Micropolis v1.1 – Bluff

New in the v1.1. spec are Bluff modules. The initial Bluff module concept was implemented by Garth prior to BrickWorld 2009 and several variations from various TwinLUG members were in the layout at the convention. Further refinement and discussion of the idea has brought us to the current proposal.

Bluff Modules

Micropolis Bluff Detailed Cross Section

Micropolis Bluff Detailed Cross Section

The Bluff modules are built by adding a stack of bricks and plates to one or two sides and one to three corners of a base module to create raised section where other Micropolis modules can be connected to form varied terrain in the layout. The stack consists of 1 plate, 10 bricks, and 2 plates over the top plate of the module base sandwich. The height of the module at the upper road section should be 12 bricks and 2 plates, or 38 plates. The minimum depth of the raised section of the module is 4 studs.

Some discussion has occurred around specifying a specific palette of colors that should be used for the vertical portions of the bluff modules in order to provide a more unified layout when many modules are combined. While it will be easier to integrate a Bluff module that uses a consistent set of colors it is also possible to overly restrict the creativity of contributing builders. At this time we recommend that Bright Green, Dark Green, Light Bluish Grey, Dark Bluish Grey, Old Stone, Old Grey, Dark Brown, Brown, and Reddish Brown are probably a good place to start for your modules but you should by no means consider yourself limited to those colors as long as they make some sense in the context of your module.

Micropolis Bluff Back Side

Micropolis Bluff Back Side

Bluff modules with entirely raised sides (Edge and Inner Corner) should have a technic brick at studs 8 and 9 horizontal and brick 10 vertical to allow connection with other modules.

In order to accommodate maximum flexibility while maintaining the consistent modular nature of existing Micropolis layouts, Bluff modules have three sub types: Edge, Inner Corner, and Outer Corner.

Micropolis Bluff Edge Module

Micropolis Bluff Edge Module

The Edge module is likely to be the most common Bluff module. The lower edge of the module maintains the standard road and sidewalk elements while the upper edge provides continuity for roads and sidewalks formed with modules on the upper level. Please note that the two crosswalk elements on a single Edge module will always be on opposite corners and may need to be moved when the module is added to a layout to match the surrounding modules. The Edge module can be connected to a Base module on the lower side or the upper side (using the mandated Techic brick on the back side) but must be connected to another Bluff module on either of the sides with mixed elevation. Download the Bluff Edge reference module in Lego Digital Designer format.

Micropolis Bluff Inner Corner Module

Micropolis Bluff Inner Corner Module

The Inner Corner module can be connected to Base modules on either of the upper sides but can only be connected to Edge or other Inner Corner modules on the sides with mixed elevation. Different types of Bluff corner modules can never by placed next to each other because doing so would cause inconsistency with the roads and sidewalks of other surrounding modules. Download the Bluff Inner Corner reference module in Lego Digital Designer format.

Micropolis Bluff Outer Corner Module

Micropolis Bluff Outer Corner Module

The Outer Corner module can be connected to Base modules on the lower sides but must be connected to Edge or other Outer Corner modules on the sides with mixed elevation. See the Outer Corner notes for more information. Download the Bluff Outer Corner reference module in Lego Digital Designer format.

Bluff Examples

Micropolis Bluff Example (1)
The first example shows a fairly basic Inner Corner with two Edge modules combined with a Base module. This provides for a simple corner on the lower level with plenty of expansion opportunities leading back on the upper level. Using a single bluff level can be an efficient way to ensure that base modules are not hidden behind other modules providing a better viewing opportunity for the entire layout.

Micropolis Bluff Example (2)
If you have a single module that you would like to raise above the rest of the layout a single Outer Corner and two Edge modules combine well to make a particular module stand out in a crowded layout.

Micropolis Bluff Example (3)
Even if a corner is not present in the Bluff line it is important to make sure that the streets are offset as displayed in this example. Notice how the intersection on the upper level is in the middle of the block in the lower level. This ensures that when a corner is added to the layout at a later time the streets flow uniformly according to the spec.

Micropolis Bluff Example (4)
Using a combination of Outer Corner and Edge modules it is very easy to assemble a butte of just about any size or shape. Good for layouts on tables that can be viewed from all sides.

Micropolis Bluff Example (5)
The Bluff modules can be used to scale a layout vertically and horizontally in almost any combination and allows for many complex shapes and forms. As long as the half block offset for the streets between levels is observed you should be able to combine your modules into spectacular ways.

If you have comments about the Bluff modules that you would like considered for the next version of the specification please comment below.

  • It would be a good idea to develop a “dedicated” onramp module for connections between the bluffs, if only to appease technical design.

  • Would you mind elucidating on the onramp suggestion? I’m guessing this has to do with connecting the roads vertically?

    A couple of us have looked into doing that a little bit but haven’t made any real progress. Besides, I’m all for allowing people to come up with their own solutions to the problems in the modules themselves.

  • Tyler

    I’ve tried coming up with a few onramp designs, but they all have the same problem: there is only enough space for one lane if you only use a single module. If you used two 16×16 bases, you could probably manage a two-lane onramp, but with only one base there simply isn’t enough room.

    One concept for two-lane access to a higher level I came up with was a tunnel; have a ramp leading up into the bluff and a standard base module with a tunnel leading down. It still uses two bases, but it isn’t as visually obtrusive as a massive onramp would be. Another idea involves a twin elevator system. It wouldn’t really fit in too well with a micropolis in a modern setting, but it would fit on a single module.

    Of course, depending on the setting of your micropolis, if it’s based in the future, you could assume cars can drive up near-vertical surfaces (magnetized roads, maybe?) or even fly, making an onramp unneccessary.

  • Can you tell us more about what you were trying? Were you using a Bluff Edge module and running the road straight up one of the sides?

    I think the relative success of running a road to another Bluff level depends a lot on where you put the road/ramp to and from the next level. There is nothing in the spec that says that you couldn’t run a road through the middle of the module, so I’ve always thought I would eventually try and put together a switchback style road on a single Bluff Edge module that connected with the upper or lower roads between studs 4-6/8 on either side. A larger than single module might still be necessary to pull it of nicely though. If you’ve ever seen pictures of little village streets on the top of mountain ridges in Italy, that’s the style I had been thinking of.

    I have also always thought of the existing roads on the modules as consisting of 1 driving and 1 parking lane. Two lane roads with no parking do exist in the real world and would look fine in this kind of context.

    The tunnel idea is a good one and could make for a really nice module. There are similar concepts that would work using a tunnel under a ridge/berm/bridge coming down from the upper level though it would also require a full block module to pull off nicely.

  • Tyler

    The ramp I designed is built on a bluff edge module, and it is basically a switchback road leading up a hill. I figured there probably wasn’t anything wrong with a road in the middle of a module. It starts at the top at studs 11/12, slopes down to studs 3/4, doubles back on itself, slopes down to studs 13/14, doubles back again and slopes itself down to the ground level, where it joins the lower road at studs 5/6. The road is only two studs wide, but if the existing module roads are thought of as being a driving and a parking lane… I guess it is a two-lane road after all. Never thought of it that way. That opens up a whole new range of ideas…