Thursday, November 28, 2013

Foldable game board

Low on space but still want a nice 4x6 area for your wargaming needs? Does your spouse/significant other/roommate not want a huge permanent gaming table set up in your living room? Need to play but low on cash? In this short tutorial I will show a few pictures of the set-up I recently built for playing games on in my home without taking up much space or costing much money. Read on for some pictures of my board, game mat, and terrain storage solutions.

When planning my gaming table, I knew that I needed a gaming surface that could be easily put away and stored when not in use. I live in a fairly small apartment. It is only in my newest apartment that I even have a kitchen table big enough for the base of a gaming table. My storage limitations immediately ruled out large permanent tables or huge sheets of plywood.

For the 4x6 gaming surface I need for games like Flames of War or Warhammer 40k I used 1” blue insulation foam. I have a perfect 5’ x 3.5’ table to use to support a gaming surface. Because the table is pretty close in size, I didn’t have to worry as much about the stability. I bought two large sheets of 2’ x 8’ foam from a hardware store (I believe pink foam is better suited to this, but the store did not carry it). I trimmed them to the required 6’ lengths. I then connected them along one edge with duct tape. I added lots of tape so it would be fairly durable. I taped both sides of the join, being careful to ensure that I could still fold up the sheets. I also taped the edges to help protect them from damage. At my old local store (the excellent and very friendly Drexoll Games in Vancouver), they used a similar set up with corrugated plastic sheet on one side for added stiffness and durability. I didn’t add this simply because I didn’t want the extra expense. So far this surface has been rigid enough as it is only hanging over the edge of the table by 6” or so on each side.

For an actual playing surface I bought a Citdael gaming mat. I was fortunate to find one of these on sale at a local store (they are a bit hard to find now). These mats seem to get very good reviews and are supposed to be quite durable. Again, these are the main mats used at my local club to good effect. A gaming mat is not as detailed as a permanent surface but is easy to put away and store. Another advantage is that I can completely change the surface by buying or making another mat for different settings, scales, and surfaces.
Terrain is a bit sparse. I want some more woods and houses to fill it out a bit more.

Those of you who have visited this blog for a while know that I am quite fond of building terrain. When I started building terrain I built large, elaborate models and discovered they were very difficult to store. Since then, I have been trying to build my terrain with storage in mind. At the moment, my Flames of War terrain can be entirely stored in one box (this is likely to change as I build more buildings…). I’ve tried to make things go fairly flat for storage. This will make it easy to transport and means I can nicely store it in the closet in a box. I currently have enough terrain to lightly cover a board for Flames of War. In the future I would like to expand my collection with more buildings and woods and other features.

The best part of this set-up is that it can be stored fairly unobtrusively around the house. I managed to fit the insulation foam gaming surface into a slot in a closet beside the washer and dryer (maybe it even creates some energy savings?). The game mat and terrain sit nicely on a shelf in a closet. It is pretty quick to set up and stores nicely.
Board stores beside the washer and dryer in a closet.

The total cost for this tabletop was relatively low. The insulation foam cost me about $40. I already had duct tape (but it is $5-10). The game mat cost $30 or $40. I won the trees at a tournament a few years ago. The train track sections cost about $2 per sections (but they are unnecessary, train tracks are kind of annoying in Flames of War). I built the rest of the terrain from simple materials I already had. If you were starting with nothing, it would probably cost about $120 to acquire and build a similar collection. I saved a lot of money by building the basic terrain features (Battlefield in a box sets are about $40 each, Battlefront houses and 4Ground houses seem to run about $30 each).

Best of all, I can now host and play games on a full 4’ x 6’ board. As I have moved to a small town I don’t have the benefit of a local game store anymore. Hopefully with a nice board and terrain I can play with the odd gaming visitor and maybe convince some local hobbyists to try Flames of War. My set up is portable enough I can also pack it up to go to tournaments and things and provide a tabletop.

So far, the terrain for Flames of War conveniently fits inside this one box.
Do you have some ideas for cheap and portable gaming boards? Ideas for cheap terrain? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for visiting!

My other Flames of War terrain:


  1. Nice solution! Mine hangs on the wall like a big painting. It' a city fight theme. People come over and think it's art. I can take it down and put it on 2 saw horses and lay a gaming mat or realm of battle on it.

    1. Your board sounds very interesting. Do you have any pictures of it?

    2. Here she is on the wall...

      and a pic of what she sits on and some of the terrain set ups i have...

      Sees very little use now that I focus mainly on painting :(

  2. Good idea, i'm heading down the modular board approach using battleboards. I'll let you know how it goes. I made a stackable foam storage system for it. Elaborate but pricey, yours is good value and very practical

    1. I really love the things you can build with set pieces in a modular system. I wanted fully modular though for the gaming variety. The board should work well. I just need more terrain for it.

  3. I'm scheming on a transportable board, I've been wondering how to make 4 2'x2' sections of plywood fold into each other without having metal hinges interfere with the folding...hadn't considered pink foam and duct tape. There I go overcomplicating things again...

    If you don't mind me asking, what town did you move to? I used to live in the lower mainland before I moved for work. Its really changed in the last ten years!

    1. I moved to Penticton. Are you in the Interior? What games do you play?

      Pink foam works pretty well. You could reinforce it with some light mdf or plastic board on the back to make it more durable too.

    2. Penticton's a nice town, been there a couple times. I go camping in the interior whenever I'm home on vacation, which is less and less now that I have to bring a family of small kids with me.

      Unfortunately, no, I live in North Carolina now. Its quite the trip but you're welcome to make it and come roll dice :) I mostly play FoW, Infinity, and specialist / board games. Didn't pick up 40K back up when I got back into the hobby and just started Ebaying my WHFB stuff since its collecting dust. Most of what I'm working on these days gets a write-up over at House of Paincakes, like the Infinity project I just "finished" (yeah like any thing's ever finished!)


More from Rust and the City:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...