Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Homemade Terrain - Fields
For the purposes of most war gaming, we refer to these fertile lands as fields. Fields are areas of land which have been set aside for the purpose of growing and producing crops for human or animal consumption. Contrary to popular belief, fields are not just flat areas of open land. Fields can be very dynamic and can offer a lot of flavor to any war game. Fields can be plowed, muddy, frozen, dry, ready for harvest and anything in between. Fields can also be planted on or around hills.
In Flames of War, on a mostly open board, dry fields can be treated as rough going, while muddy fields might be difficult or very difficult going. On boards filled with deep snow, frozen fields can be treated as hard open ground. Fields ready for harvest can offer concealment for both infantry and tanks alike.
While usually square, fields can also be modeled to take on other shapes including rectangular, triangular, or trapezoidal. I have even see fields that have no defined shape. You can enhance your fields by giving them fences, tree lines, stone walls and hedge. Fields can also contain vineyards, orchards or other low lying crops (potatoes, soybeans, cabbage etc). Most importantly, fields break up the vast expanses of green open ground, introducing much need color and terrain to otherwise empty board space.
Battlefield in a Box
There are several option available to gamers who want to include fields on their battlefields. Battlefield in a Box: Rural Fields and Fences uses flexible resin to make some really nice plowed fields (Editor: See our awesome review!). Battlefield in a Box: Vineyard set can also be used to for fields or vineyards. Sadlly this item is out of production.
(Image taken from the Battlefront Website)
HOTZ ARTWORKS is a company that makes felt mats for gaming. While most people buy their large 6" by 4" mats with preprinted hexes on them, Hotz also makes pre made, preprinted fields. They come in green and yellow and look fantastic. What I really like about Hotz fields is they have rows of crops printed on them.
(Imaged taken from the Hotz Website)
While these Battlefront and Hotz products are really nice and worth picking up it is also quite easy to make your own fields from a variety of material.
The most popular fields seen in many AARs are the ones made from grass welcome mats. What is nice about grass welcome mats is they look like crops have grown in. The only drawback to these mats is normally you cannot find plain mats at most stores. Most of the mats have the word “Welcome” or “Home Sweet Home” scrawled across them in black lettering. This can result in a 40% to 60% loss in material once you cut out the letters.
The lettering also limits that size of your fields. If you can find mats that do not have lettering, buy 10 of them. Use two for yourself then sell the rest at the Historicon Flea Market at a premium price. Rumor has it plain grass mats can be found at IKEA, but I have yet to be shown the proof.
You can also cut the mats into strips to make crop rows like we did in this picture from a Black Powder game played recently.
Another option for wheat or grassy fields is to use fake fur or teddy bear fur, which can be found at most fabric stores. The long strands of fake fur look like tall grass being blown in the wind. I also like how teams sink into the fur. This type of field is idea for Eastern Front tank battles where the steppes of Russian were covered with tall grasses. Most of the time you can find this product in various shades and colors, but if necessary you can apply green, brown or yellow spray paint to give it a more disirable blend of color.
Another option is to use green plastic door mats. I find this product looks good on desert or jungle boards. The plastic shines a little and so hit the mat with a dry brush or flat matte to fix that.
When crops are not in season they are either being planted or have just been harvested. Two types of material do a good job of giving you a plowed field effect. Corduroy and brown ribbed welcome door mats. Corduroy comes in a variety colors and sizes and can be found at fabric stores or the dressers of most adult males still living at home with their parents. One time I cut up a corduroy coat of my mother’s before a game so I could have some fields. Her response was “WOW! How did you make these amazing fields?” Oh mother...
There are also a large number of brown door mats that are ribbed that give that same plowed field look. These mats are available at most department stores so keep your eyes open next time your wife makes you go shopping with her. These mats are a little more durable (the corduray tends to fray over time) and are not too expensive. The other thing that is nice about the ribbed mats is that you can glue green clump foliage on the rows to give the appearance that vegetables have been planted.
With plowed fields it is also easy to give them a cold effect for winter battles by lightly dusting them with white spray paint. When the paint dries the fields look frosted and fits in well with any snowy back drop. Here I dusted the courdaroy with white spray paint.
Orchards of Vineyards
An orchard is a plowed field with trees organized into rows. A Vineyard is the same, but with with rows of tall crops (like grapes). I use orchards and vineyards in a lot of my games (usually battles in Italy and Greece). They give good flavor/diversity to battlefield and look a lot better than more woods or forests.
As you can see there are several easy, inexpensive ways to make or bring a variety of fields to your battlefield. If you use or have other ideas for making field please share them on the WWPD forum.
“Craig Baxter is a miniature wargamer from Anchorage, AK. When he’s not contributing to WWPD.net he is busy blogging, painting, modeling and rolling dice. You can find more of his work and articles at frozengamerak.blogspot.com.”
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