A7XfanBen’s Entry for Ocean Terrain Contest #3

A7XfanBen’s Entry for Ocean Terrain Contest #3

Ocean Terrain Contest #3



Literally my entire goal in the whole process was to $ave Dat MoneyLaughing (Normally I hate songs with autotune but that song just hits me in a way that no other song has lol) That became my theme song and “anthem” if you will when I thought about making stuff. All corners would be cut, all the monies would be saved and nearly zero dollars would be spent.

With that in mind, how would I go about making stuff on such an insanely strict budget? I’m more of an Englishman than a pirate, so stealing stuff was out of the question. Laughing

Well, the perfect combination was already in place. I worked part-time at an Ace Hardware store. Idea So then, how could that translate to saving money on the mammoth project?

-Free foam sourced from the dumpsters and trash cans (almost none of it dirty and the rest very easily cleaned off)
-Infinite amount of free cardboard
-Spray paint was bought on sale AND with my 20% off employee discount Cool (would have spent $8+, instead got it for around $5.50) (I considered trying to get it cheaper somehow or waiting until someone would bring in a defective can or something lol, but wanted to get stuff done so I could start Command the Oceans)
-Use only tools and things I already owned:
–Utility knife that I used for most of the foam cutting and sculpting was literally given to me as a gift by a former Ace employee who had left the store about 4 years prior
–Durabuilt toolbox was also a gift so no money spent there
–Crayola scissors from childhood (likely not purchased with my money lol) didn’t get used much but since they’re in some pictures I’ll just emphasize that they weren’t bought for the project either lol

The second “main idea” of my projects was something that speaks to me on a personal level for the Pirates CSG world as a whole: GAMEPLAY TRUMPS EVERYTHING. By that, I mean that using my stuff in games is far more important than how aesthetic it looks. I want to be able to use epic and unique custom stuff that functions properly and in an “epic” way when I play Pirates. As with other things in Pirates (custom ships, etc), I think it is best to play, not just ponder and pontificate. I realize that this mindset is completely contradictory to how to win this contest, as the most aesthetically beautiful entry will likely win. However, to me playing the game is the most important thing; if the stuff doesn’t get used, why bother making it? (other than selling it for a profit haha)

Full disclaimer: I don’t expect to do particularly well in this contest, because a lot of my stuff is not as aesthetic as what other people make. However, the experiences of playing are second to none for me.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Command the Oceans is the game I played with the stuff I made for this contest. I originally started the game to show off my creations, but it quickly morphed into something FAR bigger than that, both literally and figuratively. I HIGHLY recommend checking out the battle reports for that game to see how this stuff functions in a real game. It was the biggest game of Pirates ever up to this point, and one of the best games I’ve ever played.
MAJOR SPOILERS for CTO are within this post, so read about the game first if you want. (or just don’t look too hard at the “in action” pictures, and avoid most of the videos XD)


So, just how much foam did I really have?


Shocked Laughing

Thought you might need a ship for scale! XD

Just immense, immense quantities.

4 or 5 feet in the air!

Tools of the trade. Although, the utility knife and large scissors were used far more than anything else. I did try a few “hammer shots” lol, but it just kicked up a ton of the foam beads into the air. In case you’re wondering, that black plastic sheeting was also free. I took it off the top of the pallets we have outside when it covers the mulches and rocks. It came in VERY handy as a foam catcher/workspace/dropcloth for all of the messy work.

Very strong and very thick corrugated cardboard. Had no idea what I would use this for, for a decent amount of time, until I thought about DOCKS!

Captain Mission’s Pirate Kingdom

That big middle chunk turned into an awesome Pirate base…

… but I had to start somewhere. Once I looked at the block from this angle, I knew what I wanted to do. I always try to take what the foam/cardboard is giving me and go from there. So, I thought it could be cool if I hollowed out the middle part for a “cave” type hideout location, with a raised area for troops/defenses higher up where you see the crescent on the left.

The bottom was far less inspiring, but it seemed like a solid idea to create arches on both sides of the enclosed area.

The messy part. Tons of shaving and hacking.

It took a lot to get it less blocky and manmade-looking.

