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Monday, January 12, 2015

Bolt Action - Does Battlefield In A Box's Desert Terrain Work For Bolt Action?

There has been an exciting influx of players into the Bolt Action scene recently and one of the things that I struggled with when I started playing Bolt Action was finding appropriate terrain. Now the gang at Gale Force Nine have been kicking out quality resin prepainted terrain for quite some time now.  Maybe you have encountered it on a 40K table or maybe in a game of Flames of War…  I am here to tell you about some of the stuff that works for Bolt Action. Specifically... The desert stuff...

Now alot of the newest desert terrain produced be these guys is made for 15mm which is WAAAAAaaaaaay to small for our BA mini’s.  I have seen pictures of GI’s trying to hide behind hedges and walls that barely get up to their knees.  Clearly this is not the way to go.  Some of the more generic terrain works like a treat though.  

Today I will be looking at two of their boxed sets.  The first is called "desert escarpments." The box includes two identical half hills.  I say half because it is as though they were originally one hill that was torn apart half way across; the  jagged rock face now shows the ripped edge. Clearly this is not the case, but it helps to give you the idea.
  The hills are made out of sturdy resin and are pleasantly textured in a way that holds the paint well.  The hill surfaces are fairly steep and this can lead to lead models toppling down hill face first should the table get bumped (or if the models are top heavy), while I am not a fan of this feature… It is common enough on wargaming tables that it doesn’t unduly bother me.  I like how both hills have a soft black fabric base.  It helps the terrain to not get banged up in storage and frankly a nice touch. 

From a gaming perspective the hills are tall enough to completely block the line of sight to troops huddled up to the rocky face.  I think this is perfect as it breaks up the table forcing players to deploy and think tactically about how they are going to manoeuvre their troopers. Vehicles are mostly covered as well (big tanks aside is you are playing 1:56 scale).
Onto kit number two: "The Desert Oasis!" Now this is essentially a watering hole with a small hill in one corner with four palm trees sticking out of it.  Like, the escarpments, the Oasis is made out of sturdy resin and is completely prepainted… except for the palm trees (which are coloured molded plastic).  The palm trees thing bugged me as I have been buying Battlefield in a Box terrain for years and I have never seen anything in the boxes to be anything less than top notch.  That said they do look the part on a tabletop AND will definitely will not chip.
If I was to be picky though… I did have two other small gripes… One…  After the escarpments I was a little bummed to see the bottom of the oasis… No cool black protective covering!
And two…  the colouring does not match the escarpments from their same line!  That said this is a relatively minor gripe.  I will have both on a table covered with light brown/ tan coloured felt.  I will just dry brush the one that does not fit the colour of my table so that both are closer to being the same colour.
Now you may notice that the water is one colour and is not water effected/ resin covered.  I like this about this kit.   You can see blow exactly how much cover your BA sized models will get from the little hill and the palm trees.
The last desert item I will look at is "The Desert Hill." Of all the items, this was the one I was most concerned with size wise. I had seen some of the snow drift models made by GF9 and they were way too small for Bolt Action. I was very happy to discover that size was not a problem.
Unlike most terrain/hills you see on the tabletop, this hill had an irregular surface. It surface is covered with crevasses and nooks that are great to play in and around. It's footprint is also large enough that if you wanted to put it in the centre of a table. for example, it would block some lines of fire and would give you and your opponent terrain to fight over.

 As for height: I applied the Tiger test. at model level a 1:56 Tiger 1 is almost completely blocked from sight.  Since the Tiger 1 is the largest tank I own, the hill is large enough for me.
Here is a close of shot of models using the hill's surface for cover. I also like that the underside of the hill, like the escarpments, had a black felt backing and was painted using several layers of differing shades of brown paint (the picture above shows that). Much more than minimal effort went into the production of these terrain pieces.

All in all, I love the terrain that GF9 kick out.  It is perfect for a time poor gamer like me.  A few pieces of their stuff on a decent table top and add a building or two and Shazam!  You have yourself a quality table top to push your war dollies around on. 
Next time, true believers, I will look at Battlefield In A Box's roads, ruined buildings, hedges AND bocage!

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