Sunday, 6 August 2017

Terrain Upgrade

This week I have been focusing on upgrading my terrain. I have been admiring my friends Hexon Terrain and decided to improve the look of my hills and mat to give my hex based games a better visual appeal. My current hex mat is simply a green felt mat with hexes drawn on and some spray paint high lights. After using it at Huzzah, I decided I wanted a better looking product. My hills are made from low quality foamcore, painted and flocked. They were too thin and flimsy and they looked cartoony.                                                                     

Sample of old hills and old hex mat

To replace these hill I bought some 6mm thick board and drew on a bunch of 4" hexes. Before I cut out the hexes, I clamped another board to the first and drilled out all the corners of the hexes. This second board provided a template to use to mark the hexes on my new mat. I then cut out the hexes on the first board and sanded the edges a bit to bevel them. I put these aside for now until the game mat was ready to be built...

Canvas bolted down and MDF hills cut

Before I started blogging I had made a home mead flocked gaming mat. I was not happy with the results and ended up throwing it out. I had followed the advice of some Youtube Gurus and made the following mistakes:
- My home made flock was too course and did not have enough paint in it
- The sand I used was to course and I used too much
- The caulk mixture did not have enough paint and was applied to thickly
- I did not apply a fixative to the finished product

The result was a mat that was bland looking, with cracks in the caulk and weighed way too much. After a year of sitting under my regular game mat, I turfed it out.

With further Youtube research and lessons in hand I am trying the home made mat project again. To start, I prepared the flock. I wanted 3 colors. I still had my bucket of sawdust donated by a neighbor who runs a wood mill. I sifted about 3 litres of sawdust and then ran it through my food processor. My goal was to make it as fine as possible. I wanted to get wood flour but it was hard to get and expensive so DIY.

Supplies needed. Cute dog nose is optional

I divided the product into three piles and added lots of poster paint, a little soup and some water and mixed vigorously. I spread the flock out on newspaper over night and got a nice, rich color of flock that I hope will show up better on my final product.

Flock ready to go

Next was to find a better sand to add to the mix. I looked at my local DIY shop and Garden Shop but found the play sand too fine to meet my needs. I thought about using cat litter as it is light and near the fineness I wanted but had visions of it clumping into unusable blobs and abandoned the idea. In the end, I splurged and got some Woodland Scenics Ballast. When winter comes, I will see if grit will be suitable for future products as it is way cheaper.

I bought a good quality sheet of canvas from my local fabric store and more poster paint. I bolted the canvas to my table so it would not shrink as the caulk dried. I mixed the ballast, caulk, paint and some water together in a sturdy bucket. I spread the mess thinly on my canvas with newspaper underneath to absorb excess. I also added it to my new hill tops. I sprinkled the three colors of flock onto the mat and gently pressed it into place. After an hour, I spread the flock around some to give it a more blended, natural look. After letting the mess dry for a day or so. I fixed the flock in place by spraying the mat down with a mix of PVA and water, I let this dry another day. I then got my predrilled hex template board and used it to mark the hexes on the mat. These I marked in with brown felt. 

Flock added to the base of caulk and sand

I cut the mat to 6'x4'. This will be usable for the Command and Color ranges of games as well as Commit the Garde. If I ignore the discreet hexes, I can use it for other games as well. I will still need my old hex mat for Epic sized games of Command and Colors. Stay tuned for pictures of the new mat and hills in action in future posts!

Completed hills and mat

Big screen finished product

Finished hills


  1. A very worthwhile upgrade. Having done large hex fields I know just how much work has gone into this. Good post and really useful for all the gamers who want to get into hexes.

    1. Thanks Norm. The big template really sped up the hex work.