One of my goals this year is to sort out my terrain system and in particular to get an 8' x 4' table of the battlefield of Waterloo underway for my 6mm Nap armies. While the figures are 6mm, the basing is actually based on mounting 15mm figures and so the ground scale for this table needs to be based on 15mm also.
Here is the comment I made in my 2013 Goals post:
This is a big one. I now need terrain for 6mm Euro, 6mm Middle East, 10mm Middle East and 20mm Middle East as well as terrain for space. I have stuffed around for years trying different ideas for terrain and none have made me happy so this year has a goal of finally settling on a terrain methodology and progress towards building euro and mid east terrain by the end of the year.
I have decided to go with the Premium Floors cork tiles I have played around with for a while. They are the most consistently square and shaped "pieces" I can find on the market and I get a box of 50 of them direct from the distributor for a good price. I now have 1.5 boxes and am ready to work something out.
The most trouble I have had with these in the past is trying to work out a way of modelling contours and hills. I thought about simply applying clay or plaster to each tile and model each tile into a small model in itself, but this leads to too many problems later on with storage, maintenance in addition to time it takes to build it and the fact that you always end up with that 1 cannon that sits on the edge of the rock fence every time you use that tile.
So I will keep it simple. I plan to cut the tiles into strips and have layers glued on with a 60 degree angled edge. That way I can place a single normal tile and then one these "contour" tiles which will lift the terrain a full 10mm higher. The next tile will be another contour or single tile but underneath will be small sections of tile lifting the top tile to the same height. I will probably also model some hills and ridgelines on some tiles as well to break up all the flat ground.
The tiles will then be spray painted with a middle brown acrylic spray paint at 100% coverage. When its dry I will spray a nice layer of middle green but be careful to leave a few little areas where the brown can be seen for around 75% coverage. Then I will spray and very light hint of yellow for about a 25% coverage. No flock and no glue! I may spread about some wood glue to break up the flatness of some tiles.
All terrain pieces such as walls, fences, hedges, roads, dirt tracks, farms, fields and built up areas will be mounted on 1mm plasticard and will be painted to match the tiles.
This technique I will be using for my 6mm,10mm and 20mm middle east terrain as well. May even be able to spray brown and beige on the other side of all the single layer flat tiles to save tiles.
The 1st thing I need to do is to check my maps of Waterloo, including major contour lines and add a grid for 15mm scale to show where all the 1' x 1' cork tiles will sit.
I already know 6mm ground scale is 1mm = 3m. This was based on the calculation that an infantry battalion deployed in a 3 rank line at full strength of 720 men was 175m which became 120mm on the 15mm tabletop according to the Empire V ground scale. A good start. So 1mm for 15mm scale is 1.5m. This means my table of 8' x 4', or 2400mm x 1200mm covers 3600m x 1800mm of real life battleground.
The map I am using for Waterloo is from Mark Adkin's Waterloo Companion as below:
On this map 44mm is 800m so 11mm is 200m. So 3600m x 1800m scales to 198mm x 99mm of map space. Vertically this means my table will start just above the crossroads in the north and go to just below La Belle Alliance in the south. Horizontally it will cover a small area west of Hougoumont on the left to La Haie on the right. This includes 95% of the area fought over not counting the Prussian arrival to the southeast centred on Plancenoit. Maybe I could do a separate 4' x 4' set of tiles for that area later. We'll see.
At the bottom I will centre in La Belle Alliance and at the top I will centre on the crossroads.
Next I drew up a grid on transparent paper to place over the map in order to identify contours and landmarks and where they fall in my 1' x 1' squares.
Once I had the roads and landmarks down, I added the major contours. In this case all the 10m contours should be fine. In 6mm scale height scale these would be 1mm for 30cm so a 10m contour should be modelled as a 33mm or 15mm made of 3 x sections if cork tile glued and given an angled edge. This is only 1/2 what it should be but condensing my height is 6mm but my ground is 15mm it should work okay in the middle. Time will tell. These contours are hard to work out. I need them to be nice and square so the tiles can be used for more than 1 battlefield whilst still being able to keep the terrain of Waterloo an integral part of the tiles. See Part 2.