Terrain building update

Spending time away from painting figures to build terrain.

I have playing around with building some basic terrain pieces for Saga.   Sometimes I need a break from painting miniatures and I have always found building terrain enjoyable.  I am also one of the organisers of Victory or Valhalla, which Melbourne’s largest Saga tournament.  For my sins, or passion for playing on nice tables, I have taken on the task of organising all the terrain for the day.  So whilst we can rely on people bringing some of their own and using the venue’s stuff, very little is Saga specific and therefore I am going to be building lots of new stuff.  As it is going to be a massive task, I will save this project for another blog.

So with the goal of having Saga specific terrain and trying out examples which can be mass produced for Victory or Valhalla, I have gone on a little building splurge.

Rocky Ground.  

I love rocky ground as it is difficult terrain and provides hard cover.  Always one of my first terrain choices if one is available.   Fig 1 was my first attempt at building really rocky, rocky ground. The rocks are really rocks, Woodland Scenics talus and sand which I glued to an MDF base.  Once dry I primed the base with brown and grey spray paint and then painted it up with highly thinned paint and dry brushing.  Then flocked and some home made tufts.  I was quite happy with this result only to have it thoroughly soaked by heavy rain after I had left it out to dry post varnishing.  However once the water was drained off I put the base in the oven at low temp and left it dry out.  There was very little warping, but some of the MDF did swell.  So I sanded the bottom flat with my belt sander and sealed it with Mod Podge, all good.  This is the photo after all the misfortune.

Fig 1

My next  piece of rocky ground (Fig 2.) still fits within the 20x20cm footprint for Saga terrain but is triangular.  This is mostly because it fit the MDF off cut I had to hand, but also I thought it would fit the rocks I had collected.  These rocks my youngest son and I collected whilst walking the dog in the woodland reserve before school.  These is a great selection of rocks on walking distance within a short distance of my house.  All different and I have started harvesting them so I gain a collection.  When I am out and about I am looking for large ones which are flat with lots of texture and smaller ones which can work as scatter. It is amazing how looking a rocks more closely shows the diversity of colour.  I can see the attraction of geology now, aside from the mining industry pay packet.

Fig 2
Like Fig 1. I glued the larger rocks down first, spacing them so I could still place miniatures so that the based could be filled and the figures wouldn’t fall over.  Since the terrain provides cover I wanted make the cover seem obvious and not just difficult.  For Fig 1. I glued the large rocks down with tile adhesive (which I actually love using for surface terrain e.g. my 1:3000 scale WWII naval fleets) before using Mod Podge for the smaller stones and scatter.  However I found that the tile adhesive takes to long to set and I wanted to work on the terrain faster.  So for Fig 2. I glued the larger rocks down with 2 part Araldite 5 minute epoxy.  As the name says, you mix it up place it on the MDF, position the rock and 5 minutes later it is set.  I was therefore able to support the rocks into position so that they were more level during the setting process and move to adding the other rocks much faster.  

For this base I used a grey spray primer and then dusted the rocks with a white primer.  Then using a similar blend of washed out paint, inks and light dry brushing got the rocks looking pretty rock like.  My my kids question why I am spending all these time painting rocks to look like real rocks rather than just not painting them, I think that the technique must be working OK.

Both Fig 1. and Fig 2. were flocked in Woodland Scenics blended turf.  They are ready to go, but I will probably add some static grass tufts and clump foliage when I have time.


These two fields are my first attempts at using teddy bear fur.  I was given some off cuts from a friend at the wargaming club who had made a lovely 6’x4′ mat.  I was interested in see how it would work as Saga fields so I gave it a go.

Fig 3. was my first go.  I cut the fur closer with my dog clippers and scissors until it was not much higher than some of my static grass tufts.  The fur was a golden brown so I used a lot of different green and yellow poster paint to get it to this colour.  Using the brush and comb method I got the fur to a colour and texture I was happy with and then glued it to an MDF base.  I used contact adhesive, but didn’t quite get it right and ended up using PVA glue around the edges.  I made the corner hedge with an old strip of Heki hedge I had in the bits bin and added clump foliage and coarse turf to make it leafy.  To get the course turf to hold I dropped on watered down Mod Podge with detergent (my normal flock sealing system) which worked fine on the hedge, but leeched under the fur, so it required careful grooming to stop it gluing flat.

Then I though disaster struck when this piece as also caught out in the same rain as Fig 1.  The fur soaked up everything and it was like a sodden dish cloth.  So very upset with myself I drained it off, patted out more water, combed the fur (yet again, but this time the colours had mellowed to the better) and stuff it in the oven.  The picture is of the end result and like Fig 1. I ended up standing late the MDF base (which was much worse than the rocky ground) and sealing it again.

Fig 4. was a very experiment in fields building.  I decided to make a large field using teddy bear fur again and enclosing it in a dry stone wall. Yes, I know that fields don’t provide hard cover, but I am prepared for some artistic license if it looks good.  I made the walls by making Lego formwork and filling the space with small rocks mixed with Mod Podge.  After making the first side in a 100% Lego form, I used masking tape to hold the form directly to the MDF the other walls.  I also built the wall in layers of 2 Legos high the second time around so that the glue would dry faster.  I found that even though the top layer dried quickly the result seal and Lego walls meant that the bottom layers took ages to dry as they weren’t exposed to the air.
Fig 4
Like Fig 3, I used the brush and comb method on this piece of fur, but I was lighter on the paint and also kept the length of the fur longer. I am happier with this result as I think it looks more later in the growing season, whereas Fig 3 looks more marshy.  I also got the gluing to the MDF down pat with the contact adhesive without any side effects or significant adhesion issues. The walls followed a similar painting technique to Fig 2 and both bases were flocked the same way.
Fig 5. was back to my tried and proven field method using a coir doormat.  These are dirt cheap to buy and once you have vacuumed up all the dust and trimmed away to loose pieces they are use to cut, glue down nicely and really durable.  You can even paint them up to make them more green and alive, but I have never really bothered, though maybe I should.  Since the coir mats I buy are stitched into rubber backing, they are very easy to cut and glue. So you can place the field, apply the texture around the outside and have it ready for painting really quickly.
Fig 5
That is enough for now.  As you can see there are some ruins in the background of the last picture, but I will save them up for another post.

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