What’s a wargame without terrain? Well, I guess it’s a board game, but for the guys to play What a Tanker down at the club we’re going to need some desert terrain. Luckily that’s pretty easy to make.
Ah, cheap plastic trees from China, you’ve gotta love ’em! For about £6 I got 30 trees in the post about a week after ordering. About a third of them are too tall to look right for 15mm, but the rest are great.
Palm trees may be a bit of a cliche for the desert, but look a bit nicer on the table than just rocks and scrub.
I’ve cut out some bases from 3mm MDF and stuck them in. I had to have a couple of goes at finding the right glue for that. PVA is too thin to hold them straight while drying, I ended up going with some two-part epoxy which is gummy enough to do the job. A few of the bases have also got some scattered rocks, and I did an oasis too. I might get some 15mm camels and sprinkle them around, too.
Amera Plastic Mouldings do a nice set of four sand dunes for £3.50, so I got two sets. Like all Amera stuff this is thin vacuum-formed plastic so has to be handled differently from most materials. I stuck them onto some carboard bases to stiffen them up a bit, and then sprayed the whole thing in plastic primer. If you skip this step nothing will stick to the smooth plastic and you’ll be stuffed. I just used cheap automotive primer from Halfords.
From there I just coated them in PVA and sprinkled some fine sand on them. As well as adding texture this gives enough friction for miniatures to be parked on the dunes without sliding off. After a spray coat of Desert Yellow they got a bit of a drybrush in a lighter yellow and that’s it! Easy peasy, and a great way to break up lines of sight and get some cover into desert games.
Another Amera product, I’ve got two small houses (M205), two medium ones (M206) and their mosque (M210). Being vac-formed they’re very smooth, but the lack of sharp edges you get from vac-formed moulds isn’t a problem for a north african house. To give them a bit of texture I slathered a thin layer of a PVA/tile grout mix all over most of the exterior. After basing I coated the whole house in Sandtex “bitter chocolate” and started painting up to a lighter brown from there. They’re deliberately a bit scruffy.
They’re pretty plain as it, so I’ve added a few extra details and some bits on the bases.
At £2 each house and £3 for the domed mosque they’re a nice cheap way to get some houses on the table.
Wadi and roads
I bought these but I thought I’d include them for completeness.
I’ve been using some 28mm dirt roads from “Fat Frank” on eBay for ages and I’m very happy with them. So he was my go-to place to get some for the desert. I contacted him and asked if he’d do his desert river sections as wadis and he cheerfully agreed.
Wadis are one of the iconic terrain features of desert warfare, and a great way to break up the table visually. Nobody wants to play on a boring flat plain. We also play that wadis provide some cover.