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Over the hills and far away

For those of you who are into categories, there's two ways of setting up a wargames' table, using a game mat.

One uses hills & other terrain items put directly onto the mat. The other places the hills under the mat.

Now we all know that wargamers are invariably peace loving, pleasant chaps (& chapesses)but on this issue, there is a division sharper than the one that divided Hatfields from McCoys.

Where do you stand?

(Full product disclosure: I'm a 'put your hills on top of the gaming mat' type. Mum was so-o-o disappointed).

Re: Over the hills and far away

I prefer putting the hills underneath the game mat, this allows a nice rolling hills and ridges look to it. The negative side is there's no gaming mat out there that is flexible enough to contour smoothly to create the hills without sharp edges to it. The exception was the old zuzzy rubber gaming mats that were so thin and durable that the bent well with anything underneath them. You could use a cloth mat, but that would only benefit soldiers mounted with stands and bases {which I personally don't use}. I like the battlefield in the box products which are quite good, but they will only work on top of the mats. So both ways have there positive and negatives. How about your thoughts everyone?

Re: Over the hills and far away

Hi Guys,

I have a full twelve foot by six foot table in my loft which is permanent and was made with polystyrene roof tiles covered stupidly in the little bags of flock that Games Workshop used to sell and cost me a blooming fortune to do.

It has a ridge down one side to sort of look like waterloo. Due to my disability I now only go near the loft to throw in boxes that we seem scared to throw away in case the telly goes on the blink.

I am now saving up to buy the Kallistra Hexon 2 terrain, its a bit expensive but is flocked and stacks up into a small boxes. It also offers hills, rivers, roads and mountains which are laid on top I am going for this as it is easily put away and like the versatility, You could place a a cloth mat over it if I wanted a different layout.

The flocking is easily matched with your armies as they use Noch's flock or the tiles can be bought unflocked if you want to match your own basing style.

The only downside of it is that roads and rivers sit on top, hopefully they will design a tile that has these embedded into the hex tile by the time I have saved up to get it all in one order

I also fancy the cigar box mats especially their Europe and Field mats which look great when hills are placed underneath

just my two cents I would also love to know if anyone has bought the kallistra terrain and what their opinions are.

On the question of which I prefer I loved designing my own board but the simplicity of the terrain tiles wins because of the space and versatility so I will hopefully never have just one layout in the future. Strelets just need to stop making so many Napoleonic sets so that I can save up for the Kallistra stuff.



Re: Over the hills and far away

The small club I belong to is constrained by the fact that we don't have a permanent base. We hire a room in a community centre, have to set up and take down evety time we meet, as a result we are 'on-toppers'.
However, given the choice - and the resources - I would opt for sculpted terrain boards, as I used to have many years ago.
Can't say that I have ever really been an 'underneather'.

Re: Over the hills and far away

Hi Alllan,
I went a slightly different route than you. First, I purchased a couple of large (50"X 100") Woodland Scenics grass mats. I then purchased a 100mm laser cut hex stencil from Litko U.S.A.. I took a permanent felt marker, dark green and proceeded to mark the grass mat in hexes. I then purchased the slope hexes and regular hexes from Hexon. I went with the plain hexes and flocked them myself. So I make hills with the slope hexes and the plain hexes and place them on the hexes of the grass mat. At the end of the miniatures battle, I remove the hills and roll up the grass mat.
I did this about 12 years ago so everything was cheaper back then than it is now! The grass mats are still in great shape.Using hex terrain is great: No more tape measures, play is greatly speeded up.
When your troops enter a slope they incur a slight movement penalty. Its very easy to tell when terrain is obstructing artillery. Like you, my rivers and roads sit on top. So I would definetly give Kallistra 2 thumbs up, excellent product!

Paul K.

Re: Over the hills and far away

It's very interesting to hear what other gamers do.

My little group has 2 formats. Our "Terrain Guy" has hot-wire sculpted polystyrene tiles that are covered by dyed teddy bear fur. The set-up looks brilliant & we use it for our annual Show games (look over at HaT site if you're interested). But it takes too long to set up for a one-off game at someone's house. That's where my cigar box mat, with terrai items placed on top come in.

Clearly, there's no Number#1 format: it's what suits your taste & situation & pocket.

Re: Over the hills and far away

This discussion is all very interesting, as I've only seen what a few other gamers do to cover their tables. I've always been too cheap to spring for the commercial products. So I just covered my table with old blanket material, which I spray-painted in a few colors and sprinkled with some flock and sand for texture. I can stuff old towels or rags under it to create most any shaped hills, and the material is soft enough to result in hills with soft, realistic contours. The paint hardened the top of the material enough that my single-figure skirmishers and officers stay standing up reasonably well (though most of my figures are based). My roads and rivers are mostly old cardboard and plastic sheet, painted. With decent trees, fences, and structures (also mostly scratch-built from card and natural materials from the great outdoors) one can make a pretty good looking battlefield without having to invest very much (other than time!).

Re: Over the hills and far away

Hi Paul,

Nice idea using the marker pen and stencil, I had a couple of old GW mats which were great and had many a diorama set up on them in the eighties. I like Hexons trench system and gun emplacement tiles so they have the ability to do special tiles so I live in hope of a nice embedded river system.

thanks for your opinion on hexon 2 I was hesitant but then I saw it at a games show here in the UK and was very impressed with it.



Re: Over the hills and far away

Briefly mentioned in some of the above threads is the issue of storage (we may get to the vexed question of storing figures in another thread).

I do know of some blessed gamers with a permanent wargames' room but most mere mortals need to pack up the battle du jour & restore the Dining Room for its original purpose. Hence, storage.

I do appreciate the superiority of tiles over a cloth but the latter wins, for me, because it can be folded up & easily stored. A couple of plastic boxes holds hills, river pieces etc.