Operational Terrain 2: Making MDF River Sections for 4 Inch Hexes

I’m really keen on Operational Level Wargames at the moment and have a mind to write a set of rules called Deep Battle. I thought a good starting point would be with the table top. Get a table that looks like the kind of game I want to play, and use that to inform the rules. So I’m going to continue experimenting with Operational Terrain.

One of the ideas from my Experiment with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes was to get a company to produce my river templates in MDF. Warbases kindly agreed to do this for me. They were brilliant by the way. Full marks for customer service.

I sent my Experiment with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes to Warbases. I had created my templates in PowerPoint which is apparently not compatible with their laser cutter. So Martin, of Warbases, kindly converted my templates into a format suitable to drive their system. Martin also mentioned that they would keep these templates forever … just in case I want to reorder. All-in-all a great experience.

Rivers for 4 inch hexes – Templates for most likely options

Rivers for 4 inch hexes – Templates for most likely options

I initially ordered one of each template to check dimensions. Once satisfied with that I ordered a whole bunch. 12 of each I think it was. They came as one big laser cut plastic wrapped bundle.

4Hex485 Packed from Warbases with MDF river sections

4Hex485 Packed from Warbases with MDF river sections

Not surprisingly the MDF versions look just like my templates. Just, well, wooden.

4Hex390 Unpainted MDF river sections

4Hex390 Unpainted MDF river sections

I went outside and undercoated in black.

4Hex489 Undercoated MDF river sections

4Hex489 Undercoated MDF river sections

Then I went hunting for a blue to paint them. When I previously Made Wargaming Terrain Streams, I gave the water a base coat of Coat D’arms 207 Dark Blue. Well now I prefer using Dulux paints for wargaming terrain – it is much cheaper. So I popped down to my local Dulux shop with a sample patch of Coat D’arms 207 Dark Blue, and and asked them to make up a 250 ml Dulux TradeColour Sampler of this. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get an exact match. The guy recommended I go for a slightly lighter option … Venetian Crystal 3. I actually got both the Venetian Crystal 3 and the darker Venetian Crystal 2 to check. He was right, Venetian Crystal 3 was better.

4Hex488 What Dulux colour to use for rivers

4Hex488 What Dulux colour to use for rivers

I didn’t take a photo of the blue stage of the process but you can probably guess what it looked like. Wavy blue lines.

Then I put them on the hex grid to see what they looked like. I quite like the look.

4Hex819 Hotz Mat with painted MDF rivers

4Hex819 Hotz Mat with painted MDF rivers

At some time in the future I might consider texturing the MDF sections, adding water ripples, white water, rocks, and grass, like I did with my 6mm Wargaming Terrain Streams. But that can wait. For the moment I think they are fine.

10 comments to Operational Terrain 2: Making MDF River Sections for 4 Inch Hexes

  • Brett Simpson

    The river sections look great set up on the hex mat, Steven. Well done indeed!

  • Bill Barker

    Your river sections look really good – better than mine (too angular)!
    I also used Dulux – but Morning Jewel 1..

  • Julian Donohoe

    A great effect. Tell me; what width are the river sections?

  • Rocco

    They look great. You definitely have my interest with this design process. Question though, why did you not use the actual hex for developing the rive pieces? You would then be able to match board game layout as well. Just wondering.

    • Steven Thomas

      Rocco, sorry but I’m not sure what you mean by “why did you not use the actual hex for developing the river pieces?”

  • norm

    Very nicely planned and executed. I think Rocco means why did you choose to have the streams sit on the hex sides (like most hex based boardgames do) over making them an ‘in hex’ feature (like Kallistra Hexon does).

    • Steven Thomas

      Norm, they are not streams, they are rivers. Donets. Dnieper. etc. Rivers provide a barrier and at the operational resolution units should not sit in the river, they should be in front of the river (attacking) or behind the river (defending). So hex sides make more sense.

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