Category Archives: Gaming Table

The Summer of Scenery

That’s the name of the challenge hosted by Dave over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. I’ve decided I can certainly find some things to make or paint over the next two months. The challenge for me is to make scenery that I will use, but also to clear out some stuff that’s been sitting idle for a long time.

Like this thing. I bought it about 12 years or so, by my best guess. It’s all one piece, constructed out of some kind of foam. It feels a lot like solidified ‘Great Stuff”, that gap-sealing foam that comes in a spray can.

It’s not a small piece. I should have included a miniature for scale, but I forgot. The barrels are definitely 28mm scale oil barrels, if that helps.

The pool area is deep enough for water effects. I’m not great at it (mine never seem to dry completely), but I’m strongly considering using them, as I think it will really make this piece stand out once it’s done.

Now, one terrain piece should be easy. But why stop at one? I’ve had another project sitting in a labelled, white box for about a decade. With a recent Reaper order, the time may have come to complete it…

I’ll give you three guesses…

Trying Out the Table (with Zombies)

I’m gearing up to play my first game of No More Room in Hell, by Iron Ivan Games. I figured I’d set up the table with some appropriate terrain and the majority of my zombie and survivor miniatures to see if I need more minis and/or terrain or less space. Plus, it’s just fun.

All the zombies are from Wargames Factory, with the exception of the three or four Hasslefree zombified survivors. Survivors are from various companies. I will endeavor to identify them all in the pictures below.

Here’s the table all set up. The buildings and street tiles are from World Works Games’ Streets of Mayhem sets and from Model Paper World. The MPW stuff is FREE! so that’s always nice, but the WWG stuff is awesome and more than reasonably priced.  The various vehicles were purchased at CVS in their toy aisle. They’re all made in China (surprise) and retail for about 5 bucks each, although I bought a bunch when they were on special for 2 for 1. They constantly rotate their stock so every month I usually grab one or two. Various other terrain pieces are from Armorcast (like the dumpsters), Pegasus Hobbies and JR Miniatures.

Seems like the two chainsaw chicks got the same idea…raid the gun shop! One of them Is Hasslefree’s Ashley Campbell (who is actually facing off against the zombified version of herself), the other is Reaper’s Berklee, Zombie Survivor.

These funkadelic survivors square off against a pack of zombie dogs, from Mississinewa Minatures. Clockwise from left to right, the survivors are Horace “Action” Jackson, Ebony Foxx and Sly Withers, all from Reaper. Out front is Delilah, from RAFM.

Father Thomas tries to ward off the shambling horde with his cross. Good thing Rex has his trusty sawed-off to back him up. Both minatures are from Reaper. The zombies come from Hasslefree, Wargames Factory and Mississinewa.

Hey guys…don’t look now, but…

The not-Shaun and not-Ed are both from Hasslefree: Ray and Tony, respectively. The lurking hairy zombie is from Mississinewa.

Some folks just like to stomp zombies the old-fashioned way… with their bare hands. All the Z’s are from Mississinewa. El Diablo and Butch “Killer” Davis are both from Reaper, while Tanshiro is from Hasslefree.

When do you not trust a couple of clowns in an ice-cream truck? When they’re zombies!!!

The clowns are from Mississinewa, the rest of the Z’s are Wargames Factory.

Besieged by naked (and clothed) zombies. The naked ones are from Mississinewa. The more modest Z’s are from Wargames Factory.

Another view. The Elvis clone is The Pretender, from RAFM. The fireman in his jockstrap is Mad-Dog, one of my favorite Hasslefree miniatures.

Sometimes it’s better to call in the pros. On the left is RAFM’s Gloria with Uzis, center is Hasslefree’s Harby, and on the right is Hasslefree’s Cobra.

Not all cops protect and serve. Some are zombies.

These gangers are from Bobby Jackson’s Thugz line.

After a careful look at the table, I realize I’ll probably need more zombies. Good thing I still have the 40 Wargames Factory Zombie Vixens to paint, plus a few others like Reaper’s Zombie Strippers.

A 6′ x 4′ table full of terrain looks great, but I’m left wondering where I’m going to roll my dice without sending buildings and miniatures flying all over the place. Maybe I’ll only use a 4′ x4′ surface and roll the dice on either side of the play area.

Building a Gaming Table Part 3

So real life and the holidays got in the way for a while, but the gaming table is finally finished. I had to make another trip back to Home Depot for some last minute incidentals. I can’t remember how much I spent, but let’s just say the gaming table cost me an even 400 bucks in materials and beer. A heartfelt thanks to my baby brother.

