Heroclix Map w/ Underground Levels

WHERE’S WALDO? Five Sentinels on the hunt, thirty-eight targets on the run. Find the one non-mutie in the bunch.

Giant robots are terrifying, regardless of their lavenderness.

So, anyway, Heroclix maps. The first thing I started customizing in miniature gaming was the boards they’re played on. Little plastic army men running around textured 3-D terrain is a lot more fun than flat 2-D paper maps…

The first ‘Clix map I cobbled together was a modular board with tiles that could be rearranged to offer different battlefields with every game. It was fun, but a random comment from one of the goons in my gaming group about tearing up manhole covers and using ‘em as weapons got me thinking about a two-tier map…

My second foray into terrain modding produced a two-tier map. I wasn’t sure how stable the top level would be so I played it overly cautious, limiting the underground levels to a few small self-contained pockets in an effort to make it as sturdy as possible. The map was fun but flawed: those self-contained levels were dead ends and, unlike your mom, didn’t see much action. A successful failure, that project taught me more about board-building but didn’t provide the type of multi-level battlefield I was looking for…

This, my third stab at ‘Clix map-making, is a two-tier battlefield framed by a series of subterranean interconnected environments. Go underground and you can do laps around this sucker without ever poking your melon above ground…

Built from sheets of foam board (or foam core) 30″ x 19 1/2″. The top and bottom “bread” layers of this map sandwich are five sheets thick. That makes ‘em good and sturdy for the inevitable wear and tear (note the patches of white in some of the pics…dings from lugging this badboy around).

The top and bottom layers were made first: I penciled a grid on what would end up being the surface layer of each level and made whatever modifications needed to be made (holes for manholes, sidewalk outlines, etc.). Once that was done, a thin layer of Elmer’s was brushed between the sheets, they were carefully lined up and then laid one on top of another. A scrap piece of foam board was placed on top with a few heavy books to add pressure.

The “meat” of this sandwich is more foam core, twenty-one sheets to be exact. Yikes. Same gluing procedure with this middle section. When dry, all the exposed edges–wherever you could see the “foam” part of the board–were paint brushed with Elmer’s. That acts as a sealant against the corrosive next step: hitting this monster with some speckle paint for a nice grainy texture.

That speckle paint can be a bit sloppy, so let the board dry thoroughly before going any further. Get the board too wet and it’ll start warping. When it dries, spray paint can give you a good base coat to work from before going in with acrylics for fine-tuning. When all that’s wrapped, get ready for the second worst part of making these things: drawing the 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ movement square grid. About halfway through that process I wanted to bring the board down to the shoreline, paddle it out to the middle of the lake and set it and me on fire.

But I didn’t. Here’s what else went into this beast…

Ground Level

Water sections were marked off and cut one layer-deep into the top section of the map before the gluing process. A flat drop off between layers seemed unnatural, so I whittled the edge of the shoreline, cutting it at an angle with an x-acto. After painting the rest of the map, I used a hot glue gun to create the water texture. I’d add a blob of hot glue, shape a rough surface with modeling tools, let (mostly) dry, add another blob, repeat, then finish it off with acrylics.

Sidewalks, curbs…raised sections of the map were added after the board was assembled but before the painting process. Raised sections were glued in place with Elmer’s, a scrap sheet of foam core placed on top with some heavy books for pressure and left to dry overnight. If the sidewalks are the only thing supporting the weight of the books when drying, they’ll get scrunched. Use a few small scraps of foam board underneath the weighted foam board to help distribute the pressure.

As a side note, the flames sprouting up around the police car are some custom flame barriers I whipped up. You can check those and other barrier types out here (and an earlier attempt at barrier-makin’ here).

I tried to balance the urban sprawl of the map with some wooded areas. Here the Avengers crash the Masters of Evil picnic and take turns spitting into Zemo’s potato salad. The Avengers are dicks.

The sewer pipe is index card paper three sheets thick, Elmer’d together and, while still wet, rounded against a glass. The “lip” of the pipe is an extra six sheets thick. Speckle paint & acrylics when dry.

The bridge is more of that index card trick but shaped with an x-acto to look like planks of wood. You can’t see ‘em, but ten bucks says there’s wicked large crayfish under that thing.

Mountain

Eh, more like a big hill than a mountain, but don’t tell that to Cap. Look how proud he is to have climbed to the top. Wait, he’s not at the top, this whole thing is a sham…!

Anyway, more sheets of foam core stacked and glued, then the same hot glue trick I used to make the water was replayed here. Just drag a modeling tool over the still-warm glue to create the ragged cliff face. Acrylic paint, some model train moss to spruce things up and it’s a wrap.

