I don’t want to just play with armies on a bowling green with felt shapes for hills and woods and so on. I’m a very visual guy, and part of the fun of this project is making it look good.
Also, I want to get as much versatility out of this investment as I can; playing a single era or battle or ruleset or whatever seems self-defeating. Armies, obviously, will have to change, but I want to reuse as much terrain as possible, whilst still making it look good. So no sculpted ‘diorama-esque’ boards, but a hill is a hill, right?
Unfortunately no – the deserts of North Africa are diffrent to the jungles of South-East Asia, are not the same as the muddy hills of England or the frozen mountains of Norway or snow-covered Stalingrad. So I’m going to have to narrow it down.
My first thought was just do the green, rolling hills of Jolly Old England (well, North-West Europe). That covers a lot of theatres that I’m interested in. But there’s also a part of me that would love to have the option to play modern games set in Afganistan or similar, say. Which requires a dryer, rockier, terrain.
So, after spinning around on Google Earth for a while, I’ve settled on a vague ‘Northern Italian’ style. It’s kind of a middle ground between NW Europe grassland and the much more arid North African region, so could kinda be drifted to either with a bit of imagination. Proper desert, snow, or jungle are right out, but anything that’s at least vaguely temperate should be OK. I’m reckon I can get something pretty enough to look good, but generic enough to represent a hot British summer or a rainy Italian spring in 6mm hopefully.
Whilst it’s not my scale, the contents of Setting the Scene Vol II: Creating a Wargames Layout for the Mediterranean looks perfect for my needs. Although it sadly seems to be out of print at the moment. But even the photographs are inspirational.
Also, in DBA, there are some armies (such as the Vikings), who play on Littoral terrain, which requires a waterway going up one side. I would like to have the option of incorporating that, not just for those Ancient armies, but also for modern amphibious assaults (D-Day, and given my previous decision, Operation Husky and Avalanche). So that’s something I want to keep in mind too.
Battle-mat or Board?
Whilst a battle mat seems like the logical solution, I like the idea of having a rigid 2x2’ board that I can put down on the table and be done with it. If it’s a board, it would need to be double sided; plain grassland on one side, and grassland-to-beach-to-waterway on the other. That feels like more work, and more storage, but I must admit that after seeing this YouTube video of a 6mm D-Day board, the idea of having something like that with resin water and so on (smaller and less detailed, though, obviously) has stuck in my head hard…