New boy at Warlord HQ Rich Carlisle explains his approach to laying out a great battlefield:
We all love our armies and lavish untold hours on their creation painting and then defeating our enemies on the fields of battle. This sometimes leaves our tables a little, shall we say, devoid of realistic representation. Is it possible to have battlefields that look and play as well as our armies?
One of the things that brought me into this great hobby was the cinematic view of a well laid battlefield and the troops fighting across around and through this terrain as they might in real life. But how to represent this without the time required to scratch build your own? It so happens that as hobbyists we’re being given a helping hand by several companies. At Warlord, aside from our own range of cool & detailed terrain, we stock several other very skilled companies two of which are 4Ground and Sarissa Precision.
Blitzkrieg! Advance German units pass through a battered hamlet
4Ground are pre-eminent at pre-painted, highly detailed laser cut MDF. Everything you need, from ‘Rorkes’ Drift’ of Zulu fame (the set that kickstarted 4Ground) complete with teddy bear fur for thatch roofing material, to Roman outposts, Napoleonic/Black Powder farms & villages and more houses, trees and scenic material than any battlefield could desire or deserve. Did I mention it’s all already painted with interior detail as well? These are kits and come with detailed build instructions & skill ratings for build difficulty.
4Ground pre-painted terrain:
Sarissa Precision provide an excellent alternative with an unpainted, large & equally detailed fine MDF range that complements any battlefield and allows the hobbyist in all of us to customise buildings and colours to our heart’s content. Each kit is easy to build and come with simple instructions. Sarissa produce a huge line of terrain and also supporting items that cover each of Warlord’s periods, so whether you’re wanting a complete Roman fort, civilian vehicles in your towns, or even landing craft for an invasion they have an answer for you.
Sarissa Factory/Industrial Battlefield table deal:
Dressing your table
Defend the flanks! Guard Regiments defend Hougomont
So you’ve gathered a collection of terrain but want to get the cinematic effect? For me it’s all in the basic layout. Whenever I lay out a table I’ll start by placing an odd number, maybe 5 to 7, of key points of interest on a 4’x4′ table – perhaps buildings & roads. When placing these I quarter the table and, like a good diorama, place them at a slight angle to the board edges one or two to a quarter – this deception to the eye immediately creates more interest than if everything is lined up with table edges.
As Germany Strikes! Early War in Europe french units advance in tight terrain
Once I’m happy with a basic layout of key features spread relatively fairly for a general battle, it’s time to dress the table. Using crates, walls, barricades, hedgerows, gates, woodland (Pianos) etc to block lines of fire (or even channel lines of fire), I go to town at this point and sometimes get carried away, that’s fine as long as I keep in mind 3 elements; The need to game across, around, and through it all.
To help create a battlefield layout I try to come up with little stories behind each section of it, maybe a walled lane that troops on D-Day might patrol along on one side whilst an enemy patrol moves the opposite way in the field (don’t forget a gap or gate where they’ll meet in a sudden firefight!), or a small village junction with a fountain for a brief rest and a bit of piano sing song banter – followed by an artillery barrage pre-sighted on said fountain?
With so much material on film and books it’s all about experimenting and having a bit of fun with the terrain, keep it simple and maybe treat your battlefield to a new objective each month. An objective can take the form of a single suitable figure, blown up vehicle, crates or house or…. anything you can imagine. Try adding a bit of a story to the objective in the same way as when laying out the terrain and suddenly your opponent will be seeing the battle, and indeed the battlefield, as so much more than just a game with figures on a table.
Battlefield scatter terrain sprinkled around walls or gaps makes the placed terrain blend into the table
There’s loads more info on scenery & terrain on our website, over the coming months we’ll be bringing you more on terrain building converting and battlefield dressing to inspire you and of course tempt you – If you’ve some inspired ideas allready that you’re currently working on we’d love to see it so be sure to let us know (include well lit photos and a bit of blurb so we can share with everyone). So till next time Happy modelling and I’ll leave you with a bit of a preview of some scenery coming soon….
Check out this selection of extras to dress your tables;