“Adequate” Cheap+Fast 1:300 Terrain with Dieselpunk Tanks

Blog regulars will know I subscribe to the “cheap and nasty” school of painting and terrain – i.e. my theory is it is better to have purpose-built terrain that is made quickly and casually rather than rely on printed paper cutouts, tissue boxes and books under a sheet. Likewise, my painting standard is also pretty poor but I think fielding unpainted or only basecoated minis is a sign of laziness and disrespect for your opponent.  In short: “barely adequate” effort is better than no effort at all.

Here’s an example of my terrain for my new dieselpunk tank game  which I whipped up this morning:

French forces approach a stranded landship, intent on capturing it or salvaging it for parts.  

You can see my as-yet-incomplete landship (it’s a 1:700 Japanese CV flipped upside down) which obviously needs some turrets and perhaps a control tower (yet to be sourced) and, of course, a paint job.  (My no-unpainted-minis rule does not apply in the privacy of my own solo playtesting sessions!)

From the other direction, Imperial Russian forces have also dispatched a squadron to investigate the stranded landship.

Building the hills took about an hour. With a Stanley knife, I sliced up some of that foam sheeting you get from a camping store (the sort placed under mattresses or tents). I think it cost $10. 

I then coated the top in a mix of water and PVA glue. I sprinkled sand on top (the kids’ sandpit comes in handy).

I then sprayed it, using up a $4 can of black spraypaint. Finally, I brushed some el cheapo $2 brown craft paint over the top. 

Whilst it is not amazing, I feel it is very reasonable, for $16 and an hour’s effort, and is much better than using paper terrain or books under a sheet or similar.

Russian forces continue to advance on their objective.

As usual, my aim is to show there is a “minimum standard” that is easily achievable, as so much terrain on blogs are amazing masterworks that takes hours and hours for a single piece, that are so detailed that I find them discouraging (I know I can never measure up).  My terrain posts are to encourage the rest of us – the time-poor, money-poor dads who just want to get reasonable-looking stuff on the table, those aiming for adequacy rather than mastery.

A supporting force moves up onto a nearby hill to provide overwatch fire.
The Russians prepare to unload engineers to inspect the landship, but French forces have crested the hill and prepare to engage.

I chose the “flat wedding cake” style layout for my hills to simplify the rules for cover/hulldown/line of sight. It also means the models sit flat on the terrain and don’t slide around. 

I may create a matching terrain board (simply a sheet of MDF similarly coated in PVA, sand and painted) to replace the sheet if I have an hour free next weekend.

….Anyway, the kids are clamouring for attention so I’ll sign off.  Have fun – and remember, in terrain making there’s a broad range between exceptional and awful. There’s no shame in inhabiting the “adequate” part of this spectrum…..Deltavector