Terrain will play an important part in the project. There are a number of requirements to be met. As I don't have the ability for storage of permanent made terrain boards the playing surface needs to be an easily storable lay-on mat. This will have the added advantage of a changeable table color depicting a desert color or a green color for more fertile regions should that be desired.

Other elements will be needed to give the feel for battles in the Mesopotamian region. This will by typified, but not always limited to, flat roofed style mud brick buildings, irrigated fields, date palms, other trees and off course a striking building structure of the iconic Ziggurats. All these pieces will need to be 'lay on' for maximum flexibility when setting up scenarios and ease of storage and transportability.

Further details to look at will be small table dressing pieces such as scattered animal life, farm scenes, territory marker ‘steles’ and anything else that creates the look of the period whenever you eye sweeps across the table. Finally, game play markers will add a dioramic effect if of the right type and can usefully enhance the look of the game as well as perform a valuable game aid function.

When considering terrain a point needing consideration is the 'in play' utility of terrain features and the other pieces that will be used as a backdrop not directly in the game. As my figures will be based for massed battle play, terrain will need to be practical and not get in the way. Fortunately, Bloody Barons uses an area based system for woods, orchards, buildings, etc. so terrain edges are the only thing that needs to be easily identified. This enables small ever changing placement of terrain within the terrain area without impinging on the ease of unit movement and general game play - a nice design element in BB. Whilst linear terrain is also allowed for in the rules, these will also be very useful to define terrain boundaries for built up areas should they be required, such as surrounding walls. Most small towns needed walls for protection during this period so the visual look ties in with the need for clarity during play – a nice fit.

With all that in mind I've settled on a few key terrain items to portray my battles in Ancient Mesopotamia. For the ground mat, which you can see in the photos, I use the desert mats from Monday Knight Productions. I have the green mat as well but I think the desert one will see most use. These mats have a very nice texture and look. They come in 6’x4’ sizes so will fit in well with a ‘standard’ Bloody Barons game. The 'fall' of the mat over underlay terrain pieces is OK but unlike a more flexible material it can't handle too many underlay 'foam hills' without crinkling. I‘ve found this to usually not be problem given typical concentrations of hills in most games I play. I think most games for the Sumerian Wars will be fought on relatively flat terrain with only a small number of hills so this shouldn't be a problem. For battles in more rugged terrain such as engagements in the Zagros Mountains etc, a few extra lay on hill features will work fine.

MKP desert mat and Samtrees.

For buildings I ordered an excellent selection of buildings from Crescent Root. To match my 28mm Cutting Edge figures I bought the 20mm sized buildings. These give a very nice 'off scale' effect and in fact even when the models are placed next to the doors they do not look out of place – for battle games these are the best buildings in my opinion. These models were only recently made available again and they are very nice indeed. The range is extensive and multi functional. You can stack buildings on top of one another in a multitude of variations to create a very eclectic and different looking arrangement each time they are used. In fact, by stacking three 'decreasing' buildings sizes on top of each other you get a nice quasi Ziggurat look that is ready to go to set the scene. The walls are excellent and nicely sized against the Cutting Edge 28mm figures. All in all, I'm very pleased with these buildings- excellent value in my opinion. Along with the Crescent Root buildings I have a number of buildings from the Battles in Miniature website, but I believe these buildings are not likely to be available any time soon. It's worth checking back occasionally however as they have a nice 'rough' look to them that complements the Crescent Root buildings.

Crescent root buildings, Samtrees and Plastic palm trees - note scale effect for Cutting Edge miniatures

For trees I use a couple of sources. For all my foliage trees I use the company called Samtrees. These are a high grade wargaming tree to my eye. The foliage has a nice texture and look that is very tough and easily stored in a box. There are multiple types and represent a good middle ground between quality and price. Buying in bulk will give you the best price when international shipping is taken into account. The palm trees I use are very simple and cheap! Straight from an online China webstore, these are very good value and near indestructible. Give them a quick dry brush to improve their look – Samtrees do an excellent range, but are made of etched metal which doesn’t store as easily and are not quite as robust, but certainly worth considering as well. The combination together gives a very eye pleasing effect. Basing for the palm trees was simply done using the tree bases from Battlefield Accessories and a selection of flat round metal cuts for the free standing trees which you can see in the pictures.

For water features I use a simple but effective method. The river line features are clear acetate sheets (overhead projector thin shits) sprayed with varying shades of brown on one side. Spray a large piece of plastic and cut lengths about 1"-2" wide and 6"-8"-12" in length to form river line features lay on-table with the shiny side up and scatter woodland scenic clump pieces broken up into small bits and scatter along the river line to create an edge of stream effect, with a few small trees to break up the straight line effect. Heki do a nice water effect that works very well also and I’ll be getting more of this to make larger water areas with 'water texture'.

For irrigation fields we can utilise these same stream pieces we made above. Lay the plastic on-table in the area you want the fields to be and then lay on top of the plastic your model fields, leaving spaces between giving an irrigation ditch effect. If you don't want irrigation ditches then don't use the plastic. Representing fields can be done a couple of ways. Make your own out of carpet or use any number of commercial field products. I prefer the ones from JR Miniatures. They are the right size, look good, well priced, pre painted and tough as nails!

Stream 'plastic' placed between the fields for irrigation ditch effect
Irrigation ditch effect using JR Miniatures fields

Most of all the terrain features I talked about in one pic
Ziggurats! These are a bit harder to find. I thought maybe using an Aztec style temple would work, which is an option. Otherwise it'll need to be scratch built. Something as big as a ziggurat is unlikely to be an 'active' terrain piece, but rather placed off to one side creating a scale effect and some 'theatre' to proceedings....do battle under the eye of the temple priests, your city deity and all that!!

Accessories - these elements can really add to set the scene. They are unnecessary for play but placed around the edges of the board they add to the overall dioramic effect. I’ve picked up a number of bits and pieces from Crocodile games Icons and Artefacts selection which will help in this regard - I quite like the obelisk even with the hieroglyphics on it!. I’ll be adding these as I find them. Markers also add to the game. Casualty figures are the used in a number of game systems. Hail Caesar uses them for marking unit stamina, Bloody Barons uses ‘dead markers’ to indicate units that have lost bases and need to do morale checks. They also call for disorder and extra arrow markers. I’ve found no Sumerians casualty markers but I think something that would work quite nicely would be ‘vulture markers’! These will work very well and are in keeping with period..stele of the vultures and all that!

All the above will give me my core terrain but no doubt bits and pieces will be added as I go.....


  1. Thanks for the link to Samwise Trees. How do you find their quality? Are their palm trees realistic? Would appreciate it if you could post a pic of one of them close-up!!

  2. Samtrees are good quality IMO. Have a good look at their website (link above) and a close look at the pics here - they have a nice look and texture I think - recommended!

  3. Great looking figures and terrain. Architects of War have a really nice range of buildings etc suitable for Near East. Fernvale Scenics do some excellent palm trees.

  4. Great terrain - I love the models you're doing and the breadth of the blog entires - great quality on all counts.

    1. Hi Simon,

      I'm glad the blog is providing some inspiration:-). That is very much it's raison d'ĂȘtre. The period does have a lot to offer and I'm hoping to show that by being a bit more in depth and 'visual' with the blog with a 'thinking gamer's focus'. It's hard to conjure up images of this period so I'm using Cutting Edge minis to do it for me.....us!


      Happy W