Building a battlefield (part 1) – running up that hill

Posted: July 12, 2014 in Terrain
Tags:

Battlefield

I wasn’t in the mood for painting yesterday so I decided to work on my terrain. Construction of the boards was completed a while ago so I just needed to flock them and add detail.

I have wanted my own battlefield for years, ever since those early days of reading White Dwarf in the mid-nineties. Back then the hobby had much more of a do-it-yourself approach and the kind of terrain kits produced by GW now did not exist. Therefore the magazine encouraged you to build your own terrain and was full of information on how to go about doing this with minimal cost and easy to get hold of materials. Rather than buy the Realm of Battle Board, which is expensive and not to my taste (the geological layer of skulls is just plain silly in my opinion), I decided to adopt the old school approach and make my own.

Battlefield

The tiles are 2’x2′ squares of think MDF which I acquired for free (although they wouldn’t be that expensive to buy) and the hill was constructed out of insulation foam cut to shape with a hot wire cutter (I think I paid about £30 for more insulation foam than I will use on this project). Gaps were filled with Pollyfilla and the whole thing was sanded down with fine grit sandpaper.

Rocks

DSCF4005

Detail was added using Woodland Scenics rock moulds which were cast in plaster. These were glued onto the foam using liquid nails for a strong bond and any gaps were filled using filler. Sand was then glued in place around the rocks to help blend them in to the grassy areas. The grass itself is a Gaugemaster Autumn flock mat which was cut up and glued into place using PVA. Any gaps were then filled by gluing on flock of the same colour and Citadel ‘dead grass’ was glued on in patches to add variety. Detail was then added in the form of various tufts and clump foliage which was concentrated around the rocky areas. Some of the more open areas were kept deliberately clear of tufts so that I would have space to place free-standing terrain on the board later.

DSCF4006

DSCF4007

Although this board is intended primarily for games of Lord of the Rings, when building the basic board I avoided anything which would add scale to the piece. This means that by using different free-standing terrain pieces I can use the board for any game system. Here you can see some Epic models on the board which transforms the rocky hill into towering cliffs.

Epic Battlefield

Middle Earth Battlefield

I have eight pieces of MDF and I plan on using these to build a 6’x4′ gaming area (the largest I can sensibly fit into my dining room) and then use the two spare pieces to create extra tiles to allow for different set ups (at the moment I’m thinking of maybe building a river section with the two spare boards). Now that the hill is done the next few tiles should be a lot simpler. I will post pictures of the tiles as I finish them. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter where I tend to post work-in-progress photos as I work.

Until next time,

Andy.

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Comments
  1. forgotmytea says:

    That’s looking really good 🙂 and a river section sounds great.

  2. 40kterminatus says:

    Rocks look excellent 🙂

  3. Edmund Normal says:

    Lovely work. Very nice. I tried to build a board last Summer, and did so in segments, like yourself. I gave up after the mdf bowed after all the glueing, etc., so that the corners stuck up. Did you find that at all?

  4. 172fixer says:

    Great hill Andy!

  5. Andrew King says:

    thanks for all of your kind comments. This is my first serious terrain project so I’m glad you like it.

    Edmund, I used 10mm thick MDF so I didn’t have a problem with it warping.

  6. Very nice! Much better than the realms of battle board. The rock looks very natural and the stone colour is spot on. I also liek the idea to make the table usable for any scale. Looking forward to see the other modules.

  7. Nick Bench says:

    I like the use of two natural ‘bottleneck’ areas created with the rock formations, great for attack/defense scenarios. Details on rocks themselves are also impressive, weathered and natural-looking. Well done 🙂

  8. Adriano Talarico says:

    Hello, excellent and very impressive work! and thank you for the useful informations you provided about the construction process.
    Can I know how the tecnique you used to glue the grass mat on the hills? it’s difficult to me bend the sheet of paper under the static grass to take the shape of the hill…

    • Andrew King says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment and email. I cut the grass mat into strips in order to make it easier to work with. Flock was then glued on top to conceal the joins. You can also wet the paper side of the mat by spraying it with water to soften it.

      I hope this helps.

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