FUN FACT: You know what’s worse than a million of the glue “spider webs” you get when using a hot glue gun? A million hot glue spider webs littered with crumbs of modeling moss. It’s killed two of my vacuums.

The stream flows under the mountain and becomes a waterfall entrance to the subterranean levels. And yep, figures can jump in, ride the water down and take no damage when landing in the pool below. More on the underground layers in a bit, let’s finish the ground level stuff…

Map Items & Terrain

Mailboxes, telephone poles, cars…the random stuff on the board was collected over the years through hobby shops, toy stores and online retailers. While most are off-scale by a small bit, they’re close enough. Who’s gonna notice? And if someone does call you on that scale difference after you’ve spent weeks building them a 3-D map to play on, it’s perfectly acceptable to beat them to death with it.

Trees, streetlights, even statues can be “unplugged” from the board and — uh-oh, looks like the notoriously self-medicating Mr. Hyde is hallucinating again and seeing cat-people. I wonder what he’s gonna do…

*SMISH!*

Aw, man, Tigra’s one of my favorite Avengers. Her superhero costume is a bikini.

The base of the statue is more foam core/glue/speckle/yadda yadda yadda, with a “plaque” courtesy of my printer, a piece of index card paper two sheets thick and some Elmer’s. The statue is a modified Blockbuster Heroclix (Legacy) with long plastic pegs Krazy Glued to the soles of its feet so I could sink it deep into the base.

The statue–as well as the trees and telephone poles–were built into the board. Before the initial gluing process, the top two layers of the map had holes cut into them. Instead of tossing the cut-outs, they were used as pegs for the assorted upright items. To help make sure the right cut-outs plug into the corresponding hole, I labeled each. If you squint, you can make out a small green speck at the bottom of the statue. All the upright items have one of those, a small numbered label that matches up with a corresponding hole.

That all said, I don’t think it was a good idea making the board so predetermined. By having the trees, poles and statue plug into the same section every game, the map gets a bit repetitive. I should have made items like that with a free standing base so they could be placed anywhere.

Not until after I uploaded that photo did I realize it looks like Mockingbird and the Controller are having a dance-off. “CAN’T…STOP…DOING…THE MONKEY!”

Anyway, Mocky looks short in that pic because she’s standing in hindering terrain. Those gullies were built into the map before the layers were glued together. After marking where I wanted the hindering terrain to go, I cut holes in the top three sheets. The edges of the top hole were x-acto’d at an angle so the terrain had a natural looking slope instead of a man-made straight edge.

The bushy bits of grass are clumps of modeling moss I randomly glued all over the board. The good: it gave the map one more small touch that made it look snazzy. The bad: it made balancing tall figures or flight stands f*cking impossible.

Buildings

Whoa, looks like Black Knights’ a little camera shy. I guess I’d be too if I wore one of those stupid Avengers jackets in the ’90s.

Buildings are one sheet-thick with window frames made from index cards three sheets-thick and applied before assembly. Hot glue connected the walls and a thin coat of Elmer’s paint brushed onto the exposed foam edges. Speckle paint for texture, spray paint for a base coat and acrylics for fine-tuning.

A 3-D map needs to have a way for flyers to do their thing, so a friend of mine whipped up those triple-spiffy clear plastic flight stands. The full poop on them here.

Interiors are left wide open to provide players plenty of hand room. An interior ledge allows figures to run around and snipe from windows while ladders (model train tracks with sniped edges) allow non-flyers to move between floors.

Playing interior decorator, I two-toned the insides and added small, photoshopped photos of members from my gaming group. Small clock faces lifted from the web added variety, as did Heroclix-sized arcade games.

When experimenting in painting the building interiors, I learned that foam core can only take so much paint before the paper peels off the foam interior. Keep that in mind if you try your hand at it: less is more.

Variety in building deign helps boost property value. Here Ka-Zar–after a hard night partying–wakes up in an abandoned warehouse to find his credit cards maxed out and car keys missing. “Damn you, Zabuuuu…!” I wish fanfic paid more.

So, a broken ledge, boarded up (balsa wood) windows and a worn, dirty interior gives the joint a nice run down look. Graffiti is hand painted acrylics and they’re not going to make sense to anybody; they’re all inside jokes. That “no mayonnaise” line…? A deli by where my group once played ‘Clix was notorious for screwing up orders. One day we called in an order and a friend asked for a sub: hold the mayo. “They’re gonna screw this up, I know they’re gonna screw this up.” No matter how we tried to allay his fears and get him to concentrate on the game, our words of encouragement were drowned out by his rumbling stomach. A hundred years later the delivery guy showed, we paid the bill, sat down to eat and my buddy unwrapped his tin foiled sub to reveal what can only be described as a mayonnaise crime scene. It was awful, like a 70/30 mayo-to-bread ratio. He ranted, we all ended up sharing some of our food with him and that nightmarish sandwich was shot-putted *SPLORCH* into the neighbor’s yard.

