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2015/02/26

Journal #5 - or, Into the Dark Forest

Ready to see more of my prototype tiles for Pedion™? It's time to show you what I have in mind for my Forests - and I think you will find it pretty ambitious.

A short recap: as mentioned in my previous posts, I intent each and every one of my 30x30 cm (1'x1') tiles to represent a unique feature, to act as a special battlefield characteristic. This will add variation to your terrain, and allow you to add or subtract tiles depending on your battle scenario layout (or your wargaming whim!). Terrain features are not intended to be placed upon Pedion tiles (not that you could not do this with terrain you may already own), but are actually part of the tile itself. This allows  for better and realistically looking terrain, not to mention some specific capabilities built into the tiles. On post #4 I started presenting these particular tile categories by showing the simpler and more numerous Plain Grass and Broken Ground Tiles.

Now we move on to what I call Forest Tiles.
Heracles fighting the centaur Nessus in a Pedion Forest - minis are actually 32mm toy figures stolen from my son

The concept of "Forest" tiles is really simple but innovative: dedicate an area on a tile (covering most of its surface) as forest/difficult terrain. This area is not only painted differently but will also be magnetically enabled, to add trees and other forest features on top. The main characteristics of the Forest tiles are:

  • The players may place the Forest tiles anywhere in a Pedion™ battlefield, or adjacent to each other, creating a larger forest: the "forest" borders are drawn in such a way to connect on one side!
  • The "forest"area on each tile is defined by color and textures, and can be declared by the players to act as Forest, Difficult Terrain, or Cover Terrain, depending on their wargaming rules. The "forest" area DOES NOT PROTRUDE from the neighboring terrain, but feels completely as a part of it. Therefore, miniatures and Unit bases do not have to "climb" when entering the forest, as is the case with most forest pieces in the market.
  • The defined area is also magnetically enabled (either by metal "hard-points" either painted with magnetic primer). Thus, the player can place on top any kind of terrain feature -like trees, bushes, logs, rocks- with magnetic bases. The tiles are designed this way in order to allow for a) aesthetic placement, b) different sizes of trees in case of smaller scales, and mainly c) enable the players to remove only the trees that are in the way of their units movement or placement, without either ruining the whole forest nor trying to fit the miniatures in the spaces among the trees. The magnetic connections is strong enough to protect the trees from scattering when the tile is moved accidentally.
  • The metal hard-points allow for declaring the Forest tiles as other kinds of terrain, depending on your rules. For instance, by placing rock formations or bushes with magnetic bases, you can declare the tile as Cover terrain.



The borders of the forested area on the tiles are not randomly drawn but are digitized from real forests' borders near rural areas, as shown on satellite images. Two main Forest tiles are designed, which can either be used independently, or -as mentioned- can be combined into a larger forest.

To create the magnetically enabled area, I tried two methods: placing metal hardpoints (coins) in various places and painting the whole area with magnetic primer. I used one method on the first tile and the other on the second type of tile. After caulking, painting, flocking etc, it seems that placing some kind of metal produces a better, more stable method, as the hardpoints remain strong enough for the magnet bases to snap unto.

Let me show you the development of the tiles themselves over some photos:

The two types of forest tiles, with the adjoining forest shapes - one has the metal coins to attract the magnet bases
Basecoating - the grey on the left is the magnetic primer

Texturing - tree bark and filler are combined for the larger rock foramtions
Drybrushing and Flocking - you can glimpse the metal circular areas for the trees to snap onto.
The second tile is ready - it looks great but the magnetic primer does react that strongly to magnets under all the paint layers and flocking



The two prototypes look good, much better actually than what you can see in the pictures. However, I would try to define the border of the magnetized area more strongly, as now it seems to blend with the surrounding grass. Though is looks amazing and realistic, these tiles will be used for wargaming and the players must know exactly when the forest/cover area stops.

After the tiles, it was time to create overhead forest features, like trees. As I said above, the forest tiles can be used for a variety of tree scales and even for non-forest features like rock formations. For my prototype I created mostly trees, of different sizes, and some extra forest floor features, like bushes, rocks, fallen logs etc, if the players want to add variety and some rise and falls to the forest floor.


The trees are ready made, mostly from Noch. I sculpted polystyrene foam bases for them, to fit the rear earth magnets underneath, which were painted, dry-brushed and flocked. Check my efforts in the pictures:

The tree trunks are inserted and glued to sculpted  foam bases 
Preparing some trees for smaller scale (15mm or less) games
Inserting and gluing rear earth magnets
Preparing forest floor decoration pieces
Texturing
Finished trees and forest features - goblin warrior for scale!

The trees also came out great. Their only problem is that sometimes the magnet may come off when attracted to the metal forest floor - so I will probably keep it in place by covering the whole base with tape.

If anything, the trees and forest stuff come too good - that is, they take too long to make. Since the each tile sports quite a large forest area, it needs a lot of trees to look realistic. Six (6) trees would be the absolute medium, and only for scales like 20mm to 28mm. Therefore, I have to take note and accelerate the tree-making process, or the forest tile cost will rise disproportionately.

Check out some photos of how the Forest tiles look populated with trees and bushes, especially when the two tiles are joined next to each other.





So, let's suppose that you are using the beautiful Pedion™ Forest Tiles, full of trees, for your battle. In the pictures below a sample unit of goblin archers reaches on its round the forest...

(just some old Games Workshop goblins)
On its round, the unit moves 6" into the forest - no problem! No climbing, and all the player has to do is remove for a bit any trees or features in the way.
Next round, and the unit left the forest. Putting the trees back is no fuss
Forest tiles are good terrain features, and those tiles cover all the requirements I had for Pedion. However, I am not sure every battlefield commander will want forest tiles - so I will probably not add them into basic Pedion™ configurations. This will help to keep the overall cost low.

When adding a forest tile, it will include at least six tree stands - and you can always add more trees or different features in the future, even ones you already own.

As always, I do want your opinions, comments and ideas. And more tile categories will be presented in future blog posts - stay tuned. Till then, good gaming all!