Building a WW1 Terain Table

This is a quick ‘how to’ post on creating a terrain board to play some WW1 rules I rather like – Playing Leapfrog, by Real Time Wargames. They are a corps/division level game that concentrates on the command – and how their career progresses regardless of on field events. However, they give a very good battle simulation.

The rules require the table to be divided into zones, from the Allies Heavy Artillery zone, through Field Artillery zone, Reserve Line, First Line, No-Mans Land, German First line, Communication trench, Second Line, Reserve Line, Field Artillery, Heavy Artillery and finally the “Green Fields Beyond”.

These rules can be played on a normal wargames layout – However I chose to make a specific board for it, as I thought it lent itself well to a boardgame approach.

First off I got hold of several 6ft by 2ft MDF boards 1/2″ thick (180cm x 60cm x 12.5mm), and undercoated them black.

I divided these length-wise by the number of zones required, and width-wise by 3, the maximum sectors a division can be deployed across in the rules.


As you can see I squared off each zone with masking tape to make it visually clear its a seperate zone (and a board square as it were). I made multiple boards as I hoped I would have multiple players. After this I started to build trench lines and battery positions with simple matchsticks. These were built within the confines of each square, but built to look visually connected, as you can see in this picture, the matchsticks have been laid out, but not stuck down. When they came to be stuck down the ones on the borders were removed.


After completing the whole board, it was painted with white Sandex, which is essentially normal house paint with sand incorporated in it to give a texture.


As you can see above, liberally cover with the paint – the zone borders are protected by the masking tape. The flowing line was an idea I had of the underlying terrain of roads and rivers coming through the imposed trenches – it didn’t work that well!!


Then take off the masking tape as above. Next liberally cover the entire board with a brown/earth wash – including the black zone boundaries as this will visually bring it together.


I then washed a thin black over the whole board, and picked out some areas for highlighting, really you can work on this part to your own satisfaction. Next I put some flock on No Mans Land and the Artillery positions, to highlight the division of zones and show the two trench systems as scars across what was a green and pleasant land!!


This looks from the allied artillery zones to the German trenches and beyond. The below picture shows the German and Allied lines with No Mans Land in-between


This is a detail of the German First line, Communications Trench and then Second Line.


For my next post I’ll run through a game with pictures to show how it works!!

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