Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Portable Game Table (top)

PythNutD here,

After a long hiatus I've decided to get back into table top strategy wargaming. Staying away from 40k for the time being and instead I'm going to start playing Robotech RPG Tactics. As I wait for my copies of the upcoming Robotech RPG Tactics to arrive I have been attempting to maintain my patience with a few small projects. The one that I have decided to share with you today is how to put together a light weight portable game table.

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On occasion I want to game with a friend, but don't want to take the time to drive to one of my local game stores to fight for space to play. Unfortunately I don't have space available to have a full sized 4'x6' table in my home, dedicated to gaming purposes, but I have a decently sized dining table with space to play. With that in mind I decided to put together a lightweight table that I could easily store out of the way and then fold out and place on my dining table when I want to game.

1) I started with four sheets of 3'x4' foam-core sheets. I glued two sheets together (twice) with standard white glue. Make sure there is glue at each corner as you put the pieces together as those are the parts most likely to separate.  Before I put the two sheets together I placed a cloth ribbon strip hanging out of the long edge, to serve as a handle later. I put the second pair of sheets together on top of the first set, making sure not to get glue between.

2) Once the boards where glued together I put some heavy objects on top of the center and four corners to keep the panels flat while the glue dried. I let the glue dry for at least four hours.

3) Once the two sides dried I laid them together to form the full 4'x6' table, and taped them together with duct tape. I made sure to put tape in bands along the joint as well as long strips along the entire board.

4) With flexibility in mind I decided to apply a different finish to each side of the table. I grabbed a copy of the Cityscape boxed set by Hawk Wargames for one side and a green flocked game mat by Monday Knight Productions. Now I know that the drop zone system and Robotech RPG Tactics are not exactly the same scale but the cityscape is a good set for the price and looks pretty good on the table, and I like the look of fighting in a city filled with high-rise buildings.

5) I installed the cityscape side first but before I glued the sheets down I placed each down and moved them around till I had a layout that I liked. I picked the side of the table that when folded will be on the outside of the table and when I started gluing I started placing the sheets along the center of the table first so to ensure the edges wouldn't end up overlapping. I decided to use standard white glue and I made sure to smooth the glue evenly and thinly across the back of the sheet before I placed them so that I would minimize bubbling. When I placed each sheet I made sure to place them setback from where I intended for them to be attached and slid them into place to further smooth the glue.  (An alternate glue down method would have been to use spray mount, which from my experience provides a smoother finish without bubbling up of the finished surface, but has the tendency to get everywhere as you spray the glue. ) As I glued down the sheets I used what I had available in abundance, namely water bottles, to weight down the sheets as the glue died to help keep a smooth finished surface as it dried.

6) I let the table dry overnight and installed the Battle Mat next. I rolled out the mat first and let it sit a bit to let some of the wrinkles settle. Then I started attaching the mat to the table using long strips of double sided mounting tape placed about 12" apart perpendicular to the long edge. With each strip placed I pulled the mat taught to decrease the amount of wrinkles. I made sure to not put the bands of tape too close to the junction of the the two sides of the board so when the board is folded there is enough give to not damage the board. I placed additional tape along the border between each band so that the mat wouldn't bow up on the edges.

And done, one city ready for epic battles between the forces of Earth and the Zentradi invaders. 

As an endnote I took several of the buildings and converted them to be damaged versions. I picked a few of the buildings, cut them in half, and then cut on half in half as well. Next I glued the long and short sides to the back of the larger piece to form a double sided L. I took the roof panel and cut it into irregular triangles and clued them in to imitate a few surviving floors.

I hope anybody reading finds this useful.

Upcoming Article: Unboxing?! (assuming the box I bought on ebay shows up soon.)


  1. Hi,

    I was wondering how this has help up for you over the past few months. I'm in a similar situation and this seems like a good solution if its' study enough.

  2. Well to answer your question I did end up with a slight (hardly noticeable) warp in each of the halves of the board, most likely caused by the glue drying and pulling on the foam core. Other than the slight warp (doesn't bother me during game play as long as I don't place anything exactly on the middle seam of the board) I have found the table top to work well. Now You do need to have an existing table to lay this on top of, mine is a tad over 48" diameter round table so there is a bit hanging off on the sides, but as long as I don't lean on the overhanging edges games go without a hitch.

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