The buildings, like the trees and telephone poles, are rooted in place. Two of those buildings have walls that face the edge of the board. Since figures can’t move through those sections, those walls are considered dead space. Not wanting to let it go to waste, I hung in-joke billboards on ‘em. One (above) features quotes from one of the goons in my gaming group. Now, everyone knows someone who mispronounces quirky names like “Magneto” or “adamantium,” but my buddy Dawson takes it to a new level. He absolutely murders superhero names whenever he gets worked up in a comic book rant. The most egregious examples are listed in the billboard above and, in this blog’s first interactive game, you can test your code-cracking skills by trying to figure out who the hell he’s talking about. Click a name for the answer.

Sir NestoSolomon GrandeMorphistoTime Wolf

Crispin DynamoMongrelDramuAgamanMetamorful

The other in-house billboard makes one of my friends very, very stabby. See, my buddy Davis plays his turns meticulously, placing his figures like pieces on a chessboard, second-guessing enemy attacks, making sure his team can respond to any opportunity or threat. And yeah, sometimes his turns can drag. Whenever that happens, someone in my group is always at the ready and–in a James Earl Jones voice–recites the narrative from that other billboard…

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The seconds turned to minutes,
the minutes ticked into hours
and Davis’ turn marched on.
The hours stretched to days,
the days into weeks and
Davis’ voice rang out:
“What does a yellow defense mean?”

The weeks melted to months,
the months blurred to years,
the years became decades
and Davis gave pause:
“How does line of sight work for barriers again…?”

The decades fell into centuries,
the centuries spilled into millennia,
millennia gave way to eternity
and still Davis’ turn proved unrelenting.

Eternity stretched as the Earth crumbled,
the dead orb that was once the sun grew cold
and all the stars twinkled their last.
The universe gave one final shudder
before succumbing to oblivion and
all that was became dust.

As a new universe was born
from the darkness and chaos,
a familiar voice cried out from the abyss:
“I still have to roll for leadership.”

He’s gonna be thrilled I printed that.

One last bit about the buildings…

Every wall, ceiling and interior ledge features pre-punched sections. The pieces were then pushed out to make sure the cuts went all the way through, then replaced before the building was assembled. I mentioned before how drawing the movement grid on the map was the second-worst part of building this map. This–cutting all those holes–was the worst. Sitting there, hour after hour, your finger sore from pressing down on the x-acto, an endless pile of walls that need cutting…it broke me mentally and physically. It’s how Frodo must have felt at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

So these pre-punched sections allow for battle damage when a building is blasted or when a drunk Olympian decides using the door is too much trouble. Super strong types can smash through walls without movement penalty or, when walking by a wall, simply reach out, grab a chunk and TA-DA, light projectile.

And that’s the grand tour of the upscale real estate. Ready to go slumming in the basement…?

Underground

There’s multiple ways to access the lower levels. The most obvious is the corner of the map where the top layer of the board ends prematurely in a cliff face. Using the same texture trick as described in the “Mountain” section of this post, the cliff has a craggy appearance doted with modeling moss.

The cliff offers staggered levels before depositing you on the ground floor. Here we’re faced with the entrances to two subterranean entrances…should we go left into the cavern or turn right into the sewer pipe?

*flips a coin*

Put on yer waddin’ boots boys and girls, looks like we’re headed fer the sewers…

The sewer runs the entire length of the board and, like all the underground sections, is over 4 1/2″ tall to accommodate oversized and flying figures. The rounded sewer pipe entrance is a section of poster tube cut to shape and hit with speckle paint for texture.

Ladders come courtesy of model train tracks and connect the upper and lower levels via open manholes (in the street) and to open hatches (in the buildings). These entrances may be treated as a standard ground section in addition to an underground entrance/exit. One thing I learned from the original two-tier map I built was that the underground sections need multiple access points to be a viable play area. Otherwise they become dead ends.

The sewage terrain (which acts as hindering terrain) is hot glue shaped while hot and–when dry–drips of hot glue were added and left to sit on top for a “bubbling” effect.

Run the length of the sewer, round the corner and you’ll find yourself at one of the two airlocks leading to the underwater section of the map. Figures may not make a ranged attack from the sewer portion of the map into the submerged water area (and vice-versa). And no tapping on the glass. The fish hate that.

Unlike the sewer section, players don’t need ladders to access the underground levels of the lake. Every section of surface water corresponds with the section below it so figures can just pinch their nose and jump in.

