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Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have to be

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Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have to be

Postby olicana » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:51 pm

Next year I plan to do Zorndorf 1758 at Sheffield triples as a demo game. I am not going to make detailed terrain tiles for the game, instead I'm going to use a big cloth. I've taken a good look at the terrain detailed in the Duffy and Osprey maps, and I've had a better look of the actual slopes using Google Earth - which gives spot height as you move the cursor. The ground seems to be a series of very long, shallow slopes over much of the field, and would probably seem pretty flat to anyone stood on it.

Topographically, there are four height features which I will have to represent. A small area of high ground in the centre (at the Stein-Busch wood, which had an impact on LOS) and the three depressions (the Grunds) which broke up, and ran at right angles through the Russian line. But, should I do it with contours.

The high ground in the centre has a wood on it, and the trees would be much higher than the gently sloping elevation on which they stand. A wood, on its own, would seem to do the 'war game trick'.

The Grunds - narrow, quite shallow, valley like depressions formed by streams - do have an impact on the battle. Some had a significant effect on movement. But, they can be represented by streams and ponds, bits of boggy ground, and the like. The depressions themselves need not be represented and, if they are, they will probably be a little out of scale (too large / wide).

So I have options. Should I do it on a flat battlefield and represent the variations in height with 'non-contour' features, or should I do a contoured table using simply cut and finished high density tiles (20mm thick) before the cloth is thrown over? The former would cost zip. The latter would cost £150+ (the table will be 14 - 16 foot long), but I'd have use of the tiles for future use.

BTW. The cost of extra stuff to do this project already stands at several hundred pounds and, show budget wise, I'm over budget / skint. I will go all-in to do it right, but I'm dubius as to how right I need to be on this.

Your thoughts, please, because I'm buggered if I know what to do.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby levied troop » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:14 pm

Since I assume you aren't doing it 1:1 scale (actually, having seen your previous games that might not be a safe assumption :) ) then I think a flat table would suffice with drop elements for the Grunds and the wood. The terrain doesn't seem to be too extreme to make the contours relevant:

http://www.britishbattles.com/frederick ... rndorf.htm

On the other hand you know you want a wide variety of 20mm 'hilly bits' for future games.

So if you can afford it now, do it. But if you can't, it won't affect the game significantly in my opinion.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby grizzlymc » Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:20 pm

Wot the cat with the melon sed!

There should be dead ground in the Grunds, but there is no need to model it.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Der Alte Fritz » Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:02 pm

I was there in 1998 and my recollection is that the ground is very flat, save for the Zabern-Grund, which is deep enough to hide cavalry from the Russian LOS. There is a good picture of the ZG in the Osprey Campaign book on Zorndorf. My hazy recollection is that the Langergrund on the Russian left did not seem to be a difficult obstacle to pass through. The Galgen Grund gets a little steeper the closer it gets to the Quartschen.

The Stein Busch has been severely cut back in terms of its size and footprint.

I think that your ideas (without the terrain tiles) provides a fair representation of what the battlefield looks like.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Der Alte Fritz » Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:08 pm

BTW, I cannot believe that I was able to upload my avatar, given how non-techy I really am. <giles>
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Etranger » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:33 am

A quick Google search suggest that the terrain is fairly flat. At least it is now!

https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en& ... Qj7s19HuCQ
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby olicana » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:04 pm

Etranger wrote:A quick Google search suggest that the terrain is fairly flat. At least it is now!

https://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en& ... Qj7s19HuCQ


These days I tend to use Google Earth to look at battlefields. Wherever you put your cursor, you get the height in meters, and you can even go to ground level for a rough worms eye view. Using it, the Zabern and Galgen Grund are still easily recognisable and you can still clearly see the shape of the ponds, even though they seem to be drained now, in the Zabern Grund. The Langer Grund, though, is barely visible which backs up what Jim saw on his visit (lucky sod :mrgreen: ). I find it is especially useful for those places not often covered, such as the Libyan desert and Russia. I can't recommend this free service highly enough for its usefulness in looking at battlefields as they are today.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Etranger » Wed Nov 20, 2013 12:34 pm

Indeed, a great tool!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby JMTS » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:59 pm

This is a key issue with wargaming.

Without making battle specific terrain whatever we put down on the table top is almost certainly symbolic.

