Home -> Projects -> Boards -> Desert Gaming Boards

Desert Gaming Boards

by Gary James

Desert Gaming BoardsThese desert boards are made from the reverse side of my sectional boards, and half a sheet of 2 inch thick styrofoam. They were originally made for GorkaMorka.

My aim was to produce very cheap but respectable gaming boards for Gorkamorka. I estimate that these boards would cost about 10 pounds, but you tend to have to buy more textured paint than you really need because it comes in really big cans. It helps to keep the cost down if you can buy half shares in a tin of textured paint with a friend.


  1. Chipboard panels 12mm thick cut to 2 feet by 4 feet

  2. Textured paint in a sandy colour. Textured paint is sold as a finish for stone and has fine sand mixed in with it. Sandtex is one make in the UK, though most DIY (hardware) stores sell their own, cheaper brands.

  3. A sheet of 2 inch thick polystyrene (styrofoam).


Use a hot wire cutter to carve interesting shapes out of the styrofoam sheeting. Cut a basic hill shape out first, and then fashion it into a more realistic shape by trimming off the edges.

Desert Gaming BoardsI made some Colorado Desert/Ayer's Rock/Brimham Rock (select as appropriate for your country!) style rock spires too. My favourite term for these is Hoodoos, which was pointed out to me by Tyler Provick. Just go wild with the hot wire cutter! Remember that they need to stand up though.

Burning styrofoam releases noxious fumes and so you should do this outside or at least in a well ventilated area.

I made some single storey hills, and some which were designed to stack up. I didn't fix the stacks together - leaving them free allows for more versatility.

Desert Gaming BoardsPaint the styrofoam with your textured paint. I found two coats were necessary. My terrain is actually browner than shown in these photographs - I took them in early morning winter light, which is a bit cold in colour. I highlighted the edges of the hills and rocks in a lighter brown.

The boards are then given two coats of the same textured paint and that's it! The roughness of the paint prevents the hills from sliding about and keeps the stacked hills together. It is also tough on miniatures so I suggest you varnish them before playing.

[Page Top] [Site Home]