Response to some comments from a FB thread on Game Table

Some observations on a recent FB thread about the game table could use a little clarification regarding the project. I’ll try to answer them here:

Is the game table too high? We had to strike a compromise between the height of a comfortable chair, average lap/thigh height and the ability to function at arm and head height. Please remember that these D&D, Heroscape and other tabletop sessions can go 8-10 hours at a stretch. We reviewed and tested the heights with our gaming group to determine the best height that still provided us appropriate consoles with cubbies for storing dice, snacks and, of course, books and paper. Which brings us to the second common comment:

This table is too tech – all you need is old-school pencil, paper, books, dice: In fact, the majority of the gaming group is very old school. Some were teenagers and remember quite well when Mr. Gygax released the very first widely-published D&D set (with no dice, just cardboard “chits” in a cup, all in a simple box with a dragon on it). Several of the group don’t even use any electronics. Each console (and especially the GM stations at each end) are designed to hold books and papers. However, some prefer laptops, tablets or smart phones (which do come in handy for settling arguments quickly or whipping up a last-minute musical cue). And we’ve had members Skype in to participate. Tech is tech — paper and books are technology and so are tablets and smart phones. This table accommodates all preferences.

Too big for an apartment: Unfortunately, the scale of the table we built probably is (it’s 10 feet long and five feet wide, WITHOUT making space for the chairs). HOWEVER, if you look at the plans, you will see it is really just a series of free-standing consoles anchored together to a table base. Such a table could be built with as few as four consoles surrounding a square recessed battlefield for a much smaller footprint, not much larger than a card table. We were ambitious but we have a large group and were fortunate enough to have the space.

Disposable income: While the table looks grand and wildly expensive, it really was not, if you take time to shop wisely for the wood, stain, varnish and hardware. The entire table project done here came in at less than $800. If you look closely at it, you would see that it is intentionally built “rough” to “take a beating” (respectfully). This furniture is meant to be used, not babied, so we built it with simple pine, thick and heavy. If you do not have access to the woodworking, however, you would run into additional expense hiring that part out. Also, it took a long time, several months of long weekends, to build.

Don’t like the light around the battlefield: We don’t always, either. We use it depending on the scenario. We sometimes use 3D environments like Heroscape or 40K that require side lighting to help see, plus the room itself doesn’t have good overhead lighting. But that’s why there is a simple light switch built in to turn it on or off.

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Game Table – Early Stages of Construction

By request, here are a few shots of the game table under construction.

5x10' 3/4-inch plywood bottom level rests across 2x4s and supported by eight 4x4 legs.
5×10′ 3/4-inch plywood bottom level rests across 2x4s and supported by eight 4×4 legs.
Each of the six player stations and two GM stations are sized for placement and running of electricity.
Each of the six player stations and two GM stations are sized for placement and running of electricity.
Once stained and coated in polyurethane, each box is anchored to the lower tier.
Once stained and coated in polyurethane, each box is anchored to the lower tier.
Wiring (regular 12-2 w/ground for 110 receptacles) is run to each station in a circuit. A junction box in the middle is fitted with a cord/plug running out the bottom.
Wiring (regular 12-2 w/ground for 110 receptacles) is run to each station in a circuit. A junction box in the middle is fitted with a cord/plug running out the bottom.
Braces supporting the upper tier battlefield are placed after the wiring is complete. Note from the plans that the dice bin/snack cubbies and corner book units are all in place as well.
Braces supporting the upper tier battlefield are placed after the wiring is complete. Note from the plans that the dice bin/snack cubbies and corner book units are all in place as well.
The stained stations are in place. Wiring is under way. Then come the braces and the top tier. The two tac maps are placed, then the plexiglass goes down and a top border holding the glass down is placed.
The stained stations are in place. Wiring is under way. Then come the braces and the top tier. The two tac maps are placed, then the plexiglass goes down and a top border holding the glass down is placed.
The table is clearly rugged. It is nearly 500 pounds and a grown adult can walk across the bottom tier.
The table is clearly rugged. It is nearly 500 pounds and a grown adult can walk across the bottom tier.

Plans to the Gaming Table

At last, I found the plans I made up for the game table. Several viewers have requested these. so here they are. This is not greatest detail but it should give you a start. I’ll also post a few pics of the phases of construction. I had originally planned to do tongue-in-groove planks to cover the table top battlefield when not in use or as a hidden “reveal” during exploration, but never did this. I did also notice that it says you need to make seven of the player stations – it’s only six – not sure why I put down seven.

Table Overview Rev1

Gaming Table Still Getting A Workout

With Heroscape tiles on the tac map, the group faced off against a nasty group of monsters.
With Heroscape tiles on the tac map to add some 3D flavor, the group faced off against a nasty group of monsters in the D&D 3.5 campaign.

Just a quick note that an afternoon of gaming is always fun, especially on a 3-D tac map of old Heroscape figs, which are scale enough for the D&D minis. Set it in the middle of the custom game table and you’re ready to go!

 

Our D&D Game Table

We worked pretty hard for about two months building this behemoth and launched it last week to much fanfare and success.

It’s inspired by some great designs offered by a really cool company online that offers a line of gaming furniture, but we could not afford what we needed for an eight-member game group, so we purchased raw materials and designed and built our own custom version, thanks to a family member’s woodworking shop and some patience and knowledge about wiring and installation.

This table is 10 ft. x 5 ft. It has eight gaming stations, with two GM stations on the ends and three on each side, with divided dice bins and food/snack cubbies between. Each station is a multi-shelf foldout unit with its own shelves and a 110 receptacle with dual USB charger slots.

The center game vault is 8×3 ft and divided into 1.5″ hex and square battlefields surrounded by wooden baffles with underside lighting. The surface is protected with 1/8″ plexiglass suitable for wet or dry erase. The grid works well for minis in the 28-32mm scale range, which includes our two favorites – D&D and Heroscape.

The table weighs between 400 and 500 pounds and includes a massive amount of pine boards and 3/4″ plywood, as well as veneer and a lot of stain and polyeurethane.