In my last post, I formally resolved to overcome my hobby attention-deficit disorder and focus on one project until it’s ready to play. I chose to complete the fully decked-out board for Warhammer 40K: Kill Team that I’d been planning for some time. In this post, I’ll update you on my progress, and reveal the main terrain feature: modular SF buildings built with Dave Graffam’s Babylon: Toxic Sands cardstock model kit.
I spent my free evenings over the past week grinding out building pieces for my Kill Team board, assembling a total of ten modular units from the Babylon system. Each piece consists of an open-topped box which forms the floor and walls of one building section, and a shallow tray which fits on the box like a lid, making the roof and railings. You can stack and combine these units in an infinite number of ways, so every time you set up a board, it will be new and different.
The kit allows you to make square units in 4″, 6″, and 8″ sizes, as well as every possible rectangle between 4×4 and 8×8, including 4×6, 4×8, and 6×8. Since an official Kill Team board is pretty small as miniatures game tables go—just 22″ x 30″—I stuck to smaller units. I made four square units: three 4×4’s and one 6×6. I also assembled three 4×6 rectangles. The kit includes special walls to make “expanding units,” with roofs that extend beyond the floor measurement. I built two units that are 4×4 at their base, but expand to 4×6 at the roof level, and one that’s 4×6 at floor level, expanding to a 6″ square at its roof.
I also crafted three 6″ catwalks, to connect separate Babylon towers above ground level. As I tinkered around with them, I discovered that the catwalks only work with roof pieces with gaps in the railings. As designed, the gapped rails on 4″ sides are incompatible with the catwalks, but I found a way to cut slits that allow a catwalk to connect to the 4″ side of a building unit.
I also built one of the radio tower units included in the Babylon kit, which includes a four-inch tall spire. If you position it on top of a three- or even four-unit tower, you’ve got an impressive communications tower for your little space men to fight over. The radio towers seem like obvious mission objectives to me, much more immersive than the numbered tokens or poker chips that you see so often on otherwise realistic and detailed Warhammer tables.
Babylon on the Board
After putting together ten units, I suspected I was getting pretty close to filling a Kill Team board, so I unrolled my custom-printed Scorched Earth mat to find out. Since I had the mat printed at 24″ by 48″, it’s considerably larger than necessary for Kill Team, so I began by marking out a 22×30 playing field with blue painter’s masking tape. Then I started pushing my Babylon units around on the board to see how they fit.
Happily, I found that four towers of two or three units in height pretty much filled the board. In the quick cell-phone photos that accompany this post, I set up four towers and connected them with catwalks one level up. I had one remaining 4×6 unit that didn’t fit neatly into the towers without blocking off catwalks, so I placed it by itself as an outbuilding in one corner of the mat. I grabbed a couple of Dave Graffam’s Free Cargo Pods and Offworld Habitats off my shelf to fill in the open spaces. The set-up in these photos isn’t perfect, but it works as proof-of-concept. You definitely can create a compelling, detailed environment for miniatures gaming using nothing but well-chosen cardstock terrain pieces.
Although ten units is sufficient to fill the board, I learned a bit as I assembled my first set of Babylon terrain, and I see ways to improve my set up. First, you do need some larger pieces in order to have space for models to stand on the balconies of the intermediate levels. I stuck to smaller units, thinking larger ones would block up the playing space too much. But with so many 4×4 and 4×6 pieces in my set-up, I didn’t leave much room for models on my tower balconies. I’ll definitely be crafting some larger units, probably 6×6 and 4×8, so I can stack 4×4’s and 4×6’s on top of them and still leave the combatants room to stand.
I also learned that in order to give yourself maximum flexibility in connecting towers with catwalks, you need many more open sides on your roof pieces than I initially created. I mistakenly thought I wanted more complete roof railings would give snipers better cover, but the Babylon catwalks can’t connect to fully-railed roof pieces. I’ll definitely be making a few extra roof pieces with more open sides.
As I mentioned previously, I was surprised to learn that the Babylon kit as designed won’t allow catwalks to connect to 4″ sides of roofs, even if there’s a gap in the rail. That gap is too narrow to receive the “tongue” of the catwalk. I took a chance, though, and cut slots into the tongue of one catwalk to accommodate the roof rails. The result was satisfactory, though the tile pattern is slightly disrupted. The other option would be to simply cut out part of the roof railing—that could work just as well, and would allow the catwalk to connect to the roof piece without interrupting the roof’s tile pattern.
Like everything else in the Babylon kit, the catwalks come in 4″, 6″ and 8″ lengths. I found that in most instances, within the tight confines of an official Kill Team board, even the 6″ catwalks pushed the towers too far apart. I’ll definitely make a few 4″ catwalks before I actually play the game, to give myself more flexibility when setting up terrain for a skirmish.
This project has also given me a reason to go back through all the SF cardstock model kits on my hard drive that I’ve never had a reason to build. I have several from Dave Graffam, and a few from other sources, that could work well as minor outbuildings and other scatter terrain, much like the habs and cargo pods in this test set-up. Once I’ve had a chance to put some stuff together, I’ll devote a whole post to scatter terrain for this Kill Team set-up.
Work Still in Progress
I’m pretty pleased with the direction of this project so far. I have a nice mat and enough assembled terrain that I could host a Kill Team game tomorrow if I had to. But I definitely see opportunities to make it even better. I’ll add more Babylon pieces—building units, radio towers, and catwalks—to my collection to increase the flexibility of the major terrain feature. And I’ll assemble some other compatible SF cardstock buildings and scatter terrain to break up the open spaces between the Babylon buildings. Oh, and I’ve got two kill teams to finish painting!
Even so, the remaining work is really just icing on the cake. I’ve got enough done to see that this is definitely going to work, and work well. I can’t wait to show up at my home gaming club, or my FLGS, with this full Kill Team set-up ready to roll. I’ll be back in a few days to let you know how the project is progressing.
Until then, keep on printing, and keep on playing!