Building a scenic display board

Almost two weeks ago I participated in a local tournament, in which I came 13th out of 32 people. This score was based on a total of 180 points. You received 12 for submitting your army list early, up to 20 based on your comp score, up to 30 for sportsmanship, up to 40 for your painting and hobby score, and up to 78 if you won your games with the highest points possible. My strategy to score as high as possible didn’t rely on winning games, but instead focused on all the other categories. I tried to be a good sport, submitted my list early, and had a high comp scoring list. To maximize my painting and hobby points, I had to make sure I had a decently painted army, but also a display board.

I’ll be honest here: the display board I ended up taking with me was mostly bare wood and bits of foamcore 24 hours before the tournament. This project took a lot of thought, but fairly little effort, and I’m sure I could have done better on points had I spent more time on it. I was just too busy finishing painting the models which were worth more. I did end up with a 28/40 for my overall paint and hobby score, which was above average apparently.

Anyways, how I made my board… I first of all started with a plan. I’d seen those generic tiered display boards that have the army standing at attention as though posing for a photographer, and I knew I didn’t want to have that. I wanted mine to tell a story, to be full of action, to be more dynamic. So, I drew a mock-up on some foamcore around my models.

The original plan
I had originally planned to take a different list that consisted of 20 Death Guard Legionnaires with a Chaos Lord in a Spartan Assault Tank. Surprise! This didn’t end up happening, but I thought it would have been cool to have the Spartan hanging through the breach of a wall, disgorging the massive unit of marines.

I had wanted to make this on foamcore because I already had it, but if you’ve ever used it before you’ll know that it warps very easily when you start gluing things to it. It also has issues with durability. So I decided to move to a more sturdy material: MDF. I purchased a 24″ x 24″ sheet from home depot for about $4, and got them to cut a strip off. In the end I had a base that was 18″ x 24″, with a nice 6″ strip to use as a road and reinforcement piece. I knew I wanted that size of base, so when I got home and finally settled on an army list, I began designing again.

 

Plan B
This was my new board. To make it more dynamic I decided it would be fun to have the models I used as Chaos Spawn to be an opponent for the Death Guard. This gave them all a reason to be in the same place at the same time, and is something that can be applied to any army. Even Ultramarines! I’m sure things get rough sometimes.

Having decided upon a layout, I then changed my mind again and decided I’d add some ruins to give it a 3D element other than the road. It’s always good to remember that nothing is set in stone until it’s completely finished. Things can be ripped up and changed until you are happy. MDF or particle board has a similar issue to foamcore; it can warp when it gets wet. To get around this I first used that cut off piece to add some strength, but I also painted everything with a mixed paint I made of wood glue, sand, and grey paint. I used a hair dryer to quickly dry it so that the wood didn’t have any time to absorb the water from the paint and glue and warp.

Rhinos
Here you can see what I did for the ruins. I simply cut shapes out of foamcore and glued them down. Make sure you bevel the edges of your ruins, otherwise you can end up with the line between the foam and paper of the foamcore showing.

To make the rubble on the board I used pieces of cut up foamcore and some crushed glass I found at the dollar store. I built up the areas of rubble with a flat layer of foamcore first to save on materials, and add some height to the piles. Everything gets a coat of that paint to hold it all together, and make it a uniform colour.

Building underway
Crushed glass is pretty safe, and has the rough and angular appearance of rubble. You don’t want to use pebbles or gravel as most of the bits are round, something that rubble isn’t.
Back side
Add a little sand to fill in the gaps…

If it’s 10pm the night before your tournament use a blow dryer to speed things up. Leave it pointed at the model, go make a cup of tea, and come back 5 minutes later to sand all over the floor. The speed was worth the cleaning. Once this is done all that remains is to drybrush everything with progressively lighter shades of grey and eventually a bit of white. I added lines on the road by stippling white paint through a stencil I made.

Overall view
My window is great to photograph in front of during the afternoon, you get some really cool shadows and light effects.
Spawn attack!
The Spawn horde charges past the immobilized Rhino.

View from the Death Guard perspective

On display at Nexus
Here it is on display at the championships.

And that’s it! It’s pretty easy, doesn’t take too much time or materials, and looks fantastic. Overall I spent under $10 for this project, a really small investment that helps display your army to its full potential.

 

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