Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Realm of Battle: Triumph and Despair and...

Man vs. Realm of Battle Day two: So I went to bed Saturday feeling reasonably confident that I had redirected what was very nearly a tremendously lackluster board toward something quite nice (pictured above). The dirt areas were looking rich, dynamic, and finished, certainly; I would have been happy to leave the stone areas at that point as well. My wife, who only rarely contributes on these matters, felt that I’d nailed it. Done.

I didn’t listen to her. I should have.

Here’s what happened. After setting up my mock scene, I noted with peculiar interest that the only bits of grass on it were the ones that happened to be underneath the feet of my models. That seemed odd. Suddenly, I had convinced myself that the board looked bare compared to the bases I had made for my models. Moreover, GW had kindly provided two sets of Static Grass for just such an occasion. As surely as 2+2=4, I knew what route I should take. Sunday was another beauty, so I rolled up my sleeves, stepped back out onto the roof, and back into the desperate struggle against my blossoming board.

The project got off to a bad start. Static Grass is a mare –an absolute, unashamed mare. I’m not certain if I’d bought a bad batch, or if this is how it normally arrives, but the grass in the large bag had clumped together in a truly bizarre tumbleweed-dustbowl manner. I don’t really know what happened there, but it was awful.

Still, I pressed forward…

…and very quickly realized that it was all going horribly, horribly wrong. Not one to let that deter me (and with a head full of yesterday’s conceit), I convinced myself that I should send caution to the wind and, rather than retreat, dive even deeper into the matter at hand. I ignored the voice in my head that said, “Hand me the shovel. Step away from the hole.”

At Adepticon, I had purchased a lovely flocking set from Gale Force Nine, which I dutifully enlisted for these desperate times. If the static grass from GW was too static, I reasoned, then I would simply let some more dynamic and aggressive product fill that space. I think, at that point, I was beginning to panic. I worked like a man possessed… and I stopped thinking almost entirely (in retrospect, I was acting like that terribly boorish oaf who speaks more loudly when people don’t understand what he’s saying). I SAID, I NEED TO PUT MORE STATIC GRASS ON THE TABLE, NOT LESS… like that. It was a terrible hobby moment.


My desperation was neither working nor helping. Moreover, the direct sun and ample wind that was such a boon Saturday was, in fact, a curse on Sunday -drying some areas before I could even get grass to those areas, and blowing the rest of the grass anywhere but to the spot I would have liked it. This was not only going wrong, but it was going permanently wrong. The tumbleweed was dismantling my hours of work one crazy splotch at a time.

I’ll be completely candid here. I thought about selling the table right then –ebay maybe. I don’t know. I’d even take a loss and use the money to start over. I even considered just giving it away. Remember Vinnie Jones from yesterday.

I came inside and assembled the table as I had the previous day in an attempt to see what it might look like in less abstract situation. What’s worse than despair? I took the shopvac to it in order to pry up any last bit of loose grass. No luck. The grass was down in all its hideousness. I couldn’t bear to think of what the table looked like the day before in comparison to what I’d done to it now.

…I took the dog for a walk
…I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t all that bad, but nothing had changed by the time I returned.

But I had an idea. Once again, it was desperate, but I genuinely felt that I had nothing to lose at this point. So I filled a bucket with scalding hot water, armed myself with a sponge and a rag, and scrubbed… and scrubbed… and scrubbed.

Remember the “concentrated water color” from yesterday that made the table look subtle, rich, and interesting? That was the first to go: water color and hot water. It was a calculated sacrifice that I was willing to make.

Slowly but slowly, the grass started to come up. Several buckets of hot water later, and I could see that I might have a table once more liberated from the dreary horrors of static grass. The question remained, however, how much paint would stay? I scrubbed. Nothing to lose.

It didn’t end there. At one point, I was really quite startled as the two flat pieces began to warp from the sun and water. Seriously? Warping? I consoled myself by repeating the words, “ebay” and/or “giveaway,” and pressed forward.

In the end, the grass lost -but not without first inflicting some serious casualties on my end. The water color was gone. The warping seemed to have corrected itself, but I spent several moments terrified that not only had I ruined my hard work, but that I had actually ruined the entire, expensive project. Thankfully, in the end, the board had returned to a state not entirely dissimilar to the point at yesterday’s post when I exclaimed, “Despair.” But at this point, I felt quite lucky to be there.

