Gaming on a Budget: Using your Scraps or Pet Cemetary

Almost forgot to make a dated music reference in the title, oh no.

Anyhow, due to the recent demolition of my game room and scramble to find gainful employment, I haven’t gotten a chance to take final pictures of the gaming table I’ve been building- they’ll be done by next week; I promise.  This does, however give me pause to talk about something semi-related, however.

As you’ve all no doubt ascertained by now, I’m a bit of a packrat- just wait until the pics of my new gaming room setup surface.  Being the hoarder that I am, I am unlikely to throw away even the smallest off-cut bits or offal- seriously, as a recovering vegetarian, I must say that most organ meats and especially blood are fucking delicious.  Whatever the scraps, I will eventually find a way to use them.

In the past I’ve talked about not wasting gaming packaging (several different times even) and reusing bits of sprue to make scenery.  I’ve also talked about finding inspiration in the cupboard (more of this to come by the way).  The important lesson from that is that you can find building materials for your games just about anywhere, be sure to keep an eye open for them.

With that spirit in mind, here’s how I built a 15mm cemetery using some of the tiniest scraps you’ve ever seen.  Moral of the story, don’t throw anything away.

Materials

  • Plasticard or other suitable base material
  • Plasticard offcuts, the tinier the better
  • White glue
  • Spackle/filler
  • paint
  • static grass
  • clump foliage
  • sandpaper
  • knife
  • Hemostats (optional, but very helpful)
  • sculpting tool

Preparing the base

I began by cutting a piece of plasticard into a 3″x3″ square.  This would form the base for my cemetery.  If you don’t have this much extra plasticard handy, normal cardstock, hardboard, or whatever would be perfectly suitable. 

Next, I simply covered the base in glue and then sprinkled on sand.

With that exceptionally difficult step out of the way, I built a wall using spackle.  I used a sculpting tool dipped in water to build up a short wall along the perimeter of the base.  Don’t worry too much about this being perfectly smooth at this stage, imperfections will be fixed later.

Once the wall was dried, I used some fine grit sandpaper to sand down the imperfections present in the spackle. 

The base was done at this point and ready for some tombstones.  Note that I chose not to make a gate for this project.  At Hoagy’s suggestion, we reasoned that a metal gate would have been taken for scrap during WWII, so it would be appropriate for it to be missing.

Making Tombstones

For the tombstones for my cemetery, I used some really tiny offcuts of plasticard left over from making my roads.  This is a perfect example of not throwing anything away.  Many would see tiny scraps like this as garbage, but not somebody as savvy as I. I used a hobby knife to trim my offcuts into rectangles about as wide and half as tall as a 15mm man. 

Using a hobby knife I trimmed some of the tombstones into round shapes.  I wasn’t too worried about getting a perfect round edge at this point, so I simply made 4 or 5 cuts along the edge of the plastic to form an angular round edge. 

Some of the offcuts were left in a rectangular shape.

The “rounded” tombstones were loaded into a pair of hemostats to make them easier to hold.  I then rubbed them against a fine grit sandpaper to actually round off the edges.

Finishing Touches

The tombstones were glued in place using white glue.  I didn’t worry about them leaning too much, as I wanted a rickety old cemetery feel- spooky!

The whole model was sprayed black when all was dry.

I then painted the gravel using the same brown I’ve used for my gaming table and dry brushed it with the same lighter brown- both inexpensive craft paints, of course.

The tombstones and walls received dry brushings of codex gray and fortress gray.

As a final touch, Static grass was glued on, leaving “worn” areas that may represent walking paths, and clump foliage was added to simulate bushes or weeds.

Adapting this to other scales

Since I’m sure more of you play 28mm games instead of 15mm, if you wanted to change the scale of this project I would advise roughly doubling the size of the base and using offcuts of plasticard that are roughly the size of your thumbnail.

That’s it for today.  I’ll be back with final picks of the gaming table soon.  Until then, if you’ve got a hot tip for using garbage or want to share a story about a sweet gaming piece made of “found” materials, drop us a comment.  If you’ve got an idea for a future gaming on a budget article, hit us up at [email protected]

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