My brother did a bunch of work on the table on his own, since I wasn’t able to get to his house as often as he liked (not that he ever really needed me there) and it was taking up room in his barn. Notice I referred to his garage/workshop as a barn. That’s because my brother read the two previous blog posts and has since set me straight:

“It’s not a garage, asswipe. It’s a fucking post-and-beam barn. If it was a fucking garage it would be made out of the same shit we built your table out of, not rough-sawn lumber. And it would have been put up in a day, not two months.” That’s pretty much verbatim.

Also, my tabletop is not (emphasis on the not) MDF board. It’s something else that I forget. Of course, it looks an awful lot like MDF board to me, but my brother has loudly and repeatedly assured me it is not.

So on my brother’s birthday(of all days) he decides to load up the table into his truck and drive to my place, where we will finally set it up in a room I have set aside for gaming. Of course, it didn’t really work out that way, because I am an idiot. I didn’t measure the doorway. To put it simply, the tabletop went in fine. The frame didn’t fit.

 Of course, we tried for about 2 hours. In the cold. Still wouldn’t fit.

So since my brother insisted on making this table to his bare minimum standards, the hardware was under facing boards and wood glue. Everything had been sanded. We couldn’t just take a couple of legs off and work our way in. We had to cut the table in half. Well, he cut the table in half. I stood there in shame and tried my best not to utter a sound. 

So, after reassembly with an additional crossbrace and some bolts, here is the table. Right next to my painting area.

My brother constructed the tabletop out of a sheet of plywood cut into three panels. That way I can use it as a workbench, which I will be doing very soon as I construct some World Works Games buildings. When I want to game, the panels lift out to reveal the emphatically not-MDF board game surface beneath. Like so:

Note the shelf underneath holds some modular pinkboard. It’s supposed to be 2′ x 2′ square, but like almost everything else sold at Home Depot, the measurements are off. (“Square” is defined differently at Home Depot.) I bought six and painted one side green and one side gray, for rural and urban terrain surfaces. Once the plywood panels are off the table, the pinkboard fits right in and is held snug by the framing boards. Like this:

At least that was how it was supposed to go. Even foamboard this small warps, and each one of the tiles is warped in some way. That plus the aforementioned shitty Home Depot dimensions makes them a bit of a problem. You can’t really tell from the picture, but it can be a very uneven join. I can get around this by covering the joins with roads, or I can just do what my brother says and get one big piece of foamboard, make sure it fits the table, then make my own cuts. More work and more painting, but whatever.

My brother is insisting I re-sand the table, especially since he had to cut it again. He’s also insisting I stain it and polyurethane it. I told him I’d think about it. But I’m definitely not waiting to do any of that before I use it.

Let the games begin!

Building a Gaming Table: Part 2

So it’s taking a little longer than expected, which is primarily due to the fact that my brother still doesn’t want to build me a basic table. To give him credit, he came up with a much cooler idea than I did. So, to make a long story short, we scrapped the two shelves below the playing surface, instead opting for one. Originally, the tabletop was supposed to be a sheet of plywood covered by the sheet of MDF board. That’s no longer happening, either. Now the MDF will be below the plywood, which will be easily removable for gaming purposes, but able to be used as a workbench whenever I want simply by keeping the plywood in place. That way, my brother said, if I want to play a game ten years from now, all I have to do is remove the plywood sheets and I’m good to go.

A return trip to Home Depot was in order. I returned the two 4′ x 8 ‘sheets of sub-flooring, which were going to be the shelves, and instead bought two more 4′ x 8’ sheets of sanded plywood at my brother’s request (since he can’t stand the thought of using sub-flooring as a shelf when it will look like shit).  I bought some other stuff as well, listed below; and  of course, more beer.

My new acquisitions:

(2) 4 x 8 sanded BC pine plywood sheet: $71.54

(4) 1″ x 6″ x 144″ premium pine boards: $54.68

(2) 2″ x 4″ x 96″ pine studs: $5.44

(1) bottle of Tite-Bond wood glue: $5.47

More beer: $30.11

Subtotal with Tax: $175.81

Credit for returned sub-flooring: -$42.44

Total new charges: $133.37

Add that to my previous total, and I’m into this thing for $337.91 already. Way more than I wanted to spend, but remember that $58.05 of that is just beer (and that number is certain to go higher).

