Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NOVA Plans and the Narrative Campaign Terrain Build

I had an amazing, remember-it-for-a-lifetime experience playing my Nids last year, ending the weekend 4-4, and 64th overall.  Not bad for my first 'big' GT.  I'd looked forward to playing again this year but that ended up not being in the cards for a variety of reasons, but one really big reason sorta stands out.  About 17x24 inches big, give or take.

After last year's NOVA Open the team decided it was going to put together a narrative campaign, and have it be themed in Washington D.C., including terrain based on the monuments and museums of the National Mall.  As you can imagine, this sounded extremely cool at the time.  What followed sometime thereafter was the sort of meeting wherein staff and volunteers were given the opportunity to pick the monument or museum they would build.  Family obligations and all, I missed that meeting.  I'd sent a note to Mike B. saying I'd build one if there was any left.  Silly me...  there was one left.  I think the text of my email went something like, "I said I'd help with terrain but dang, the Jefferson Memorial?  :D  Assuming Mike hasn't confused me with someone else..."  typed with that tense feeling you get driving at night on a narrow, icy road.  It has more pillars than an anime convention has tentacles!  Stairs... a big curvy bit up top - yikes!  You see, I hadn't ever really built serious terrain before.  Making wireframe trees and hanging lichen off them or painting steel wool and crusting it with flock is about as far down the terrain road as I've ever gotten.

What about the NOVA terrain builds, you say?  Surely I could have gotten some help there - those amazing foam cutters, and that so-kickass-words-fail-me Native American museum: those guys are foam-fume sniffing saints in my book.  But work and family priorities won out this year, and to my very great shame I missed the terrain builds - every one.  Family first - gotta keep the priorities straight.  I didn't blog nearly as much as I'd like to: there are a lot of articles floating around in my head that I just wasn't able to get to over the past few months, collating my list of references for the next Tyranid Library articles - but no regrets.  I had an absolute blast building this, and bringing it over to the last staff meeting on Sunday I felt like a proud papa.  This was about the journey more than the destination - but in the end the destination still counts.  It's far from perfect - it's functional, and so far most people can tell what it is supposed to be (/grin).

It's been quite the solo adventure, stretching rusty math skills, learning rudimentary drafting skills I didn't know I had, and just winging it and going by eye when I just couldn't get the measurements to work out.  I've become a regular at Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and A.C. Moore (by the way, if you're anywhere near the Annapolis/Bowie/Glen Burnie area - A.C. Moore knocks the socks off all the other chain stores), spent hours at the local hobby shop (trains, r/c planes, cars), and have walked every aisle in 6 different Home Depot and Lowe's stores.  I've made some really cool finds for materials and bought plenty of new tools - things I've wanted to get for a long time but just couldn't justify the expense for (hooray - shiny new jigsaw!).

For the tl;dr crowd:  I had a great time building the Jefferson Memorial for the NOVA Open Narrative Campaign.  I'll be a volunteer staffer again, looking forward to a great weekend meeting new people.  Hope to see you there!  Oh, and here are the pics...  direct link is here.


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