Making the Furious Road

My most recent digression into board game design led to a weekend of arts and crafts. I made a two-piece desert highway for a post-apocalyptic car chase game inspired by Thunder Road and JUNK’D.

And so can you!

I used a sheet of pink XPS foam and carefully measured out the spaces, drawing them in with a simple ballpoint pen. It was enough to score the foam and mark out the spaces as well. The lanes are 1.5″ wide and 3″ long. Each board piece is 6 lanes across and 7 spaces long. Furthermore, the spaces are staggered so it’s easy to tell who is in the lead from lane to lane.

I had various utility knives available but if you have a hot wire cutter that is apparently the best way to make these cuts. I did not.

Finally, I rolled up some aluminum foil into a little cylinder and rolled it all over the outside lanes to create a rough, “off-road” texture. You don’t have to push very hard.

Protection

Most people know that spray paints will melt foam. If you didn’t know this, WITNESS:

To avoid this problem, I covered each piece with two coats of matte mod podge. If you end up doing something like this, definitely get yourself some test foam just to be sure, because one of the colors I had chosen melted the foam through the mod podge.

Painting

What you do here might be different depending on your end goal. I was making a board game, so I didn’t want to get so fancy that the spaces I’d marked out disappeared under layers of detail and debris. I used 3 different spray cans for the board:

  1. A coat of some ugly yellow from Walmart that I had lying around from trying to color match a 1970s toilet.
  2. I covered the outside lanes and lightly touched the middle two “blacktop” lanes with Rustoleum multicolored stone texture paint. While maybe not as realistic a desert terrain as covering the board in a mixture of baking soda, superglue, sand, and gravel might be, it certainly was a lot easier. See also – I didn’t want to get too fancy. This was a game board, not a diorama.
  3. I loosely covered the outside lanes (some overspray would be okay here) and hit the middle of each board with black matte krylon, then with a dusting of grey automotive primer because that is the gray I had. I had a cool dark gray textured spray can but it melted my test foam.
  4. I drew yellow lines on with a paint pen.

The killer feature of the XPS foam for me is how easy it was to score it with the ballpoint pen. The spaces are clearly marked but mesh with the texture and colors nicely. Cutting it’s a pain, and painting it proved to be a longer process than I thought, but I think it turned out well.

Big thanks to Black Magic Craft’s youtube channel, I learned a ton about working with foam and got inspired for this project after watching his piece on dungeon tiles.

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