Math is not your friend…

But Math does run the universe, and therefore, the Underhive…
Before I get up to speed on my (slightly larger than I realized…) Zone Mortalis scenery project, I thought I’d just finish up a few more ‘add-on’ pieces for my Sector Mechanicus stuff.
While it is true that many scenic elements can be used in either setting, I want at least a dozen dedicated pieces for each. Those Games Workshop kits are really something, allowing for quick, easy, and super cool looking structures without the time of building them from scratch.

A side note here on DIY (Do It Yourself…if you didn’t know). Necromunda has always, and will always require an element of DIY for my satisfaction. The game came into being way back before there was a huge consumer market behind the industry and players were required, nay, wished to build great sweeping future-scapes out of any old junk. Toilet rolls, pop cans, those fancy little strawberry containers, you name it, if you can make it look like rusty metal it is usable. The last two articles were mostly me just painting and assembling but don’t worry, I have that DIY itch…and my folding money is going to disappear at a slower rate this way as well.

I am naturally lazy and will look for the simplest, easiest solution whenever possible. Knowing this about myself can be helpful. I’ve put in ‘maximum’ effort on these first few bits, trying multiple effects, using more colours than I normally would…all because I know I’ll simplify the process next batch and the batch after that and so on. Also, for a little extra crumminess why not add some graffiti? Again, old nerds paint their own, but this time I used transfers from Games Workshop, Warlord Games, and Blair Line (model railroading stuff can be pressed into service as well) and couldn’t be happier with the results. Specific taunts and jabs will no doubt be painted on once we start playing.

With these pieces finished, gaming in the Underhive can begin! The density of terrain begins to please me. Also, custom Gor Half-Horn FTW!

The Underhive boxed set comes with nine double-sided card tiles, representing various locations of the hive city you will be fighting in. Each tile has blacked-out areas, representing the industrial walls. For some reason, I have no problem imagining little guys fighting in a spacey future world, but I just can’t imagine a wall that isn’t there. Job one is to fix that. Many fine companies have made stand-in walls for this same reason but rather than purchase some, I’m hopeful that I can find most of what I need in my never diminishing Bits Box.

There are three types of spaces to be covered on these tiles: a long and short rectangle and a square. These shapes are the same on all tiles, so, interchangeable pieces with a standardized footprint are what I want. I picked up a couple packs of gridded plasticard and made as many of the aforementioned shapes as possible. Now, with three piles of plasticard in front of me, I have questions: How many of each piece will I need? How many tiles do I need for a game? How many pieces of each kind do I need to cover all the tiles? Math questions that should have been answered at this point…but weren’t.

I favour a math-less life, wherever possible, and with the realization that I have a pile that needs building and only so much time, I better just get going. I can figure out later how this is the incorrect approach…less correct, would be a kinder way to say it. Still, if a fella does too much math, he may never get started…

While I was doing all that other stuff, Kris 3d printed me up these shipping crates which will fill fifteen of those square spaces. This isn’t the old west of hobbyland any more folks!

The Underhive boxed set comes with various wall sections, doors, and scatter terrain, which is the logical place to begin. I’ll keep a few pieces back for now as they will fit between the (as yet, non-existent…) walls for variety. The rest will be combined with old models, various cast-off parts, MDF and regular plastic sprue, junk and pretty much anything else that will look appropriate and fill space. I am starting to get a rusted-out post-apocalyptic debris-world feel so far. Remember the planet of junk on Transformers: The Movie? I know you do. I want that.

The guiding principle is simple really; make an eclectic scrap heap. With that in mind, it’s time to gather the materials. After a thorough raiding of several Bits Boxes (thanks Cam and Chris) the bigger pieces were glued down to plasticard first, followed by the medium ones, then on to the smaller bits. Once I had bulked out the majority of each piece I started adding old model sprue as barricades/fences. This was all then tied together by stringing some barbed wire between the poles. Finally, a liberal dash of skulls and the first dozen(ish…) pieces are built.

When painting Necromunda stuff I strive for partial to low competency. I am sloppy and stabby with my brush and sponges. Any mistakes, if you can call them that, will be hidden or gone over with rust or stain. I tried to stay with mostly red, yellow, black, and silver but felt free to use ample Nihilakh Oxide for a nice bit of blue. Everything is stained, at least once and rust is heavily applied. For maximum variety, I stippled on brown and orange paint with a sponge as well as flicking rust powder onto pieces and also spot paint with rust paint. This changes in amount per individual piece and they are done when they look done to me…

The excitement was palpable…for a while at least. Once the painting was finished I set up the new pieces on some tiles and discovered, much to my horror, that I was going to need waaaaay more. So that was it then, batch building, followed by batch painting. I had to go a bit farther afield than my toys and ended up using assorted ‘non-gaming’ bits. Again: crust it and rust it and no one will know. In real-time this took around a month and a half, roughly two hours a day to complete and I’m super happy with the results.

If you gotta be backed into a corner, this one looks neat…
The smokestacks are made from Vitamin C pill and pre-rolled cannabis containers. Recycle that stuff bro.
What beast wouldn’t love a lair like this? Old 40K wall and tank bits finally used…

The real secret to my success on this project, other than tenacity, was chunking up the work into bite-sized pieces. I would be simultaneously building and painting around a dozen pieces at a time and just rolling out another dozen as I finished up the first. It was a great way to thin out the old bits box, which hasn’t seen a hit like this since Mordheim! That shows how excited I am about getting into Necromunda again.

The Underhive is a mashup of different eras of machinery (and competence…) and batch painting provided me the opportunity to accomplish this with ease. Each batch received a slightly different paint job…partly by design and partly because it is easier than remembering exactly what I did last time. Then, once I had amassed all the pieces that I needed, I picked out around a dozen and gave them a good going over with graffiti transfers.

I was so excited working on the Zone Mortalis scenery that I finished off the first of my gang: The Nasty Boys

Then all the pieces were gone through a final time and all terminals or screens were painted green, these will represent working terminals in-game. Finally, a double-check for unpainted skulls, screens, and other interest bits that I might have missed. One final application of assorted decals, if a good empty spot presented itself, and finally a gloss coat, a dull coat and finished…for now. No doubt I’ll end up making some more scatter scenery at some future stage, but this is enough to get playing in both settings. Now I have a place to do some gang fighting, and I’ve managed to finish up my starting gang, plus a few extras as well. Next month, let’s look at how to approach the building, costing, painting, and generally ‘getting ready’ for the hostility that must surely follow.

-Uncle Mike

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