The Tennent’s Whole/Part Hewery – Part Two

Hello and welcome back for the (somewhat belated) second instalment of The Tennent’s Whole/Part Hewery. In Part One, I unveiled the build for my new Sector Mechanicus board for Necromunda and talked through my layout decisions and the ups and downs of the assembly process. Today, I’m going to get into how I painted my Corpse Starch Plant terrain and how the build and layout evolved over time.

First things first, I knew that I wanted to use my Industrial 4’x4′ mat from UrbanMatz with this setup. This is the same mat that I use with my 3D printed Zone Mortalis and I’m honestly just in love with it. It’s got a great, non-descript industrial design that’s not too heavy on detail which gives you free reign to put whatever you want on top of it. I’d considered picking up some of the Zone Mortalis tiles from Games Workshop, but Neoprene is just nicer in so many ways – it’s cost saving, time saving and the soft, squishy surface can better tolerate millimetre differences in heights or imperfectly aligned surfaces than hard plastic.

No doubt influenced by the colours of the mat, I knew I wanted to go for a similarly grimy, rusted up kind of vibe for the colour scheme for the terrain on top of it. Thankfully, I found a very handy guide from Ana at Gardens of Hectate via Eric from Between the Bolter and Me. The scheme seemed simple and easy to replicate on masse and Eric even provides some handy photos on his blog post to show me roughly what to expect of this scheme on the Sector Mechanicus terrain itself. I deviated from the recipe very slightly, using oil washes instead of acrylic for a little extra control.

I started by spraying everything with black primer, followed by an opaque layer of Leadbelcher (later Steelforge Silver from Colour Forge when I ran out of my wishful thinking single can). Next, I sponged on some brown Acrylic paint (Pébéo Burnt Umber) with about 50-60% coverage, followed by a 50:50 mix of black and brown to about 25% coverage. This was washed with a mixture of Red, Brown, Mustard Yellow and a tiny bit of Green oil paint heavily thinned with Mineral Spirits. The excess was wiped off the surfaces and left to dry overnight before I came back in with a drybrush of cheap silver acrylic paint to pick out the edges again. Unfortunately, I went a bit too heavy on the silver here and lost some of the visual texture, so I went back and sponged in some brown and black again in select places where things were looking a bit too uniform and ‘painted’.

For the panelled areas – the Ferratonic Furnaces and Alcomite Stacks – I took a sponge and some Pébéo White acrylic paint and just sponged it on the flat areas about as close to the trim a I could take them without making a mess. At that point, I switched to an old miniature painting brush for a little more control and stippled on the white a little closer to the edge. In most cases, this still wouldn’t get me quite all the way to the corner, but I don’t really think that matters – since the paint was stippled on, it has a nice worn texture to it and it just looks as if it’s peeled or rusted off over time anyway. Once the white dried, I went over it with some Streaking Grime and wiped it off in a downwards motion to discolour the white, panel line the recesses and add a bit of grimey texture to it in a single step.

This process took about a day just to get through the sheer volume of plastic, but it was pretty fun to do and very little was especially strenuous. I just switched my brain off and ploughed on through. And that was pretty much it for 90% of the surface area on this terrain. Depending on how much terrain you have to get through vs how much you really care about tiny little details, I think you could absolutely stop there with this terrain. Games Workshop terrain kits are notorious for being absolutely packed with a million little details and I’m a firm believer that you absolutely do not have to paint them if you don’t want to. A wash and a drybrush does a good enough job of picking out all of the detail and it’s a completely valid stylistic choice to let these little details blend in with the rest of the terrain.

That’s what tried to tell myself anyway, but this line of reasoning was no match for the little voice in my head. It said “you paid all that money for this fancy detail, you might as well paint some of it.” So I did. Piece by piece, I found myself picking just one more little detail on this terrain.

My initial compromise was to paint all of the little screens and pick out all of the little fire extinguishers. Keypads and cables made sense to leave as bare metal – just look at an old school public telephone or an ATM keypad or something – but I figured the screens ought be coloured in, as should the chunky little fire extinguisher details. The painting was quick and effective – a layer of Dark Green, followed by a slightly smaller blob of of Mutation Green, a crescent of Intermediate Green and a smaller crescent with a tiny bit of white added. Some Biel Tan Green wash in the recess and the screen as done. The Fire Extinguishers were even easier, just being a layer of Flesh Tearers Red contrast over the bare metal.

