Building Buildings

Village Ruins set

Originally uploaded by nnenn

One thing we’ve paid a lot of attention to here on Mechatonic is the building of mechs. Obviously they are one of the really cool parts of Mechaton. The joy in building your own little army out of bits and seeing them victorious in the battlefield is palpable.

However, we have paid scant attention to the terrain of that battlefield.

A lot of the time, you want to create buildings quickly and easily, just to provide cover and character on the playing table. As a rogue hit is going to blow holes in the concrete, a lot of the time you might not want to spend time creating anything too fancy or good looking. But, really nicely designed building can add a lot of feel and character to the landscape.

Let’s look at the buildings shown above, created by Nnenn. Nnenn is mostly known for building an amazing range of startfighters. But his skills don’t just stop there. These buildings are for a game of hovertank combat, but they are ideal for mechaton. The detail is incredible and the unified colour scheme adds a lot of character.

What size your buildings are will also depend on thef scale you play at. Our games tend to feature mechs about three to four bricks tall, with a normal sized person being one and one third bricks tall (a single cylindrical brick topped with a round 1×1 plate). The Nnenn buildings would be a little small for that scale. For the scale we use, the good old fashioned 2×2, 2×3 and 2×4 bricks see a lot of use in creating structures that are in keeping with the size of the mechs and the people around them.

Using colours that reflect the nature of the building also helps to add to the overall look and feel. Our last battle took plave at a spaceport. The hangar buildings were built in a predominantly white colour scheme, with blue and lime highlights. Subsidiary buildings such as the control tower, radar building and munitions store were built in sand. Finally, staff housing was built in blue. Most of the buildings were clustered, so they looked unified and purpose built. Adding people and vehicles can also make things look really dynamic and exciting. Microscale trucks, aircraft and spacecraft make the battlefield less blank, less of just a place where a fight is happening and more of a place where there is something to fight over.

So where is all this going? Well, I’d like to think that we can spend some time looking at aesthetics of our playing areas as well as just the appeal of the mechs we use to destroy them. I’ll certainly be making an effort to hunt down interesting and cool microscale buildings on flickr, MOCPages and Brickshelf, as well as posting some photos of our own designs.

And if you want to see possibly the most amazing microscale city ever, check out Shannonia




9 thoughts on “Building Buildings

  1. Soren

    I have some stuff I should take pictures of (including a relatively cheap trick for big solar panels). Architecture is fun.

    Probably the best thing you could get for cheap and easy Mechaton terrain would be an assload and a half of 1×2 bricks. A literal assload – several hundred at least.

    Granted, that limits you to a dazzling array of big, featureless boxes, but it rocks ass for building usefully pixelated hills and mountains which you can blast craters in.

  2. battlebrik

    Love this topic, however even more than buildings (which equate to “cover” in the rules) I’m interested in cool stations…you know “something worth fighting over”. I’ve found a few on Flickr, but not as many as there seems there should be…

    Also, you mention “Microscale trucks, aircraft and spacecraft”. I’d love for these to have game effects besides just being cover. Have you experimented with variants that give these guys the ability to fight with mechs?

  3. Mantisking

    I must say, this post — along with your strategy post — is one of the most useful articles for Mechaton I’ve read.

  4. illuminus

    I agree with Mantisking, this sort of thing has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been pricing out a few hundred pieces for our Neo Tokyo campaign thats starting up this week.

    Its yet another expense, but good looking terrain makes the mechs even better looking, and helps reinforce the scale. Playing with random lego walls out of 1×3 and 1×4 is doable, but being able to construct some buildings and saying “ok, the control point is going to be next to the supermarket” lends it a degree of versamilitude.

  5. mechachronic

    illuminus, that campaign looks really exciting! I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see how things progress. I’d really like to hear about your experiences with the campaign rules.

    Be sure to take photos!

  6. mechatonic Post author

    Soren: That’s some really good advice. I should get around to buying a bunch of smaller bricks for exactly that kind of terrain building. But are you specifying a metric or imperial assload?

    Battlebrik: No, we’ve just used vehicles as moving scenery at the moment. Having spacecraft fy across the battlefield, trucks moving around, civilians running hither and thither waving their arms.


  7. mechachronic

    Awesome! I like your “Argus” take on the 302, but “Gun Nose” is my favorite! There’s a Mechaton flickr group that would be ideal for your pictures.

  8. Mantisking

    I built one building and one piece of “scenery” last week. They are here and here respectively. They’re also posted to the Mechaton group.


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