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Warhammer Chariot Race Track

Warhammer is a wonderful game in itself, but with all those miniatures you have collected, you would be foolish not to use them for other games. Games Workshop encourages these "mini-games" set within the various Warhammer Worlds, such as Jousting or Pit Fighting, or to some degree Mordheim or GorkaMorka. o­ne of the best mini-games has to be the Chariot Races by GW God Space McQuirk. The rules are classic, and I mean that in the truest sense: they are old!

For a full .PDF file, go here: 

Now that you have perused the rules, I will show you how I built my own race track for the 2005 Suncon Gaming Convention in Ft. Myers, FL.

Materials: (4) 2'X4' sheets of hardboard ($12)(3) 4'X8' sheets of 3/4" pink styrofoam ($33)2 tubes of Liquid Nails ($5) with a caulking gun ($3) Wood Glue, Sand, Paint, flock

Tools: Saw to trim the hardboard (table or circular). Hotwire foam cutter, Sandpaper.

Getting Started: I knew I wanted a big track. It doesnt have to be huge, but I was building it for a convention with many potential players. It also had to be sturdy, attractive and mobile. My solution was to build the track into four 2'X4' plates that would assemble into a rectangular board. The tables offered at the con were 4'X8', but the track would fit o­n a slightly smaller table with little problem. My favorite building materials are foam and hardboard, but neither has much in the way of structural integrity. My solution was to make a hardboard and foam sandwich.

The black layer is hardboard, the red and blue layers solid styrofoam, and the green the trimmed foam track boundery pieces. All would be glued together with liquid nails, and once painted with latex housepaint, would be nigh indestructable.

Day one: First of all, you need good undamaged sheets of styrofoam. Dig down a sheet or 2 at the hardware store to find what you want. You can be picky, it's your money. Now, if you use the Dow brand foam like I do, you will notice something:

The sheets measure 4'X8', but have a tounge and groove! This is unattractive! The hardboard sheets are exactly 2'X4' (precut) and the foam wont cover the boards once you remove the groove. Easy solution: I cut one inch off each edge of the hardboard, width and length, making them 1'11" x 3'11". Score and break the foam into 2'X4' sections (be sure to remove the plastic wrapper) and glue 2 layers to each hardboard section, allowing the foam to overlap the whole board. Don't be stingy with the Liquid Nails, you have 2 tubes.

Stack all 4 sandwiches up on a flat surface, such as the floor of your garage, and put heavy things on it to mush down the Liquid Nails. I used my box of plaster (50 lbs!) and my bowling bags, but don't put anything that will leave a mark o­n the foam.

Day 2: The liquid nails should me more or less dry now, so now we trim. Use the Hot Wire Foam Cutter and follow the edge of the hardboard, making the sides as straight as possible. In a perfect world, I would own a sort of How Wire Table Saw, moving the foam across the wire and creating a perfect 90 degree angle. In reality I am as shaky as Barney Fife in a gunfight, and the table edges reflect this.

When you are done, line up the sandwiches o­n the table and find the best edges to eliminate the obvious gaps. When you are happy, lable everything so you know what goes where.

It is very important to butt the edges up as straight as possible at this stage. Take the remaining sheet of Foam and cut it into 4 more 2'x4' pieces, covering the table. The inside edges should match as closely as possible where the sandwiches meet, the rest of the foam hanging over the outside edges. Trace out the design of your track o­n them with a Sharpie marker, sizing it to accomodate X number of chariots side by side. My track path is basically 12" wide, but can narrow somewhat in places for chariot crashing excitement! When you are happy with the layout, make the gross cuts with a craft knife, and the finer cuts with the Hot Wire Foam cutter. Line them back up on the table and make sure they fit.

If you are happy, bevel all of the "trackside" edges, so that they slope down into the track.

Testfit again. Gently recarve any beveled edges that are supposed to butt up to each other so that they match. Remember:

It is more important the INSIDE edges match than the outside. Outside is going to get trimmed away tomorrow, inside is more or less forever. Use more Liquid Nails to secure the top pieces to the table. I used wood glue, but it takes longer to cure on a non-porus material like this foam. Place heavy objects on the track again to insure a good seal.

