Wednesday, January 28, 2015

4Ground's Dead Man's Hand Building - Western Union Telegraph and Cable

Here is the first of many of my 4Ground building upgrades and conversions for Great Escape Games brilliant Dead Man's Hand game. Hope you like them!

The one thing that I absolutely wanted when I started to think about this project was to be able to have the town be modular. I wanted to be able to both change things around often and also make it easy to transport if I ever got the opportunity to take Dead Man's Hand out to a convention, game store, or friends house. So every one of my buildings is on 1/8 MDF board cut to either a rectangle or square depending on the sub-base size. The side buildings are size A, so it's a rectangle, roughly 7 1/2" x 11". Easy enough.

For way too long a lot of my buildings sat with either no signs or the signs that were available for download on the Great Escape Games website - I think it's great that GEG have these available (and especially for free!) but I always felt that they could be improved on. The sign itself was nothing more than a generic Google search (which you'll learn if you decide to come back is where I've found every single sign I've used in my town) that I did one day. I spent several hours scrolling through page after page of images of signs! This one caught my eye immediately, I think because of the simplicity of it. I really like the side sign too, the way "telegraph" is written like a little wave is neat!

The telegraph poles are from Rix products HO scale train telephone poles. They have two sizes - you can kind of see the larger pole in the back left of the building - of poles you can build. They have a nice wood grain on them and a simple wash really improved the look. I thought about possibly running some lines from the poles to the building, but when I was testing that idea out, it quickly became apparent that it would hinder gameplay so I chucked that idea. I did some simple touch up painting on the building with 4grounds base paints to cover up the places where connections were made. This extremely easy task will guarantee an improved look to your buildings and I highly recommend taking the extra time to do it.

I added some balsa wood to make posts for the porch - which I ended up doing on every building of mine that had an overhang. A lot of my research and trying to come up with ideas is just watching old westerns, and every porch has posts! The roof was improved by simply using Evergreen strip styrene, 0.40x0.40. Cut to size and then again, paint with black 4Ground paint so I got an exact color match.

The clutter is sacks from Old Glory I grabbed at Historicon several years ago - I had no idea I bought so many until I opened a box a few months ago, I don't know why I feel I need multiples of EVERYTHING I buy!? (but I know I'm not alone in that thought process, I've seen that same guy a lot in the vendor halls!). The barrels I got at a train show years and years ago. They are actual wood and once a stain went on them and a fine point Sharpie to bring out the rings was completed, they really popped. The hitches for the horses are also from 4Ground. I used some old balsa wood to make extra telegraph poles to place next to the building.

One thing that I'm all about is the narrative. Trying to create a story behind everything - which honestly ends up being a huge hurdle for me sometimes because I think about stuff WAY too much! I find myself just staring at the board for what seems like hours! The extra poles tell me that the town is expanding, and pretty quickly by the number of poles there.

That's really it, thanks for taking a look, much appreciated! I do want to give a big shout out to 4Ground. Their buildings and accessories are "puredeadbrilliant"! They look great without any upgrades and I can't wait to see what they have waiting in the queue. 

Well, I guess one more thing - Saturday Mornings. As a kid growing up there was nothing more that I looked forward to than Saturday mornings! Cartoons, cereal, games, friends... Saturday mornings had it all!

Thanks for looking!


  1. Hello, your buildings are beautiful and full of life.

    I asked myself a question about your dirt roads. The did you make yourself, or buy?

    If you have the make, do I know your method?

  2. Thanks a lot!
    The streets I purchased at Historicon last July. They are made by Battlefield Terrain Concepts. I had seen them the year prior, but they are really expensive in my opinion. They are like a latex rubber and they are really made to be used as individual roads. For my board I just put three next to each other to get a bigger "street", but I'd need a lot more to cover the whole town, and that's way more money than I want to spend! I'm going to try to make my own streets here in the next couple of weeks with a product I found called Liquitex Flexible Modeling Paste.
    So far, I've completed one board - like my buildings, the roads are on MDF boards so everything will be modular - now I am just waiting on some weathering pigments to finish it off. If it comes out like I hope I'll have a post about the steps I took to make them.

  3. Lovely work. You have inspired me to start work on the 4Ground buildings I have been hoarding for a while now. I particularly like your customisation as I too want mine to look unique. I also like the idea of standard size bases with the sub-basements attached; an idea I'll have to copy!

    1. Thanks Ralph! It certainly can be daunting when the pile of "to build" just keeps getting bigger and bigger - I still have several WWII 4Ground buildings that need built. Making the buildings your own with some different paint and new signs is a great way to make them stand out from the rest, good luck!

  4. Wow - these are fantastic - very nicely done