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Modular Urban Board Project Log 6: Repainting the Stupid Sanctum

In mid-2021 I ran face first into a metaphorical brick wall of demotivating architecture. I was never happy with either the look or the efficiency of my original paint job on the Sanctum Administratus, and stalled badly on getting enough of it done to make it a truly useful addition to my terrain collection as a whole, and consequently my modular urban board project in particular. The whole thing rattled to a halt.

The original paint job: both too rusty and too clean.

Some time later, the Fronteris terrain range came out, and the fast method I developed for painting that stuff was a joy. In the last few months, keen to clear out lingering work-in-progress projects, my eye settled on the stupid, half-finished modular ruin I'd built from 3 sanctum administratus kits. That was a lot of investment sunk into something that wasn't finished enough to be useful (I'd only ever fully painted the intact sections, so it was essentially just a giant urban hill rather than something you could interact with all that well). And I thought about my Fronteris painting method. And I thought: yeah, that could work. It just required me to sack up and spray prime over the top of a paint job that took me hours.

Thus began the rattling of cans.

Sure, it was still a big heap of building to paint, but you know what? It was orders of magnitude less onerous, and the results provide a much better backdrop to one's army (since the dark browns a pale creams of the previous scheme works like distruption camo when photographing minis on it). After three years in the doldrums, it looks like cityfight's back on the menu.

The finished repaint

Achieving modularity

Now that I've got all four sections painted (two intact, two ruined) I can at last show off the modularity of the way I built it. Each section is four wall panels wide and two deep, and can fit to any other single section. Additionally, the lights fitted atop some of the columns serve as locator lugs to help secure sections when stacked on top of each other, enabling multi-storey layouts. If and when I make more sections of this stuff, I'll be able to have even taller structures.

The four 2x4 modular sections

Another key part of the build process was experimentally moving minis around inside the structure to check it was easy enough. That's one of the reasons for having a 4x4 building, and also the reason the floors were designed by the studio at 5" tall - that way, it's far easier to reach inside and move stuff during a game.

The other challenge of making a modular, stackable ruin was to ensure no doors end up halfway up a wall. That's why one of the intact sections is a W-shape rather than a U-shape, so that the doors essentially open out onto a balcony of sorts. If I build more sections, that one will always have to be the top floor. I'll build more like it, but with a roof over the cutout section so that the floors above still work.

Another layout

What next for the board?

It's a toss up between more of this stuff, or more paving slabs. I think the paving slabs are the priority, as I have some serviceable Cities of Death ruins that'll do for now, but we'll see where the hobby butterfly leads me.

For now, though, I'm going to keep hacking away at those sundry projects lying half-finished on my workstation. Anything between the states of 'on sprue' and 'finished' lives rent-free in my brain, and I've been having a good spring clean. With these ruins, that's the last of my half-finished terrain gone. Clearing the conceptual workbench like this feels really, really good.


  1. well, I loved the original paint job, but being able to use the modularity is much better than having a single "hill" that looks great (although as mentioned it is hard for photography, since the stars of the show are supposed to be the little dolls, not the doll house).

    I see why you were not able to add the detritus now though, there is no "floor" or where ever to add it to now that the pieces are modular. (although I did see a tip about er, 20 years ago, about making little wedge pieces of terrain to blend the building into the table, which would work nicely for rubble (the original idea was for snow))

    1. Thanks mate. Yeah drop in rubble sections is on my stretch goal list, so time will tell! 😊

    2. Luke's APS has a video about adding rubble to ruins but keeping them modular. The rubble piles act as 'floor' when the piece is stacked:

    3. Good old Luke. Thanks mate, there's some good ideas there 👍


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