Instructables
Picture of Warmachine Gaming Table for Penny Arcade
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Our Background:
We are three guys in Boston interested in all kinds of games, and in this case miniature based wargames.
We are fascinated by technology and a question in our minds was "How can we innovate wargaming terrain and table design to make a more immersive and interactive gaming experience?"

Our answer to this is what we call 'Augmented Terrain'.

Meeting Penny Arcade at PAX EAST:
For PAX East in March 2011 we built a dock table for Warmachine called 'Clockwork Cove' that included smoke effects, RGB LED lighting in buildings and terrain, LED searchlight pieces, with RFID cards & scanner to trigger all of these effects using an Arduino Microcontroller in a central building. In our group we have collectively over 15 years of model making experience, so it also fit into an aesthetically pleasing Steampunk Harbor theme very well.

When Penny Arcade Mike saw the display, he asked how he can go about commissioning a project for his gaming group. 
After some discussions, the plan was to build a table, ship it out to Seattle in August, then fly out to PAX Prime with the terrain to complete the delivery. This is the story of how we built (and delivered) it.

Project Requirements:
Modular Board: 2' x 2' squares that can be reoriented and rearranged for many combinations
Modular Terrain Height: They wanted a way to change the terrain height. We came up with an approach not tried before in wargaming.
Corvis-Themed: Mike's gaming group was playing through a Privateer Press RPG set in a city called Corvis. They liked the theming and used this was the compass for art direction. Corvis is at the junction of three rivers and used to be a farming city. It is famous for a large University and has been at the center of many conflicts when different armies occupy the territory. Over time the city has fallen into great disrepair and depression, especially since the wet, unstable ground has allowed many buildings to become unstable and slowly sink into the ground. There is a vast underground network of tunnels and chambers of the old city.
Lights: We knew we wanted to include LEDs in the terrain  and buildings, in a modular way so that each feature can operate independently of the table configuration for the scenario.

Theme:
Even if the undercity was not a playable part of the board it needed to have the feeling that something was lurking under the streets
We wanted to create a sense of depth. Although the playable surface can be flat, we wanted to add a 3D effect. We found images which were representative of the look and feel of Corvis. These guided many of our decisions.

Concept Generation:
We started by sketching and brainstorming. We made scale index cards with the terrain drawn on it to see how it works when they are shuffled and rearranged. After we came up with the terrain inserts idea we made a Solidworks CAD assembly. 

Dont forget that your local gaming store is still one of the best places to present and discuss ideas. Carry around a small notepad in case you ever get an inspired idea and dont feel silly about considering the 'wrong idea' because you never know when that thought process may lead to the 'right idea'.

Extra Links:
Mike was so happy with how the table turned out that he posted a feature on the Penny Arcade Homepage.
Also feel free to check out our facebook page
For information on what other members of the warmachine community thought check out our thread on Privateer Press


 
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thegreatlale6 months ago
Damn
misko138 months ago

The most amazing gaming table I've ever seen!!

Thanks for sharing such detailed instructable :D

Epic. Absolutely epic.
With the foam exposed at the sides of each of the 4 tiles, I'd be concerned about accidental damage and wear over time (I'm planning my own project, and considering adding walls to each tile, meaning the foam would only be exposed on the top side). Has this been an issue, in the long run?
That's wicked awesome! I love the details put into the work. Good luck on future stuff.
瑩謝1 year ago
u guys r awesome!!!!!!!
did the good job.
lollylan1 year ago
Wow. Just wow.
St3fX2 years ago
It's a real KickAss project...Men, you rulez!!! So much details, so much talent!
CrLz2 years ago
Amazing! Thanks for sharing so much technique, an awesome build!
Jetpack52 years ago
Love it!
ilpug2 years ago
Oh holy damn.... I love this! So many ideas now!
infob2 years ago
Lot of work.

Lot of envy!!!!! Arrrrgh!!!!!!

