rough sketch of the layout of the planned gaming board, 2 foot x 2 foot in total!

Photo Two - Further inspiration came when I picked up this toy from an Oxfam Charitity Shop for just 79p.

Photo Three - Emperor Ming and one of his robot sentries examine the progress so far. (40mm Ming from Monolith, by Jim Bowen and a modified Robot Legionnaire from Hydra Miniatures).

Photo Four - The plan (actually produced well over a year ago and safely stored in one of my many sketch books until needed). The 3mm thick plastic card at the side is boxed-off with 80mm x 80mm squares.

Photo Five and Six - The Charity Toy (or Weather Disruptor Generator) position for effect and initial planning.

Photo Seven - The IKEA shelf, mounted on to some softwood battening and the edges filled with Polyfilla before being sanded smooth.

Photo Eight and Nine - Progress so far. Sorry for the quality of the photos - but it was snowing outside!

I have modelled the plastic card to look like the concrete floor of an underground laboratory, the expansion joints are carved into the plastic card with a scalpel and the concrete texture is 'pressed' into the card with an rough stone from the garden. The grating is plastic netting used in the wonderful hobby of cross-stitch.

These photos and post show work-in-progress. I would hope that additional photos and a game report will follow, but not straight away as I have other, more pressing modelling projects to up-date. But I hope that my views and this project will inspire others to check out a new gaming genre or scale and produce a small terrain board with figures, to test out my theory that size really doesn't matter. It is the fun and company that is the real measure of how well a gaming night goes.



David Drage said...

Nice work, I am really looking forward to seeing this project develop.

I am in the middle of putting together my Hydra Miniatures Pulp SF figures at the moment, so this is great inspiration!

Tony said...

Thank you Dave,

As a modelling project - this is moving slower than I would have like, but now that the base (IKEA shelf) is filled and smoothed, I think the main terrain can be glued on very soon.

Good luck with you own Hydra Pulp project.


Colonel Tavington said...


Am looking forward to seeing the finished article!

I have posted a reply on my blog to your questions! I will sort out an email to you soon as well!


Chris said...

This looks like a really cool project. I've been sliding more and more into the "size-of-your-table-doesn't-matter" camp myself, so I'll be eager to see how this project and subsequent games work out. Looks great so far!