04 January 2016
An inspiring hardback book for those wanting to make their own terrain
BATTLEFIELDS IN MINIATURE
Paul Davis, Published by Pen & Sword, ISBN 1781592748, £30.00
This is an inspiring hardback book of nearly 300 pages that introduces the subject of creating practical wargames terrain and scenic structures. The author guides the reader through selecting and using tools before discussing different types of wargames terrain, which have been seen around the UK show circuit in recent years.
The main body of the text (supported by over 400 colour photographs) covers creating the battlefield topography, landscape features and man made structures. A series of 25 projects, that grow increasingly complex, detail how to make, roads, rivers, trees, buildings, walls and bridges. Each project begins with a planning and scaling stage before the build is clearly explained with strong narrative and many excellent photographs.
The projects themselves serve to demonstrate that scratch building using readily available materials e.g. high density foam, balsa and card, need not be expensive, too time consuming or difficult. There are all manner of interesting and useful techniques shown: for example, inscribing dense foam to make walls, the use of faux fur for thatch and textured wallpaper to make cobbles – the list goes on. The pièce de résistance showcases a more involved build – a complex octagonal yarn market building that should inspire all manner of interesting structures. Although WWI Western Front terrain at 1/300 scale is covered, the projects and the style of construction they entail are primarily suited to 20-28mm (or larger) size figures.
It’s the detailed ‘build projects’ and the huge number of images that really serve make this book such a valuable resource for those who don’t quite know where to start, or those who would like some inspiration and guidance to serve as a catalyst for their own research and modelling projects. However, I’d have liked to have seen the underlying battlefield contours given greater emphasis, and although the author covers the use of throws, cloths, sculpted terrain and custom battlefields, it’s at a gallop. None are really presented in the same level of detail that is devoted to the structure projects in the book, and that is required to show exactly what materials to buy and how to tackle each of these approaches from start to finish. Perhaps a good subject to expand into a second volume…
The ethos of this text is very much aligned to dispel some of the mystique that perhaps surrounds modelling scenery and terrain. The book stands to encourage gamers of all levels of experience, who would like to begin creating a more individual or tailored aesthetic to their tabletop and on that basis it comes recommended. (Tim Beresford)