Cabe2 years ago
I found this whilst searching for something else, I was so engrossed in the writing and pictures I had forgotten what I was originally searching for!

An excellent write up and brilliant integration of old school tabletop gaming and modern model-making tech.

It makes me want to get back into Necromunda as I think this specific theme would also suit that dingy corner of the WH40k realm.
At-Large Gamers (author) 2 years ago
Thanks very much to everybody who voted for us in the competition!
Congratulations as well to the finalists and winners, it was a great pleasure to see our entry up here with such high-caliber projects.
mcarrell3 years ago
Disney imagineers couldn't have done better! Awesome project!
wncranger3 years ago
Great Instructable! I believe this instructable will definitely encourage folks to try their hands with electronics coupled with creative design and construction and so I consider this project to be an all around winner. I've clicked on follow and sent you a patch and gave you my vote. Thanks for sharing and being an inspiration to others!
At-Large Gamers (author)  wncranger3 years ago
Wow thanks for the compliment and the patch!
It was definitely a lot of fun, and even if its not wargaming, it can just as easily be a Halloween costume, Aquarium, or sweet Monopoly board. Hopefully early next year we will be able to post on some new projects and experiments. Thanks again.

Building stuff is always supposed to be fun!
sub8933 years ago
BOSTON!!!!!!!!!!
egosselin13 years ago
What brand of stereolithography machine ? How much does it cost if I want one ?
At-Large Gamers (author)  egosselin13 years ago
Unfortunately the one we used was waaaaay too expensive for the consumer market (like buying a Bentley).

Home-based systems start around $15k, there is a lot of other stuff that comes with them. Stratasys, 3D Systems, Objet, and Z Corp are the companies to check out for high-quality systems (some are also 'office-friendly').

Makerbot is under $2k but the resolution is considerably lower.

Id say your best bet is to design it on CAD then contract it out to a vendor to build. Many have free instant quotes online:
* Redeye on demand
* American Precision Prototyping
* Zoom RP

or just search online for 'Rapid Prototyping Vendor' in your area
That's what I thought when I saw that kind of quality on the finished pieces. A little expensive for a hobby my girlfriend would say... But i'll check out the systems you suggested just in case, thanks for taking the time to answer. I said it before and I'll say it again, superb work !
newroger3 years ago
Ow estão de parabens pois o trabalho e a ideia são otimos!!!
eizra3 years ago
very very very very nice!
Jsquared243 years ago
Wow! I'm going to attempt to build this when I'm older with my brother! Very detailed. I would build it now, but I dont think I have the patience or mechanical skill.........yet :D 1123763874264347861872394/10
Epic, truly epic guys. You have way too much time on your hands. Thanks for sharing this with us. Wow
I have to say when I saw this on PA a while ago I was pretty amazed. My brother too. We build thing like this all the time and when we see others doing it with their own flare its great.
Two things I'd like to add, the blue LEDs would have probably been better off orange or "amber".
And the second is more of a question/statement. I'm surprised to see that you guys glued/assembled quite a few things before actually painting them (pipes, grates, barrels stuff that goes under metal mesh mostly seen in step 6). Any reason you did it that way? I'm of the idea that painting some of the extra features separate would have been easier... no?

Otherwise superb work! Since I wont have anything to show off (no pictures) for the epilog contest you'll get my vote.
Hi there,

We didnt have any other blue on the table and wanted to make the light streaks really stand out. The amber would be great against a flat black but we were concerned that it would get washed out.

The order of assembling, painting, and gluing comes from personal preference and the part geometry. With the right brushes and steady hand you can dig under the pipes and ink the seams. Its also handy to have a small bottle of paint-on primer in case the paint gun misses a spot.

