Roadside walls for agri-worlds

Warhammer 40K blog

An Imperial Guard unit patrols a rural road on the agri-world of Dar Sai.

I have just completed my most beautiful and satisfying terrain project in years.

I wouldn’t call it typical 40K terrain. In fact, most gamers would say it’s more useful for historical gaming. But it was inspired by a desire to really “up my game” when it comes to creating tables for my Tau-vs.-Imperial battles on the agri-world of Dar Sai.

You really don’t need roadside terrain when playing 40K. But I’ve set up some very nice battlefields over the years, and those are the games I enjoy the most. So, as I was thinking about a modest terrain project that would really “wow” my table, I thought about my roads. I sometimes line them with crop fields, but what I really wanted was to frame my roads. I wanted them to have the same overgrown fences and walls you so often see lining a country road.

As you can see from the photos, I did pretty well.

Warhammer 40K blog

This is how I want a wargame table to look like. Yes, the extensive terrain isn’t conducive to a regular 40K game, but not every battle is fought in open fields. Sometimes, you just want to fight on a “pretty” table.

The simplicity of the project makes any detailed how-to rather silly. But I’ll share a few highlights:

• The bases are one-quarter-inch-thick MDF cut into six-inch-long bases. A rasp was used on the long edges of each base to slope the edges, so they blend better with my tabletop terrain tiles and don’t  leave a distracting vertical edge along each base..

• The stone walls are castings of Hirst Arts cobblestone molds. I used dental cement in the molds, and glued the castings together with tacky white glue. After the glue dried, I filled in any gaps between the castings with brushed-on dental cement.

Warhammer 40K blog

Using a rasp (basically a large file), I sloped the edges to help blend the base with my tabletop scenery tiles. I use the same flocking for all terrain and miniatures so everything blends in with my scenery tiles.

Warhammer 40K blog

My Hirst Arts blocks make excellent stone walls. You can see the gabs between each casting, but I brushed dental cement into the gaps with a brush, and you don’t notice that the walls are made of individual pieces.

• After applying a gray spray primer over the based walls, I broke up the uniform color of the primer by touching up about half the stones with watered-down coats of various browns, yellows, and grays.. I  wasn’t too worried if the colors were a bit bright, as several watered-down coats of Games Workshop’s Administratum Gray then toned down the colors and gave each stone just enough of the same gray to blend everything together.

• The fun part was adding the vegetation. I used about eight packages of model railroad trees, bushes, flowers, and vines to create the impression that the roadside walls  were overgrown. I then applied a mix of Woodland Scenic fiber grass to any bare ground, so the bases would blend in with my tabletop tiles.

Warhammer 40K blog

My walls are overgrown because they’ve been long neglected. So, I created some crumbled wall sections, as if they’ve seen better days.

Warhammer 40K blog

I used one- to three-inch-tall Woodland Scenics trees, some wire trees to represent saplings, and a bunch of flowers and bushes from model railroad supplies to recreate the overgrown, neglected stone walls you see on country roads. If anything, my overgrowth is tame compared to the vegetation that practically overwhelms some walls you’ll find. But sometimes reality doesn’t work on tabletop terrain. If I put the amount of overgrowth on my walls as  I’ve seen along some roads, people would say it was overdone and “unrealistic.”

• A spray of Woodland Scenics liquid white glue locked down any loose flocking, and a spray of Dull-Cote took away any sheen.

What I’ve completed is only the first stage of this project. Right now, I have completed about six feet of straight roads—enough to line both sides of a road for about three feet. Another configuration—with the help of four T-shaped walls and four corner pieces—will create two walled enclosures, connected by a shared wall, that covers about three feet by one foot.

Warhammer 40K blog

So far, I’ve made enough straight sections that I can line about three feet of road.

Warhammer 40K blog

Adding T-sections and corners, I can create a three-foot-by-one-foot enclosure of two fields.

In total, I built 17 wall sections: nine straight sections, two T-shaped sections, and eight corners. The extra corners allow me to create two separate wall enclosures—yet another configuration.

I overlooked the need for gates into these enclosures, so, at some point, I’ll start a second round of walls. These will consist entirely of straight sessions, so I can make enclosed fields larger—or allow me to line my roads with a few more feet of walls. Some of these walls will have the wooden gates that are needed.

Warhammer 40K blog

An idyllic scene of my stone walls, lining a copse of trees. Too bad that this pastoral setting will one day be a battleground bathed in blood and blasted to ruin by 41st-millennium weaponry.

Next on my to-do list, however, is a series of fences. I’ll build the same configurations as the stone wall set, although I’ll remember this time to add some gates.

What I’m not sure about is what kind of fences to represent. Wood plank fences would have the most utility (useful in almost any historical period), but I may go for a more futuristic look, which could mean barbed wire (tangle wire in 40K terminology), steel piping, sheet metal, or . . . who knows what?

Warhammer 40K blog

A little color draws the eye. I want my gamers to enjoy the terrain as much as the battle itself.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog that documents our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.



Categories: Terrain

Tagged as:

3 replies »

  1. Absolutely incredible work. I share your opinion of what makes a great war gaming table. Like you, my ideal table is not very conducive to games played with popular rule sets these days. I particularly like that your train here is genre neutral, so it could easily be used for fantasy if needed.


      • Thank you, thank you. My fragile ego is bolstered.

        There are times when a lot of terrain can be problematic. But not always. A heavily terrained table isn’t thatmuch different than a City of Death battle. That’s fine as a change of pace. Can you handle less-than-ideal situations?

        On the other hand, some terrain doesn’t have to count. Sometimes a crop field is rough terrain (the plowed fields and knee-high crops slowing you down); othertimes it’s just “for show” and is considered open terrain. I’ve even declared that wood fences and tangle wire don’t provide cover, while stone walls do. So there is some leeway in adding terrain without complicating the tactical options.

        But I do want to play more games with more realistic terrain. My generals (right and left lobes) will simply have to adapt to the realities of the battlefield.

        Thanks for commenting!–TheGM


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.