Figures with the fish movement symbol move at +50% speed in water. Those without the symbol move at -50% speed and receive a -50% range penalty. The biggest whammy for submerged non-fish types is that they receive a six-sided die (set at 6) as soon as they go under. At the start of each of that player’s turns it counts backwards and, if they ever start a turn at “1,” it’s an instant KO.

To create an uneven, less “man made” floor, I randomly placed 1 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ squares of foam core with the top edges cut at a sloped angle. Lots of hot glue was then added and shaped while warm for the…the…uh, I’m not entirely sure what I was going for, I just wanted it to look “underwatery.”

The plants are index cards four sheets-thick, hit with speckle paint and–like the entire underwater section–was then painted with acrylics. Modeling moss was added when that mess dried and the stage was set for Stingray to trade his voice for a pair of legs so he can woo Prince Eric. *sigh* So romantic…!

Opposite the sewer airlock is the bunker airlock. Here the Hulk takes off his shirt before going for a swim.

Turn the corner and we’re in the creamsicle-colored underground bunker…

The bunker, like the sewer, runs the length of the board. For purely aesthetic purposes, I staggered the floor by lowering some areas by a sheet or two of foam core.

Ladders connect the bunker to the upper levels via open manholes and floor hatches. The Scorpion (topside) is justifiably shocked that someone painted a red room with purple trim. Madness!

While the long hallway design of the sewer was fine, I didn’t want to repeat that for the bunker layout. To avoid it becoming one long firing range, cover was added for figures to duck behind. Here Union Jack takes shelter behind a corner while the Constrictor hangs out on an elevated platform and watches Lucha Libre. That monitor–along with items like the fire alarm in the below pic–were added simply to spruce things up and don’t affect gameplay.

Travel to the far end of the bunker and WHOOP, the wall’s been torn down. What’s shocking isn’t that the Wrecking Crew busted up the joint–those a**holes break everything–but seriously, how does Piledriver get his whites so white?

Whatever. Grab a flashlight, turn the corner and you’ll find yourself in the final underground complex…

A big honkin’ cavern. The how-to behind this section of the map is similar to the underwater notes: an uneven floor for a more natural look and loads of hot glue shaped while warm for that rough-hewn texture.

Hmmm…well, I didn’t pose the Hulk to look like he’s washing his ass in a waterfall, but that’s kinda how the picture came out. Eh, what can you do, he’s the Hulk. He can wash his ass wherever he wants. I wish I was the Hulk.

So earlier in this write up–in the “Mountain” section–we covered the top portion of the waterfall. This is where it empties out. Topside figures can jump in, slide down and land safely in the section right behind the Hulkster. It’s a neat way to escape overwhelming enemy forces above or to get the drop on opponents skulking underground.

Continue past the subterranean waterfall, step out of the cave and walk blinking into the sunshine…

…we’re at the cavern entrance first spotted back when this underground tour began. That’ll be ten bucks.

One last thing about this board:

To help make it a bit more practical to store and carry around, it’s broken into two sections.

Cut into the middle section of each board is a hole in the shape of a “T,” though the horizontal portions of that “T’ aren’t visible due to the top and bottom layers of the map.

Placed into the horizontal “T” slot and secured with hot glue and scraps of foam core is a piece of rounded wood. It extends about four inches more in either direction than you can see in the above photo.

Those rods act as handles and lets you carry each half of the board around like a suitcase. Having the handles extend over four inches in both directions helps distribute the weight and prevents them from tearing out of the board.

And, well…that’s it. I’m happy with this board, but there is a downside: it’s too static. While you can rearrange car placement and minor board elements, everything else is locked in place. While fun, I prefer maps that allow players to rearrange the battlefield with every game.

That said, lots of good memories on this sucker. The different terrains always seemed to nudge players into sending troops into “home territory.” Solomon Grundy would inevitably make his way into the sewers, the Mole Man would rally Moloid his troops in the cavern while Namor and Marinna got busy in the underwater section and made the tap water taste funny. Yuck.

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You can check out a D&D map I built for a friend here (video of it here), plus a buddy of mine cobbled together a spiffy prison-themed ‘Clix map here.

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33 Responses

  1. Epic post. Really, really, really awesome board and I love all the themed pics. Bravo!

  2. High praise coming from the fella whose kicked my ass on this board more times than I can count.

    Took a while to put this post together…I shot pics over the course of a week and then added bits of text here and there when I had some down time. I think it took about a month before I wrapped it up.

    All that and I still forgot to take one photo: you know those handles I built into the side of the board so carrying it wasn’t a hassle? Yeah, I had meant to include that. Ah well…when I get a second I’ll snap that pic and tack it on the end.

  3. just a quick question, i want to make a fire escape up the side of a building, but one that can hold heroclix incase there movement dosent let them make it up to the top in 1 bolt. how would you go about doing this?
    and if i wanted to make an elevator inside a building with a hand crank (to simulate a working elevator) how would you do this?