I was happy with this compromise at first. Happy enough that I decided to take the vast majority of the photos of the terrain at this point. Yet, I still found myself discontented. I left the terrain up after the photoshoot for about a week, hoping to get a trial game of Necromunda on it before I disassembled everything for the attic. While I did not manage to schedule a game, I spent an unhealthy amount of time reviewing my work. Slowly, more and more little unpainted details started to irritate me. It started with the little skulls in the alcoves of certain platform legs, but over time more and more details would bother me. I thought some of the cabling should be a different colour from the rest. Little gas containers should really be red like the fire extinguishers. Surely the Mechanicum symbols would look 1000x better if they were picked out in black/white? What about all those little dials, why were they just bare metal like the rest? Even the keypads that I had happily reasoned were fine in metal, my wife pointed out how unpainted they looked and suddenly it was all that I could see. Detail after detail, I found myself buckling and painting.

Additional details visible in this picture are the little black/white Mechanicum badges, yellow keypads, metallic black hanging cables, and candy red “plasma” in the pipes.

The skulls were easy. Two coats of Elfic Flesh and some Streaking Grime to shade them afterwards. Wipe some off after it dries and you’re done. Likewise, the gas canisters nested in the legs, I picked those out with Flesh Tearers Red just like the fire extinguishers. Corrugated conduits I picked out with Black Legion Contrast paint – a very handy tool here as it was quick and easy to apply, opaque enough to only need one coat but not so opaque that the cables looked completely flat afterwords. Some of the thicker cables I drybrushed with bright silver, helping distinguish them from the multitudes of thinner, rusted cables that I didn’t bother picking out. For the various dials on barriers and struts, I base coated the faces white, picked out the needle with Flesh Tearers Red and quickly shaded them with a thinned down Streaking Grime wash before picking out the edge of dial with a bit of silver to restore some definition. Valves and little pipe switches I’d quickly pick out with one coat of Flesh Tearers Red. Finally I base coated the keypads in Filthy Brown, picked out the keys with some small dots of Elfic Flesh and washed the whole thing with Seraphim Sepia.

Visible here are the silver and metallic black hanging conduits, a couple tiny little dials, the nested skulls, some red valves and gas containers.

All of these details together added a couple extra days of painting to the process, but I’m pleased with what a big difference they make to the overall piece together. There’s probably hundreds of these details that I’ve painted that no-one will ever see – on legs hidden under platforms in the centre of the board or in other hard to reach areas that only the miniatures themselves would ever get a good look at – but I think that’s almost the point. You wouldn’t miss any one of these details if I’d never bothered to paint them – but the knowledge that if you were to crouch down and look closer at any point on this board, there would be some little hand painted detail you didn’t notice before gives the whole thing a greater sense of scale and adds to the immersion. It’s a stretch goal, for sure, but one that’s definitely worth doing if you have the time and inclination.

This one mainly illustrates the white dial faces with red needles.

But, of course, my tinkering didn’t stop there. At this point, I’d started to put some serious consideration into actually playing games on the board – and for the first time, it really hit home to me how completely inaccessible the ground floor was. I’d been so preoccupied on making an interesting, interconnected and accessible multi-story Sector Mechanicus structure that it hadn’t really occurred to me to pay attention to the ground floor. It was only after trying to put some terrain pieces down there that I realised just how much I’d really backed myself into a corner here. There wasn’t really a lot to do done about this at this point in terms of making the ground floor more playable, but I figured that something could still be done to make the little pockets of ground floor both more isolated to at least discourage players from trying to move models between them – and perhaps make the board make a little more narrative sense while I’m in the area.

This one shows the black/white Mechanicum badges painted on the Ferratonic Furnaces. The lenses on these badges were also painted candy red and the control panel next to the doors had their buttons and screen picked out.

The first problem area was the platform that the Void Shield Generator sits upon. This was probably the most egregious platform on the whole build; the large amount of support struts underneath it and it’s location as the lowest point in the centre of the board meant that it would be an incredible pain to try and move miniatures underneath it of it – making it all the more tempting of a location for any less than sporting player to stick an objective or hide a VIP. Additionally, it felt weird to me on a narrative level that there’s this huge Void Shield Generator terrain sitting atop some scaffolding, not connected to anything on the ground floor. It felt like a platform for the sake of having a platform – like it was only there to help show off the cool piece of scenery that sits atop it.

To solve this problem, I added a pair of Alchomite Stacks and an array of piping underneath the platform. This helped to make the underside inaccessible for miniatures, blocks line of sight to other areas on the ground floor and – perhaps most importantly – makes it feel like there was some machinery was powering the device that sat atop, or at least processing it’s waste.

The underside of the largest central platform, now bustling with pipes and reactors powering the Void Shield Generator that sits atop it.

There was another, smaller platform on the ground floor at the south-eastern part of the plant that was similarly just acting as a platform to raise up a Haemotrope Reactor. To give this platform a little more purpose in life, I built a tangle of pipes – purposefully obtuse and bendy so as to block as much line of sight and access for miniatures as I could – running down from the underside of the platform where the exhaust from the reactor points downward. This then trails across the ground floor, eventually connecting to the other Haemotrope Reactor with a little control unit behind it. I felt like this helped better justify the locations of both reactors, as well as helping to block off more of the ground floor level to discourage moving miniatures across it.

