Reading through the new Age of Sigmar book, there’s a series of battle plans and one of them, The Watchtower, sounded like awesome fun to play! One problem though, I didn’t have a suitable terrain piece to use as a watchtower. Now most people would have just used a hill or something similar to fill for a watchtower instead, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that: as my dad always told me “if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly son”. Having also been brought up to be a cheapskate, I decided to build the tower myself, it also meant, as a Dwarf player, I could build it to a Dwarf design!
This guide is based upon the Dwarf Watchtower I built, however you can use the tips and techniques to build any watchtower or terrain piece.
Styrofoam (the blue hard foam you get from craft stores or the yellow foam found in wall insulation; I used Celotex)
Hacksaw or fine tooth bread knife
Step 1 – Get some ideas
It’s time to put pen to paper! Stick a movie on or your favourite tv series and start drawing some designs of what you would like the final terrain piece to look like. It really helps to look at inspiration from artwork etc. for Age of Sigmar/Warhammer Fantasy I find the artwork and screenshots for Warhammer Online pretty good. You just want to be sketching rough ideas at this point – my original idea started as a stand alone watchtower, then I thought it would be more Dwarfish to have it look like it had been carved from a single piece of rock.
Step 2 – Design the piece
Once you’ve settled on an idea that you’re happy with it’s time to measure it up so you have a decent design plan to follow. Take into account scale of your miniatures, the footprint; do you want it dominating the board or not? The watchtower in my case I made about 30cm tall and 8cm wide.
Step 3 – Prepare the styrofoam
Depending on the size of your piece of terrain, you may need to glue two blocks of styrofoam together like I had to. If you do need to glue it, spread a thin layer of PVA across one side and put another piece on top, then put something heavy on top and leave it overnight. Due to the nature of styrofoam, be sure to something flat under the weights that spread the force evenly across the foam, otherwise it will leave depressions.
Step 4 -Cut the Styrofoam
Outline your design on the styrofoam, then use a small tooth bread knife or a hacksaw to cut out your design – I prefer using a hacksaw as the blade remains straight so you get a better cut. When you cut, leave a centimetre or so around your outline – this leaves you room to sand it down, correct mistakes etc.
Step 5 – Shape the styrofoam
This part’s really fun, especially if you have an electric sander! The advantage of the electric sander is you can get an incredibly flat sides, but you can easily use a flat piece of wood wrapped in sandpaper. With the watchtower, I sanded down the sides to where I had marked the outline (remember we left a centimetre or so to sand it flat). I then decided (thinking like a true Dwarf builder) that a square tower has blind spots at its corners, so I sanded the top half of the corners flat to cover those blind spots.
In the next article we’ll be carving designs into the styrofoam!