Dropzone Commander player and hobbyist Steven McDaniel (known as stevefamine on the Hawk Forum and Instagram) has recently completed his incredible overgrown city board. We have been following his progress and spoke to him about the project.
The finished board.
Interview: Hawk Scott and Steven McDaniel
H: How long did the board take you to complete?
S: The city took around 360 hours to complete. I started in October 2015 and ended in June 2017. I worked on one or two buildings at a time over the period of a year before I even played a game of Dropzone Commander. One quick breeze through the rulebook, my desire to play a tabletop wargame that offered the aesthetic I was looking for, and some impressive resin models.
H: Did you plan out the terrain pieces or just build what you wanted to section by section?
S: During college I took up painting miniatures to pay for rent, bills, and have some hobby money on the side. To stay on top of commission deadlines I would frequently log everything. I wrote a long to do list of how I envisioned each building. Simple projects such as "Build Orange Rust Car Parking Lot", "Zentar Financial – Office Damaged Medium Structure", "Create Small Walls – Concrete, Concrete with wire, and steel fence", and so on.
All structures were completed before I started working on my poorly designed urban landscape. The table itself turned out to be an afterthought. I had a free weekend and decided on impulse to create a modular 5x4 table with diagonal streets. 6 small sections and three layers of foamcore later I was set to have it warp immediately. As I've said on the forums, this is extraordinarily dumb. Do not build a table without support and watch out for warping!
H: What inspired you to build the board and it's aesthetic?
S: I took inspiration from popular videos games. Specifically the game "The Last of Us" by Naughty Dog and the popular PC game "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl" by THQ. I also had the pleasure of stumbling upon ED-209b's beautiful masterpiece of a city table. The diagonal roads were simply to change up the static grid like playstyle seen on the majority of other tables.
Overgrown cars mimic those in real locations such as Pripyat and Fukushima.
H: Did you use or discover any techniques to achieve this look?
S: As most hobbyists know, airbrushing models has become extremely common across multiple wargames. Many painters would say it's a crutch to airbrush everything. After this project I've discovered my crutch is pigments and sponges. Every surface of the board, the buildings, and my UCM are touched up with sponge weathering. I've used salt masking before, but I found at the smaller scale it's easier to take blister foam and simply pat down the piece you're working on. Pigments are another game changing tool in the 10mm scale. I printed out pictures of graffiti, flags, and propaganda posters. I then glued these on to structures, walls, and the overpass. A bit of sponge weathering and flock and they blend right in!
￼A very small selection of Steve's weathered buildings.
H: Do you have a favorite building or piece from the board?
S: What I call the "Academic Center". I saw the Hawk Wargame's pillars and immediately wanted to create a courtyard like government or university building. My second favorite piece is the "Memorial". A white marble open area with a wall filled with posters and a bronze statue in the center. An extraordinary amount of detail put into a piece of terrain small than my hand.
The Academic Center
H: Do you have any tips for others looking to attempt their own building project?
S: Budget and plan your time and your money. A project like this may seem expensive but it was funded simply by not going to gamble on a few sports games, not drinking expensive brews, and working some spare overtime listening to podcasts.
If your painting skill isn't up to par, turn to dry brushing, weathering, pigments, and washes. All of us have talents in different areas. I still have no idea how to properly paint Non Metallic Metal but I can produce things like this city. Spend some time and watch videos.
H: Do you have any more projects planned?
S: I'm considering adding powerlines, silos, and more industrial buildings to the table. I'm almost certain that I will redo the 5x4 surface into a 6x4 with a set of canals, removable bridges, elevation, and magnetize areas in the future. I'd like to thank the team at Hawk Wargames for designing and creating everything that lead to this project. Shout out to ED-209b, Woodland Scenics, Vallejo, Blotz UK, Hawk Scott, Niko, Syn, Hornung, and Jane for the tools and drive to complete this project.
Steve's UCM and Scourge clash in the confines of the city.