If you were among the large crowd of people who came to visit us at Salute or UK Games Expo this year, you would have been lucky enough to see the first in a series of brand new studio terrain boards we are creating for Wild West Exodus, the Hex Fane. I got the chance to speak to Lee from the Warcradle Team who was tasked with bringing this slice of the Disputed Territories to life. So, what did he have to say about the journey from concept to reality?
So, did you make this board?
I wish I could make boards that good! The board was actually built by Rob Hawkins who was responsible for making the terrain boards used by Outlaw Miniatures which we still have. We chose Rob because he is really good at what he does and it also meant that the boards are consistent with our existing assets. I’m glad we did as the Hex Fane looks amazing.
Where did the idea for a Hex Fane come from exactly?
We wanted to create a series of themed boards that would focus on a specific piece of the Wild West Exodus world that not only look great when used for playing games but that also told a story in their own right. Each board will be linked to one of the factions in the game and help to get across that faction’s uniqueness. Stuart from the Studio and Rob were throwing some ideas around before I took over responsibility for the project and this was one of the ideas that made the cut.
Did the board change much between concept and creation?
The original brief focused on the Dark Nation but as they have been absorbed into what is now The Hex it was tweaked a little. I worked with Jon, our design guru, who went away and collated artwork and photography that contained design cues that I had wanted, usually described through wild hand gestures and badly scribbled sketches. From these, he created a portfolio of ideas and we picked out elements that matched what I was looking for. These informed the design sketches that Jon created that were then passed to Rob so that he had an idea of what to include.
Talk me through the board.
Well, the idea was for a meeting place for the Dark Council, a sort of Stonehenge type affair which was corrupting the land around it. The Hex has been around for a very long time so the stones would be older than anything else on the board. To show this we had them partially buried. We don’t know how far down they go but they’re bigger than what you can see above the surface. They’re primitive looking and not something you would expect to find in North America. You can imagine them being used as a place of human sacrifice during a more barbarous era, a throwback that doesn’t fit the official historical record which is as it should be; the Dark Council has worked hard to keep its secrets.
We moved the plateau into a swamp as it offered a secluded place for the members of the Hex to meet and was far enough removed from civilisation that the Dark Nation would feel safe there. The Dark Nation have scrawled their markings all over the stones in order to claim it for themselves but any members of the Hex would be able to find sanctuary there as long as the tensions between the Council members do not spill over to their minions and lead to a violent ‘misunderstanding’.
There are some signs of civilisation though?
Yes, there are the ramshackle remains of a shack that has been abandoned for a very long time. There is a small boat tied up next to it, whether this belonged to the original inhabitants or to a more recent visitor is up to the audience. The original sketch for this feature had a large angler fish hiding within it, bloated and changed by the corruption of the fane and eating comes along. We liked that idea so much Rob made some angler fish counters that can be placed anywhere on the board as a themed hazard!
There are a number of statues dotted around the central plateau, do these represent anyone in particular?
Those statues represent the Weeping Shepherdess. Her statues are the source of the corruption that has infected the land around the fane. She was a former member of the Dark Council though whether she lost her seat from being deposed, killed or if she left of her own accord is unclear. The members of the Dark Council are a secretive lot and her departure happened prior to most of them taking their seats. Marie Laveau might know, she’s been a member of the Council for centuries. I doubt she’d be willing to share that information unless you have something she wants in return and few people can afford her price.
Please tell me that we can expect more awesome boards in the future?!
Indeed you can. The next one will be unveiled at Gencon in August and it’s a monster! I can’t tell you much but if you have a soft spot for a certain group of extra-terrestrial peace keepers you won’t be disappointed.
There you have it!
If you can, be sure to visit us at Gencon between Thursday 17th August and Sunday 20th August to get a glimpse of our new themed terrain board.