Why build a large fixed battlefield?
In 2017 Terry’s Garage gamers continued our tradition of mounting a great big battle involving a dozen or more players and thousands of troops. This year we chose Wagram and fielded 122 battalions of infantry, 46 regiments of cavalry and 44 batteries of artillery.
The troops contributed by the players are, to a man, superbly painted and based. They are a great pleasure to see and game with. They do, however, put the terrain to shame. Even with some considerable advances in the quality of the cloth and the terrain we used, it still looked like what it was: a table with a cloth on it, with roads, trees and streams sitting incongruously on top.
And so, in 2017 it was decided to take our sport to a higher level of beauty, enjoyment and pride. The only way to do this was to build fixed terrain. This is a direction that many people are taking in this hobby. People are building high quality fixed terrain in either large single 6’ x 4’ boards or smaller 1’ or 2’ square panels that can be rearranged to create a variety of different terrains.
Compared to this, however, what I took on was a giant leap forward. I decided to produce fifteen 6’ x 4’ boards, coming together to create a 23’ x 23’ (7m x 7m) ‘U’ shaped battlefield.
What are the draw-backs?
The draw-backs are not inconsiderable. First is time: it took an hour a day for 6 months to build. Second is money: please, don’t ask, as my wife is never to know. Third is storage: as the master builder (with no garage), I took over the largest room in our house, the living room, and turned it into a work room, with the boards stacked in purpose-built racks on the wall. Finally there is inflexibility: the boards only assemble as the battle-field of Wagram, and can’t readily be turned into anything else.
So why did I do it – what are the long term advantages?
Here are my reasons: the battlefield looks beautiful and is an absolute pleasure to play on. I was fortunate to have the time and the money – nothing better than a fool with money. I also wanted to generate admiration and inspiration: when we played an exhibition game, people stopped and admired the terrain, and were frankly impressed by the scale and detail of what we had achieved. This response from others generates a strong sense of pride and comradery in the tight group of players we have brought together. Finally there is the question of vision. I am committed to this hobby for the long term. This year we built Wagram, next year we will build something else. Eventually we will have a collection of battlefields, a gaming lodge to house them, and will be able to pull a custom built battlefield off the rack and play it. I am also looking long term for quality and versatility – although the 15 boards come together to create Wagram, for our regular bi-weekly games we can use 3 – 5 boards to play smaller non-specific battles choosing from a range of plain, stream or village combinations.
What we set out to achieve is a great leap forward in the quality of our gaming. We have done this and will now reap the benefits in quality and pleasure for years to come.