A staple of any wargame table: the staircase. I have put building these off for a long time. There is a fundamental question you must ask yourself before building staircases and that is simply: Do I go for accurate visuals (small stairs) or play-ability (these are large stairs that you can often see through and do not look in scale with the model, but will hold them at various stages)?
I chose to go with small, in-scale stairs. To me, the stairs with large gaps are a bit jarring in breaking me out of the scene of a game. I just am not willing to sacrifice the overall visual for a feature that will be used every once in a while. I’d rather have to leave the model at the base and remember where they are in climbing than risk the overall look of my table.
That said, it is personal preference. I don’t judge those who chose the other method. It is just not for me. You will see the other variety of stairs on my table though, because I did repurpose some old test builds during my big terrain build. I’m not a hypocrite, I just did not bother converting the stairs of that test piece and did not want to throw it out.
I ended up with three types of stair cases. I made two simple one story stair cases, one two story staircase (that I botched and recovered from), and one transitional stair case. All of the builds used sturdy foam board (not reddi-board), XPS foam (but you could use foam board), tac-glue (structure), hot glue (stairs), and then paint and weathering. I added graffiti to make them match my Necromunda 3D walls. This will tie the looks together and let me easily bring those walls onto the tabletop and it still look like it belongs.
Let’s begin with the simple, basic one-story staircase.
I started by knowing the top of my staircase must match the top ledge of my buildings (3″ high). That also meant that the top of the stairs would be 2 1/4″ high. I wanted the top of the stairs to hold a 40mm base, so I used one to measure that out. I believe it is about 2″ square. From there, I dropped the stairs out in 1/4″ chunks until it hit the ground. This made the stair cases about 5″ long. I cut a ton of 1/4″ rectangles (2″ long) and glued them in as stairs. This process was annoying. The best way I found was to hot glue one stair at a time in place starting from the top platform and working my way down.
I designed these stairs to be placed either straight into a building or alongside it. Note: These can be used when two buildings are next to one another in my mega structures, but the extra width of the second edge creates a gap between the top of the stairs and the other ledge. I made special inserts to combat this. I just did not photograph any at the time of this writing. You will see them eventually in the blog though. I just wanted to make a note that I thought of that issue and did address it.
The two story staircase is a tale of stubbornness, regret, innovation, and success. Measure twice…. of even preferably once. I was crafting these and just said, one story is 3″, so two is obviously 6″. And I built this piece that way. Stubbornness. Had I bothered to measure a two story building of mine, I would have recalled that my second story starts 3″ above the rooftop, not the ledge (5 1/4″ tall). Regret.
I realized my error midway through adding the stairs when the staircase was not going to line up between the second and first floor platforms. I had a decision to make, scrap it and start over or make a mid-way platform to burn some space and then figure the rest out later. I chose the second since I was already an hour plus in. Innovation.
My ultimate solution was to create a mate platform that would raise the ledge of the building up 3/4″ to meet the staircase. I have seen buildings where the staircase raises up and over the ledge rather than meeting it, so this solution felt right. I built the matching platform with a 1″ x 2″ standing platform in order to double up as a watch tower of sorts if no stairs were meeting it. Later, I discovered these towers could be linked together using my clip-on bridges (to showcase later) and form raised bridges. I was getting solutions I did not even plan for. Success.
Finally, I really wanted something more unique. Inspiration hit me one day at work, while sitting in a meeting that I really did not need to be at. I thought, what about stairs that start on one level and cross alley-space to a completely different building. The idea was so fascinating to me that I literally knocked this piece out in one day.
You can look at the design in the image below and see what I did. That is literally my plans for this build. Two pieces of foam board and lots of stairs in between.
Now to make things interesting. As with my 3D Necromunda walls, I decided to surf the internet and find some graffiti to add to my terrain. Pinterest is super useful for this. I did make some original designs, but the two below are not mine.
In action shots below.
And that, as they say, is that. Really simple and fun builds. These add a ton to the game table and really, if you have buildings, you need some stairs.