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Thursday, November 16, 2017

WWX Watcher Hive, The Mountain

Warcradle Studios commissioned me to build a table for their their Wild West Exodus miniatures game. The "Watcher Hive" was a pretty ambitious concept, involving a 4' x4' board representing the hive interior, lit with LED lighting, and a separate board representing the mountain exterior around the hive.


Today, we'll take a look at the mountain exterior:


The Watchers are a faction of aliens in the universe of Wild West Exodus. They use portals to move around, and their hive houses a large portal at the core of the mountain, and a few smaller exit portals.



On most projects, I can just jump right in and start building things, but I needed to work out how all the parts would fit together, and how much room I had to arrange all of the components for the layout of the interior. I made a small mock-up with card stock and foam, at a scale of one foot to one inch.


These are the two boards and how they will fit together.


The mountain exterior is based on the Devil's Tower in Wyoming, famous for its appearance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The top of the tower is removable, so the Watcher's large portal will be visible with the mountain "blasted" away.



With all the details worked out, I began the full-size construction. This is was my life felt like for the next few weeks as I worked on the mountainside and the "Devil's Tower" mesa:



"This is important... This means something."


The mountain was built from pink insulation foam, stacked and cut with a knife to create the striated layering effect. I didn't take any progress shots of the mountain construction, but you can see the process I used in my terrain tutorial: Desert Mesas.



The tower was done the same way, only with vertical layers and cuts instead of horizontal ones. Wood filler putty was used to fill the gaps. This shot shows the tower before I made the cuts to separate its top.


Everything was coated with wood glue to reinforce it, and then painted using the same colors and process used in the terrain tutorial: Painting the Desert Mesas.



I added multiple horizontal cracks to break up the surface and to prevent the join between the two parts from being so obvious. The seam between the top and bottom appears as just another crack in the surface.


Here's the blasted top of the mountain. The top portion has pegs that pin it in place. The peg holes are barely visible in the surface below.


Next I built some small portal frames to fit in the openings in the mountainside. They were cut from foam core board, with styrene U-strips to frame the edges.


After spraying them silver and adding some blue and white highlights and weathering, I fit the portals into the openings, with a flat black card behind them to represent the dark void inside the portal.


The finished mountainside:









With the tower removed, the exposed portal is visible. Coming up, I'll talk about the interior of the hive itself.


'Til next time!


  1. That's amazing. Terrific work.

  2. Amazing! But the best part is the tiny little test model! wow, that is incredible.

  3. Gorgeous. Rob, do you have any guidelines towards making sure your terrain is playable or are these primarily display boards? I'm hesitant to tackle large projects like this for fear they won't be game-friendly once complete.

    1. Just make sure that there's plenty of space for models to move and stand. If you're making sloped hills, make sure they're no too steep, or have "bumps" or steps that will prevent models from sliding down. It helps to keep a model on hand for spacing and scale while you're working.


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