I love the Commands & Colors system by Richard Borg.
I played some Memoir ´44 and it´s really a nice boardgame. The abstraction level is excellent for that kind of gameplay. However, once I played the Ancients game, I knew this was a miniatures game. This is as much fun as I ever had playing an ancients miniature game. No ruleset, ever, delivered so much fun with so little fuss.
As many a wargamer, I stash quite some lead. Specially in the 28mm department. I thought I´d put it to good use, but I needed a table. The board was not enough. So I built one, and I´ll try to show you how right here.
First thing is getting the materials together. I know I cannot import a gaming mat of any kind, and noone sells this stuff here. So I got two 1 meter square sheets of styrofoam, black marker, my electric soldering iron, some texture material, and a lot of patience.
First thing I do is to plan the hex grid. I use Illustrator for this, create a hex grid with the minimum hex size I want to use (about 130mm from point to point) and create a 1m square on the program. This way I can arrange the size of the grid so at least 3 sides of the square can be used as a modular table. I´ll only make two sheets, but I have the option of expanding the hex table any way I want and it will all work perfectly. Here you can see the Illustrator screen for the hexes. I then printed some hexes in an A4 sheet to pass it on into the styro like a template.
For this I cut small holes in the points of the hexes, and use them as a template to mark the hexes in the styro sheets. This should be done carefully, starting from one side, the one that will connect with the other sheet. You have to be careful because a milimeter off track can become a very big mess up in no time.
So, this is how it looks after the hex grid is on the styro sheets. There you have some 20mm figures on it, though I´ll use it with 28mm armies.
You can see they fit perfectly together. No modern machinery here, just a little patience. And there you have the actual C&C:A playing area colored in photoshop.
Now comes the fun part. To keep the hexgrid after the texturing of the table, I will carve the sides of the hexes just enough to make them obvious, but without it messing up the visual aspect. I use an electric soldering iron (I think that´s what it´s called in English) from my highschool days when I used to make electronic devices and such. This is easy too, but time consuming. I plug it, and use the heat from the tip to gently carve the hexes´ lines a little. I guess the pics talk for themselves. As always when melting styro, open the windows so you don´t intoxicate yourself!
Before going any further I tape the sides of both pieces of styro. This will protect them and keep the pieces safe to fit together.
Now comes the texturing. I use some nice wall filler for this. I use it in almost all my scenery projects. Just mix it up and apply it to the hexes, being careful not to fill any hexside. A nice big brush will leave a good texture.
After that, and to finish the texture, I add small patches of fine sand to almost every hex. This was a bit of an experiment, but it did give me a more interesting surface. I recommend you create bigger patches that cover several hexes without filling the hexsides. Just watered down white glue and some sand.
Now we paint. A nice brown basecoat all over the board. The really annoying part is painting the hexsides. You will turn the table to see from all the sides and there´s always a little bit of white styro somewhere that didn´t get paint. I was lucky to have the Eurocup 08 going on those days so I would sit with my TV on, watch some game (they are all so damn good games) and patiently finish my basecoat. I wish I could have an Eurocup every year for my big scenery projects 🙂
After that I use some yellow with brown and do some drybrushing. I did about 4 or 5 shades. This is also quite tedious work, but the effect takes form nicely. Once I had the color just a tad brighter than I wanted it I go to the next step.
Now I dillute some brown paint in water. Not like dilluted paint, but more like very dirty water. I “ink” the whole table. The effect from this is very sutil. It will tone down the brighter spots, and unify the drybrushing steps really nice.
Finally I use some butter color paint and give the table a very slight drybrush to kill the yellow tone a little bit and make it more “earthly.” The color looks very bright after applying, but after it dries it melts really well and doesn´t look as whitey and you see in the pics.
And that´s the end of the table. All in all I think it took me about a month of continous work. Not that much for a modular, hex grid table for minis. And it measures 2x1m.
While I was there I decided to create some markers for the type of troops. First games will surely be somewhat confusing regarding the type of troops the figures represent, so I built this things.
I had some metal washers about 1,5cm. I basecoated them grey and painted some symbols from the C&C:A game to put next to the units. I think they are nice and a good indicator to avoid confusion in the game.
Hope you found this technique useful. You can make your own C&C:A table, or use it for a good number of other games.