Quite a lot of the Operational Level Wargames I looked at recently use a hex grid. And 4 inch hexes seem about the right size for the table top – at least to me – so I have been wondering what to do about terrain. My normal terrain will sit on hexes fine. But rivers are different. That realisation lead to experimenting with templates for generating river features to sit on top of a hex mat.
This is what I ended up with. I opted for a small number of templates that, when used in combination, can quickly form any river feature. All of the features end in the middle of hex side. This is to ensure they line up nicely with the next feature.
This is what the templates would look like sitting on a table top. I’ve coloured them so you can see where each template is used.
Similarly, this is a map for a table that I made earlier and how the templates look sitting on that map.
It has to be said that I experimented with quite a few different templates before settling on those ones. All these others got rejected.
Then I printed out one copy of these templates, glued them to cardboard, and cut out each section. So now I have 3D cardboard templates for the shapes I need.
And, not being completely sure about 4″ versus 10cm, I also did a version of the templates for 10cm hexes.
Now that I have some templates for rivers to go along the sides of 4″ hexes, what do I do next?
Should I … ?
- Follow my previous instructions for Making Wargaming Terrain Streams and scratch build a bunch starting by cutting out a whole bunch of MDF sections. Oh, man, I’m already suffering.
- Make up one set and cast the rest in resin. Um, well, shocking admission, I have no idea how to work with resin. I guess I could learn. Anybody want to coach me?
- Get a company to laser cut a bunch of MDF sections based on the templates, then model the rest. This approach skips Step 1 in Making Wargaming Terrain Streams. Better but who would do this for me? And still leaves a big modelling exercise at the end.
- Buy some blue silicon rubber sheeting and cut out the river sections. Less aesthetic than the options above, but oh so quick and no slipping issue. The trouble is that silicon rubber sheeting is quite expensive, particularly if you pay postage. Another question is, how thick should the sheet be … 0.5mm, 1mm, 1.5mm, etc?
- Cut out a whole bunch of cardboard streams from blue cardboard and not bother to tart them up. This would be easier than cutting out the MDF but not much … just cutting out the cardboard templates took an hour or so of craft knife work. And cardboard would slip around on the table like crazy.
- Use heavy blue paper. Easy peasy, but the slipping factor would be even worse.
- Use blue felt. Also pretty easy, and felt is fairly cheap compared to silicon rubber, and no slipping factor.
- Persuade a terrain making company to make the features based on my templates. Hmm, I’m not sure how big the market is. Although I suspect 10cm hex templates would have wider appeal. Any thoughts?
- Enhance the templates to have a locking mechanism like Brio wood train tracks. Hmm, less aesthetic but really kills the slipping around problem. This is an idea that Willem of SixMilBuilders put me onto.
- Build with fake leather and mastic – the Dick Bryant Option [Added 29 Oct 2017 update]
- Build up 3D hex terrain like Ross Kearns’s but with rivers on the edges rather than through the hexes [Added 29 Oct 2017 update]
What do you think?