Inspired by examples of laser-cut buildings, and given the (relatively) quick results we've had from cutting our own wild west themed buildings, and decorating with stickers (rather than modelling and painting them from scratch) we're going all out to produce a "town" of about eight different styled properties.
Which means, given that it's the bank holiday, more laser-cut goodness!
Our buildings are quite small, compared to some of the "proper" manufacturers out there (like 4Ground or Sarissa) but there's a reason for that: since we're building boards which are 6" x 8" and each playing square is one inch, we're trying to keep our buildings to about three inches across, and only sometimes going as large as four inches across.
This means that a board placed "long-ways" could have two buildings along it's long edge, separated by a single or a double square. Or we could place a 4" wide building in the middle of the short edge, leaving one square either side of the building (or two squares between buildings, if two playing surfaces are placed against each other, and a 4" wide building placed in the centre of the short-edge of each).
While not exactly huge, our buildings fit quite nicely with the 28mm scale that most miniatures manufacturers produce. We're not looking to make a massive playing surface - we just want a few buildings to make an otherwise plain-looking playing surface look a bit like a town from the wild west.
With all this in mind, and using various online sources for inspiration, we've managed to design, cut and assemble another western-style building in less than a day. This time, it's a hotel-like building, with a balcony around the second floor.
As ever, all the drawing and layout was done in Inkscape:
Our trusty LS3020 made short work of buzzing through some 3mm mdf (ideally we'd like to make the buildings from 2mm mdf, but we have a stock of 3mm so that's what we're using!)
We've decided to go a stage further this time - although we've no plans to use our buildings for anything other than a showcase game for our generic electronic board gaming system, a few people have already asked about having some of these buildings made up for their own gaming. And if others are likely to want to use these plans, then it seemed sensible to add in some extra little features:
Like a detachable roof, and removable interior floor for the two-storey buildings. It's a bit late for our early single-storey "stores" building (since the roof has been glued on) but we can always retro-fit a removable roof to our "hotel" building (and even add in some supports for a removable second storey floor). For this building, we've planned for them from the start.
When assembled, the lip going around the inside walls will allow us to drop a 3" square floor in through the roof - effectively creating two accessible, interior rooms where players can place their miniatures to indicate that a player is inside the building. It's not something we've coded for in our electronic games, but the if the buildings are used in any other game ruleset, at least we can accommodate this, should anyone need it.
Here's our latest creation (above) alongside the previous buildings, just awaiting some stickers to jazz it up a little. Since this building is in the style of a wild west hotel, we're probably going to have to change the signage on the other building!
Both of the two-storey buildings have been designed with detachable fronts. This will allow us to make a range of different building styles using a basic template for the building construction. It also means that, when used in a tabletop game, getting access to the miniature playing pieces placed around the buildings can be made a little easier, by removing the front canopy of a building.
An unexpected benefit to this approach is also the ability to "mix and match" different building fronts, onto different building styles
We're getting a little impatient to see our wild west building actually appear on the tabletop, so we may yet just cut another of each of our buildings to date, and have a simple, small town of just six or so (very similar looking) establishments.
Sure, laser cut buildings don't have the same detail as scratch-built ones. And stickers will never give the same impressive appearance as a properly built, painted, inked-and-drybrushed piece of terrain. But they are a pretty easy way of building a relatively large playing terrain, quickly. And for that reason, we need to focus on getting our wild west town finished, rather than worry too much about them not being "real hand-built terrain"!