Friday, 19 February 2016

Wargames Terrain

Having played plenty of games of Bloody Big Battles of late, one of the issues I have been having is how best to represent the terrain of some of the battlefields. For many some foam blocks or other similar items under a gaming mat will suffice to represent hills etc, with felt roads, rivers and woods adding in the important detail. However I've come to the point where despite the best will in the World, this 'system' fails for many of the more complex battles that occured during the 1866 and 1870 campaigns for example. A recent game of the 2nd Battle of Plevna was an example of this.

So how best to resolve this conundrum? Being a designer and modelmaker I've been pondering this issue for some time now. I want a table that looks nice but also accurately reflects, as best as one can in a game, the terrain that the battle was fought over. Specifically the contours of hills, the path of the rivers etc.

After several ideas floating around in my head I thought I'd give an almost 'old school' type of system a go. This would consist of painted mdf boards cut to the relevant shapes for the hills, then everything given a coat of green paint. Over this would be painted the footprint of the woods, the rods, rivers and towns as required. To try this out I simply knocked up a sample section of board at work, adding in some details just to try things out. The results can be seen below:

6mm mdf sheets cut to shape and stuck together.
A road, river and village were added for detail. These were hand painted on but would probably be masked and sprayed on to speed things up.
The woods simply marked out by a different colour and standard wargaming trees added on.

For around an hours effort I must say I'm very happy with the result. The colours need tweaking which is quite easy to do and I could add in fields and different areas of colour etc to give a more detailed look if required. i actually like the simplicity of the whole. I may even get some 2D mdf trees laser cut to add to that simple 'old school' effect. 

The only downside with this system is that I lack the storage space for multiple boards. One option os to go the whole hog down the cartographic route and simply paint the contours on as per a map. That way I could have a different battlefield on each side of the board. Again I need to experiment to see if I would be happy with this.

This system also works rather well  for making some generic terrain tiles, say 2' x 2', that can be interchanged as required. This gives plenty of scope for different arrangements and would be perfect for fictional battles. Again, I need to explore this further as I've seen many fine examples of this system.

So now it is simply a case of me getting my act together and producing a full size table  so that I can really try the various options out.

1 comment:

  1. I have the same question with regards to hills and BBB. I have yet to run a BBB game, but the scenarios have all sorts of hills in them. I want to avoid just using felt but also want to avoid making fancy hills that I only use once and lack room for storage. I have used layered 1/8" hardboard/mdf before, which I'm leaning towards.