Demo Games Planning: Part 3 – Building Boards and Buying Planes

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Since the last time I wrote about my demo game plans a fair amount has happened. I’m going to split it up into a few sections but there has been a lot of progress

The Plan

The initial plan was to run the demo game at two shows (Leeds and York), with Leeds being the starting point and York being the big focus on getting it right. However, after some thoughts I’m extending the trip the board is going on. Rather than the first trip being in October, I’ve changed up the target dates. These are entirely unconfirmed so they can and will change.

  • August – Claymore, Edinburgh,
  • October – Fiasco, Leeds
  • February – Vapnartak, York
  • March – Hammerhead, Newark
  • April – Salute, London

Yep, that last one is Salute. Having been there again this year, I would be really interested in helping to expand the games there and bring something that I missed this year – a board showing off ultramodern rulesets. Having four events before it gives me plenty of time to test out, tweak and balance. Rapid iteration of any tweaks will be the aim of the game.

The Scenario

The basic scenario idea is down – two teams clashing over a downed cargo plane in an attempt to take control of it. However, I’m still working out the exact details. Should it be two roughly symmetrical teams (two groups of elites) or embrace the asymmetry and have one team comprised of elites and the other team being numerically larger but with lower skill or with an additional form of support (such as a technical or two).

I also realised in my first post I said the words “three way fight”. After having more a thought about this, I decided that only having two teams made more sense. It’s a simpler setup for players to jump in on and also means there will not be a GM controlled side. It also means less people are need to get a game going!

Once the style is worked out, I can then start rolling up the stats and assembling the force sheets. Inspired by Tiny Terrain‘s board at Colours, I think I’ll be getting some top trumps cards ordered (probably multiple sets as a just in case). Having a card that contains a character’s details and what they look like is easier to use than a normal character sheet. I’ll also be doing an activation sheet for me (as the GM) to have – reminding me who goes when rather than having to keep referring back on forth.

I’ll also need, once selected, to get all the figures painted up and good to go. Luckily I have a few months to work on it.

The Base

As you can see the boards are well on their way thanks to a full day of work on Easter Saturday alongside my dad. All the woodworking has been done (combining the 2′ x 2′ pieces with the wood battens) and the base layer of foam is in place. So far, only the test board has had a thin layer of filler applied to it. This was down a misbuying on my part – I bought pre-mixed filler rather the powder need to mix up a pourable amount. I spent an evening using half a pot before realising the mistake I’d made.

The boards are still at my parent’s house and so I can only carry on working when I go visit them. My next trip is in June and I intend to take some extra time off to apply the filler and then get a chance to paint it before having to shove it in the back of my car. The plan is then to drill dowel holes to increase stability when assembled. The test board will hopefully become my photography base; I can use the dowel holes to mount a background on and the textured surface should be more interesting than whatever is on my desk.

The Centre Piece

Of all the things I’m terrified of doing as part of this whole demoing game process, building the centre piece is pretty high up the list. The reasoning is two fold: the model I’m using as the wreck was very expensive and it will make or break the board as a whole. If the plane takes up too much space it ruins the balance and playability of the demo. If I paint it up terribly then it doesn’t tie the board together and it will catch attention for the wrong reasons. If I make a terrible mistake while assembling it, it might be doomed from the start.

However, I have a plan. I’ll build the plane as if I intended to keep it fully assembled, making sure the interior is decorated (at least in base colours). Then once finished, I’ll take a razor saw to it and cut it up into sections. The exact proportion of each section will be inspired by the Modern Warfare map I took the idea from. Each of these sections will be mounted onto MDF bases. The bases will then be enhanced with additional bits of terrain such as piles of sand the plane has dug into or cargo that has been forcibly ejected from the downed plane. Then they will be painted up and weathering applied.

The look I’m aiming for is of an aircraft that was shot down, the fires have gone out and the weather has started to affect it. So less raging fires and more sand.

The Scenery

My original plan was to use Sarissa’s excellent factory model as part of the table but after looking at the size of it, I think it might end up overpowering the table. Instead, I’m thinking of going for a more open look, with a few rocky outcrops made from leftover foam and maybe two of the Knights of Dice buildings. One of the teams will probably start close to some of Spectre’s SUVs, to represent how they arrived in the area. From their, it will be a case of playing around with layouts until I find the way that works and looks the best.


Overall its gone from “not doing much” to “oh god do everything”. Getting the boards started was a big help but there is still a long way to go. I’m still unsure about the decision to bring the first show forward but we shall see. Hopefully the next update will start showing more of what I’m up to.

Demo Games Planning: Part 2 – Further Planning and Physical Things

So since last time, I’ve done a few things to get ready for building the demo board I have planned out.

