Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Waterloo60 - The Terrain

Before I get to the proper AAR I thought I'd do a quick post on the terrain. As previewed in several posts here we decided to use Halfords 2'x2' rubber floor tiles since they were light, cheap, sturdily interlocked and although prone to a bit of warping could be folded back flat (think I've bended one to 90 degrees without it snapping). The only downside is the zig-zag of the interlock but in reality once covered in terrain and troops you don't notice it too much.

18 x 20mm soldiers in battalion sabots on 10cm grid

I painted the tiles in ordinary wall paint ( a really nice green that's now discontinued :-( ), coated in neat PVA and the spread a mix of 2 parts static grass to 1 part Javis Dark Brown or Dark Earth. It took me almost the whole project to realise that I could apply the PVA with a paint roller! I found that thinned PVA just didn't stick enough flock.

I used the Belgian Ordnance Survey equivalent (IGN) to inspect the contours and settled on 110m and 125m as my contours, with 2 layers of the tiles. There was one 1/4 tile above 125m for a third layer. For the base (<110m) layer we thought about doing another tile layer, but at 10 tiles by 6 tiles (equivalent to 6km x 3.6km) that would be another 60 tiles, although not all needed painting/flocking. Given time (and storage) pressures we instead bought about 10m+ of a lovely rustic green felt, sprayed it with artists spray mount and then flocked it. The felt was NOT cheap, but we used less spray mount and flock than I thought. It doesn't shed too badly and rolls up fine.

I traced the IGN map extract (guess adjusted for post-Waterloo changes) onto the tiles, marking them out in the 10cm squares we'd use for the game. I started with smooth natural lines, but then decided to more closely follow the grid so that you didn't have too many units hanging off a mid-square slope. That also helped with trying to reach tile edges at a consistent point so as to make tile re-use for a different landscape easier, but I'm doubtful it will work that well. I managed to source some 4" Stanley knife blades from a campervan supplier which made cutting the angles sloped a lot easier. We also painted, flocked and cut the supplied edge pieces so the layout had a smooth rather than jagged edge.

The only road I did on the tiles was the main Charleroi to Brussels road. Cutting it in didn't work at all, so it was just painted on top. I used my own wooden road segments for the sunken lane, and brown felt with flocked edges for the other tracks. I added a yellow or brown flock fields to a good percentage of the tiles to break the green up, but the main flock mix gave some nice variation anyway.

As each tile was done I laid a tile sized template (actually made from the packaging!) on it, with holes to show the dot positions for the 10cm grid. That made that process fast and easy. Finally I wrote the tile location (in an XY co-ordinate system) on the back - the back refused to stick to any tape to give me a white/silver surface to write on, or take a permanent marker, so I had to use a white chinagraph. Post wargame I'm now using some household white paint to redo the co-ordinates, but even that doesn't stick well! (We briefly through about etching the co-ordinates with a hot-glue gun sans glue but the tile refused to melt - no fire risk there then!)

I reckon it took me an hour each to cut, then paint then flock each pack of 6 tiles, so at ~90 tiles that's 3x15 = 45 hours. The packs of 6 were £10 when I started last autumn, £12 when I finished this spring and are now £16! With everything done we did the lawn layout to check it all out as reported at

For the game itself I bought 60 odd table cloth clips, the type used at marquee banquets. I sprayed the tops green and we put those round the edge to hold the tiles onto the table and minimise any warping. We also used some huge 40mm dress making pins (really mini-nails!) to pin the top tier to the lower tier, and also to pin through to the felt below to further minimise warping and any gaps.

I had a few concerns about robustness of the paint/flock, particularly at the interlock, but post game the tiles look fine, and I'd already used most of them a few times on trial games and other wargames. Spray mount was ideal when I wanted to redo some of the early ones that had a poor initial flock covering, so I think with a bit of care and maintenance  they should last for years and multiple games - especially if I can get a re-use model sorted for the shaped pieces. The whole battlefield stacks into a 6'x2'x2' stack and can be carried as two lifts - so pretty storable and portable.

Overall I think we were all blown away by the total effect, and certainly I've got no reservations about the approach we took.

On the to AAR!

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