Day 3: Trim away the extra material from the top of the table, again using the hardboard as your guide, You shouldn't have to trim very much on the inside if you did you cuts correctly the 2nd day.

Use a sheet of drywall sandpaper and go over the edges of the table. This is your opportunity to buff out the hard edges from your Hot Wire cuts, as well as blending the butted sections together a little more. Drywall sandpaper looks like a small section of screen from your porch, but has a rough texture. The open weave keeps it from getting choked with dust. If you have a small handsander like the Mouse, you can go around the outside edges of the table as well. All sanding should be done outside unless you like pink dust on and in everything you own. The next step has some timing to it, and some prep should be done before starting. In order to give your track a proper texture, we ar
e going to smear spackling or joint compound all over it, and then make it look like hooves and chariots have been tromping all over it. First, carve a pencil eraser into a "hoof stamp" like a little horseshoe. Anything close to the size of the GW hooves is fine.

Then, take 2 wheels or buttons and string them o­nto a bent paperclip. This is our "chariot." The wheels should spin freely.

When your tools are ready, take a big dollop of spackle and just smear it over the surface of the track. Dont worry about getting it perfectly smooth, but have it flow along the path of the track. This is a good time to fill an spaces o­n the track surface where the top layer of foam isn't completely flush with the foam sandwich. Don't worry about the spackle where the track sections meet, it can be cleaned up later easily after it dries.

This stuff has a reasonable drying time, and you should be able to get completely around the track before it dries. As it is setting up, use the "hoof stamp" to create a chain of hoof prints in the "mud" they dont have to be perfect, or even line up, but there should be lots of them, and they should go in the same basic direction. Carry a small cup of water and wash the tool off when it gets cogged up with paste.

Now use the "chariot" and do the same thing, Go around and around. Don't worry about running over the hoof prints, it happens. I have a few "paths" that look like the chariot went right off the table. Feel free to experiment, but the spackle is going to dry too much if you don't keep moving.

It is hard to see, but here is a top-down of a section of the track just before all the spackle dried up.

When this is done, now is a good opportunity to put some details o­n the rest of the track. Fancy tracks in urban areas have beautiful walls along the outside edge to keep the chariots in. My orcs have done the next best thing, and piled rocks and broken planks along the edges. Never underestimate good orcytecture.

The spackle should be pretty dry within a few hours. When it is, and you are happy with the terrain, use slightly watered down woodglue, and apply it liberally to all non-track surfaces with a brush. Put a couple dollops on the track to represent rough rocky patches. This will not affect the race, but unifies the track with the surrounding terrain. pour sand on all of the glue areas, and allow to dry overnight.

The different colors of sand were from 2 different locations, a golf course and a volleyball pit. I ran out in the middle of the project, and needed a refill. All will be covered in paint, so the color means less than the texture. "Playground" sand is probably the smalles grain you want to deal with; any smaller and it won't take a drybrush properly. Kitty litter is chunky and looks good, but is o­nly clay and won't stand for much abuse.

Day 4: This is the final day. Take the planks outside and shake off excess sand. Paint the entire board with flat black housepaint, top and sides. Leaving the sides pink looks "unfinished." Go over the piece with a small brush to get the paint into all the cracks. Now drybrush and detail to taste. I like Dk. brown, and then a tan to represent dirt and mud, with a hint of sand. Greys or brownish reds look good, too. Let these dry well, add a few patches of static grass, and you are almost done.

The chariots need a place to start from! Using red ink, paint a sloppy starting line anyhere on the straightaway of your track. Using a thinner line of brown ink on top of that will make the starting line look like a deep swath of blood, perhaps from a sacrifical horse or unruly gobbos!

Here are some pictures from Suncon of people enjoying the track. Looks like Johnny Bravo Con with all those black shirts! 🙂

That is pretty much it. There were some mistakes made that I hope I spelled out enough of the details for you to correct, and remember allways: when you are building an enormous piece of terrain like this, you need a place to STORE IT. 😛 Perhaps my next project needs to be a wooden crate to store THIS project!!

Enjoy!! hamster boy

The Hamster Boy killing time while things are drying.

Posted in Terrain Building.

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