    • Heya Rick.

      Happy to help out. These are just suggestions and may not be the best way to accomplish what you’re looking for. In addition to my two cents, try hitting up some of the big brains over at the HCRealms and TerraGenesis for some advice.

      So, anyway, what I’d do…

      FIRE ESCAPE
      How elaborate do you want it to look? One way would be to have a platform about halfway up the side of the building with a ladder running from the ground to it and a second ladder running from it to the roof (with an open window adjacent to the platform that acts as a “door” for moving in and out of the building).

      For the platform, try hitting up a toy/hobby/online shop for some toy or model that has a plastic cage. Using a pair of snippers, you could mod that down so it looks like a fire escape platform. If you can’t find anything that works, using plastic “bars” (like from a toy cell door) can be glue together and shaped into a platform, though that would take more work.

      Be sure to make the platform slightly larger than the standard 1 1/2″ ‘Clix square so figures fit on it easily (no one will notice the size differential and it makes balancing figs less of a hassle).

      The ladder(s) should be significantly easier to make…there’s tons of toys/models that include Heroclix-ish sized ladders. A toy fire truck might be perfect.

      Wood rods may work for the platform & ladder as well, though the heavier you make it the more wear & tear on the building.

      When painting, giving them a dirty wash would make ‘em look nice and weather-worn. The PaintingCorps have great tutorials that you might wanna check out.

      Connecting the fire escape to the building is something you should be able to do with hot glue, maybe using a stronger glue (Krazy Glue) at the very top and bottom to anchor it nice n’ solid.

      As for how a figure can hang on a ladder if they’re movement doesn’t allow them to make it to the platform: one way is to make the horizontal space between the ladder rungs wide enough to fit a Heroclix base and the vertical space between the rungs *just* wide enough to fit. That way a figure can almost “plug in” to the ladder, y’know? Their base would fit snuggly between rungs and they’d hang there. (In addition to that, most figures have outstretched arms that would let them literally hang off the ladder–just be sure you securely attach the fire escape to the building…it might see some wear & tear from players).

      ELEVATOR
      So a working elevator, eh? Hmmm, well, before I got into Heroclix I built a few D&D maps and tried making them interactive–lights inside of buildings, smoking chimneys and a working elevator (a dwarf-run crane alongside a cliff face). My experience: mixing a board where players go hands-on doesn’t always mix well with those types of special effects. Lots of wear & tear, players aren’t always as careful as they could be.

      My advice would be to make an elevator that had an “automatic” effect, y’know? If a figure lands on the elevator section and has at least one movement left, they can activate the lift and the elevator “moves” (as in it doesn’t really move…the player just takes the figure and moves it to the next appropriate section of the elevator).

      As for building it, a static elevator could be made out of whatever materials you’re working with, including foam core or wood.

      That said, if you DO end up making a working elevator, I’d love to see it. Post a link when you get it (or the fire escape) up and running.

      Hope some of this helped. Good luck, m’man!

  4. Clickin’ nutz! over at HCRealms asked me a couple of questions about foam core and hot glue texturing, thought I’d share my answer here in case others are wondering the same thing:
    —————————————————————————————————-

    Yo!

    Foam core (also called “foam board”) can be picked up at most arts & crafts stores (like Jo-Ann etc.). If you don’t have a shop that carries it by you, try an online retailer. (Though if you do, order a small amount first to make sure it’s of a type you want.)

    Switching gears, hot glue! To get some texture effects, I’ll squeeze a blob onto the area I want, let it cool just a bit (it still has to be mushy) and then use a modeling tool (though you can use anything–a fork will do) to shape it the way I want. Work it until it starts to harden and then…well, let it harden. For the cliff face, I just spread the hot glue over the area and dragged the tool down in straight vertical lines. Don’t worry if the tool skips or your hand slips: mistakes make it look more natural. When it dries, add a second layer of lumps here and there, just enough to break up the look of things.

    Experiment on a piece of scrap and you’ll see that it’s pretty easy. Time consuming, though…if it’s a large area, make sure there’s something good on TV before you start workin’.

  5. ive been thinking (which is usually dangerous in my case) i wanted to start small and build a sewer system (with no upper levle just the sewer) and when i told my friend this he jokenly mentioned i should add water and i thought about it and i can using a small fish water pump, bowl of water under the map and some tubing. the water will funnle threw a couple of areas and back into the bowl under the map (easy to do)then you have to put crazy glue over every surface so its water proof but then i thought that i cant do this couse the figs will be in the water and theres paper in the base so it cant get wet.
    do you think we can get away with putting scotch tape over the figs display area so the water cant get in and we can still see the numbers?

    • …wait, what?