One note: My scrubbing took a fair bit of paint up along with the glue and grass; however, I'm absolutely amazed at how much paint stayed down. This is a testament to quality of the product, no doubt, and gives me some confidence that this board will stand up to the rigors of gameplay when/if that time comes.

Is this the end of my Realm of Battle Saga? Not a chance. See you Thursday for day three of the classic confrontation Man vs. Realm of Battle.


sonsoftaurus said...

Oh, man that sucks! Hope you manage to get it back to a point where you're happy with it.

Tuck it away as a learning experience, you're a better hobbyist for having gone through it.

The Dark Templar said...

Ahhh B, I was starting to feel sick to my stomach for you!! How will it end?!

I've been there on occasion, but not with something so big or expensive. Fair play to you for pulling it back - though I thought you would know by now "your wife is always right" - I'm still in denial but my wife constantly proves me wrong!

Da Masta Cheef said...

And it looked so good after day 1, and still pretty good post-static grass. its kinda like a train wreck, can't look away...

Despite the disaster in your eyes, I'm impressed with all of your photos/documentation of the project. In that situation, the camera would have been the last thing on my mind!

Scott said...

What an epic struggle. Looking foreward to how this all ends...

RPiazza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RPiazza said...

Man I appreciate you sharing this I am working through my board on the weekends. Less can be more. I felt like my board was lacking something and asked my wife she said it looked great I went with her opinion and when I look at it now I agree. Sometimes you need to put a project away and come back to it to get some distance to see what's really there. All told I think you'll be fine in the end hang in there.

Grizzled Gamer said...

I think I am having sympathy pains.

I am extremely impressed that you:
1.) Continued to document the process
2.) Were able to salvage what was looking like an Exxon Valdez Crisis.

I am looking forward to the next episode in the hopes that you pull this off. I am eager to see the finished board.

As for the wife, I learned the listen to wife lesson long ago...
...doesn't mean I always remember that lesson though!!!!

oni said...

Great write up. I think your board turned out incredibly well.

Dverning said...

Avidly looking forward to Thursday...

Thank you for documenting both your successes AND your failures. It's how we all learn from the process.

Though now you have me wanting to build a RoB board of my own. Oh, my poor wallet...

Brian said...

Thanks everyone.

@ Sons, definite learning curve on this one.

@ DTemplar. I think this is precisely what made it so frustrating for me, not just time and effort and more time and more effort, but spending that much money on the board as well... It's the magnitude of the failure.

@ Cheef, I've been keeping the camera right next to my work table, but this project went on for so long, it seemed impossible to absolutely "forget" to take photos -although I considered it at the worst moments.

@ Scott, it's been dramatic.

@ Piazza. You are a much wiser (and more patient) man than I. It's just that I get a bit carried away with my enthusiasm sometimes.

@ Magilla. It was a disaster, wasn't it. ugh. Still learning on all fronts.

@ Oni. you are too kind.

@ Dverning, I definitely want to bring the "warts and all" mentality to this blog. There's simply no point pretending that I don't fail at this hobby often and spectacularly. It's just that I've never done so with such magnitude before (at least not since the blog started, ahem)...

All: See you Thursday for the final results. To be completely candid, I didn't even know for certain when I started with the first post on Monday as "day three" was actually Monday itself... In fact, I'm still not certain about one important aspect, but should know by this time tomorrow...

The suspense is killing me.

RPiazza said...

One thing to note is I looked up those Dr Martin concentrated water colors that gave you those rich tones. They are popular with airbrushing. In my own board in progress I have used an airbrush so I will be trying these myself after seeing your effects. Using an airbrush on the board was a lot of fun for anyone who might be wondering about it.

Brian said...

Thanks Piazza. The two colors that worked best for me on the board were the Amber (orangish) color and Purple -mixed together. They're not joking about the word "concentrated" with the Purple. It tends to want to dominate any mixture I put it in. With each, a little goes a long way.

I've never tried airbrushing, but I'm really impressed with the results I've seen from it. Some day, Iwould really like to give it a bash. Also, I'd love to see how your table turns out.