Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joining the 'Arena Race' Part 1

With all the great examples and inspiration from both Hetairoi ( and Soldat ( of recently completed arenas I realized that I needed to build my very own! I was fortunate enough to have played in Soldat's arena which he brought over for game day last week ( At that point I was hooked and sorely convinced that I needed to start abuilding.

First things first, deciding on the general shape of my arena. Having played on Soldat's arena taught me a few lessons. Its rectilinear shape made more practical sense. I also wanted to model the viewing stands and Governor's Box on just the one side for ease of playing. Finally, I didn't want to build things that I didn't feel necessary especially if it could be represented by alternate means and can be easily acquired. 

For my arena floor I chose a cork bulletin board with a very fine cork texture because:  
  1. the rectilinear shape allowed for better storage and portability,
  2. it had a big enough area for my minis to battle in,
  3. the color and texture of the cork simulated sand very well
  4. and it's premade. :D
Bottom line: it satisfied my criteria from a purely functional, practical and aesthetic stand point. And you know I'm all about the eye candy.
17" x 23" Bulletin Board easily available at most craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Forgive the lack of focus.

Relative to the recent and excellent examples mentioned above I also wanted to model my arena on the outer fringes of the Republic / Empire. Some backwater hellhole and outpost on the frontier bordering the barbarian lands. 

What that translates to, IMHO, is an arena mostly constructed of wood with minimal stone or marble since those materials would be slated (pun intended) for priority items such as walls and the Governor's villa.
Foam mock-up and massing model.
Close up of the Governor's Box.

Materials - Popsicle sticks I've had since the 80s and other assorted wood bits, fabric and other miscellaneous items I've found at my local craft store. 
Very important tool and an absolute must for scratch build projects. 
Detail studies.
Palisade and portcullis.
After the obligatory massing model was completed and studies done I proceeded to the construction of the actual stadium stands.

If you look carefully, you can see the mock up and massing model beyond.
Stands completed and ready for painting.
Warping was unavoidable but a welcome effect nonetheless.

Construction continues in earnest...


  1. Looks great, very effective indeed. And it can doubl-up as a Blood Bowl stadium too!

    Are those sharpened stakes done by hand?

  2. Outstanding effort. I cannot wait to see the rest.

  3. thanx all! again another labor of love.

    man cave - i wish i could get credit for doing that LOL however they were an actual find at my local arts and craft store. if you look carefully at the package next to 'the chopper' and above the Popsicle sticks you'll see them. here's a catalog link for these craft picks:
    good luck!

  4. It´s gladiator fever! ;-)
    Great work, hope to see the next part soon.

  5. Using a cork bulletin board is a very clever idea I think. I have already cut a rectangular piece of PVC hard foam, but I may change to a cork board too. You are in danger of having your idea shamelessly copied.

    Whiteface / Oliver

  6. Hetairoi, thanx, as mentioned your work was my inspiration.

    whiteface, by all means, copy away. i've no problems at all sharing any info to help all of us save time and money just so we can game more.

  7. This is superb. I love the cork noticeboard base.

  8. Ok, quit playing around Jil, show them the finished arena! I've had the pleasure of already playing on it.
    Guys, it rocks. In fact, it is so good that I actually got off my arse and started making a North African arena.
    Jil's idea of just doing the one side is brilliant. When we play on it there is no obstructions, but it looks great.

  9. LTL Dad - thnx. I'm trying to build a suspense and anticipation here. But OK, will be posting part 2 this morning. Look for it! :D

  10. Thanks Herrodadog, the search is on. I'll be doing a Gladiator campaign later this year so some construction will be required. That 'choppa' is fantastic too. The Hunt begins!



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