What I like to see at demo games at shows is a relatively simple symbolic terrain, not too far removed from what one might reallistically see at a good club night. In play on this should be high quality figures which speak for themselves and show off the hobby.

A demo game has to say to a newcomer, "You can do this" sculptured terrain, suitable to that one battle does not do it.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby grizzlymc » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:08 pm

Etranger wrote:Indeed, a great tool!

Note to self:

TURN THAT BLOODY WEBCAM OFF!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby levied troop » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:47 pm

JMTS wrote:A demo game has to say to a newcomer, "You can do this" sculptured terrain, suitable to that one battle does not do it.


Not necessarily, a show should encompass as many varieties of game as possible, from the everyday club knockabout that 'you can do now' to the fully sculpted one-off that says 'you can aim at this if you want'.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby grizzlymc » Thu Nov 21, 2013 8:31 pm

I find it disconcerting to be as one with the cat with a melon on its head, twice in two days. This will never do!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby olicana » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:27 am

I kind of agree with both the 'aspirational' and the 'anyone can do this now' approaches. Though in the latter case I would say that even if the general base terrain and terrain pieces are not of extremely high quality (such as beautifully sculpted terrain tiles, fantastically detailed and modelled buildings, etc.) it all should be better than some of the tat I've seen put on tables on club nights - and, on occasion, at shows. Crap terrain is fine for competition games where the point is the game not the aesthetic, and I don't have a problem with that, but demo games are supposed to be inspirational - aren't they? I thought they were more than 'this is how a game is played' vehicles. I'm not sure why I think this. It might be because there are very few 'war game virgins' (though the number of actual virgins is probably higher :lol: ) at war games shows. Also, I suppose, I remember the first games I saw at shows as a teenager - I remember the aspirational ones, the ones that made me think, wow.

Personally, I do not to do sculpted terrain for any kind of games because of time, budget and storage constraints. I do envy those without these, because I'd love to have a crack at a purpose built historical battlefield layout. I tend to use a cloth thrown over rough cut poly hills with terrain pieces placed on top. But, I do take pride in getting this to look as good as I possibly can do. The quality of demonstration game's terrain is as important as the quality of the figures, IMHO.

This is just a cloth thrown over a few lumps of polystyrene - but it looks OK, and it was the very best I could do.

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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby philhendry » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:48 am

And it does look excellent. I take a similar approach - again because of storage constraints. Like you, I want the thing to look as good as I can manage within those constraints... And hey, it can't be all that bad - my 'desert' terrain setup made it onto the front cover of Henry's book!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby olicana » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:11 am

And my game made it to the cover of his magazine a few of months ago - do you think he's desperate? Or, maybe he has a thing about small men on sheets.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Zenbadger » Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:05 am

Is this wargaming where we play games and enjoy ourselves or is it warhammer where we spend days crying in our garrets because we can't get everything to match the quality of the professionally manufactured tables in White Dwarf? I say representational terrain and damn the eyes of any man who dares to quibble over the size of a grund.
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby philhendry » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:46 pm

Zenbadger wrote:Is this wargaming where we play games and enjoy ourselves or is it warhammer where we spend days crying in our garrets because we can't get everything to match the quality of the professionally manufactured tables in White Dwarf? I say representational terrain and damn the eyes of any man who dares to quibble over the size of a grund.

Hear, hear!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby grizzlymc » Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:01 pm

It's not the size of the grund that matters, it's how you use it!
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby Ronan the Librarian » Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:30 pm

grizzlymc wrote:I find it disconcerting to be as one with the cat with a melon on its head, twice in two days.


Please tell me you didn't meant that in any Biblical sense..... :o :puke:
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Re: Terrain at Zorndorf - & how accurate does terrain have t

Postby PatG » Fri Nov 22, 2013 2:53 pm

The point of the original post was, I think, more about what is necessary to represent. I am very liberal when it comes to terrain and figures both. Really good and really basic examples of either can be inspiring in their own way and that is good.

I had an reason to crack open WHFB last night and in the terrain section GW did one thing right. They had a game table set up in thirds. The first was primed figures with books for hills. The second third was three colour figures on GW stock terrain and the final third was balls out 15 washes hyper detailed figures on custom built terrain. It sends the message that it's ok to play with what comes out of the box , you can get to the next level fairly easily and if you want to you can aspire to some pretty stunning gaming.

That would be a pretty interesting demo game to see done for historicals.
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