We got the framework for the top of the table together last time. We added a couple of cross-braces to support the tabletop, and got to work cutting the MDF board to fit the dimensions of the tabletop. For the record, MDF board likes to be cut upside-down, otherwise a circular saw will tear the shit out of your playing surface. We tested it first to be sure. A generous application of wood glue and the judicious use of a finishing nail gun, and the MDF was attached to the framework. We clamped it and let it sit overnight.

I went home, and over the next two days my brother managed not only to run his normal landscaping business and single-handedly build his staircase to the top floor of his barn, but he also put together the frame work for the table legs. I arrived last night with more beer (+$9.29) to find this:

We cut the shelf, now made from plywood, and fitted it to the frame with glue and finishing nails. Then he screwed the tabletop to the frame with an impact driver (so we can remove it later if we need to), which, as you can see, is now recessed MDF. The recess is 1 1/8″, so the 1″ modular pinkboard I will use as a play surface will fit nicely and won’t slide around too much. Plus, the remaining 1/8″ recess should be negligible and won’t piss me off when I’m pushing lead around.

Despite my repeated requests, my brother finds it completely unacceptable that this table looks like what it is: a workbench. So he insists we face the studs with flat boards to cover the framework because that way  “it’s better than staring at fucking studs all day long.” We tipped it on its side and did the framing on the front and side legs of one side. And that’s where we left it.

I’m supposed to go back Sunday to finish the rest, which will include framing the sides and the shelf and finishing the top. My brother has already told me we will be taking another trip to Home Depot first, where I’ll get to return another sheet of plywood and buy some more framing materials. He’s not going to let me take it out of his workshop without staining and polyurethaning it, too, so I guess I’ll be buying that stuff as well.

And of course, I’ll be buying more beer.

Building a Gaming Table

I have decided I am going to build a dedicated gaming table. Actually, to be honest, I’m just going to hold the tools and buy the beer and the materials, since I can just about use a screwdriver without losing an eye. My brother is going to build it for me, since he actually knows how to build shit. Like his garage, which he built by himself.

  And some interior shots of the garage/workshop. He’s still adding a staircase to the upper level.

Needless to say, a gaming table isn’t beyond his ability. In fact, it’s hardly worth his time, seeing how he doesn’t share my hobby and thinks that grown men who play with miniatures are obviously dorks.

This table is a kind of last-ditch effort to get my friends into playing miniatures games every once in a while in addition to our regular RPG sessions. The first problem I encountered was convincing my brother to build a gaming table to my standards and not his. Namely, a basic, no-frills 8’x4′ table with some shelving underneath, made out of pine 2×4’s and some plywood. As I get older, I play less and less. So I didn’t want anything fancy. Merely something that could be a game table for now, and one day be used as a workbench, since in all likelihood that’s what it will eventually become.

My brother had other ideas, mostly involving building me an artesanal table out of hardwood, with a fold-away playing surface and lots of drawers and storage options. I had a hard time convincing him that this was a utilitarian piece of furniture. Meant to hold scenery and miniatures and be able to stand up to large men leaning on and over it. He had lots of great ideas on how to make a really nice table, but all I need is a bare-bones playing surface.

My lack of artistic vision and aesthetics, at least when it comes to stuff like  this, disgusts my brother.

After realizing just how fucking big an 8’x4′ table is, I decided to shorten it to roughly 6’x4′. The official dimensions of the table are 74″ L x 48″ W x 38″  H. There will be a 1 1/8″ recess on the top of the table to hold 1″ pink board tiles (which are the gaming surface). There will also be 2 shelves below the playing surface, roughly the same dimensions as the tabletop.

Yesterday we started building the table. Here’s what we got from Home Depot. (The table saw isn’t mine).

(6) 2 x 4 x 96 pine studs: $16.32

(4) 1 x4 x96 pine framing strips: $7.96

(3) 2 x 6 x 144 pine boards: $22.26

(2) 4 x 8 sub flooring sheets (the shelves): $39.94

(1) 4 x 8 3/16th tempered mdf hardboard sheet: $13.98

(1) 4 x 8  sanded BC pine plywood sheet: $35.77

(1) 5lb. box 2.5″ deck screws: $29.98

On the way back to the workshop we stopped for beer. Real, actual beer. Not the “Coors Lite” my brother drinks.

Beer: $27.94


We got all the initial cuts done. I even used a mitre saw without losing any digits. We manged to knock together the frame for the tabletop before it got too dark and we called it a day. (My brother doesn’t have lights in his garage yet. Or anything resembling heat.)

I’m going back tonight to finish it off. Hopefully it will be installed and ready for play by the end of the week.