Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wood for the trees

From left to right, two model trees given me by Donogh many moons ago, a birch by Woodland Scenics and lastly, a Heki Tall Deciduous

It's been a bit of a brown study today and in an attempt to shake myself out of the funk, I decided to have a look at some of the new trees that I got to dolly up my table. I've been admiring Ross Mac's tables for quite some time now and it finally struck me that his trees are a mixture of heights and types, while mine are rather more homogeneous.

Consquently, I've been working on adding some new types and basing the ones I already have. My trees have been blu-tac'd to pieces of card thus far and while it's perfectly serviceable, it doesn't look very nice. Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial Wargaming page was always quite firm on the point that bases should be as small as possible as the smaller the base, the larger the amount of playing area that was available. Sadly, that magnificent page is no longer with us, but it's influence lives on.

Three small birch trees, I picked these up in the model shop in Frome and I'm very pleased with them

I've used old Games Workshop bases that I had floating around as they are small enough to share a hex with one of my five by two inch bases, while wide enough to prevent larger trees falling over. The plan is to texture these bases and add some windfall to make them look a little better. I must resist the urge to go overboard with the static grass however, as a recent trip to the woods hammered home the point that the ground underneath trees is generally pretty brown because they cut out the available light.

A tall birch tree based and ready to have that base textured and possibly have some grass added

Another thought that crossed my mind was that the different types of trees could have different game effects. In the Command & Colours system games I usually play, wooded areas have the following effects.

- Block line of sight.
- Offer cover to units in a wooded hex.
- Prevent units that have just moved into the hex from battling.

It might be interesting in a War of 1812 or other scenario where there is a lot of woodland fighting to distinguish between types of wooded areas. Certain wooded hexes could have a lot of undergrowth and be impassible to artillery, while others are quite lightly wooded and only block line of sight. This could be drawn on a map, but it would make more sense to assign a set of characteristics to each type of model tree and then use those to indicate which area were heavily wooded or not. The side with the home field advantage, like Indians or the defenders in the case of a scenario where the attacker hasn't had a change to conduct reconaissance, would have prior knowledge of this. The attacker would have to use scouts or puzzle it out for himself. The important thing would be to ensure that the types of trees are clearly distinguishable.


  1. The General is still with us

  2. I'm delighted to hear it - what a great page it is.

  3. Under a pine-type forest there would be a blanket of brown pine needles which I can hardly even talk about without wanting to lie down on them and go to sleep.

    Although the trees may be short and block LOS at head height, there may be a fairly clear LOS at knee height, when the pine needles shut out most undergrowth like a mulch.

    Even so, dips and rolls in the ground combined with the low branches block sight eventually anyway, but you can see more than you'd think in there.

    There is a line roughly between Steven's Point and Wausau across northern Wisconsin where the trees abruptly change in character. The deciduous of the south give way to birch and pine for further north. A line like that probably runs across northern Europe too, related to climate.