Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lebensraum (Or, "The Great DIY Land Grab")

Hello again!

The Barrage Show in Stafford (Blessed William Howard Catholic School to be precise) is just a couple of weeks away on 10th July and the Wyrley Retinue will be there with our "The Battle of Canny, c.1476" game.

This is a small show but deserves support and last year turned up some surprisingly big trader names, with the likes of Ainsty, Eagle Miniatures, Warlord and numerous others braving the wet weather. These traders and more besides are set to be there this year too, so put 10th July in your diary and come along. Most of the games are to be participation ones, I believe, so "stay and play" seems to be the motto for the day.

Our affair, however, is a demo and, with a 10x6ft table to fill, I decided some more terrain tiles were in order. Here is my progress so far, with three of the four tiles I have so far built at the basecoat stage.

Various people have asked me over the years how I made the tiles for the games we have put on (though the "Malta" terrain was not mine, but rather the work of Nephews Paul and Nick, with my artwork later on). I hope this little step by step photo montage helps, but I basically lifted everything from Paul Darnell's books on terrain building, which I believe are still around at shows and second hand (I got my copies from Dave Thomas a few years back now). His edition on making terrain for the English Civil War era is spot on for my main interests, but his books on Peninsular War and Sudan terrain are also well worth a look.

  1. The base is 6mm MDF, cut to 600mm square.
  2. The polystyrene is 50mm thick insulation material (the loose stuff, which is easier to work with than the dense pink or blue stuff but not as strong in its raw state.
  3. I use artists' mounting board, foamcore board and masking tape to square off and protect edges as necessary. This also acts as a filler against my less than straight cutting!
  4. Any roads are marked on with filler (I use ready-coloured brown but any make will do). For maximum usage potential, ensure all roads/ rivers/ streams/ etc leave the board in the middle of the relevant edge so they all match up regardless of where you put them on your table. It is a little artificial, because real roads do not do that, but is a small compromise for the layout possibilities it allows.
  5. Once the roads are dry, use PVA glue liberally across the whole remaining surface of the tile and add model railway ballast, sharp sand and other rough, gritty material to taste to texture the board. The colour is irrelevant, but I would probably shy away from some of the gaudy grains you get for fish tanks, however cheap they are! If you want hills or other elevations or depressions on the tile, ensure these are added BEFORE the grit!
  6. Then paint the whole tile dark brown with a cheap masonry paint.
The rest of the stages will follow with the next part of this post when I have finished the tiles!

I hope the photos explain better than my instructions...


Detail shot showing the edging, for both protection and general squareness after my dodgy cutting...

A nice, square tile

My crossroads, showing the brown filler used to mark the roads and the grit glued everywhere else for texture. As this is supposed to be a dirt track, useable from ancient times up to even the present day, some ruts in the track are essential, hence how rough it is.

Other boards are completely plain and flat, so I can charge cavalry across them unhindered or add a wood or other feature as desired.

Three of the four boards, exactly at the point where I ran out of brown paint (D'oh!) Still, one litre pot of brown paint has done me in the region of 90 square feet of terrain tiles since I bought it several years ago, so I cannot complain.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Ray! Your comments and support are always appreciated.