Mar 4, 2013

3D Settlers of Catan board

At GenCon 2012 my friend Angela and I played the Mayfair Game's 3D Settlers of Catan game.  Angela told me I should make her a similar board.  A month or so later, I decided to give it a try.

Each hex was cut from pink foam insulation board.  I found a hex shape to use as a stencil, traced the hexes on the foam board, then used a foam cutter to cut out each one.   My foam cutter is a cheap one, so this took a while, and smelled quite bad.  You should probably cut the foam outside if possible!

Hex stencil
pink foam insulation and foam cutter
Once all the hexes were cut out, I sealed each one with a mix of white glue and water, and then painted the hex its base colour.
brick, wheat, and ore

wood, desert, sheep
Next up was to decide what I wanted for the settlement and city markers.  I wanted each player's city markers to look different as well as be a different colour. I have a number of Hirst Arts molds, so I went through my spare casts.  The settlement and city markers are all flagstone floor tiles, and the city markers are higher and have different tops. I use Lego to make sure the pieces are glued as squarely as possible.
settlement and city marker bases

settlement and city tops drying
Painted each settlement and city marker black, then a heavy drybrush of white. Later on there will be pictures of the finished markers, I wanted them to be very brightly coloured.

The roads are made from big popsicle sticks I bought at a dollar store.  I cut each down to size, and then painted them.
cutting down the popsicle sticks

roads ready to be painted

painted roads
I didn't take many pictures of the resource tiles, but you can see the finished tiles at the end of this post.

Wheat - I stripped the top layer from some corrugated cardboard so it looked like crop rows.  I then glued rows of twine upright so it looked like wheat.  Once that was dry, I cut the twine so it was shorter, then cut the cardboard into sections for each tile.  Glued that to the painted hex.  The dirt around the wheat is used coffee grounds.
wheat and ore drying

nearly finished wheat tiles - just needs a second coat of coffee
Ore - I glued 3 pieces of cut off pink foam insulation to make each mountain.  Once the glue dried I shaped it a bit, and then painted dark grey with progressive drybrush to white.  You can see the unpainted mountains in the picture above.

Desert - beige painted hex covered in two coats of coarse sand bought at a dollar store.

Sheep - green painted hexes covered in two coats of green flock.  I bought a package of plastic sheep at a model railroad store.

Brick - red painted hexes, and hirst arts bricks painted dark red with grey drybrush.
bricks drying
Wood - brown painted hexes, and each tree was made from a Gary Oak twig cut down to size, and topped with moss bought at a craft store.  Gary Oaks are very gnarly, so each "tree" is unique.
cutting the Gary Oak twig

tree ready to assemble

tree completed
The water tiles stumped me for a bit, I didn't want just plain blue painted hexes.  Then I remembered I had some spray coat sealer that eats foam.  I cut the bottom from a starbucks cup and used the remainder of the cup as a spray template. I sprayed the sealer inside the cup so each water tile was eaten away in the center. This also smells a lot, and probably should have been done outside.
water tiles and spray template
  Once they dried, I painted each blue, and then drybrushed light blue and while to highlight the water. Nine of the water tiles needed docks, so I built docks from skewers and wood coffee stirrers. I deliberately made the dock planks uneven. Glued a dock to each water tile, and then added an additional board to make the dock look like it went to the edge of the tile.
inverted bridge, drying

bridge glued to water tile

additional dock plank added to edge
The Robber was made from Hirst Arts - 2 short pillar sections topped with a skull.  The ore and brick 2:1 dock markers were small Hirst Arts bricks - painted red for brick, grey for ore.  The wheat 2:1 marker was a Hirst Arts bag of grain, the wood marker was a small section of twig, and the sheep marker was the end of a Q-Tip.  That one stumped me for a while, wasn't sure how to represent wool!

