Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013

There is still quite a bit of time to think on goals for 2013, but I think i have decided that in 2013, in addition to finishing painting my Great Northern War armies, I will focus on the renovation of my scenery and terrain.

It's no secret I don't put much stock in the whole "beautiful table" school of thought - I regularly game on gridded construction paper, cork tiles with sheets of felt glued on (and the seams rather visible) or even on just a printed sheet of paper. I sometimes put out my decent trees, but mostly I just throw down some old felt that I cut up long before I had any inkling about what I wanted from the hobby.

Now, I have played on beautiful "model railroad" type tables, so please spare me whatever songs you might sing in their defense.  I appreciate their appearance and the effort to make them so, but they didn't increase my fun in any appreciable degree over my usual gaming. I  am inspired, however, by simpler setups that are, none the less quite elegant to my eyes. So, while I don't aspire to model railroad scenes, I do want something different than I've got now. After all, my terrain bits are looking somewhat ragged, and cat hairs, after less than diligent maintenance, have woven themselves into my terrain cloth (such as it is), as well as just about every felt piece I use to indicate woods, rough terrain and water.

Never mind that  my cloth photographs blue in all light ,but somehow looks more "forest green" in person or that I have never had hills that I have been remotely happy with.

So there  you have it, one goal already pretty much set for 2013: Renovate my wargaming terrain and scenery.


  1. Take a look at the following blog:

    Very simple terrain which I think looks good.

    Now if you go to a building supply place you can get 1/4" thick MDF (medium density fiberboard) quite inexpensively. It comes in 4'x8' sheets (which they will cut to whatever size you want) and often pre-cut to 2'x4' and/or 2'x2' sections.

    Figure out what size would work best for you and your table (and storage . . . it is often better to get a few smaller pieces than an awkward big one).

    Paint one side green. Leave the other plain for desert or Old West; or paint it blue for naval action; or black for space games.

    Again you can get sheets of styrofoam quite cheaply. Cut out hill shapes and paint them with the same green at the green ground color . . . or in tan or brown for the desert/Old West. See the above website for how that looks.

    At a fabric store (which almost always have sales going on) find some inexpensive brown cloth which you can cut for roads and blue for rivers or streams.

    All of that won't cost much and will give you a nice "starter set" of terrain that will be easy to set up quickly and which looks quite nice . . . trees are a different problem of course.

    I hope these suggestions stimulate your terrain thoughts.

    -- Jeff

    1. Thanks Jeff! Tin Soldering On is one reason for my recent reconsideration of my setup - I love the clean, minimalism of it all. Soweiter League is another inspiration - although Fitz-Badger uses a cloth from what I've seen.

      I see that MDF is under $6 for a 4' x 2' sheet, so that is far and away affordable - and I can easily clean the cat hair off!

    2. Thin MDF also isn't heavy. You can afford to have a number of options and in small enough sizes it stores quite easily.

      Also, if you have access to a table saw and like thicker bases (like I do), MDF is great for basing material too.

      And, yes, I really like the clean minimalist look of those tables . . . of course I'm fond of Ross Macfarlane's "Battle Game of the Month" blog battles too (well not so much for his experimenting with squares, but for his 40mm battles, etc.).

      -- Jeff

  2. If I all the time in the world to devote to the hobby, I might have perfect terrain. BUT, I don't so I do the best I can with the time and resouces I have and don't fret if its not all perfect.

    Also, I started gaming in the mid-70s. It was acceptable back then, at least to those I gamed with, to use felt and construction paper for roads and rivers. I feel the same way about rule books.

    1. Hi Chris! I'm not sure what perfect terrain is anymore. I just know that for me, it's not a model railroad type layout. Regardless of what I decide on, the cat hair infused felt shapes will need to be replaced with new felt at the very least.

      I really like the way green construction paper looks for a gaming surface - it's simple and clean looking. In a recent game, I used beige cardstock to indicate a hill and found it worked for me fairly well too. The downside with paper of course is that it tears easily and heaven-forbid you spill something on it. Then again, it's cheap and easily replaceable.

  3. I think one of the keys to terrain is to find a style you like and do it all up that way, whether it's "model railroad", OS, or whatever else you like. I do use a cloth; it's a plain green unadorned flannel sheet. I had made more realistic roads and rivers early on, with flocking and all, but later on I hit on the idea of cutting the roads, rivers, and other shapes, out of thinner mdf and just painting on the rivers and roads and banks/road edges, etc. I also started making profile hills out of thin mdf, and buildings as well. All scaled down to small footprints (taking a page from the old Major-General Rederring's site).
    I really enjoy looking at all the variety of terrain used by various bloggers, from the most realistic to the most stylized. It's all good. Like "big battalions" and small units, I enjoy the variety. Some of it is not for me to try to achieve myself (for lack of time, space, and/or interest in doing so), but it's all fun and often inspiring.
    I guess "perfect" terrain is like the "perfect" game or rules. It's whatever works for each person, whatever they find fun and enjoyable, whatever makes the hobby worth pursuing them.
    For me, it's smaller, simpler, to a point. For another person it might be large battalions, or "model railroad" terrain, or whatever.

    1. Thanks for the comment Fitz-Badger. I agree, perfect is what works for the individual. I think for too long I had no particular thoughts on the matter,swayed easily by rants on The Miniatures Page and blogs,I was a butterfly - sometimes wanting, well not realistic, but less stylized terrain and sometimes wanting more abstract.It is only recently that I have begun to settle in on what I like most and what I would want from a future setup, particularly for the gaming surface.