This time it’s war – in 3D

January 13, 2012

With my Blood Bowl team pretty much done (pictures coming up soonish), and armed with experience gained from building my BB pitch, I’ve decided to start a new project. I went through my boxes of old stuff some time ago, and dug out the old Leading Edge Aliens board game that I bought for a pittance years and years ago. I’ve played this game so many times in my teens, due to its solo play option.  I remember sitting in my room at the age of 14 or 15, and just playing the game over and over and over again.

Aliens board game

Click for a larger version

It wasn’t too difficult to form the following chain of thought: “Hmm, I really want to play this game again” to “I have loads of Colonial Marine and Alien miniatures” to “I wonder if the playing board accommodates 28mm miniatures – no” to…oh, you know how it goes. So now I’m looking to build a 3D gaming board to recreate the main – and in my opinion best – scenario from the game. It’s of course the reactor room one, where most of the CM squad is ripped apart. It’s a pretty difficult and brutal mission, but perfectly captures the feeling of the movie. Don’t believe me? Try the Flash version and come back!

With this in mind I picked up a sheet of blue foam and the Aliens game board and did some calculations. The original board is 14 by 25 squares. When I translated the squares to 30mm ones and left some extra room at the sides, it amounted to a 42,3 cm by 75,3 cm board. Perfectly reasonable size, only a bit larger than my Blood Bowl pitch. Storage is always an issue for me when it comes to wargaming scenery. Or rather, it has started to become an issue due to not being an issue before.

The Blood Bowl pitch project certainly taught me something, and that was to be careful with measurements and cutting. As a result, the Aliens board is much more symmetrical and the square grid much more even. I used the same push-pins and string -technique to build the grid, and used a felt-tip marker to mark the corners of the squares. Much more fun an easy than with the pitch.

After doing the grid, I marked down or the obstacles on the board so I know what to build and where, and that’s where I’m now. I’m thinking of attaching the various bits and pieces of the game board – at least the larger ones – with magnets, so they can be removed for easier storage.

Click for a larger version

(No, it’s not that irregular – the camera angle’s doing some nasty tricks there!)

What’s next? I’m thinking of buying a suitable plastic or metal mesh to use as flooring. While there are some nice stuff in resin and etched brass out there, I’m trying to optimise the cost/looks ratio. For the obstacles it’s going to be lots of scratch building, green stuff and some resin accessories I have stashed away. That’s one great thing about starting projects, especially thematically similar ones: you can use leftovers or stuff bought for something else easily. And of course I have all the Marines and Aliens I need already.

Ideas, comments, insight and encouragement warmly welcomed.


  1. I thought that this was going to be a post about a 3D movie. This project is far more appealing than that. A “grail” project that is all the more achievable because you have all of the figures ready to go.

    I had a copy of that game in my hands in a London Virgin Megastore many years ago and I bought Battletech instead. I have regretted it ever since.

    The Leading Edge miniatures made specifically for the game are a bit ropey, but I dont need to lecture you on suitable Aliens miniatures 🙂

    I suspect that kitting out a board that size with etched brass and resin bits would look great, but cost a fortune. I reckon re-purposed household junk is the way to go for sure. A few choice resin bits here and there should up the authenticity nicely. These are just some of many resin bits that spring to my mind:


    Magnets and foam could give you problems. In my experience the attraction between the magnets is stronger than the magnet to foam connection, meaning that the magnets may well just rip chunks from the board after a short period. I would be happy to be proven wrong if you have some ideas to make it work, but forewarned is forearmed etc.

    Dare I mention storage?

    Do you have a photo of the game map itself? I am curious to see what the various shapes marked out on the foam will represent. The wobblier outlines are clutches of eggs and bits of hive if I remember correctly but I would like to know what sort of man-made structures you have planned. Are the all solid hunks of machinery or are there offices and the like?

    I will be enthusiastically looking forward to seeing this project develop. I love Blood Bowl as much as the next miniatures dork, but Aliens beats it every time 🙂


    • Thanks for the comment Paul! The post title definitely sounds like the header for a 3D Aliens remake..shudder.

      I’ve had my eye on those resin bits and pieces from Scotia Grendel for a good while now. I already have some from Ainsty (http://ainstycastings.co.uk/index.php) – the Cargo Hold and Down Below stuff would be a nice match.

      Good point about the magnets, hadn’t thought about that. Rare earth magnets pack quite a punch, so maybe I should use thin sheet magnets, the type people use for basing. This is pretty much about storage! If I can keep the main table pretty much flat, it will be easy to store upright just like my BB pitch. After that I’d only need a small box for the 3D add-ons.

      I don’t have a photo of the board, but this picture is pretty accurate: http://www.battlegroundsgames.com/images/Aliens_Boardgame_Preview_1.png . Basically there is machinery, piping and stuff like that.

      I’m really pretty hyped up about this project. I’m going on a vacation now for two weeks, but after that I’ll tackle it head on!


  2. This will be a good ‘un. I too have this game and played it endlessly back in the late 80’s. Look forward to seeing what you come up with. Stay Frosty!


    • Thanks Phil! I’m in the pipe, five by five.


  3. Yeah also check out the flash game!http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/408816

    good luck I played this a t a wargames show many years ago and it is still the best precursor to spacehulk ever.


    • Thanks for the comment, like the Flash version as well – actually linked it in the post! This is definitely like a Space Hulk light, should be great for some solo gaming too.


  4. […] Aliens board game game board (tee-hee) project I announced a while back is going strong. In this post I’ll take a look at […]


  5. I had a copy of that game when I was in high school and loved the heck out of it. Sadly I lost my copy at some point when I moved.

    Text versions of the rules and maps are up on board game geek so if anyone wants them they can find them there.

    I’m working on some resin floor tiles that’d be suitable for this that will consist of grates, diamond plating etc.


    • Thanks for the comment! Looking forward to seeing the floor tiles once they’re finished.


      • Ah, just checked out your blog! The floor tiles look very nice. Thanks for the kind words about Dawn of the Lead too.


  6. […] is an update on my Aliens game board project. I’m at a point where I’ve glued most of the magnet pieces to the game board. I’d […]


  7. We did this about 10 years ago. Played a game at Origins where a guy had used the Dwarven Forge catacombs or whatever set. We now play in a variety of environments, including using about 30 of the Sci-Fi Walls sets to build the spaceships, space stations, whatever, There’s a small pic of one of the games at the top of my site http://www.bringyouragamemagazine.blogspot.com


    • Shame about the small pic, looks promising! Good blog, too.


  8. […] favourite of mine, blue insulation foam. I had used this to build a Blood Bowl pitch and most of an Aliens game board (which I really should finish one of these days), so it was a familiar material. I picked up a […]


  9. […] long-time reader, you probably don’t know about my Underworld project (2009–), or my Aliens board game project (2012–). You might have seen my Pacific Rim project (2014–), although I […]


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