Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TerrainLinx Build Review

I posted a preview video for this system a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of the release. I bought it immediately from the WorldWorks website, as it had not yet been released on Paizo or RPGNow, which is where I buy most of my pdfs. I started off doing a timeline of my build, but to be honest I am not very good at keeping up with such things. I worked on this over the course of a week, in the evenings and a Sunday afternoon. In all I would say I spent roughly 14 hours, most of which was spent watching some television as I did so. I rarely devote my full attention to projects like this, instead choosing to use it to fill my hands as I watch or listen to something else.

5:50 PM Monday 9/7/09

I began by printing seven 6x6 base mounting forms, a couple of linx tabs pages, and two 3x3 base mounting pages. This was just enough to cover the piece of scrap foamcore I happened to have. I use framing foamcore, which I buy at Hobby Lobby. It is denser than most of the product you will find in office supply stores or on the shelf in most arts and crafts places. I would soon find out that it was also thinner than WorldWorks designed for.

6:00 PM
I use a Fiskar's brand paper cutter for most of my bulk work. I am pretty good at freehanding straight lines, but the convenience of this cutter was well worth the $25 Mrs. Doombringer paid for it. I cut through the excess on these pages in about 5 minutes. Each 6x base had a 3x6 base on the same page. This was just my first batch, so my only goal was to make enough to fill the half sheet of foamcore. Printing and cutting took a grand total of 20 minutes. First cuts always take a little time as I insure which lines are actually the cut lines and which are the spacers.

6:21 pm
WorldWorks suggests printing these forms on adhesive 8.5x11 label sheets. This would have the effect of reducing glue time and avoiding spray glue, but to me seems expensive. I like using 3M's Super 77 spray, pictured above. I have used several others, and while it is a tad more expensive has several benefits. Firstly it is not as affected by humidity in my experience as some of the other products on the market, and secondly a single, even coat has always been sufficient. It's extremely low water content makes warping negligible and I have never had an issue with ink bleed through. In Houston's humidity the low water content and humidity resistance are really important.

6:27 pm
This is my extremely fancy glue station in the garage. Key factor in spraying anything is to be sure that the glue or paint is properly shaken. I find that the length of time necessary to have a smoke is a perfect timer. Please, don't try this at home I could blow up any day now.

This process took less than 10 minutes, including laying out the pieces and burnishing the pages to help insure a smooth layout.
6:40 take a break for dinner, and to allow the spray glue to cue for a while. It sets almost immediately, but I like to give it at least 20 minutes before cutting on it.

Cutting the foamcore was by far the longest part of this process. I tried out a new device I'd recently bought, a freehand FoamWerks brand cutter that would allow better 45 degree cuts and straight cuts. The packaging claims that it works with any straight edge, and I had given it a few test cuts on smaller projects already. This would be my first use of it in any significant way. You can see the cutter pictured below. My current verdict is that the blade is not sufficient to my needs. First I had issues with the blade sliding up as I made my cuts, secondly the blade is not strong enough for single pass cutting. With a hand blade one should make a minimum of three cuts in foamcore*, but with a cutter I expect to be able to make single pass cuts. Also, because of the way the cutter is designed working with a steel ruler is not exact enough. The blade sits out 1/4 inch from the base, which means that one must estimate a quarter of an inch of spacing back from the cut line. This is too imprecise for me. I may consider trying this once again with the actual cutting guide designed for it, but right now I don't have a high opinion of the device.

I did a test cut of a single piece of foamcore to make the sure the sizing would be correct to fit into a folded paper floor tile. I found that the instructions were a little imprecise on this point, and my thought on which should be trimmed was correct, had I followed the instructions to the letter as I read it, it would have been oversized by a half inch on one side. Easy fix. Scoring, folding, gluing and burnishing the first piece took almost a half hour. It seems like a long time, but whenever I build my first example of a model I'm extra careful. This is where I found the problem with my foamcore. Since my foamcore is slightly thinner the under folds have to made to match the paper and not the line of the foamcore. When burnishing I found that this caused the outer edges to buckle outward slightly and raise up so that the surface had a slight lip to it. While not the original design I found this solution to be workable and gave a nice organic feel, without looking like I was covering a mistake.

Cutting the remaining foamcore bases, cutting, scoring and folding the tiles, as well as cutting the initial batch of linx bases took the remainder of the night. In all I did six more 6x6, nine 6x3, and 4 3x3 sets. This left only gluing to complete the first batch.

I stopped right at 10:05 PM

Gluing and burnishing took me another hour the next day. I didn't keep track of time, but I spent a total of three hours between watching TV and on commercial breaks and managed to get another batch prepped. This brought my total to 20 6x6 pieces and a couple more of the 3x6. I just could not bring myself to cut more 3x6 foamcore pieces and kept those scraps in my papercraft binder for future use. Should they be needed.

Sunday I printed and folded the special tab walls. I made a selection of 20 walls split equally between 3 and 6 inches. Mrs. Doombringer helped me edge them with brown sharpie. Total build time was nine hours.

Below you can see the example layout I did as well as an example building created with the wall pieces.

In review I think the design is solid. I find the wall pieces to be well designed, and the floor tiles to be more than adequate for city based gaming. This ties in well with my current Crimson Throne campaign. It is an elegant solution to the linkage issue that Worldworks has been trying to perfect, and it would not be hard to alter previous designs to work with this new design. Some minor photoshop work and one could "linx" most of the sets they have produced over the years. It is a little more time consuming than the previous designs, but this design has the benefit of being more durable. Having glue under the surface of the face, as well as the underside gives the piece better endurance during play, and I expect to see less peeling at the edges.

* I will admit that I rarely use the three cut method. I did framing once upon a time and I am fairly adept as slicing through on a single pass. When using the right kind of blade and willing to dispose of them regularly one can save a lot of time with strong deft strokes.

No comments:

Post a Comment