The mesh and wooden planks went on last after the pipes underneath were complete.
Gotcha, makes sense.
I knew it was preference to assemble before painting, I always like to ask in case someone does something that might be cool enough for me to start doing it that way.
FrozenIce3 years ago
REALLY REALLY GOOD!! NEED MORE!!
Hi Guys! i dont play warhammer. but enjoy watching the game! and i love the gaming tables! good job! the link for the grass is thewarstore.com. had trouble finding it! thanks for your post! wil send it on to my brother!
At-Large Gamers (author) 3 years ago
Here is a compilation video from our previous table displaying some of the arduino rfid triggers and environmental effects

Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtyCXIsOixc
FuzzeeDee3 years ago
Having started my love affair with RPG over 30 years ago I have seen many play boards and computerized DM systems. This is by far the best thing I have EVER SEEN. You guys did absolutely incredible work, whether commercial or home made yours excels far beyond anything else I have seen. As a fellow enthusiast I have a couple of suggestions for your next effort that I think you would not only enjoy but could be the start of a very successful commercial enterprise if you were so inclined.

For your insert systems you could cement rare earth magnets into the recesses on the board and have corresponding metal tabs or washers embedded just below the surfaces of both. This would make all your inserts and surface mount bldg, player pieces, atmosphere sets, etc lock down nice and stable yet be easily moveable. In the opening documentation of this table system you mentioned using RFID tags, swipe cards and Arduino. You could add more LEDs in more colors which could detect a individuals player pieces and have the board sense which player the piece belonged to and automatically light up different LEDs denoting what player 'owned' what objectives. You could even have Arduino controls change atmosphere lighting to reflect elapsed game time or changing game conditions. At the start of a game each player could register a swipe card to which game assets could be matched and subsequently altered to reflect progress in the game. The overall management of all these RFID tags, game progress and status, etc could be done wirelessly with the Arduino communicating with an iPad, and maybe even iPhones (iPad for the GM and iPhones for individual players - Android devices could be supported as well or used instead). You could even devise 'game kits' that would contain game specific assets, inserts, game outline and even game specific apps for the tablet/smart phone options that would use the 'Master Game System'. You could even liscence the software and device drivers for the Arduino & RFID hardware to allow third parties to develop their own 'Game Kits' for your 'Master Board Gaming System' making it easy for your system to become a whole new industry standard. Just 'My 2¢' from a very enthusiastic fellow gamer. Good luck guys and best wishes for your continued success. Regards, Fuzzee Dee.
At-Large Gamers (author)  FuzzeeDee3 years ago
Dee!
Haha, thanks man you rule!

These are some great points, we definitely need to make an instructable for the Arduino Board soon and get your thoughts on it as well.

The magnets would be great for securing buildings or more fragile structures.

You have some great points for integrating new tech, the dynamic atmospheric effects are what can really pull people into the setting of the game. Gonna have to go now and make some more sketches :)
millstreem3 years ago
this is a true master piece, loads of detail, makes me want to come to your house and take it.
Oh! PERFECT!
At-Large Gamers (author) 3 years ago
By the way!!!

We are entering into the "4th Epilog Challenge" to Win a Laser cutter

Can you imaging how much more cool stuff we could build with one of those?
Buildings, Origami, Spaceships?!?!... origami buildings inside spaceships?

The sky is the limit, please vote for our project so that we can continue making awsome Terrain.

THANKS!!!
At-Large Gamers (author) 3 years ago
Thanks for the love everybody!
We appreciate all the positive comments!

We really enjoyed working on this project and want to make it as accessible as possible for anyone else who is interested in wargaming (or in making a cool board for monopoly or toy or something).
jkerchelich3 years ago
The amount of detail and effort you guys put in to this amazes me.
fidibiri3 years ago
You guys are freaking crazy! This is just awesome...

Tho questions: How long and how much did it take?
At-Large Gamers (author)  fidibiri3 years ago
We started on memorial day weekend and flew out of PAX in Mid August. Similarly, the previous project also took about 3 months. We try to standardize and modularize as much as possible and now have our list of preferred suppliers which helps a ton.

Gotta say though, the last 2 weeks to make the shipping and flight deadlines were reaaaaally full days lol.
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