Sunday 23 October 2011

DBA / HoTT board tiles

Scenery of the Day

Quick and simple modular game board using tiles, suitable for 15mm DBx / HoTT.

Starting my Semi-Historical 18th Century Project, I am going to need some DBx style terrain boards for the smaller battles.

The concept with this campaign is that most battles will be fought using HoTT with house rule mods, and major battles fought on a grand scale using modified Republique.

Also with the Napoleonic campaign that Im running ... major battles will be fought using Republique on the big board, but smaller combats where units under Corps size contact each other will be resolved with a modified DBx system.  (limited aim battles of manoevre - winner gains information on the enemy, loser retreats on the campaign map with attrition.)

I will publish those campaign rules later .. but the main point is that I need me some DBx style boards ASAP.

Having done a few boards already, I wanted something here that is quick and easy to do, and modular. DBx boards by definition are 2 foot square - so thats 4 lots of  1 foot square tiles at 15mm scale. To make the terrain modular, you need 4 variations of water feature, and 4 variations with no water feature.

So, I get 8 of these 12x12" canvas boards  (under $2 each from the art shop), and put together 4 arid boards, and 4 boards with water features.

The 4 variations of water feature are pretty simple :

  1. Wide river (2"+) crossing from one side to the other.
  2. Wide river (2"+) with a fordable / island in the center.
  3. River that makes a right angle turn, connecting 2 adjacent sides.
  4. River that enters from one end, and ends in a lake - other 3 sides have no river.
For future reference, I can add more complex water features such as beaches, or forks in a river (3 edges have river flowing out of them) ... but I wont be needing these for a while, if at all.

Its also important to have a whole set of tiles with zero features on them .. so minimum of 8 tiles will do the trick for 99% of terrain requirements.

Monte Marte 12x12" canvas board. Cheap, precise, plentiful, tough  - and designed to hold paint. Thats all that is needed.
General layout of the boards. All water courses are 2" wide, and start at 4" off the corner along the edge. Same dimension makes them modular - can arrange in whatever way is needed.

For the arid sections - paint them very arid, so they can be used stand alone as desert boards as well.  Here, I have made sure that one corner of each arid board has some greenery, and one edge has a little greenery. This way the arid boards can create several scenarios - desert with oasis in center (above). Or, green with desert in the center. Or arid lands fading smoothly onto the green boards. Works really well.

Now, having spent AGES on previous boards, I wanted a quick finish on these ones. Started with a thick layer of house paint, and then added handfuls of sand to the paint to roughen it up. When dry - stain with dark sienna, glaze with burnt umber, dry brush in a few shades of green and sand ... done. Must admit, the finished product looks so much better than some of the other boards where I have spent ages on the detailing with airbrushes and what not. This method here is quick (1 day turnaround) - and works well. Really well. Best of all - its dead flat, so no problems with element based gaming on this board.  Have a look at my Mars board for the contrast.

Another configuration with water on both flanks. No need for adding hills into the boards here - just using simple slap on hills made from florist foam. (Will add the details of hill making to the blog later).

Ah the serenity ! 

Whats the trick with the water ?

!!! WARNING !!!

If you have ever messed around for endless weekends trying to make effective model water .. you may end up kicking yourself when you find out how stupidly cheap, easy and effective this method is. I know I did.

Dead simple really.

  1. Paint the grounds first. DO NOT get sand on where the water is going to go.
  2. Paint the waterways in a PALE GREEN. Yes - thats GREEN not BLUE.  Now, whilst the pale green is wet ... VERY GENTLY blend in some pale blue from one edge. Make the blending graduation very very very smooth  and keep it pale. Don't go bezerk on the blue - keep the green tinge to the water at all costs.  
  3. Finally, when dry, apply the magic trick. "Modge Podge" gloss sealer. Lay it on thick and gloopy, then splodge around with a thick brush to create surface ripples.. All done. Leave it 24hrs, and you get pretty decent looking water effects. Cheap, easy, quick, effective. Stupidly effective !

On the subject of desert boards, you may think that you will never need desert tiles in your campaign, but you are wrong - they are a must-have once you see some modified Inca and Sth American armies that you can build.

eg - Nazca Indians on the desert plains with hummingbird logos etched into the sands ... shock troops with Quad-Lama Chariots, etc. I digress ...


  1. Those boards look great, Steve!

  2. Thanks for that. Im very happy with the way they came out .. especially in the timeframe (and cost) it took to put them together. Looking forward to doing more soon.

    It seems that less is more with scenery sometimes - I still have half a dozen bits of scenery I have been working on for a while, put lots of time into them ... and they don't look half as good as these simpler boards. hmmmmm. I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere.