I like the look of the town being "framed" by scenery, as you can see in the first drawing, so I'm thinking of having creeks on two sides (rather than three) and steep slopes on the other two, I have always envisioned Calamity as a mountain town (loosely based on the town of Silver Plume in Colorado) and I had some of these ideas swimming around in my head so stumbling across these RPG maps of Deadwood finally brought everything together. My original concept had the town split in half by the creek with the railroad running through, basically, the middle of the board. With that configuration I was finding it very difficult to get the look and feel that I wanted let alone get the stock laser cut buildings I have to fit so its time to switch gears a bit.
Current concept (subject to change without notice as my regular readers know) is to have a creek running across the front edge and a second one coming down the left side. There will be steep slopes along the back and down the right side (still passable by dismounted minis). The railroad will run alongside the creek down the front edge with one or two spurs that reach into town. More specifically there will be a water wheel driven flour mill in the upper left side of the board and the spur will run to that building. That will bring the rails more into town and create a wrong side of the tracks area.
The other big decision that I have been chewing on is scratch building the entire town. This will allow me to build specifically to the atmosphere I want to create, a bit of a heltered skeltered look. While my lasercut buildings are wonderful, they are also very uniform and that makes it difficult to work them in to the plan. Ultimately I'm sure some of them will work their way into the plan anyway when I realize what a monumental undertaking the whole thing will be.
If I do scratch build the entire town I need to do a couple of things to make it all come together faster. First I need a different material for the walls. I love working with styrene plastic but cutting windows and doors out of it is a pain. Its fine for the occasional one off building that I want to spend some serious time on but they also tend to be more fragile than I would like them to be. I have already broken the newspaper office and repaired it a couple of times and its not even on the board yet! Matt board is my other favorite material much easier to work with especially for cutting, the biggest issue there is warping. While its unlikely to warp in my climate taking the whole thing to a convention in another more humid state is likely to see roofs warping and probably some walls as well. What I need is a sandwich of materials that will still allow me to cut things easily while providing some dimensional stability. I have been looking at some of the foams out there and Tony Harwood, graciously, sent me some samples of foam that he works with including his favorite green foam. That stuff would be perfect if I could actually find it here in the US and there doesn't seem to be a US equivalent to it, The one thing that I have found that has definite possibilities is something called balsa foam (no, not balsa wood, I hate working with balsa wood). The only issue with it is it comes in blocks of material rather than sheets so I would need a saw of some kind to consistently cut it to the right thickness to work with. I do think that either this by itself or combined with matt board would create the walls that I want. Something that cuts easy, can be carved, is dimensionaly stable, and glues easily.
I mentioned upscaling Calamity in the title. Normally I would just sit down and work with the small clay model that I made. Now its time to step things up a notch. since I'm happy with the basic configuration of the terrain itself its time to make a bigger model. Something that I can really sit down with and sculpt the terrain and see how the buildings are going to fit together, especially since upwards of 90% of them are going to be scratch built. I need to know that what I build is going to fit and the only way to do that is to work in a larger scale. I'm going to use 1/2" = 12", this will allow me to work in increments of 1/8th of inch and have it be a meaningful measurement of 3" which is just about how thick the walls of the buildings will be. The other aspect that I need to work on is designing a sheet of windows and doors that I can just glue into place as needed. This would eventually lead to making a sheet of windows and doors that can be laser cut which will speed up the construction of the full sized buildings. The lasercut sheet would include both the exterior framing and the interior framing something lacking in many of the lasercut kits that are out there now. I prefer to have some details on the inside rather than just a shell. Since most of the buildings will be scratch built I'm also considering adding lighting to many of them. This could get a bit tricky but I have some ideas that should work. The thing holding me back on this is not the availability of lighting (model railroading to the rescue) but that I can't find a source for Hurricane style kerosene lamps. Naturally this concept of lighting brings up thoughts of turning individual lights on and off or at least doing it by building. That might require an entire control station to be built into the base!
Off to do some building workups!