Friday, February 24, 2012

Practical Interior Boards

28mm interiors.
 Image from Gamecraft Miniatures website.

Mark over at Dropship Horizon has been posting about the great new starship interiors from Gamecraft Miniatures. In doing so, he has hit on something very big that I felt I'd like to explore myself and that is...

How to build practical interior boards for table top gaming?

Mark's suggestion seems to be one of those strokes of simple genius that we all should have caught on to but somehow passed us by. Rather than struggling to collect (buy) all the parts to do the entire interior of whatever setting you are creating, he suggests that it is much more practical to focus on being able to create key scenes in the scenario. Like i said, simple genius.

The more I think about it, them ore this rings so incredibly true. If you look at all those wonderfully inspiring movies that make us want to do these sorts of scenarios, there really is never a situation where the entire layout of a complex or spaceship is presented. Each scene has a goal and that goal dictates what "map" features you need for the action being played. Other parts of the area needn't be detailed at all and can easily be written off much in the same way they are in the movies. This is also a great way to inject a little theme or role-playing into the game, if you want to do so.

Even the big game companies realize this is how you play it. Classics like Space Hulk and Warhammer Quest as well as newer games like Descent or Incursion don't expect you to have all the pieces you need to build the whole dungeon crawl. These games came with a selection of hallway tiles or pre-made maps that you arranged in specific sequences, modified, and/or "leapfrogged" as you went along. These games were still just as fun to play but they achieved two key things -

  • Kept the action focused and dynamic.
  • Kept the piece count down to make the game manageable.
In the world of DIY dungeon craft, you can add a third benefit to this and that is reduced cost and time for collecting the parts to pull it off. The cost element of this is not just in the individual pricing of the parts but also in the potential for overcompensation and redundant purchases. Coming back to Gamecraft for a moment, they even have a tool to help you with this - interior planning tiles. But even without a set of planning tiles, designing your interiors based on the minimums needed to effectively present you game play will allow you to build in a very efficient and cost effective way. As you expand your scenario needs, you can then buy more pieces. Eventually and in a very organic manner, you may actually get to the point where whole interiors can be presented.

Picture of Spaceship Interior Planning Tiles - SPACE028
Interior Planning Tiles.
Image from Gamecraft Miniatures website.

Now, I'm sure many of you are sitting there reading this and going, "Um...duh. We know that," but I have experienced a lot of hesitation, both in myself and in others, when it comes to these projects. This hesitation, usually leading to aborted or halted projects, most often comes from the daunting proposition of having to collect so much. Even with affordable pieces, the requirements fore fully detailed interiors cane rise to the herculean. What I'm saying here (inspired by Mark), if anything, is that is doesn't have to be that way and that each of us can have our nifty 3D interior boards and not have to take out a second mortgage.



  1. Very timely post, as I'm sure you've seen the Forge World announcement today.

  2. Can't say that I have. I must admit that Forge World has pretty much priced itself right off my radar for the most part.



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