The Kingdom after being blasted with spraypaint. As I said in the CTO thread, I did NOT intend for that “melted” look haha. The paint partially affected the foam a bit to create that on its own. However, some people like it so it worked out fine.

The unfinished Pirate Kingdom from the front. I purposely kept that “pillar” thing in the middle since maybe it could protect ships inside from potential mortar fire/etc. XD At the bottom you can see the ledge I glued on, specifically for a situation that would soon arise….

Showing the double archways:

THE PIRATE KINGDOM IN PLAY! Command the Oceans began with the first of many grand reveals, and the Pirates were up first.

Using the ledge to get some shipwrights onto ships waiting below. That way they don’t have to go inside and experience the traffic jam of gold runners. XD

There’s a decent amount of space inside, especially for a more reasonably sized game:

The ledge was added partly for this reason: perfect for a fortress!

A great place to come home to with Eternal. I think Gollum would like it, rather dark and evil. XD

Over the course of Command the Oceans, it truly became a Pirate Kingdom!

Large enough to sustain considerable operations of a decent-size fleet, with coins, resources, ladders and army units on/inside it as well.

Sometimes it’s hard to see the cool gold waterfall inside!
Making the gold waterfall

You can also see it in action here:
The biggest fleet ever seen in a game…

Captain Nemo’s Mercenary Submarine Hideout

I loved the idea of having this cardboard molding used as a hideout. The openings at the bottom are perfect for submarines, whether they’re underwater or on the surface.

After getting the right cut, I used the spray paint to get it looking more “natural”, almost like a volcanic island with sea caves. As this picture shows, I cut cardboard doors to put in the openings in the “rock”!

The current piece, with Nemo and his Mercenaries operating the doors from within to protect the submarines inside.

Shoot me if you can! The metal doors are resistant to cannon fire.

The doors/openings are the perfect size for keeping submarines safe and keeping ships out!

You can just see some subs entering here. Lightweight and relatively small, it’s easy to take the Sub Hideout off the ocean to get at the stuff inside. For example, I let the Mercenary submarines repair while inside.

The Tunnel

Here is the GIANT piece of foam that was eventually turned into the Tunnel, one of my personal favorites of the project!

The Tunnel! After being cut out, having a fitted piece glued onto the open wall to close it off, and getting spray painted.

The fitted piece was actually the hardest part because it was difficult to make right, with plenty of trial and error finally leading to a decent but not perfect piece that worked well enough for my satisfaction. I LOVED how the Tunnel was not the same on both sides up top – one side has a wall going up from the flat part, while the other is not enclosed and is a sheer drop. The ends were great too since they were also different without me having to do anything. One is a sloped wall while the other is a nice little opening and the perfect spot for a cannon to fire from!

As previewed on my Instagram before CTO even started….

Things got even more interesting when I realized that things could be dropped down from the top. Cutting a very thin piece of screen makes a perfect ladder, which could be used to get supplies or troops from the top to ships waiting below, or vice versa to supply and reinforce a garrison defending the Tunnel!

Inside the Tunnel is dark and foreboding…

I really enjoyed adding to the top of it. After painting it to get a rocky black look, I wanted to make it look more natural with rocks and some sparse grass.

Overall the Tunnel is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made for Pirates.

The Tunnel in play

The top is great as a platform for troops and artillery:

One end shrouded in fog for maximum mystique:

VERY tall inside, to the point where you could comfortably fit multiple 10 masters side by side! This makes the top very difficult to access, which is cool from a logistics perspective.

The Pirates wanted to “tunnel” through the Tunnel!

After much hard work, they finally made it through! O_O

Doesn’t get much more epic than this. A HUGE battle happening INSIDE and around the Tunnel, with the Pirates firing down on the Cursed from the fort they built in the new opening at the top.

Angelica used flamethrower to set the fort alight and burn some of the Pirate infantry!

Overall the Tunnel is very unique to me because I want it to have a “story” as a “legacy piece” that encompasses all the games it is involved in. Command the Oceans was hopefully just the beginning for this epic terrain piece. I have many more ideas with it, so more modifications will take place in future epic games.

