Large Hills over the Battlefield

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1 year ago

(Intelli Gaming: Article)

The next series of miniature scenery I want to show was made in 1993 and 1994. A primary need for my army was to have a hill on which to deploy my archers. The army that I collect, High Elves, are superior archers and can also bring repeater bolt throwers to the battlefield.

As such, I had a need to have large hills on which I could deploy archers in two or more ranks, some on top of the hill and some at the bottom. This allows the archers to fire without obstruction.

Also, those hills are some of the main features of a battlefield given their large sizes. As in real life, elevated positions like those provide a great vantage point over the battlefield.

Let us take a look at those hills and other parts of battlefield scenery that I created in the past.

Large Hill

A large hill covered with grass flock for tabletop gaming

This hill is generally one of the first element to be placed on a battlefield. Given its dimensions, it can divide the battlefield or make the encounter one-sided.

It is ideal to deploy archers, cannons, ballistas and also mages or other magic users which can benefit from a view over the entire battlefield.

If a particular game rewards the players with Objective Points, the large hill can be an area of the battlefield to control for a certain amount of time. Generally, it is both a strategic element and a tactical element.

Large hill covered with grass flock for wargaming and tabletop games

In order to create those hills, I have used the same technique as the one I use to create smaller pieces of scenery.

I began by cutting a large circular shape out of polystyrene foam. Then, using a kitchen knife, I cut away the edges to give it a slope.

You can do that in just one or two lateral cuts to keep the slope sharp or smooth it out.

With the desired shape obtained, I mix white glue with some water to thin it out and then I use an old brush to paint the entire hill.

Then, I take grass flock (burnt autumn in this case) and sprinkle it generously on top. I then press firmly into the surface to have the grass flock stick well. Let the hill dry like this.

After a few hours, turn the hill upside down on top of a clean flat surface so you can scrape off the grass flock and recuperate it. A lot will come off and that's fine. Gently tap the bottom while upside down to shake off any remaining particles that haven't been glued.

Finally, you can (and should) spray paint the entire hill with a transparent, non-gloss, varnish. This will cover everything in the varnish and when it dries, all the grass particles will now stay in place.

It took me year to do this final step (varnish) and I am not even sure if I did it on this hill. I know for sure I did it on the trees because they were losing foliage over the years. But now that I know this simple fact and that I have time, I should do this spray-varnish protection ASAP.

The house on the Hill (miniature scenery)

As you can see, the hill is perfect to combine with other scenery elements. They naturally look good with trees perched on their top and I will show some examples of that in the future.

However, I wanted more than just a flat hill like this. I also wanted a hill which had a rocky section on it. Furthermore, this new hill should allow me to position a character (such as a High Elf Mage) on top of the rocks. So I built one!

Hill with Rocks

Large Hill with some rocks built on top of it

I had fun making this hill. Since I already had a plain large hill with no features, I wanted another which would have some features on it. I could have altered the heights of the various levels of this construction to make it more realistic looking. Instead, I chose to give this piece a unique look by keeping the large hill, smaller hill on top, and each rock with the exact same height. That height is just the height (thickness) of the polystyrene foam board that I used.

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Obviously, all the parts were glued together after I had carved them out. Particular attention was given to the shapes of the rocks.

I also decided to make a surface covered with rocky areas, making them impassable for infantry. In turn, this feature protects a character (such as a mage), which might be on top of the rocks.

The hill also offers a large straight segment which is perfect for deployment of archers split in two groups.

Large Hill with Rocks - Details of the rocky area

To provide texture for the rocky area, I used regular sand and small gravel (rocks) along with plaster, glue and small bits of plastic or polystyrene.

The rock which is protruding is another choice emplacement for a large character such as a griffon or a dragon. See my Dragon Encyclopaedia for more details about High Elf Dragons and their riders.

An example of using the protruding rock to position a miniature (WH40K scenery)

Here however, I am not showing units of my High Elf army but instead I am showing a Space Marine Ultramarine.

Overall, this hill and the previous one shown above form the basis the battlefield. Usually, in a two-player Warhammer game, each player could have a hill positioned on their side of the battlefield's deployment zones. This makes the battle more equal but certain armies might not use those hills very much (such as Vampire Counts).

Fortification Ruins

The next piece of scenery shows some fortifications which came with the boxed edition of Warhammer 40K, 2nd edition.

Small fortification made with cardboard on a base

I did similar pieces before and each one adds to the versatility of elements that I can use to furnish the battlefield.

I glued the pieces to the base and often "dug them" into the polystyrene foam. Not quite foundations but something solid nonetheless. Afterwards, I added some plaster to give texture to the ground. I made sure there was a position for a character to stand behind the section of wall comfortably.

Finally, I painted the entire piece, partly with Goblin Green and partly with some grey. After the paint had dried, I applied some water-diluted white glue and then I sprinkled some grass flock (burn Autumn) on the grassy area.

Section of Gothic cathedral for WH40K

Since this piece of miniature scenery is a corner wall, it is ideal to provide tactical cover. In a next article, I will look at larger sections of wall and the benefits that they can offer to the troops.

Coming Up Next

My next article will take a look at more scenery elements that I have. I am nearing the end of this string of articles devoted to documenting past creations and after that, I can move on to other topics. Please check out my other articles and follow me at Intelli Gaming.

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