Thursday, August 18, 2005

Axis and Allies: the Mother of All Boards

This is what happens when you are impoverished and shut in by typhoons.....

Here's the problem: the revised version of A & A, while a blast, has one critical flaw: they increased the number of territories and of pieces, but reduced the size of the playing area. The result is tiny sea and land areas overflowing with units.

A few weeks ago at one of our monthly A & A soirees, one of us, I think the redoubtable Red A, complained that the board was just too small, and suggested that we really ought to blow it up. My first solution was to take some .jpgs of the board and get them printed out oversize, but -- heh -- printouts cost $$ and further, after the photos had been cropped and processed, they didn't match correctly. The next solution: draw and paint.

A board and paints were necessary. We procured a piece of moderately fake wood from B & Q for $239 and some cans of water-based paint at $210 each. We had originally opted for oil-base paints but they are toxic, smell strongly, and take forever to dry.

Next step: lay down a grid over the wood. The grid, 156cm X 91cm, exactly doubled the size of the playing board.

Next, we got a piece of plastic desk cover, and laid it over the original map, and then put down a grid on that.

My wife, a skilled artist, began transferring the game board to the larger scale, hand drawing it. Did I mention what a kind and patient wife she is, and how much I love her?

Here she is hard at work.

Slowly, the board took shape.

After that we had to make decisions about painting. I used white-out for this set of territory boundaries, but we did the later ones with paint. The white-out tended to fade in brightness and collect dust very quickly. Plus it was a pain to squeeze the tube for long lines.

Next we began by painting in the light colors under the direction of my wife. Here I am looking scruffy with my new beard.

Juying, whose father is a calligrapher and artist, knows one end of the brush from the other. Here she carefully paints in China.

The whole family gathered round to fill in the spaces.

Here my wife carefully limns some of the fatter boundary lines to reduce their size.

Next, we lettered in the territory names and numbers. We tried stencils, but the uneven surface of the paint gave ugly results. So we lettered them in with a fine marker.

A quick view of the results.

Finished! The sheen was supposed to be varnish, but the varnish we had made the marker run, so instead we laid row after row of clear plastic tape over it, a non-toxic solution.

Here my son contemplates his next move on the Big Board....


Mutantfrog said...

That is one sweet Axis and Allies board.

When I used to live in college dorms about 5 years ago, there was a guy on my floor who made a beautiful Risk board using one of those soldering iron-like wood burning tools, and then using alternating wood stains in different countries.

Jason said...

That is so freakin' cool, Michael. Kudos!

Michael Turton said...

I don't know, man. My kids asked the same question. So important to the Japanese war effort, and doesn't figure in the game at all.

But it is still a fun game. If you're ever down here, my son would love to play!


Michelin L.W.Y said...

Very nice board. Glad to see you back blogging.

BigEll said...

Unfreakingbelievable, your wife rocks!

Mickey said...

This is awesome!

Are we witnessing the beginning of an international business for the Turton family? :)

Karl said...

So, how much are these boards going to cost? I'd pay at least as much as I paid for the original game...

Taiwanonymous said...

Very cool. Making the board actually looks like more fun than playing the game.

The Spaceman said...

I think I'm going to give my old version of Operation the same treatment. Nice work!

Daniel said...

Nice story Michael!