Check out a short video with the Tunnel in it!
The War for the Sea of Allost (Command the Oceans)

The Harbor

This idea was borne from this piece of foam. It originally sat on top of another piece of foam as a sort of box top for the thing inside. However, once I flipped it over and saw how the middle could get punched out (notice the cracks towards the top), my mind was off to the races. I was still unsure of what to do with it for a while, but I took this picture once I had a vague idea. It could be a massive harbor structure with high walls on all sides except for a double entrance at the front! That idea is illustrated here before I did any of the cutting.

I cut out the middle area and did a quick blast-over with paint for the basic premise.

An example of my “workshop” area, showing the concept of a giant jetty/pier going all the way out of the Harbor and into the ocean!

Tunnel and Harbor, two peas of the same pod! XD Before really delving into the Tunnel idea, I really considered a ton of options with the bigger piece here. I nearly left it completely intact so it could be a double tunnel thing with a side alley where a big fleet could be contained within (imagine it upside down). I decided it would be far too boxxy from any angle, but worse, it would be a NIGHTMARE for gameplay unless I developed an elaborate system with multiple removable tops (but I would want things on top during gameplay, which would be difficult with RISK army units and whatnot. In the end, I cut it nearly down the middle and then glued a separate piece to cover the opening of the Tunnel to complete that piece, setting the other big chunk aside for a while.

The Harbor in play

The French had the Harbor as their “home island”/base in CTO, and here you can see the completed dock system (they started with just one dock and bought them for 10 gold apiece) at nearly full capacity:

Overhead view from the back:

Truly a gigantic and amazing piece, I love the modular customizability of it!

I LOVE how the docks are perfect for carnage, debris, and destruction.

An invasion by a hostile nation can SEVERELY complicate things!

Videos including the Harbor:
Sea of Karkuda on Turn 72 (Command the Oceans)

The Roost

With this HUGE piece of foam, I wanted to do something epic with it.

Here you can see it upside down at the upper left with some other stuff:

I cut some of the sides and part of the back out to have 4 ways to get into the huge tall “hall” of sorts. Then I hacked at some of it (mostly the top/upper structure) to get a jagged, sinister look. Then I blasted it with black spray paint because I had decided the height and evilness would be perfect for a Cursed sea dragon roosting area!

The “front” top area, where dragons can nest in the slots:

The Monkey’s Paw sailing into the intimidating structure:

The Roost in CTO!

I love how huge ladders can be dropped down through the holes to put Cursed infantry on unsuspecting enemies waiting below!!

A Sea Dragon nest!

Videos with the Roost:

The Castles

Not in the original form here, these were cardboard protectors for candles or something like that.

Once I thought about flipping them upside down, I thought about making castles!

The bottoms and scraps of those cardboard cutouts used to hold candles or whatever was inside them.

At the right you can see the main Castle that features heavily in Command the Oceans. There’s a ton of great stuff you can do to customize these, similar to the modular nature of the Harbor. Bridges, extra docks, artillery/sharpshooter platforms, roofs, a town/citadel inside, etc. Lots of great possibilities, most of which still need to be explored in future games.

There’s not a ton of space for ships on the inside “harbor” portions of the Castle, but it further suggests the more defensive nature.

A roof over the main command station, or even crazier – a retractable roof that doubles as a bridge to a castle extension!! O_O

The Castle in play


I love how the archways going through are low enough to let shorter ships through, but not the bigger ships:

The Americans took over the former Spanish Castle and made it into a base of their own!

So many cool things you can do with something like this. Blast a hole in the wall, station troops and artillery on the walls and ramparts, and set it on fire! XD

Like a sea castle with medieval siege ramifications:

With a Castle extension! O_O

With a “moat” or bridge high enough for tall ships to pass underneath!

With enough time and resources it could become a sprawling fortress of epic proportions:

The Castle in all its glory:

Videos of the Castle in play!!
American operations on Turn 70 (Command the Oceans)
The War for Karkuda (Command the Oceans)

Broken Horn Island
At first I was excited about Broken Horn Island as one of my easily made customs, but I didn’t like the way it turned out and I may put more effort into it after the game to make it a little better. It’s a sloped piece of foamy material (not at all like the regular foam though, way stronger, almost impossible to cut, and not as beady/messy) that held screwdrivers so I left some of those holes and just put stuff I found in my childhood in place of them. I cut a slope down to the water level where ships can now dock.

