Saturday, August 27, 2016

Arena Rex - making the arena (Part 1)

A new game has swept onto the scene at the local game store: Arena Rex.

It's a fast and furious game of arena combat between various mythical factions and beasts. There is NO ranged combat - it's all close in and personal!

So, what does the game require in terms of terrain- an arena, of course! Filled with plenty of traps, hazards and other dangers.

A quick search of the internet showed that some people were using the Playmobil Roman arena (set 4270) as the basis for their gladiatorial terrain. In fact, the Arena Rex guys themselves take one to conventions!

Since I happen to have one of those arenas taking up space in my basement from my Playmobil-collecting days, that was obviously the easy way to go. I measure the arena, determined that it would fit perfectly on a 3' by 3' table, and set off to gather materials.

I used a 1/2 inch thick sheet of MDF for the base, cut to 3' by 3'. I framed it in 1x2s, making sure to countersink all the screw holes. Since the flat part would be the underside of the board, I wanted to make sure it would not scratch whatever surface it was placed on.

3' by 3' arena board (bottom view)
I also sanded it all the way around and slightly rounded the corners in order to removed any splinters and sharp edges.

Sanded corner, countersunk screw holes.

The completed frame, ready for paint.

I did not like the natural wood color, so I grabbed a can of dark brown spray paint from my stash and covered all the edges that would be visible.

Painted board.

The inside area would be filled with insulation foam. I bought a sheet of 1" thick foam (and was amazed at how expensive it has gotten!).

1" thick insulation foam.
The inside edge of the board is actually 1.5" tall, so I took some scrap pieces of packing foam that were 1/2 inch thick to make up the difference. Since I am a terrain maker and a pack rat, seldom does any packing material enter the house that it does not join my Styrofoam hoard.

After some careful cutting and fitting, here's the result:

Foam, cut and placed in the board.
Putting the foam inside the 1x2s will protect it from getting banged up and chipped. Foam is not the sturdiest of materials.

I did not glue the foam into place yet. Pits are an important part of the terrain. Much of the game involves knocking your opponents back with your attacks, and pushing them into a pit can be a very effective way of removing en enemy fighter from play.

I want the pits to be cut into the foam, so I placed the arena on the board to trace out the inside diameter and locate the pits before cutting them out. Once the pits are cut, I'll glue the foam down permanently.

Looking good so far.
In the meantime, I also started on simple hazards. I took a couple of bases I had sitting around, some chopsticks, a skull bead and a plastic torch and got to work.

Basic supplies for hazards.
I cut the sticks to size, sharpened the edges and pinned them to the base. I actually made them very sharp, and stabbed myself while putting the hazard together!

Spikes cut to length and ready for gluing.
I also made another hazard consisting of a pillar surrounded by spikes, with a skull-shaped torch holder.

Two hazards for the arena.
I'll add some sand and paint to finish them off.

I really enjoy the excitement of a new game. Planning new and different terrain, and seeing it take shape, is one of my favorite parts of this hobby. In fact, sometimes I enjoy making the terrain for a game more than actually playing it!

'Til next time!
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