      You want to build an actual underwater map? On the off chance that you’re not just messing with me, lemme say that I think you’re asking for trouble if you have water as part of a map that includes figures with a paper dial. The trade-off to that gimmick isn’t worth it and I don’t see it ending well.

      That said, who am I to tell anyone not to try something offbeat? If it’s something you really want do, go for it. Just videotape that first game and put it on YouTube so we can all view that Heroclix apocalypse.

  6. Your heroclix map is amazing!!
    I had a similar sewer idea a year ago, but I made the map out of wood and the sewer pipes are cut from that black drainage tubing. There’s some storage space (I put little cabinet-like doors on the front) so I guess the wood is ok, and the foam map on top can be changed, it’s not glued down. Still, your idea is so great, I never would have thought of just gluing foam board on top of more foam board. That must make it all relatively light-weight! And your painting skill is amazing, I’ve never painted anything for heroclix. Is it hard to find the supplies?
    One thing I did, which again, now seems a little bit stupid, but I made a simple foam building, and instead of a foam ceiling on top, I used a pane of glass that I had cut for me at a glass place (so it’s not sharp on the edges). Permanent marker for the 1.5 inch squares, and it actually looks pretty sharp. I guess it’s not extremely practical. Oh, and I thought your holes in the building were cool, I never would have thought of that! I have made break-out portions in my simple foam buildings before, cut in various explosion-shapes, but it makes it very predictable. If somebody wants to blow up a wall, everyone knows where it’s gonna be.
    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that your map is incredible, and if i get some free time I’m going to try to make something like it. Probably on a much smaller scale :)
    Great work! And awesome blog!
    -Joel

    • Yo, Joel!

      I hear ya’ on non-lightweight maps. Waaay back in the day I used to make D&D boards out of plywood–actually, an entire table frame with the top board screwed into it (I talked about that experience here). It wasn’t until years later that I even knew something like foam board existed. And heads up if you try you hand at gluing foam board sheets together: I’ve found you have to go with at least three/four sheets to avoid it from warping (and go light on the glue). Be sure to use weights when you’re letting it dry, play it safe and place a sheet of scrap foam core between the board and the weights to avoid dents.

      And you used glass, eh? I’ve thought of trying that, but always stayed my hand because of the *KRISH!* “I cut an artery in my dice-throwing hand!”-factor. Plus who wants the hassle of flushing all that blood out of Heroclix dials?

      As f’r using blocks of foam, I think that’s a great idea. A buddy of mine (the fella behind this map), that’s something he wants to try his hand at: building an elevated map but instead of an endless (and semi-expensive) stack of foam core, he’s gonna sandwich a block of foam between a few layers of foam core. That’ll make for a lighter final build and a project that’s easier on the wallet.

      Regarding painting supplies, I don’t use anything fancy. For the grainy texture on the map, I use a variety of “speckle” spray paints, the kind that has a sandy consistency. Lemme see if I…*fiddles around in supply closet*…”Rust-Oleum American Accents Stone.” That’s one brand that delivers the goods. Standard spray paint for base map colors, acrylics for fine-tuning (and figure-modding). You can get all that stuff at any crafts store or online. Some spiffy painting tutorials here.

      And hey, thanks for the kind words. Post a link if you ever take pics of your stuff!

  7. I recently got interest in Maps and Map Making and one of the blogs I started following is about comic book maps. They have a recent entry with a “map” of the Baxter building, which I think you have on your map.

    http://comicbookcartography.posterous.com/

    Though you might enjoy that blog.

    And this post truly is epic!

    • BRIAN!

      Hey man, I was thinking about you the other day. A conversation about awesome horrible movies was in full swing and I thought about your grade-Z movie screenings. “Z” is for “Zardoz.”

      Anyway, thanks for the link. I love those old school comic book cutaways that showcase buildings, weapons or whatnot. An old encyclopedia’ish comic titled The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe used to showcase images like that. Awesome stuff.

      And your new hobby is maps…? Let me guess: you were riding your bike cross-country, misread a map, had to hold up overnight in an abandoned warehouse, fought off vampires in bike shorts (you, not the vampires), biked home the next morning and vowed never to get lost again. The end.

      • Close. It was zombies, not vampires. I wouldn’t give vampires the satisfaction of a fight.

        I’m just trying to help out my local mountain biking association and give back to one of the parks I’ve done a lot of biking at. Plus I got to flex my Adobe Illustrator muscle.

        Speaking of bad movies and muscles, here’s something you should maybe seek out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1Nsq57o9nM

      • That flick is an escapee from this site.

  8. Saw your link in Fwoosh and decided to visit. Jeez, you’re GOOD!

    It’s a pet peeve of mine that Heroclix never capitalized on the 3d aspect-ness of the game with using 3d maps. I used to make 3d bushes and stuff to augment the usual maps, so I appreciate the hard work you do here. Bookmarked to see more amazing stuff!