The island is pretty large, and I might edit it more in the future. The Cursed used it as a resource island/gold island, the latter due to the Gold Ship.

These are icebergs with shipwrecks attached to them – in Command the Oceans, the ships were Cursed and still “possessed”, meaning the Cursed could move the icebergs S in the direction they wanted, rather than a random direction.

This is how I reused some of the wrecks from my Economy Edition game, at the left you can see a broken 4 masted galley icewreck driving a regular iceberg into the Clear Wind:

These work great in games and add a nice 3 dimensional aspect to things:

(wood cracking and splintering sound)

Scary to face a faceless, possessed foe:

This shows 3 of the icewrecks:


Inspired by the custom Lighthouse idea from Vixenishcoder66, I decided to try making a few of my own for potential use in Command the Oceans!

A lot of cardboard cylinders could be used for making lighthouses. The ones used for paper towels and toilet paper are a bit wide, but could still work. I was able to find some thin cylinders with thick walls. This meant they would be a decent width (still a little too wide to be realistic), but punching holes in the sides for “light” and windows proved somewhat difficult without ruining the small structures.

To get the windows, I usually started with a small screwdriver and sometimes widened it after with unopened scissors. Gets a little gnarly inside, but the exterior ends up looking decent.

Nobody wants a hollow lighthouse with rain pouring in, so I had to figure out a practical idea for tops. I traced a line with pencil on the thinnest corrugated cardboard I have, then cut the circle out. Some of the roofs fit better than others but it works well enough! This also allows for fun things like hiding coins in the lighthouse during games, or perhaps something even more fun….

The French introduced the first lighthouse in Command the Oceans, on an island made years ago by RossinAZ.

Blue striping makes it a good option for a French or American lighthouse. A bit stocky/stubby, but small enough to fit on an island and not look obscene.

I used an L-range straw from the lighthouse to simulate the effect of the ability:

The Pirates built a black lighthouse of their own on another of RossinAZ’s custom islands. (ISLAND NOT MADE BY ME, NOT PART OF MY ENTRY!)

Here are all of the lighthouses I made:

The red one is based on Smeaton’s Tower.

I made sure to make each one slightly different between height/paint/width/windows. The black one also has a depressed roof.

One of my favorite pictures from Command the Oceans, Google Photos edited the coloring on this one for me for some reason.

Minor additions

I also used some old rocks in Command the Oceans, though even this one could hardly be considered “custom terrain”. No need to factor these into your voting on my entry, but they were glued together during the contest period. XD
Luck Island (rocks with holes in them are considered “lucky stones” by some; you can also see a tiny fossil or two)

Top left: Pearl Island
Bottom left: Fish Island
Top right: icewreck

Grand Shots

Some pictures showing more than one of my creations at a time. These really show how large and dominant the pieces are, and how fun and “commanding” they are during gameplay.

The Sea of Allost, showing the Roost, Tunnel, Kingdom, and part of Broken Horn Island. (other islands/terrain not to be considered for the contest!)

Tunnel and Roost! (island in foreground made by RossinAZ, obviously not for my entry)

Here you can see the Tunnel, Kingdom, and Pirate lighthouse:

Kingdom and lighthouse:

With fort:

Kingdom of Heaven?

The Sea of Karkuda, showing the Castle, Hideout, and Harbor. (other stuff in picture (outside of the lighthouse) not to be considered for the contest!)

Along with the lighthouse:

Another angle focusing on the Castle:

So! How much did I spend? Well, approximately $5.18 for the whole project. O_O AKA the spray paint, which is pretty much the only thing I spent money on. Everything else I either already had, or sourced for free.

Sadly I haven’t even used this stuff yet, as almost all of the stuff I made was worked on in August 2017. I used a $20 gift card at Michael’s on some more stuff, but I’ll have to use it another time. Still, I’m even saving money on future ocean/terrain projects!! XD

Huzzah! Hopefully someday there will be an “OTC4”! XD

My Custom Stuff for Pirates CSG


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