Thursday, October 29, 2015

BGiME #4: Making a Hill

I was overwhelmed this month completing work projects and putting the finishing touches on my long-delayed Stonehell Dungeon sequel and getting it released, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about miniature gaming and the various elements that comprise it. I continued painting my Grey Company army and I’m also finishing up a warband of British Infantry for Muskets & Tomahawks. The paint, she goes ever on.

So I don’t watch October slip by without any posts, let me finish up coverage of Battle Games in Middle-Earth #4. We’ll pick up with—say it with me—my favorite aspect of miniature wargaming: terrain building.

This issue’s project is a modest hill crafted from expanded polystyrene (the pink stuff) and flock. Hills are one of the simplest pieces of terrain to create and they make your battlefield both attractive and provide armies with strategic advantages. Although they are easy to assemble, that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of error as we’ll soon see.

I decided to construct a three-tiered hill that could be divided into separate components to form individual hills. To add a little detail to the hillock, I created a stone outcropping from rocks I found while walking, painted appropriate colors.

My three-tier hill. Note the Grey Company and British Infantry in the background.

A natural rocky outcrop or an ancient cairn?
As I mentioned in my post about making hedgerows, there were two issues I encountered in crafting the hills. The first was the choice of base color. The instructions in Battle Games state to use your green paint pot for base coloration. This shade of that green is lighter than the flock I used and it’s evident in the final result. This lends an unrealistic appearance to the hill. A darker base, such as GW Scorched Brown or a chocolate brown craft paint would be much better. That’s the approach I’ll use from now one regardless of a project’s instructions.

The base coat is visible, making for a patchy hill.
The second problem in assembling my hill was my choice of PVA glue. Again, as I learned in my hedgerow project, there’s a world of difference between white glue and wood glue when it comes to gluing flock down. The watered down white glue simply doesn’t have the strength and adhesive properties of wood PVA glue and I had to flock the hills several times to ensure a decent layer of green. In the end, the hills still show bare patches, especially along their bottom edges where the base paint is clearly visible. I’ve learned my lesson. Actually, I’ve learned it again because I once knew to use wood glue over white glue, but clearly forgot as my skills grew rusty. But that’s one of the reasons I embarked on this project: to improve my painting and crafting skills.

Note the lack of flocking along the bottom edge of the topmost tier.

Next up, we’ll see how my Uruk-hai faired against the Elves of Rivendell when the forces of Good and Evil collide in the “Elven Attack” scenario.