Operational Terrain 4: Making Felt Rivers, Roads, and Railways for 4 Inch Hexes

In response to my Experiment with River Templates for 4 Inch Hexes, Doctor Phalanx suggested I use 1cm wide felt for rivers and roads. So I gave it a go and added railways into the mix. This is all because of my interest in Operational Games and my, as yet unwritten, Deep Battle rules.

Doctor Phalanx had this to say about felt terrain on hexes:

The felt comes in roughly 10″ or foot squares so I just cut it into 10″-12″ strips. If a strip is too long for a particular purpose when it’s laid on the table then I just snip it ad hoc. As the strips are only 10mm wide it’s easy enough to bend them along the hex lines and they readily adhere to the Hexon when smoothed down. At 10mm wide they don’t need fancy landscaping.

The roads and rivers here aren’t bent around the hexes but you can see the general effect.

[And for railways] I use black felt [See Bloody Big Battles! – Spicheren]

So I went hunting for felt. I got mine from Amazon but any craft store will supply it for you.

I got four colours although my colour code differs from that suggested by Doctor Phalanx:

  • Black for major highways
  • Brown for dirt roads (not sure I’ll need them)
  • Blue for rivers
  • Grey for railway lines

While I was at it I got some clothes scissors and some fabric chalk.

Felt-68 Materials for felt linear terrain
Felt-68 Materials for felt linear terrain

I had some scheme to do precise 1cm wide strips and wanted the fabric chalk, and a ruler, to draw lines. As it happens that was very time consuming and not particularly rewarding. I am not a precise kind of guy. In the interests of speed I ended up cutting free hand. Rough but ready.

Felt-69 felt river sections
Felt-69 felt river sections

I won’t bore you with a photo of the other chopped up colours. But I did experiment with them on table. In this case I’m using the MDF rivers but with felt highways and railway lines.

Hexes-20 Hotz Mat with rivers road and rail
Hexes-20 Hotz Mat with rivers road and rail

From my perspective the 1cm wide felt strip are a successful experiment. I might not use the blue felt (rivers) but I think the black and grey will get considerable use. Perhaps the brown as well.

4 thoughts on “Operational Terrain 4: Making Felt Rivers, Roads, and Railways for 4 Inch Hexes”

  1. Steven

    Did you put something on the back of your MDF rivers to stop them slipping? Felt would work well. I once tried Velcro but it was far too strong!


    • Richard, the MDF rivers have nothing on the back and do slip around. I was thinking about Velcro but your experience has put me off.

  2. A DIY store (I know Wilko’s do it) have a section of fablon type products on a roll, think of patterned stick back plastic. Anyway amongst their selection, you can get a roll of green or red or black faux suede type stuff, it will self adhere to the bottom of your bases, is thin and should help control slipping.

    Kallistra sell similar to stop their bases sliding down their flocked hills, so I know it works with static grass surfaces. They have examples of its use on their website.


Leave a Reply