Now there are four of them
I have only had one set of boards since I started wargaming. Around 1971 I bought two 4' x 5' pieces of half-inch chipboard - placed side by side they made an 8' x 5' tabletop. They have been various shades of green over the years, and since about 1975 they have had 7" hexagons applied to one side, but otherwise they are the originals. They are leaning against the wall here in my office, and it is sobering to think what long-redundant armies have marched on them, and how many visiting generals have played on them - quite a few of those players are no longer with us, I am reminded.
Same boards. A shot of a Romans v Celts battle in Feb 2001 - this picture intrigues me, since it is taken in the old dining room of our cottage, a room which is now the downstairs bathroom. This is as near as I have got to fighting battles in the toilet
Chipboard is not ideal - it tends to crumble around the edges, especially the corners, and the half-inch stuff, though light and easy to handle, tends to droop a bit if any unsupported overhang exceeds a foot or so. The boards are getting a bit battered now, and they smell strange, since for a while they were stored in the garage wrapped in tarpaulin. They have been placed on all sorts of supporting surfaces over the years - wallpaper pasting tables, various dining tables, and - surprisingly successfully - for a while I used a child's playpen, with lengths of Dexion angle-bars lashed on. This was good because the tabletop was much lower than standard and (whatever it says in the books about the advantages of high tables) this gives a terrific view and puts the middle of the table in easy reach. Gives a glimpse of what gaming on the floor would be like, I guess. Might not be too clever for the spine, but I was immune to such problems in those days.
Anyway, I'm now back up to standard dining-table height, which is fine. Our current dining table is a big fellow (2.5 metres long), which meant that I was able to cut the battleboards in half, so that I now have four 2' x 5' sections, which are much easier to store and to lug around.
My ancient hexes run in the wrong direction for CCN, so I have been working out how to remedy this. I reckon that I can keep my 7" hexes and still fit the official CCN playing surface on an 8 x 5 table. My original plan was to paint the new hex grid on the reverse side of the present boards but they are not in a good enough state - it would be a lot of work, and I would be disappointed with the result. OK then - new boards. Some swimming of the brain here - what sort of materials, how big? Yes, how big? Could I fit a 9' x 6' board in the dining room? - hmmm. In fact, commonsense prevails - I'll stick with 8 x 5 - it fits the CCN layout and gives a little room for a blank surround, and I can paint the reverse plain green, or maybe apply felt. Anything bigger, though tempting, would be difficult to walk around. For material, I fancy 20mm MDF. It should be structurally robust enough, and a sealed-and-painted MDF surface is smooth but tough. I've also given some thought to having four 8-foot battens to place on the dining table, and site the battleboards on top of these - that would enable me to have the table as eight 1' x 5' panels instead of four 2' x 5', which would store in a wardrobe or similar without drama. Interesting.
I don't think I'm going to start on this until the Winter. I am strangely reluctant to abandon my old boards, but they've been in use for 40 years, so they do not owe me anything, and it's time to smarten up.