Monday, February 24, 2014

Forest Marsh

As with the Clearing in the Woods, River Ford, and Mountain Pass this was ostensibly built as a dedicated terrain battle board for the Ronin – Skirmish Wargames in the Age of the Samurai Campaign/Tournament on this past weekend’s 10th Annual Wargaming Birthday Bash/Winter Wargaming Weekend - but will also be handy for A Song of Blades and Heroes - which I have just started playing – which is also usually played on a ~3’x3’ (90cm x 90cm) area. They are also, essentially, big modular terrain tiles. I will also be building 2x2 tiles and a bunch of 1x1 tiles that will be able to match up with these.

As this was the last one I built – and started it AFTER I started doing the terrain posts and had gotten the idea of doing it a bit like a “how-to” I took a few more process pictures during the construction of this one.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version):

Gluing the sides down on the firs two sides.

I am using 5mm MDF board as the base and 15mm extruded polystyrene to thicken them up and to allow for some depressions (marshy/boggy areas, rivers, etc) The sides are 3/4” plywood that I’ve cut into 15mm strips to match the polystyrene and protect it from bahing and bumping along the sides. The total thickness of the flatter ones is thus only 2cm – compared to the 3.2cm of the ones I previously made (with 3/8” plywood bases and 1” Styrofoam).

Gluing down the next two sides.

Skipping ahead a bit here (because I was getting a bit rushed by the end of the week!) I’ve cut some depressions in the 15mm Polystyrene for some marshy areas and cut some 1” polystyrene to make hills and am gluing them down.

All those containers are just one their for weight to press down on the polystyrene while the glue sets up - you can kind of see some of the products I use, though... 

Here I’ve used a lightweight premixed filling compound for filling big holes – to fill in some gaps and smooth out the transitions between the ground and the hills, etc. I actually was experimenting with a couple different brands here and the one that’s worked best for me so far has been the Lepage Polyfilla “Big”. I’m sure I’ve seen (and used) identical compounds also made by Lepages – but with slightly different names.

I’m not sure why I took two pictures of this…

I also used it for the gentle hills I made two years ago and they’ve held up pretty good so far!

I’ve covered the whole board with a skim-coat mixture a of Weldbond (a carpenter’s glue) and some heavier filling compound (Dap Dry-Dex) to give the top of the polystyremne a bit more protection, and started to glue on the sand and gravel in the swampy-muddy areas. I’ve added brown paint to the glue when gluing down the sand so I don’t have to paint the base brown over it – I can just dry brush the next layer of brown right over this.

drybrushing the second coat of lighter brown. I also had some green glue/paint mixture (from gluing down the sawdust on the Clearing in the Woods - which I was building at the same time) and didn’t want to just pitch it out so I spread it on here.

Again, I’m not sure why I took two pictures of this… maybe I thought the hills were a little clearer in one… they kind of dissapear into pickture when everything is white…

Skipping ahead again – here I’ve glued down the sawdust that I use for the grass and forest floor texture and painted the respective areas green and brown.

The sawdust is also glued down with a mixture of glue and paint so there’s less liklihood of white whowing through anywhere when I’m done the final coats of paint…

Here it is with the final coats of paint on the green and brown areas – the water areas still needed a bit of a touch up…

Here’s what it was meant to look like in play – with trees set on the brown forested areas. (There'll be plenty more in the next post!) 

I’d also like to make some clumps of reeds or rushes to put in the marshy areas, but just didn’t have enough time at the moment.

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

The report of the weekend’s shenanigans! 


  1. I like the shape of the board, but it seems pretty green for a swampy area. In my experiance, swamps are full of dead and rotted vegitation, which dependent on the region are generally a dull grey straw color or more of a blackish brown (sometimes both).

    Similarly the water could do with a touch more green or grey tone to make it more "marshy" and less "forest clearing pure".

  2. How are these boards holding up after a year? Have you had any problems with warping? Anything you'd do differently in hindsight?

    1. There has been a little bit of warping. I haven't used them much at all for the last little while. I was considering two bottom to bottom and clamping them for a bit to see if that could straighten them out.

      If I had to do it all over again, I might have stuck with 1" end bits... ah well...