    Ever thought of recreating maps based on comic book locales, like the Savage Land? :)

    • THE FWOOSH! Great site. I created an account over there but accidentally clicked “Under 18″ instead of “Over 18.” Now it won’t let me log on until I download a permission slip and fax it to them. True story.

      Anyway, thanks for the compliments, m’man. And yeah, I think NECA would be well-served to investigate some cheap 3-D maps. As cool as the HeroClix figures are and as clever as the combat system is, those flat maps just kill the game (imo). I’ve had a lot of people come and go from my ‘Clix gaming group and a sizeable percentage wanted nothing to do with the game until they saw our 3-D maps. That’s not me patting myself on the back. ANY 3-D board — when mixed with little Marvel and DC superheroes — makes the HeroClix game infinitely more appealing to non-gaming comic book fans. The trick is to create a map that looks good, has a low price-point AND is something that’s easy to store. Tall order.

      As f’r creating themed maps like the Savage Land, how cool would that be…? The middle of the map would be all jungle w/ assorted tech scattered about while the outside of the map is all snowswept mountains. That’d look awesome!

      Along those line I once sketched out an Avengers compound map and a ‘Days of Future Past’ board. I almost started work on the Avengers one but decided at the last minute to go in a different direction with it. I completed it but haven’t yet posted it on the blog…gotta find time to photograph and write it up.

      Thanks again for the kind words and hey, if you have pics of your custom stuff, throw up a link!

  9. masterpice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i want it is it on sale? i would buy one, please! oh and i u could sell it to me could you send it to costa rica? anyway, exelent job it is amazing!

    • No problem.

      I packed it up and wrote this on the box:

      Costa Rica
      Attn: Kevyn

      I just dropped it off at the post office.

      Enjoy!

  10. That map is amazing! And the comment section has some great ideas too. I’d like to put a link to this on my page. Could I use your xmen-sentinels picture on it? I’m collecting sites related to heroclix maps.

  11. just in case you want to check the site i altered the link on my name to point to it. The first post points to my other gaming page. my bad

    • Thanks for the kind words, m’man.

      I just checked out your site…so “Squidoo” is a blog home, like WordPress? I’ve never seen that one before. The HeroClix content on that page–is that all your work or is it a collection of writing by a bunch of different users? Cool stuff.

      And feel free to swipe any pics you need, just give this blog a shout-out/link as the original source and we’re totally cool.

      • Thanks for the go-ahead! I put your blog on a separate section for featured sites instead of just a link. I’ll credit+link back other pictures if I use them.

        I think Squidoo is called a micro-blogging site. Similar to WordPress but more limited.

        Most of the articles are mine like the dungeoncrafter write-ups. I use DC for my DnD. The Map ideas are a mix of people, mostly me and my game buddies. I’m sure, though, that other people developed similar ideas as well.

        The Pics are from a Flickr module that Squidoo uses. Same with the Twitter feeds.

  12. ***Obligatory flowery praise here***

    (Not sure I could add anything that hasn’t already been said, but seriously, well done.)

    I also make many a 3D Clixin map, and had 2 suggestions, that may or may not have occurred to you.

    1) In regards to shifting terrain more – It wouldn’t affect the brilliant lower levels, but I find that you can shift buildings around as well as signs (I use a lot of billboards and signage in my maps) using pegs made of tacs or nails. Clearly the bigger the object, the bigger the peg would need to be. I tend to anchor the corners of each building with 1 inch nails, and the smaller structures/signs with thumb tacs.

    This won’t stand up to anyone in your group actively trying to knock the building down, but it does allow for each game board to look and feel different.

    My map itself has removable park and asphalt segments, so these work well with shifting buildings.

    2) In regards to texturing – I found that when you peel off the top layer of your foam core, you get a VERY porous surface, that when painted looks JUST LIKE ASPHALT. The added bonus I discovered, quite accidentally, is that you can mark your gridded squares now using a pencil instead of an exacto knife.

    To be clear, it DOES require painting without spray paint, as the spray paint would disolve the foam.

    Now a question, when hitting the train/hobby stores, what scale tracks do you use for telephone poles and for the tracks you turn into ladders?

    Thanks so much!

    • Heya Jonah!

      First off, thanks for the tip o’ the cap — I’m glad you dug the map. Do you have pics of your stuff? Throw a link up, I’d love to check it out!

      Moving along…

      1) PEGS
      I don’t like the locked-in-place pegs I came up with in the above blog post (items are ALWAYS in the same spot every game), but getting objects to stay standing on a map is a pet peeve of mine. Anchoring items with a tack or nail is clever — the hole they would leave would be minor. I dig it.

      2) TEXTURING
      Interesting. You come up with that on purpose or by accident? I can picture what you’re describing and it seems like yeah, it would look pretty good. Trick is I use too much spray paint (base coats and sealants). Thanks for the tip, but like you said, it would melt my board into a gooey puddle of nasty.

      And as for the train tracks that I mod into ladders, I’ll do you one better than simply listing the scale. Here’s the full skinny:

      ATLAS brand N scale code 80 snap-track

      Pull out the metal strips on each side, snip off the tie overhangs and SHAZAM!, Heroclix ladder!

  13. I sent you a message with some links. Hope you enjoy.

    The peg holes are indeed quite small, and with the textured nature of the “asphault” I end up using, you can’t really tell.

    The asphault look itself WAS planned, the fact that the softer foam can be scored with a pencil however was not.

    Looking forward to the next map or mod pics you post!

    • I got the message, but the attached links wouldn’t work. If you’re cool with it, post those links here — I’m sure others would love to see what you’ve cooked up!

      As for new posts here on ToyChop, yeah…I haven’t been as active lately. A new job has me kinda swamped, hasn’t left me with much free time to cobble new entries together.

      That said, I’ve been S-L-O-W-L-Y putting the finishing touches on an entry that dwarfs anything I’ve posted before — a new kind of HeroClix map — but it’s gonna be another couple of months before I wrap ‘er up. Love to hear what you think when it goes live!

      EDIT: Took the final pics over the weekend, new monster post goes live 5/09/11.

    • Dude, those pics are fantastic!

      Love the Wayne Enterprises building — I want to play an all-Arkham team and see if I can topple it.

      And man, some of those buildings are what, like four feet tall…? I love it — THAT’S some awesome scale to play with. It’s like a real ‘Clix city.

      Setting it up at a comic store makes me day dream: I’d love to set up the biggest board imaginable and organize a ten-on-ten game.

      Heroes on one side, villains on the other, last man standing. You’d need to set aside a day and start early, but man…how awesome would it be to play on an Avengers team thirty members-strong? And to stare at a villain team equally as massive?

      When I win the lottery I’m opening a comic store nd making it happen.

      Dibs on Thor.

  14. Thanks for the kind words. You can’t really tell, but the tallest building is a Lexcorp headquarters. I love the idea that Lex sees Bruce’s tower and says, “MINE has to be bigger!” Also, again hard to see from the pics, the board is split down the middle into Marvel and DC. There’s a Stark Enterprises Bldg and Four Freedoms Plaza on the Marvel side.

    It is one of my favorite things to play at House of Secrets, especially as we play after hours on Wednesdays. The only problem I can tell you is that we DO play those 1000 – 1200 point games, and if you get 8 guys on a board it means you aren’t going ANYWHERE til 2 or 3 am…

    • I love the idea that Lex sees Bruce’s tower and says, “MINE has to be bigger!”

      Fantastic! I love that!

      As for those early-AM games…whoof. I used to pull all-nighters with D&D and drive home at sunrise, but thought I got it out of my system in my early twenties. Then HeroClix hit and there was about seven of us playing once a week, every week, until dawn.

      Those ALWAYS seemed like a good idea when you’re picking teams at like 7:30pm, but by the time 5:00am hits…? Madness takes you. It’s like the end of TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER.

      • WE play one of those easily every two weeks. SWEARING around 2 AM that we’ll NEVER do it again. Then a couple of weeks later, someone says, man we should play a Secret Wars scenario and the whole thing starts again…

  15. Only thing I dislike about that map, is that I’ve been looking all over for a Sentinel, and you’ve destroyed one for the map. NO!!!!

    • Ha ha, yes, YES, give in to your hate…!

      I just scrolled through this blog…I could have sworn I did a post on the Sentinels mod I did way back when, but nope, it’s still just in my head.

      Here’s the poop:

      What I did was buy ten Sentinels when they first came out, and then immediately chopped up half of ‘em (!).

      The plan: when you defeat a Sentinel in the game, it breaks into four pieces: two forearms/hands, one of their big honkin’ boots, and the head. Each item is then considered hindering terrain for targeting purposes, and can be used as heavy combat items. (Destroying a second Sentinel by smashing it with a piece of the first is wonderfully cathartic for X-MEN fans scarred by the cover of UNCANNY #142).

      ALSO: I mounted the “broken” Sentinel heads on Heroclix dials, and once a round at the start of the owner’s turn they click. When they hit zero, the owner rolls a 2d6 and that Sentinel re-enters play with that many clicks. The Sentinel heads have a defense of 15/toughness, so they’re pretty easy to destroy before they reassemble, still…ticking clock of robot doom! WHEEEEEE!

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