Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Terrain: Modelling the North African Dessert.

This was a recent board I made.

      There was a recent post on one of the many Facebook Groups I part take to that questioned how much terrain does one have in a 28mm infantry game. It was a good question of balance when it comes to infantry and terrain in a skirmish level. Most people seem to be about average when I look at the various boards. Average is not bad. It tends to be true for most theaters of warfare. I can revert back to Kalissa's first tournament of Bolt Action she ran at Siege of Augusta, where quite a few people were slightly upset. They were not upset with her. They were upset about the terrain we brought. To them, they were under the impression we would be like all of the previous tournaments: a steamroll over infantry with tanks. Kalissa had never ran a tournament before, and I have no clue what they were talking about! According to the various people who did not bring a force, because they go burned the last tournament, our tables were awesome due to all of the light cover. We have light cover every where on our tables! I had never seen a upset group of gamers based on regret before this point. I won't lie: I felt complimented by it. However, we did not have as many players as we hoped for. It did work out, for we had fun and eight players involved. I think this year's tournament for Siege of Augusta will be better.
   But future tournaments are not really the topic at hand! Like I was saying, there were a lot of people who mentioned average cover. So what is average cover? In most cases, it is a mix between open, light cover, and hard cover. In the most part, most game systems in our hobby cover this. Open is usually what it is: a road/street, open short-grassed field, or an open ground devoid of vegetation. Light cover usually is an obstruction you can shoot through, high grass, and/or bushes. Hard cover tends to deal with rubble, buildings, stone walls, trenches, rocks, and other hard objects. These are all pretty strait forward when it comes to rule games and miniatures. And in my mind, there really is not too many places on Earth that do not cover under the criteria of cover for miniature wargaming. There are only three places in the world that cover no cover in the most perfect of forms: as in, no weather, wind, and movement. These areas are  the ocean, the desert, and the North Pole.
    You may commence to disagree all you like. According to the various wargamers our there, these seem to have the least amount of terrain. Of course, any wargamer with intelligence is going to question: " Hey, Bob! What about this?" So let us cover these things. What would Bob point out? For the snow table sense, even for the North Pole, Bob would mention that there no real flat areas there. The same would follow with oceanic terrain. Sure, it would be nice to have perfect weather for attacking your opponent on the ocean, but most scenarios covers reality for this. Then, there is the desert. Despite the fact we all no the better in the sense of wargaming, the desert has lots of terrain. It has just as much as most tables would have. Do they have them? Most likely, no!

    Over the years, I have become wiser of the various options of terrain on the battlefield in most wargames. When my wife and I started with Flames of War, I was accepting to most terrain. But then, there were hills. In the first year, I saw several Flames of War tournaments,where there were hills, but a lack there of . Anyone, living in a hill country knows that the whole table is going to be hills. Knowing this, I tried this concept out on a free-formed Flames of War table. In Georgia, we got to the point of setting up terrain for up to four table for everyone who showed up. This usually covered everyone. However, the hill table that was set up twice was well-hated! For the rules system and cover, it was exiled!
     About the desert, I think it is the most misrepresented in our games. Sure, there are games plenty of people play that represent desert warfare, but I think it must fall short. I say this base on the fact that this one Facebook message I mentioned earlier talked about too much cover. Someone mentioned the fact the that the desert did not. When, I mentioned that the desert for WW2 did, in fact, have lots of cover in a large portion of areas, that said person mentioned that most people do not model that. I had sent several pictures references. Of course, the imagines below show no cover whatever!

       So why not? Why do wargamers fail at the most part over modelling terrain for the desert. Don't get me wrong! There are quite a few in our hobby that model the desert well. The Perry Brothers come to mind. Also, there are plenty of options that wargames deal with when it comes to as oasis or a village. These themes happen often, despite various good battles in the middle of nowhere in front of these important places. Especially in World War 2,most combat was outside of these areas we constantly wargame over. This did not happen very often, but every wargaming desert seems to have an oasis or a small village. Sometimes, it is both! I  guess my complaint is that no one really tries at the subject. There are many games that a good modeled board could be good at if one tried. So, a challenge was brought up to me: a desert table! Challenge, accepted!
       My plan is to do this with teddy bear fur. The concept is going to be somewhat wasteful for the material used. The honest truth is that the project will be worth it. The plan is to show that a desert terrain mat does not have to be a plan tan sheet. It can be dynamic with infantry cover, as well as, look awesome! At least, that is the plan!

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