I thought I’d put together a brief Blog post on terrain inserts, using as an example the inserts I made for the Operation Gericht games at Partizan and Evesham in June.
By way of introduction, it might be helpful to describe what I mean by “terrain inserts”. A long while back, we made the decision to build our First World War terrain in modular sections of 600mm square Syrofoam blocks mounted on battened MDF boards of the same size. This decision allowed us to “dig” into the Styrofoam terrain boards to create the trenches, shell-craters and flooded areas on the boards. While that looked good and helped create the image of a First World War battlefield, there was one obvious drawback – once you have built the terrain boards, your decision as to what terrain is featured on the terrain board is made permanently.
You can reduce this challenge by making all the terrain boards an identical size so that they can be re-orientated in any direction. But what’s actually depicted on the board is still fixed.
With this in mind we tried to find a way of making modular terrain more varied. We came up with the idea a long while back of trying to make “inserts” into the modular terrain. So, for any single terrain board featuring an “insert”, we can have two or three variants. A terrain board with a defensive bunker transforms (with a change of the bunker insert) into a terrain board with a crashed Fokker D.VII, or a board with a badly flooded series of shell-craters.
Making the terrain inserts is something you can do much later than building the initial terrain board. Or you can create them at the same time as the original board if you want to try and match the terrain colours and effects perfectly.
In creating the inserts for the Partizan and Evesham games, I wanted to build a couple of flooded and shelled areas, complete with French infantry who had fallen valiantly in their heroic defence of the village of Fleury in the battles raging around Verdun in 1916.
I also built a small shell damaged version of the cordwainer’s cottage on the edge of Fleury, which would be the target for the German assault troops in the games. I made sure that the ruin would, once built, accommodate a number of support weapons and command stands.
The terrain inserts didn’t take long to make. They were fun to do, and added a lot of variety into some of the terrain boards that we’d already been using for some time with their original inserts.