How do I Build a 40K Army Display Board?

Written by paul bragulla
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How do I Build a 40K Army Display Board?
Miniatures war games use constructed terrain to simulate battlefields. (fortification image by Jean-Michel POUGET from

Warhammer 40K (sometimes Warhammer 40,000) is a miniatures war game set in humanity's distant future, where vast armies and fleets battle desperately for control of the galaxy. In miniatures war games, armies composed of tiny replica soldiers and vehicles fight each other according to a set of rules, typically using dice rolls to determine whether one unit has "hit" another as well as how much and what type of damage it has caused. The terrain used to fight these battles and to display the painstakingly constructed and painted miniatures can be quite intricate, but is generally constructed with the same simple process.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 1.5-inch thick sheet polystyrene
  • Foam- or box-cutter
  • PVC glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Primer for polystyrene
  • Spray adhesive
  • Model train terrain matting
  • Hobby knife
  • Miniature trees/buildings/etc.
  • Model paint (spray or brush)

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  1. 1

    Determine the dimensions you want the base to be. This will vary depending on whether you want the display board to be portable or not. If you do not require portability then it can be larger and made up of a single piece of polystyrene. If portability is a concern for your display, then it should be smaller and able to be broken down into several pieces that will fit in a suitcase or travel bag.

  2. 2

    Cut the polystyrene sheet into the desired size with the foam- or box-cutter. If it will be made up of several pieces for transportation, do not cut the pieces out separately at this stage; cut out a piece the size of the assembled display.

  3. 3

    Sculpt the upper surface of the polystyrene sheet into the terrain contours you want for your display. Remember to leave sufficient level surface area for the bases of the miniatures to stand upright. If you want the terrain shown by your board to have larger variations than what is allowed by the thickness of a single layer of polystyrene, use additional layers to build hills or cliffs. Use PVC glue and toothpicks to stick the layers together and allow the glue to dry before continuing.

  4. 4

    Prime the surfaces of the polystyrene with a spray primer and allow it to dry before continuing.

  5. 5

    Measure out and trace the general outline of the areas you want to cover with terrain matting onto the backing of the matting and then cut it using a hobby knife. This matting comes in a variety of textures, usually something like grass, but the backing is almost always a vinyl material. Spray the backing of the matting and the surfaces of the model with spray adhesive (remembering to always follow the instructions on the container) and apply the matting to the terrain surfaces.

  6. 6

    Paint the parts of the terrain that aren't covered by terrain matting in the colour and pattern of your choosing. If yours is a portable display board then this is when you would cut it into separate pieces. Start with a hobby knife to cut the matting, then use a foam-cutter to go the rest of the way through the board.

  7. 7

    Use PVC glue to attach trees, shrubs and other items of interest to the board.

Tips and warnings

  • Miniature trees, shrubs and buildings, as well as most of the tools and materials described, can be purchased at any local hobby store.

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