The rest of this post will be photos of the player pieces and the completed board:

wheat 2:1 marker

brick 2:1 marker

ore 2:1 marker

sheep 2:1 marker

wood 2:1 marker
close up of the Robber and the desert tile

completed board

completed board
Overall I am pretty happy with how this turned out!

Feb 29, 2012

Hirst Arts Warlock's House

I chose the Hirst Arts Warlock's House as my first HA build, as I already owned the molds needed to make it.  I had already cast enough blocks to get a good start on this build, and just cast more as needed. I learned so much while building this!! This piece recently went to some friends as a very belated Christmas present.

Here's a few of the lessons I learned:
1) Consistent blocks are very important! When I first started casting blocks I didn't realize how important this was, so I didn't always scrape the molds carefully.  You can sand the blocks once they are dry but it is messy and inconvienent so it's better just to cast them properly. 

2) Use the same casting material for all the blocks. The blocks in this build are 3 different types of plaster (as I got better at casting, and bought better quality materials).  The different materials may react to the paint differently, or (as I experienced) may not hold with the same glue.  There were a few sections of this build that were glued a few times.

3) Do some research online for hints and tips.  The HA forums are an awesome resourse that I carefully read and then apparently ignored.  Silly silly me! Learn from others!

4) Make sure your walls are straight and your corners are square.  This is one tip I did follow - I used lego to brace the corners as the glue dried.  However I didn't realize that as I built each layer of the house the walls were not straight (they looked straight when I was assembling it!)  Once it was all assembled and glued together I noticed that the top was narrower than the bottom.

The build was pretty straightforward - I followed the plans and instructions, building row by row.  One of the things I liked about this one was that it is built to come apart in sections, so you can use it with miniatures. I glued the base to a white foamcore board.  Once all the pieces were glued, I painted them in sections, but following the same pattern - dark grey/blue basecoat, then 3-4 layers of progressively lighter coloured drybrushing (added more white paint each time), and a final coat of almost pure white drybrush. 

The roof was cut from cereal box cardboard.  Knowing I didn't want to spend hours cutting out individual roof tiles, I went to my local craft store and bought a paper punch that more or less made the scalloping pattern I was looking for.  I then punched out about a million rows (more or less) from regular paper, and glued them to the cardboard frame.  After that was all done, I glued the roof to the supports, and then painted it.  The roof was painted blue, then washed in black (a wash is very watered down paint, so it pools in crevesses).  Then a few progressively lighter drybrush coats of blue, and moss added.

I painted the white foamcore board green, then painted a good coat of pva glue and water.  I sprinkled flocking all around, let it dry, then knocked off the excess.  Any bare patches I applied more glue/water and flock.  Around the edge of the building I did a thin row of tiny brown rocks I picked up at a dollar store. 

The moss on the building and roof is a mixture of flock and tea (much tea was consumed during the construction of this building).  I also scattered some tea on the ground cover, to break it up a bit.  Using just the flocking made the ground look unnaturally uniform.

Once the whole thing was painted, I sprayed each piece with a quick coat of Testor's Dull Coat (matt, not glossy - didn't want the piece to look shiney). This should help protect it from light bumps and scratches.

I did make a few changes from the original pattern.  Because my build narrowed as it went up, I couldn't put in the second floor I built.  So I cut it down to half a floor (I guess like a loft?)  I had to glue some additional bracing blocks to support the second floor as it no longer reached wall to wall, but these were a few of the blocks that just wouldn't bind with the glue.  So after much wailing and knashing of teeth I gave up, now this Warlock's house has seriously vaulted ceilings :-) Another change I made was instead of sanding down the roof peak sections, I added small triangle shaped blocks to each "step" to smooth it out.  However, I didn't realize this would make the roof peak sections larger than the plan, so I had to make a larger roof. The last significant change was I didn't build the outside fence - due to (again) my poor planning, there wasn't enough room on the foamcore for this.  I even had to cut small strip of foamcore from a scrap piece and glue it on one side as I didn't center the build on the foamcore.  I promise to plan the next piece better!  :-)

Here are a few photos of the piece.  The only thing I did after taking these photos was to paint the white edge of the foamcore a brown/green mixture. You can see all the photos here.