  • Emails have been sent out to get the ball rolling on actually booking space to run the game at two shows. It might be a little early for some but better early than late.
  • Continued working on the scenario and forces. Looking at three way brawl, going to have to test/practise the scenario a few times.
  • Sat looking at Italeri C130s and mentally preparing to spend that much money on something I’ll be cutting to pieces. Plan is to cut into three (nose, centre of body + wings, tail + bit of fuselage) and then build up the broken support structs using plasticard.
  • Built my first two buildings to go on the board. Originally I just thought about only filling the board with shacks but a few larger buildings will set the scene better and a change in elevation will be more interesting to play over.

The buildings are from Knights of Dice (delivered by Shiny Games in the UK). I picked up Desert Compound 2 and Desert Residence 1.  The buildings went together super well, just had to pop them out of MDF frame (assisted by the MDF crowbar that came in one set), pop out any inner bits and then assemble together. A few of the guys on the Spectre Operations group came up with some nice advice about building them. The dry run went together really well so next step is gluing everything together and then break the primer/textured paint out.

I’m also going to look into getting some detail items to set the scene. Thinking fencing, tv aerials and air conditioning units to be attached permanently with some more situational stuff (like sandbags) to be left loose and added when needed.

In a few day’s I’ll be grabbing the bits I need for the board (as well as maybe a little extra) and finally pushing the button on the most expensive item that makes up this build.

Demo Game Planning: Part 1 – The Concept

I mentioned in my end of year post that I plan to make a demo board for modern wargaming at some point this year. After having been to a few shows and having a wonderful time, I’d love to get even more involved. In addition, various parties have given me some advice and offers of support to get out there and do stuff.

The real question is what do I want to demo (in terms of scenario) and what board do I want to make?


Before I can choose the scenario, I first needed to decide which ruleset to use. As you can tell from previous posts, I have a few to pick from. However, the more I think about it, the more I really want to demo Skirmish Sangin. As well as being my favourite game, I also know it can be demoed well after watching Tiny Terrain showing it at Colours with his excellent board set in Africa.

Tiny Terrain’s awesome board

Scenario & Board

With the rules decided upon, I next started thinking about the scenario I’d want to play, something vital to get right if I want to be successful

Thinking back to my trips to shows, the boards that stood out to me was stuff you just can’t do at a normal club night. Be it a complete destroyer for your soldiers to fight over or the incredible underground WW1 fort that appeared at Partisan, boards that are different really stick in your head. Wanting to do something similar to this, I set off on a bender of films, tv and games for ideas I could use. And I finally settled upon an idea that should make for a fun board.

A C-130 carrying CIA equipment suffers a technical fault and crash lands on the outskirts of a city in Bazistan. As the local militia rushes to the site to claim it as salvage, American Special Forces have been deployed to search and recover the items in a daring day time raid. Of course, they are not the only group interested in recovering CIA technology…

Gameplay wise it would be a three way fight between the two special forces teams looking for objectives and a militia force that is constantly receiving new forces from off the board. More than two players allow for more interesting gameplay and to get more players involved on a single board. The requirement to hunt items means the special forces HAVE to keep moving, rather than sitting back and just hammering fire at each other..

The downed C-130 in Afghan (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2)
Another downed C-130 in Goalpost (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3)

Visually, the idea of a crashed C-130 sat in the midst of a shanty town is a powerful image. I’ve hunted down some reference photos (mainly from Call of Duty) which I’ll use to help work out the layout. A big point is that a C-130 in 1:48 is about 2ft by 2ft in size. Obviously making it crashed means I can trim parts off it and separate out various bits to make it less of a solid mass in the middle of the table. Around it, I’m planning a maze of shacks with a few large buildings close the edge of the board. And of course lost of scatter terrain to provide cover.

In addition, I’ve had some thoughts about the size of the board. A 4ft x 4ft board would just about fit in the back of my car with some extra space and is a reasonable size for Skirmish Sangin.

So the big obstacle to this is finding a 1:48 c-130. There is a plastic kit but it’s about £50 so it would be good to see if there is some alternatives before I buy one and take a knife to it.

Rough Timing Plan

Timing wise, I think it would work best if I aim for a convention near the end of the year. Fiasco in Leeds is on the smaller, more laid back end of the scale (perfect for a first time showing) and takes place in Leeds so on home turf. Even better, it’s in October this year. My plan is to do the first showing there and then take any improvements to Vapa in 2018. Of course, if it’s ready before August, the local show Claymore might also be an option, although a risky one. All of this is subject to change but its really a rough idea to get started with.

That’s the end of part 1. The idea is very much in early planning stages so it might end up falling to pieces. But, I’m am very excited about going through the process.