Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Sheets of Laredo

I decided very early on to construct the buildings of Serenity Gulch on something like hardboard, since it makes the buildings themselves much sturdier and easier to store without damaging them. I've done this with some of my larger or heavier pieces of Warhamer 40,000 scenery as well, notably the cityscape ("Cities of Death") ruins, some of my favourite GW terrain. It recently occurred to me, however, that my existing table surfaces were unlikely to work for any Wild West games.

My go-to for war gaming is a set of flocked green felt mats GW produced and sold years ago. Most of my 40K models have green bases topped with flock (my Valhallans being the notable exception), and a lot of the rest have green painted sand with yellow or bright green dry rushed over. The green on green is fairly basic, but easy to paint, easy to store, and looks pretty decent, all told

My Lord of The Rings figures have brown rims for the most part, but enough of the games I played were set outdoors which makes the green flocked mat perfectly acceptable. I also have a cityfight mat which is essentially a large format poster of streets, rubble and debris that I can place scenery on top of for urban battles of the 41st Millennium. Nothing even remotely appropriate for a dusty town in the Wild West though.

I have neither the time, space, funding, or inclination to build a textured tabletop depicting Serenity Gulch, even a modular one, since the buildings are such a key part of the terrain, and are pretty bulky on their own. There are some very nice gaming mats available, including some Wild West versions with streets airbrushed onto them, but they are expensive even before you factor in the shipping for a 4-5 foot tube of painted fabric.

Since Glory was at a babysitting course at the Londonderry rec centre today, I found myself in striking distance of Fabricland, and thought I would take a shot at finding a fabric covering of my own for a reasonable price. This turned out to be trickier than I thought.

First of all, the fabrics themselves are arranged primarily by material, and not by colour, can you imagine? I have no idea whether twill, fleece, felt or denim will make the best covering for war gaming purposes, and I don.t have a lot of pride, but I have enough to prevent me from asking the Favricland staff for their recommendations. My primary concern was finding an appropriate shade of tannish brown, somewhere on the continuum between khaki and mud. Something close to the Citadel Colour known as Snakebite Leather, ideally. (Eventually it might end up doing double duty as a North African desert so I can also finish the Deutsches Afrrika Korps/ British Long Range Desert Group languishing in yet another closet...)

Next came the issue of texture; a couple of likely prospects had to be dismissed because they were too stretchy, or had a some sort of pattern flocked onto them, or ridges or lines or something else unsuitable for a gunfight setting. Like paisley. One of the best colours was actually found in a material made for lining outerwear, and I feared the satiny finish on the obverse could slip off the tabletop, with disastrous results for both scenery and models.

Lastly was the issue of cost: the next best colour I found was over $25 a metre, which felt excessive, especially if I wanted to experiment with painting on my own street layouts or anything.

In the end, I found a reasonably priced fleece (with anti-pilling!) in what I thought was a suitable, although some what dark, shade of tan.

Here is a picture of Serenity Gulch denizen Wendell Kane in front of the as yet unfinished and unpainted general mercantile. Between the iPad's crappy camera and the sub-optimal lighting here in the Batcave, I'm not sure if the colour comes through at all, but it feels like a pretty good match, and a nice foundation for a Nevada town.

Too bad said town is destined to a future of relentless violence and cycles of miniature bushwacking, frontier justice and comeuppance, but as I like to say: Peace On Earth, but War on the Tabletop.

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