Friday, January 11, 2013

Middle Earth terrain mat

I have long wanted to have a proper games table, fully done up with modular terrain tiles, undulating surfaces, hills, forests, etc. Such a table could be used for many games, and would look lovely during play, which is really the goal. However, lack of time, money, and space have conspired together to prevent this from occurring.

A terrain mat, on the other hand, gives many of the benefits of a bespoke terrain table, and has the advantage of being much cheaper and easier to store (as one simply rolls it up). While it does not have movable components like a modular table, nor does it do integrated hills quite as well, it does have the ability to have items places under it to create terrain contours, which can be good for rolling terrain. There are many manufacturers of terrain mats, ranging from painted felt, as exemplified by Hotz mats, to latex, as exemplified by Zuzzy. Both types are somewhat pricey, however, you certainly get a quality product in the end (and with Hotz you can get a double sided mat for $20-$80 more depending on type and size).
Yes, this please (for 10mm)
Another option is to make your own mat, which of course trades a certain amount of for some (potential) savings in terms of cost.  Several times I have seen picture of people using canvas mats covered with acrylic caulk and flock, and they look quite nice, and remain flexible. As an added bonus, you can mount the canvas over rubber foam tiles (like for the floor) and then pin mount trees or other terrain to the board for a more realistic look.

more of a 3d look for larger scales
Here are some tutorials to make them:

Classic for 10mm

Using rolls of canvas

Using more of a three dimentional aspect:

Artist canvas


In researching for this, I was reading about the Battle of Five Armies (Bo5A being the game I am most likely to get going on this terrain), and while looking at maps of the battlefield, I have decided that it is similar enough to the layout for the Battle of the Hornburg to make the mat work for both with some small adjustment.  This should also be usable as a generic Dirtside or FoW table as well, as grass and dirt are fairly scale agnostic (and some large scale scatter terrain, trees, or fur fields will help as well for 15mm games).

So, at some time in the (hopefully near) future I will build one of these mats, and it will be glorious.  The only trick will be getting a game on it...


Gambit said...

You save me a lots of time!!!!

THANKS so much!!

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Lasgunpacker said...

No problem! This was mostly a note to my future self, but I am glad that it helped someone else.