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Codex Special - August 2018

Posted August 25th, 2018 at 12:11 PM by HS Codex

HyGround Interview
Bill Reaser
Author: The Grim Reaper’s Friend & Bill Reaser

With their new Kickstarter active, we decided to lend our support by conducting an interview with the founders of HyGround tiles, Bill and Kara Reaser. In this interview, we nail down exactly what HyGround is, what is the process used to create it, and just how we as ’Scapers can use it ... plus a lot more information.

HeroScape game on HyGround tiles


What are HyGround tiles ?

HyGround tiles are a 3 dimensional terrain system for miniature gaming. Our terrain can be used for any area movement or grid movement game, and even RPG games.

How did the whole thing come together in the first place?

In 2014, I was working on a new game that I wanted to publish. For the game to be usable, I needed a 3D game board. The cost of the HeroScape tiles was becoming too expensive to purchase on eBay and other places. I needed to create my own board design. This was the birth of HyGround tiles. We felt that there might be a market for the tiles alone, so we designed the tiles and introduced them to the marketplace via a Kickstarter project. We received a lot of positive feedback but did not fund.

Who are the fine people behind the project?

It’s been a family project from the beginning: primarily Kara and I, and our oldest daughter Jessica. In the original Kickstarter, we had sons-in-law, my sister, and brother-in-law involved also.

Do you all plan on making this into a career after the (hopefully successful) Kickstarter?

It has been my goal to create a small business in the game industry and be able to support ourselves from it. Kara and I are now empty nesters and don’t have much as far as financial obligations, so now appears to be a good time to push forward.


Apart from the obvious versatility of the system, what are some of HyGround tiles’ other strengths/attractive points?

One of the interesting features we believe that the tiles provide is that, once assembled, they can be left assembled and moved as a single piece from place to place. At the SLC Comic Con, we talked to a bunch of DMs who loved the idea of having the next phase of their adventure pre-built and able to drop onto the table for the continuation of their campaigns. It’s also great to be able to move it off the table so you can have dinner, then bring it back to the table when gaming resumes.

We as product developers are really interested in feedback from our customers. As we hear about cool and interesting concepts, we will add some of them to our product list.

This is definitely designed to be a gaming board, but we’ve been getting lots of input from other groups of people, specifically mothers and school teachers. The tiles are very attractive to kids and we’ve had many who just play with the tiles like Lego bricks.

Just how varied will the HyGround system get? We’ve seen plains, swamps, mountains, and forests, but is there a curve ball waiting in the campaign for us which goes beyond regular terrain types?

Regular terrain types are our base for this campaign. There will be some mods like the swamp raised walkways, the cliffside walkways we just worked on, wagon ruts on the stone roads, more scatter terrain (that is, terrain designed to provide cover), some mystic tiles, etc.

Some stretch goals we’ve put together:
  • Snow and ice set
  • Geyser set
  • A large tree-fort set
  • A large coliseum set
  • Bridges set
  • Ship and shipwreck set

Ideas we’re tracking:
  • Floating communities (something like a Waterworld concept, post-apocalyptic)
  • Sci-fi sets
  • Rescaling for Battletech
  • Possible Western-themed sets
  • Possible steam punk sets

Have you tried painting the tiles? and what kind of paints do they take? Do they need priming?

It really depends on what filament is used. We’re recommending PLA. If PLA is used, then yes, the tiles are paintable, glue-able and pretty much can be modified in many ways. If PETG is used, there’s not much that can be done as far as painting (and having it stick), nor gluing, etc. ABS has its place, but for the common gamer is probably too difficult to deal with and on its way out of this market. There are some exciting exotic filaments out there, but they are just too expensive to consider for large print jobs.

We’ve painted many of our pieces with good results, although we’re definitely not very good detail painters. We’ve tried several different paints; all seem to work, from cheap craft paints to specialized miniature paints. The latter definitely work best. As in most painting, starting with a primer coat seems to be the best bet.

What’s the average time spent on one particular feature, and just how many iterations do you go through, on average, until you’re able to come up with a finished product?

That is a good question. We are very close to our final design, but to give you an idea, I’m currently on version 7d of our tiles. The biggest challenge for us is how to design a part that clicks together and works on all printers. Tolerances are so different from machine to machine.

Designs go through multiple phases. Most of our designs are organic in nature and getting these to feel right have been a challenge. And it seems that the more we do, the better we’re getting. An example: the covered well was a concept we had back in 2014. I created the base file in a 3D modeling tool (we use Autodesk tools) which took just over 3 hours. I passed the file over to Kara, who then applied the weathering and aging affects using Sculpt GL. This took around 2 hours. We then printed the files and made adjustments until we liked it. The scale was wrong on the first go—the roof supports didn’t fit the cut-out and the rock texture was terrible. I think it was about 3 iterations with the well. Once we were good, we dropped the tile into Meshmixer and re-meshed the tiles to correct any irregularities, then finalized all the files and then dropped them into a zip file. I would guess a total of about 10+ hours for the well.


How compatible are the tiles with actual HeroScape tiles? Can we stack and/or connect them?

Our starter tiles stack directly on top of Heroscape tiles and you can build up from there with HyGround tiles. Also, we’ve created starter base tiles with the Heroscape clips on them so they can be connected directly with Hersocape tiles. In addition, we have several grass textured tiles with the Heroscape clips on them. We have a video highlighting this.