It’s a small detail, but I also added a little pipe exhaust to the side of the Ferratonic Furnace that was being used as a corpse starch storage vat on the western side of the first floor. It’s a tiny little detail really, but it was important to me that this vat was connected to something rather than just sitting there on it’s own – particularly given that this Furnace was added in the first place to make sense of one of the 2nd floor gantries. I think a pipe going into the ground implies that the starch is pumped into it via pipes under the table, which at least explains how it makes its way into the vat in the first place.

Finally, I decided to go back and repaint the two standalone Alchomite Stack pieces that were sitting loose in the little nooks on the ground floor. At this point, literally everything other piece of machinery was painted in the new rusty metal and grimy white scheme and they were looking a little out of place at this point. Fortunately, this scheme is remarkably quick and painless to bang out and – without a whole boards worth of pieces to repeat it on – these were repainted in only an hour or so (excluding drying time).

And with that, the Tennent’s Whole/Part Hewery was finally ‘complete’. I put complete in quotes here because – if this meandering blog post hasn’t already made it clear – I am still consistently compelled to go back, tinker and add to this terrain set. As I write this, it’s been a month or two since I finished painting this behemoth and I’ve even managed to take it out for a few games. Experience gaming on it has taught me a lot of lessons and I’ve gotten a few ideas here and there about how to improve things.

While not quite what I’m suggesting for my proposed ‘packing and fulfilment area’ expansion, this was one of the layouts that my friends came up with over the weekend for the flat ground playing area. In this particular game, our gang leaders were having a face off in a small 2×2 area (hence the wall of crates and pipes). You can kind of get the idea with the extended crane however.

For a weekend of Necromunda, my friends decided to set up the board on a 6’x4′ version of the neoprene mat and we used the extra space to set up a second playing area so that we could play two games simultaneously – the second area’s terrain being arranged in a more traditional flat ground layout. Before long, we learned that it was much more fun to play on the plant half by treating plant itself a 3’x3′ play area instead of going all the way to the board edges – as a lot of time was wasted climbing ladders and getting up top. This encouraged us to move the whole plant closer to the short edge of the board, freeing up more space for the second play area. We extended the gantry leading to the Crane until it was comfortably in this second area and filled that area with pipes, crates and Munitorum Armoured Containers, building on the idea that this part of the board was the ‘packing and fulfilment area’ of the plant.

I really liked this idea – not only because it’s exciting to me to expand the boundaries of this fictional corpse starch plant, but it’s incredibly practical as well. Playing exclusively on a rigid Sector Mechanicus structure is fun, but it does very much limit the kind of games you’re going to get to play – as well as making certain wargear upgrades like the clip harness a no brainer. It’s nice to have another area that’s a little more abstract, making it easier to shake up the layout between games. Additionally, Necromunda is very much a campaign game and one that benefits greatly from having a few players around to enjoy it. Being able to run two concurrent games on a 6’x4′ area means less downtime for multiple players and more time spent gaming before I have to go through the rigamarole of tearing everything down and putting it back into storage in my attic. It’s an added bonus that the whole table winds up looking like one consistent area rather than two separate boards.

With all that in mind, I think I’d like to spend a little time expanding on the packing and fulfilment areas in the future – I think this would be a nice excuse to get a Cargo-8 Ridgehauler with a couple of trailers as well as a couple boxes of Promethium Refuelling Stations. Additionally, with the realisation that the ground floor is pretty much inacessible, I’m coming around to the idea that it might not be the worst idea ever to add another floor to the plant itself. Nothing nearly as expansive as the 1st or 2nd floors, but I could perhaps add another full sized floor to the towers and connect those directly across the middle of the board. Maybe something to think about down the line.

In the meantime, I’m getting way behind on this blog and I think it’s about time I revealed my Necromunda Outcast gang – hopefully I can get that post out a little faster than this one.

Until then, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!

3 thoughts on “The Tennent’s Whole/Part Hewery – Part Two

  1. I really appreciate your stick-to-itiveness, that came out fantastically and well worth the extra effort. My group has been throwing around the idea of getting into necromunda and I’ll be sending this around to everyone for inspiration!

    1. Thanks Nic, that means a lot!

      I must say, I’ve really been enjoying the modern remake so far. Once you get over the initial hurdle of the somewhat crunchy rules, the games really fly in and there’s so much potential for fun, immersive moments. At points, it feels as much a spiritual successor to Inquisitor as it does Necromunda.

  2. I’ve seen the updates on your xitter, but it’s very interesting to have a more in depth writeup along the pics.
    Necromunda is the GW I enjoy the most and your terrain is truly impressive!
    I still think you could turn this into a great sump derrick, instead of (or in addition to) adding another level on top adding a “ground floor” of piers and pontoons, with a sump barge or two.

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