My friend Alan is a fantastic modeller. His terrain setups are inspirational. His Schloss for the Jurassic Reich game was awe inspiring. But I’m not that good. I don’t have the patience. He once commented to me that he wished had my ability to not put so much effort into the terrain and just have a make-do set up so he could play… which is about as close as being damned with faint praise as I can imagine. But I forgive him, because he lets me play with his beautiful models.
In Wargames Illustrated 284 – The Thirty Years War special (joy!) – there was a set up for Poles versus Swedes. The table had some magnificent buildings up at one end. I’m guessing they were Miniature Building Authority. But that’s not what caught my eye. Instead it was the semi-random placement of gravel and flock bush. They did nothing, really, well: nothing game-rule significant. They just added a beautiful touch of ‘rightness’. The rocks scattered around the edge of a large natural feature, in the magazine it was a river, just seemed to tie the pieces together. The flock bushes conveyed the illusion of an uneven heath.
I fell in love with the idea. I call it the Japanese garden method. It’s not about creating a 1/56 scale replica of reality. It’s about creating the minimal elements that evoke the atmosphere of a believable scene.
This is my attempt at the idea.