Sunday, March 18, 2012

Making Flames-Appropriate Hills

by SandWyrm

The weather's been NIIIIIIIIIIIICE the last couple of days, so I thought I'd have a go at making some Flames of War scaled hills out in the garage while the kids ran around in the sun.

The North Store has been a nice place to play Flames on Wednesday nights. As long as we stay out of the way of the D&D crowd, they've been more than happy to have us around. Only problem is, the store has only invested in terrain that's appropriate for 40K and Warmachine.

They have a lot of GF9's rocky hills (desert version above) and some homemade foam ones. But these cause us some problems and limit our range of possible tactics.

The problem is the scale. Most home-made 40K hills are at least 1 inch thick and usually higher. The GF9 rocky ones aren't bad, but not every hill should be difficult going and LOS-blocking. What we've been lacking is low hills that you can park a tank hull-down behind. As it is, we can only get concealment by parking units in forests. Which requires tanks to take a bog check. It also gimps aircraft to always have stuff concealed. Not to mention that you really shouldn't have pine tree forests in the desert. :)

So I went to the local hobby store and picked up some high-density styrofoam sheets of the sort that model railroaders use for laying down track beds. I grabbed one each of the 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, and 1 inch sheets.

I'd expected to have more trouble cutting them cleanly, as I don't have one of those hot-wire cutters. But I did have a long razor-knife that originally came with a set of window blinds. It was included so that you could cut off whatever you didn't need from the end of the blinds.

It worked pretty well, as long as I cut in a sawing motion and didn't try to go too fast. I then used an X-Acto knife to clean up the edges. Whenever a blade started to get dull and tear the foam, I swapped it for a new one that would cut cleanly.

To test the scale, I pulled out some tanks.

The 1/2" foam is perfect for hiding a tank hull-down behind it in a firing position. The 1" foam blocks everything but the commander's head on my PzIII.

I cut the 1/4" and 1/2" foam into a variety of shapes that could be mixed and matched. I decided to shape the 1" foam more, so that the center of the mound would be higher (and more LOS blocking) than the edges.

Right now they've been painted with a tan-colored acrylic spray paint so that I can spray something different over them later without melting the foam. I'm going to see if I can find a textured paint in the right desert shade.


  1. comming along nicely.. good job

  2. Oof.
    That table with the forces deployed on it looks so bare. FoW needs so much more terrain than that!
    Good thing you've decided to take matters into your own hands. That bottom table looks much better, even in bare white.
    It's a snow table!
    Put some pine trees on it, and play!

    1. That table was a little light because it was an intro game for a new player. Usually we have a lot more hills than that.

  3. A good suggestion I've been thinking of trying out was shallow hills with between 15o and 45o slopes, kind of like ramps, rather than the contoured-map-style we're usually used to. Planning on doing it with a hot wire cutter though.

    1. That was my plan with the 1" hills. Flames models don't need the steps since their center of gravity is so much lower. But carving 1/2 or 1/4 inch styrofoam into ramp-like angles is difficult and could leave an edge that's to easily broken.

    2. I think it depends on the foam you're using. I plan on using the really solid pink or blue stuff, like this:

    3. I've got some of that, but it's too thick for flames. Perfect for 40k though.

  4. Silly Sandy. I didn't get pine trees in your desert, you got sandy hills in my tundra! XD

  5. Nein! You got Russians in MY tundra!


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