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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'.
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!
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.
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!).
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.
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.