Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cheap Wargaming Terrain:

I’m always looking too find ways to make my gaming cost less; and by cost less I mean find cheaper supplies so I can buy more minis. Terrain is one of those things that you can pour a little, or a lot into and get varied results. I enjoy trying to find the most bang for my buck when it comes to this. It’s sort of a mini game for me, how much can I make with as little money as possible all while still making it look nice?
What’s one way of doing this? Well, let’s look at one thing you might do everyday.
Yes, what you see above you is a most sacred relic, the coffee pot. Contained within it is the means of producing the holy black liquid that we Americans all crave and desire, Coffee. Joking aside, let’s open it up and see what’s inside.
There we go, that’s the stuff. After serving it’s purpose coffee grounds are often tossed. Though, a quick google search will reveal lots of interesting (and some quite effective) uses for coffee grounds, such as in here:

But! This is a wargaming blog, and as such we’re hear to read stuff about wargaming! So, it hit me one day as I was about to toss the grounds, if I dried these, they’d make awesome ground cover! We grind our own coffee, so the grounds tend to be nice and small, perfect for basing at smaller scales like 15mm.

The only catch was to dry them. So we have two main sources of doing so: #1 The Sun
By putting them into a small metal pan and shaking it around so that it’s all distributed evenly, we can let the number one heat source on the planet use its free energy to do our bidding; It’s both primitive and green!  Letting that inner caveman or hippie give a victory cry is optional but encouraged.
You’ll want to use a metal pan here, as it will warm up faster and hotter then say, plastic. You’ll want to occasionally go out and stir or shake it around to make sure all of it dries evenly. Though, this option won’t work in some weather, such as rainy or snowy seasons. Which brings us to our second main option: The Stove
The bonus of the stove is that you can dry it effectively no matter what the temperature or weather outside is. Though it won’t be ‘free’ like the Sun is, so console your inner hippie and move on. While it will use up a little bit of resources, using the stove will usually be much faster unless you live in a hot, dry climate. Even so you want to make sure you open it up and stir it around so that everything dries evenly. You’ll want to make sure that it isn’t burning either. I haven’t really experimented much with temperature, so just keep an eye open and find what works best for you.
After they are done, I'’ll stick them into a sealed container to keep them safe (and preferably not spilled all over my floor or desk). As a last note, remember that coffee grounds are organic, so if they aren’t dried right mold will take to them and that could get nasty (and bad for your health.
The grounds are good for rough dirt, light gravel, and other such wasteland terrain. Try mixing different grounds together, or with sand for some differing terrain types. I generally glue them onto a base or piece of terrain, then seal with a black primer before I paint. So far it’s working ok!

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