Completed base with floor tiles, door, and grass.


Side tower base.

 Side tower middle section.

Side tower cap.

Main part of house.


Assembled, back view.

Assembled, side tower view.

Assembled, front view.

Feb 28, 2012

Hirst Arts

Last year I discovered Hirst Arts molds, and the nerd crafter in me cried out in joy :-) Many years ago I played tabletop miniature based wargames, and I enjoyed painting the figures and building terrain almost as much as playing the games!  While I don't wargame any more (I'm too cheap to get back into the hobby) I do play in a number of regular pen and paper rpg games, and cool terrain can always add an interesting element to battle scenes.

I bought a couple of Hirst molds with no clear idea of what I wanted to build. So then I bought more :-) My plan now is to build some modular dungeon pieces that can be put together in almost any configuration to match what is needed, and maybe a few buildings for outdoor or village scenes.

I curently own:
#70 Fieldstone Wall Mold
#71 Fieldstone Accessories Mold
#73 6" Round Fieldstone Mold
#77 Fieldstone Octagon Mold
#260 Flagstone Floor Tile Mold

One of my gamer friends has a few molds I don't have, so we have traded a few for a month or so.  I borrowed #281 Cavern Floor Mold and #282 Cavern Floor Accessories, and I really like how different they are from my fieldstone molds...

I am already planning my next purchase (will be sharing an order with the above mentioned gamer friend to save on shipping).  I know for sure I want to get #85 Cavern Accessory Mold because of all the useful things you can make with it - barrels, crates, chests, many cool things!!  But what else to get?! Should I stick with the fieldstone line and maybe get a different building? Or expand into another line? So tempted!

Feb 27, 2012

Nerd Crafting!

I have 3 nerd crafts that I am attempting to practice regularly this year - gaming miniature painting, gaming terrain building, and making chainmail jewelry. My hope is that by updating this blog with regular photos and updates it will keep me practicing regularly.  A side benefit is that my photography skills may also improve :-)

One of my goals for this year was to paint a minimum of 2 minis a month.  In January I painted one.  I have 2 days left in February, and haven't painted any yet.  Dammit!! So I have to paint 3 minis in the next 2 days, or March's total will be 5.  Here is the 1 mini I painted in January - it's one of the treasure chests from Super Dungeon Explore:

Just before Christmas I ordered some basic chainmail supplies from The Ring Lord. Here is a simple 4-in-1 bracelet I made myself:

I will discuss the piece of terrain I recently completed in it's own post.

Jun 27, 2011


Dixit is a visually stunning board/card game. The game had been recommended to my gaming group before PAX, but we hadn't had a chance to try it out until recently.

Dixit is for 3-6 players age 8 and up and an average game takes about 30 minutes.

Each turn a player is the Storyteller - they look at the six cards in their hand and come up with a one or more word sentence to describe the card they've chosen. Telling the other players the sentence, the other players then look through the six cards in their hands and choose one that best matches what the Storyteller described. The Storyteller then takes the cards, shuffles them face down and turns them face up on the table. The other players then use a numbered token to choose which card they think was described by the Storyteller.

If everyone or no one chooses the Storyteller's card then the Storyteller gains no points that turn and everyone else scores 2 points. Otherwise, the Storyteller and anyone who chose the correct card scores 3. Players score 1 point each time their card is chosen by another player. Points are tracked on a board by moving coloured rabbits along a marked trail.

The mechanics of the game are simple, but after playing a few rounds we discovered there is a skill you need to develop for this game. You don't want to be too obvious or too vague when describing your card, or you will get no points for that turn (this happened to me a lot!).

I highly recommend this game; it has great re-playability and really gets your imagination going!

Originally posted at Pretty Gamer