Every River – A Wargames Terrain Showcase

Today I want to share my freshly finished new terrain piece for my wargaming table – a river.

It’s nice to be able to juggle between minis and more crafty hobby projects, such as terrain. You can then jump between scratch built and out-of-the-box type approaches; quicker large-scale and more time consuming detailed projects (all of which you of course can do by converting and building minis as well, or taking different approaches to the minis you have waiting in line for their time on the work bench).

Now when we are working through our Lord of the Rings / Hobbit / Middle-Earth minis I got inspired to finish some terrain I’ve had waiting for a while. With these I got stuck when I had to buy another acrylic paint tube and never got around to finish them. Also, we recently did a the Ninth Age game with my Skaven  Verminous Swarm (might put up a sloppy bat-rep of the game soon) that put my game board into use after a long time tucked away in storage. The (bio)mass of  all those rats being a bit too much to travel around with I manipulated (which is what any ratty player should do) the game to take place here in my rat-cave, much to the rejoice of my two gnawy fiends [sic].


With these finished I have a decent set of barricades or fences, hills, buildings (5), puddles, craters, forests (4 finished, two to go), ramps, ruins, and objective markers – a set that should have me covered for most games! Most of these terrain pieces are fantasy-themed, but a few are more techy if a sci-fi game is in order.

How I…
The rivers are based on 5mm veneer board jigsawed into shape. 1/2″(to 1″) banks were made simply by gluing pebbles and, afterwards, sand to the sides. I wanted them to be usable as a long river so I made two pairs of the five pieces I cut, with one end without a bank. One piece has banks on all sides to be used as a single piece – a long puddle or lake.


The red stick is GWs 18″ (+/- 2 Mpc) inch starter-box stick for scale.

I deliberately made them separate pieces as you anyroad want crossings with a foot or so between. Now I can simply leave a gap between for the maneuvering troops without it looking weird. I also intend to soon do a few bridges that cover these “joints” and work as crossings (a lazy one could use Plast Craft Games Medieval Bridges as well, I almost did but came around when I realized I want them to go together with my shanty river town as well, and look a tad more mystical than PCGs historical pieces).

After the glue from sanding had dried I painted them all black using ordinary low-end acrylic paints. Mixing in white gave me the spectrum of grey I need to have hem match my game board (for my forests I do some patches of brown as well, why not here as well). The water is simply blues with darker, deeper blues in the middle to give a feel of deepening waters. As the purpose for these is for fantasy games a very blue river felt appropriate, but why not go with muddy grey/brownish for more realism.

To give the rivers a wet feel I tried three different methods, you can see the finishes in pictures below. The river pieces with white foam details (painted with white) I just went over with a thin layer of PVA glue. The finish is slightly satin – nothing special. The singular piece’s water I used Vallejos Gloss Varnish on. In this case we are building a visible gloss, but we can still see the wood fibres through the thin layers very well. Had I varnished the surface with something non-water based the fibres would not have absorbed the water and swollen, but the thin layer of varnish might still give the same effect. Lastly, we have my favourite pair (without white foamy details). These got a thick layer of PVA glue dappled all over the wet parts. This covers up much of the fibrous texture and gives a nice wavy finish to the water. I’ll do the remaining pieces like this now that I have compared the results.

The grass is the same I used for my gaming board (see related posts through the link here)- Woodland Scenics Static Grass Flock (Medium Green). You get 8,2 dl for a very good price, so these containers are the way to go if you have large areas to cover.


Thanks for reading! Hope this post helps, or inspires, those about to make their own terrain pieces. If it does, please leave comment below!

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