Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Terrain boards III -

I've reached an important point today in my terrain board project: I now have the first 6 boards completed, and thus have enough to play a regular (Modern) Spearhead game on - these six boards cover a standard 1800 by 1200 gaming table (that's 6 by 4 foot for those of you still stuck in the feudal age...).

It's taken a while to get here, but it's been a reasonably enjoyable process, and I feel a lot more confident now that I will be able to complete the project.  If not soon, at least eventually!  Of course, the upcoming boards are likely to take even more time to make than these ones have...  Still, at least the winter break is coming up.

It's quite hard to see the outlines of the various knolls, rises, and hills from a photo taken directly from above like these ones have been, so here's an alternative view with the contours drawn in.  I've also removed the size distortion caused by an off-centre camera position, so the 6 boards are now all perfectly squared off; by saving each board as an individual layer in Photoshop, I can simply shuffle them around and use the rotate command to arrange them how I like, and then the resulting image can be ported straight into the battle roster sheet used to play the game.  Vertically flipping the final image also gives my opponent a picture from their viewpoint; if I arrange a game with Aaron, I can send him the file beforehand so he can plot his moves before we even set the game up "in the flesh" which should maximize our precious gaming time.

These six boards are rather generic, since they don't feature any water features or any truly large hills.  My remaining two water-less boards both feature bigger hills (one a whopping 5 contours high; which is a fraction over 2 centimetres high on-table), and the remaining 8 boards have either wide rivers (depicted about 40 mm across on average, and thus too wide to be bridged by an AVLB; they need to be spanned by pontoon bridges, or swum); narrow rivers (less than 25 mm across, and bridgeable); or a a combination of the two.  Despite this, they can still be put together to give some degree of battlefield variety.

This setup on the left, for example, features a much flatter table centre, with hills clustered on the flanks.  This could easily lead to a really open battlefield, but could still be closed down considerably with a few well-placed woods.  The spots where the board corners meet are particularly ripe spots for woods, since this will also disguise the ugliest part of the join...  I'm thinking of making my woods with a painted felt base (so it they flex over hills), surrounded by flock on the edges to hide the inevitable ruffled edges you get with felt; I intend to make a removable flocked canopy for each wood as well, to properly hide troops on the inside.

This setup on the right looks a lot more crowded, despite using the same 6 boards.  The table centre is cluttered with hills, and the flanks are not entirely open either - the most open spots are the extreme corners, which you don't really notice, and in any case, they don't see much game play, because you can't flank march into them.  It helps that most of the boards have their hills asymmetrically distributed, so rotating them can make the centre or edges more or less cluttered in turn.

This table on the left shows a progression from very flat on the right to much more hilly on the left.  Note that two of the boards only have 3 road exits/entrances, which cuts down connectivity slightly, making for a more realistic road net, but also cuts down on the number of board permutations that are possible (especially with only 6 boards completed!).  It also better conforms to Keith's scenario system recommendations, which gives an average of 8 off-table road exits for an entire table.  The roads are fairly windy, because these 6 boards are rather rural in nature; some of my boards with rivers will feature somewhat straighter road sections, and contiguous built-up area sections, rather than only isolated ones.  The river boards have all been carved out, by the way; but getting the actual water done will no doubt be fairly tricky.


  1. Thanks. Hopefully they will stand up to actual use! The thing about felt is that while it doesn't look all that good, it is impossible to "break"...

  2. Those are very impressive. I like the removable village idea, too.

  3. Very nice playing board, I like the modular approach and the finish! I have added your blog to my blogscroll over at Wargame News and Terrain.

    Kind regards