Built in a Day: Dicky Boyd on his Gangs of Rome Table (part 1)

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming.

The success of War Banner’s Gangs of Rome owes at least a little to Sarissa Precision. Created especially for Gangs of Rome, their awesome Streets of Rome series of laser-cut terrain is at once both innovative and evocative, and it gives War Banner the perfect environment in which to frame—and focus attention on—this new game. Their buildings and terrain features transformed photographs into lush vistas, and videos into wide-screen epics.

With this in mind, when we at War Banner decided it was vital we had a kick-ass table at this year’s Salute, we knew Sarissa would be central to the table’s appeal. We also knew that, to get the very best out of Sarissa’s terrain, we needed a skilled model maker to build and paint not only Sarissa’s buildings, but also the table on which it would be featured.

Enter Dicky Boyd.

I met Dicky whilst demoing GoR at a shop in Blackburn. Already an active and vocal presence on the Gangs of Rome Facebook group, Dicky mused on the great possibilities for a versatile and exciting table that would demonstrate the possibilities of the game. It was then that Andy Hobday decided to see if he could make the dream a reality.

The rest, as they say, is history-cal wargaming.


 

The internet often gets a bad press, with trolls and other troublesome individuals often spoiling it for all and sundry.

For me, however, the internet also inspires and connects. Here is just one example:

Watching Gangs of Rome blossom via Facebook and YouTube not only served to grab my attention, but it also made me feel involved. The ability to interact with the people putting the game together made me feel involved, and it made me feel like I was part of a community. That sense of community created a desire to help; I guessed that, in a hobby dominated by the likes of Games Workshop and Warlord, a few guys working out of a small unit in Nottingham could always use an extra pair of hands. After a little digging I found where I could be of most use: designing and building a gaming table.

 The brief wasn’t that, well, brief. Further stipulations—little things like it had to be portable enough to be taken to shows all round the country—meant the project wasn’t as straightforward as you might think. The fact the table would make its debut at Salute only made it more challenging…

I saw the design of the table as a priority; it clearly needed to be a stage on which War Banner could act out the drama of the game. With theatre in mind I got to thinking of sets, and of drama, versatility and practicality. The concept developed around three separate 3×3′ tables at different heights that could bolt together in different configurations. They would need to be collapsable and, as the idea developed, provide storage in which to transport scenery and buildings. This meant I had to not only create a themed board, but a stage that could quickly change to whatever scenario was imagined.

As with most creatives, I find a good old doodle helps to get vague ideas, shapes and images down on paper. You can see from the pictures I duly did a lot of doodling!

Here you can see the foam board models I used to develop my ideas.

The three distinct levels are intended to provide a sense of drama and compliment Gangs of Rome’s concept of a layered, three dimensional environment on which to play . These tables’ 3×3′ playing areas are perfect for Deepcut’s superb Gangs of Rome mats.

As I grappled with which buildings to include on my boards it became evident Sarissa had provided me with so much scenery that to use it all would prevent the type of introductory game play required at shows. And yet I couldn’t decide which of the superb buildings to leave out; I wanted to use them all! Then I had an idea: how about using all that scenery in three different layouts throughout the day? All the scenery would be stored under the tables, and the demo team could reconfigure them every few hours?

I proposed this simple solution to War Banner and Sarissa, and they both loved it! I also made one further suggestion: what if – in the final hour of a show – everything was displayed at once, giving the modellers amongst us the prospect of a jam-packed Rome that would scream out to be photographed? They loved that idea too!

So far, so easy, right? Sure, but now I had a stack of doodles, boxes full of unmade laser-cut buildings, and a challenging deadline…

…What could possibly go wrong?


 

Long before he established Dicky Boyd Builds—a bespoke terrain building service for for gaming companies and individuals—Dicky’s first models were cut from card and coloured with felt tip pens. He progressed to Airfix kits in the 1970s, and discovered the mysterious world of role playing games in the 1980s.

Dicky has previously worked for private clients and companies in the wargaming industry (including War Banner!)


 

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About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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