HyGround to HeroScape connectors

The link to Heroscape is obvious, and your care for backwards compatibility is evident. Are you also planning a game to go with the tiles in the future?

Yes. It’s been on the drawing board and in development for several years.
  • Idea – A replacement game for Heroscape.
  • Concept – A miniatures game that can be learned quickly and played amongst friends who may not have miniatures of their own.
  • Special feature – An online service which allows a person to create a character card for any miniature they own: print the character card and then use in the game. We will still provide game designed miniatures, but this allows users to create custom figures from their vast selection of miniatures. The online service provides a proprietary algorithm that calculates the character cost based on the selections for race, weapons, character size, etc.


You had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign back in 2014. What are some of the mistakes you made and what have you learned from that experience?

The mistakes are probably too long a list to share here, but if I were to hit the highlights:
  • Focusing solely on hex tiles: I realized after our campaign that there are only a few games these days still in production that actually use a hex tile. That is why we are also introducing square tiles this time around.
  • Setting too high a goal with our campaign: It was a necessary goal to afford the molds, but it was too far out of reach because we did not obtain a large enough following to support the goal we set.

Since you’re selling virtual files, some of our Codex contributors have been wondering what you’re going to use the funds from your Kickstarter for. Could you fill us in?

We’ve done most of the work ourselves, but I’ve had to hire an engineer to design and model the clip system on the tiles. This was not free and there are still the square tiles to complete. Also, if we do well, we’ll begin the process to purchase the molds for the injection molded product. I know this is not mentioned much in this Kickstarter, but that has been our goal from the beginning.

What are your distribution plans for HyGround after this campaign? crowdfunders still, or direct sales?

Our original goal is still our goal today, which is to sell a physical product. Our hope is that we can provide a high quality injection molded product and to distribute wholesale and private label.

For now, we are pushing forward with 3D printable files and direct sales. We have to start somewhere and the high cost of injection molds is just too far out of reach at the moment.

3D Printing

Since you’re starting out by selling the 3D printer files, what can buyers do if they don’t own a 3D printer?

We mention two options: have someone print them for you—a friend or 3D printing service—or buy a 3D Printer. The best printer we’ve used cost just over $200. We’ve reviewed several 3D printers on our website.

Will you sell hard copy orders?

That is our goal for the future, yes. We want to provide an injection molded product.

Are there public 3D printers they can use?

Yes, some public libraries now provide access to 3D printers and, if a person lives close to a college or university, they’ll have 3D printers people can use.

Going from crowdfunding printed product to .stl files seems to be gaining traction in the wargaming/board gaming terrain world; do you see this as the future of the segment, especially with 3D printers becoming better and more accessible?

3D printable terrain is definitely a niche market. There is a lot of focus on cityscapes, dungeon terrain and individual buildings/ruins, etc. To start, we’re focusing on outdoor terrain.

3D printing will definitely gain momentum in this market and will grow as printers and their ease of use improve. However, the person/company who can provide a good quality, inexpensive, easily accessible product will find the most success.

What are the printers you’re using at the moment and what would you recommend your backers purchase in order to be able to take advantage of all the best detail HyGround tiles have to offer?

We own the following printers:
  • MakerGear M2 – prints 2x faster than all the other printers listed here with great quality
  • Creality Ender-3 – excellent detail printer
  • TRONXY P802D – have not been able to tune this one to provide good quality prints
  • AnyCubic Photon (DLP printer) – not for printing tiles but excellent printer for miniatures and small detail items—highly detailed prints

We’ve borrowed the following printers from friends and family:
  • Creality CR-10 – huge print volume and really great quality
  • Qidi Tech X-one2 – great quality when slowed down

Prices range from $1800 to $190.

I would highly recommend the Creality Ender-3 to anyone wanting to 3D print. It’s a kit but can be built in a short amount of time without a lot of effort. Good instructions, very rigid frame, quality parts, and looks like it will last a long time. And, out of the box, with few adjustments, prints beautifully. I recommend adding a glass bed. We own 2 of them and they have become the printer of choice for us. Both have been printing 24/7 for the past 2 months. Available on Amazon for $230 with free two day shipping.


Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. We close our ’Scaper of the Month interviews by asking them if they have a message for the ’Scaper community. Since you’re doing your part to keep ’Scape alive, I saw no reason not to ask you the same question. So here it is: Do you have a message for the ’Scaper community?

Keep on ’Scaping!

We encourage you to check out the HyGround Kickstarter, and lend your support.

HyGround tiles merged with HeroScape tiles in one board

All images are provided courtesy of Bill and Kara Reaser.
Total Comments 3


Brease's Avatar
Thanks for the great article and support!
Posted August 25th, 2018 at 12:44 PM by Brease Brease is offline
pokemonHeroscapePaintball's Avatar
Dang super cool, Can I buy these tiles like now?
Posted September 1st, 2018 at 10:09 AM by pokemonHeroscapePaintball pokemonHeroscapePaintball is offline
The Grim Reaper's Friend's Avatar
@pokemonHeroscapePaintball I don't think you can get the files just yet, but according to the Kickstarter, they should become available for purchase soon.

In case it wasn't clear, do note that these are files for 3D printers, not actual tiles you are buying. You print the tiles yourself.

Posted September 1st, 2018 at 10:55 AM by The Grim Reaper's Friend The Grim Reaper's Friend is offline
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