We all go a'Viking! - Circa 800CE
Viking Age DBA Campaign Hobby Article

The terrain campaign map for the in-person campaign action!

The Campaign Terrain Map

I knew that I would need something for this campaign to actually play on; each player would want to look at the map and move a little token around to represent the movements of their armies. I also wanted to do something nice, that was not only functional but also fun to look at and play over. So, I got to work on building a 3Dish campaign map for the action!

The Irish Banner

I took the easy route and simply transcribed the online map onto a piece of 2.5mm thick MDF board. I didn't bother trying to model the terrain of the places that were being represented. Not only would it have been rediculously difficult, but it would have been ultimately useless because terrain (other than oceans) isn't even considered in the campaign mechanics. Once the map was drawn on the MDF I put down the city markers. I used washers for this, as I planned to use some cool magnets on the project. Finally I sketched in the connecting routs between the cities.

After the map was all set and the cities marked, I simply put down a couple of sizes of sand wherever land would be. Once the glue dried on that, I painted it brown with a light brown highlight. One note, be careful to make sure you leave lines in the sand for the inter-city routes so that later you can paint them on. Also at this point I left space for the city labels, which I would attach after all the painting was done.

The Welsh Banner

In the future I think I wouldn't even bother using sand and painting, but just use some Woodland Scenics turf of green and brown. So, after the land was painted, I painted the water with some blue furniture paints that I had (don't squander your expensive miniature paints on projects like this!). I had a lighter shade of blue that I used to highlight the water, making it lighter where it was closer to land. To finish off the painting, I then painted the city markers their corresponding colours, and I painted the routes white. At this point I wrote the city names on little pieces of paper and glued them into the spots I had left for them. Finally I glued down splotches of green Woodland Scenics turf. The last step was a liberal amount of gloss varnish. Gloss protects well and it has the added bonus of making the water look more like water!

The Army tokens

I wasn't exactly sure how to create army tokens for the campaign map. Initially I considered using DBA elements to represent armies. It would have been cool, but it would be a lot of work as I would have had to paint about 24 figs to get it done. So, I figured instead I would just represent each army by a banner bearer.

The Danish Banner

So for each banner I dug through my piles of miscellaneoous 15mm figs and picked out figs that I though we best represent their respective armies. So, spearmen for primarily spear armies, armoured figs for chain-wearing armies, and half-naken, messy-haired figs for the Welsh :) The Irish fig was actually an extra Scots-Irish fig I had. I cut out the sword and wedged the banner in its place. The Welsh fig actually came from an Old Glory dark ages civilian pack. I cut the scyth off the fig, opened one hand and put the banner in it. The shield is a piece of plastic-card that was punched out using a common hole punch!

The two norse banners were pretty easy, as most of my extra figs were vikings (thanks Sean!1!!). I picked dramatic poses for those ones and cut away swords, opened hands and placed the banners in place. My trick for easily opening hands is to simple cut away the previous weapon first. Second, I stick my hobby knife blade along the side of the hand that would normall open (where the fingers and the thumb meet), and then gently press and wiggle from side-to-side. After some short amount of time, the hand will be open and ready for a banner. It will help to keep it in place by also gluing the bottom of the banner to the base, or to the foot of the fig.

The Norwegian Banner

For the Scots-Saxon fig, I just used a spear-wielding viking. That one was a bit more tricky to get the banner onto. Instead of cutting out the spear I simply glued the banner above the shield hand and behind the shield. It turned out to be pretty good because the glue had a lot of shield to stick against. Finally, for the British, I needed something that represented a sub-roman Brit. I didn't have anything that would easily do the job... So, I picked an Ancient Brit that I had left over that had the right shape of shield and a cloak. After that, I snipped the sword, placed the banner post and then it was done. The rest could be done with paint, making sure the shield had the right 'P' with the cross one it.

The Scott-Saxon Banner

As for painting, I limited my palette for ease of completion as well as a way to make the faction colours for each fig more obvious. So, I painted the banners using the brightest colours I could find that corresponded with the army colour on the online map. This would make it easier to identify the army, and allow players to overlook the potential figures misrepresentation :) A little freehand was added to make them look that much more dynamic and I was done! In designing the banners, I tried to be representative of the faction as well. So, for both viking armies I used the quarter circle with tassles that was typical of Vikings during the period. For the sub-roman Brits I used the dragon banner. For the others, I just went with your standard rectangle, as I couldn't really find anything else and it allowed me more room for freehand! Another thing that I tried to do was actually represent the player's army. For example, Sliepnir, the eight legged horse of Odin is on the banner of Mike's DBA army general. So, I put it onto the Danish army figure's banner as well. This is also true for the Welsh and the Norwegians. The others I hadn't seen.

The Romano-British Banner

All in all, I am quite happy with the way the board and the army figures turned out. I also think it added to the snazziness of the campaign itself! Sure, a player may find their army down by more than half of their numbers by the end of the first turn, but at least they could spend their time gazing longingly at the realms of their adversaries on a 3Dish campaign terrain map!