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Building a North African Battlefield

Building a North African Battlefield
with Chris Townley
It probably comes as no surprise that over the past year or so we have been playing a lot of games with a North African feel as we release Afrika Korps through Armoured Fist.

Building a good battlefield is key to ensuring that players have a fun game, with a variety of tactical challenges. Thanks to the Battlefield in a Box range of pre-painted terrain I've got plenty of options to choose from as well.

So what could a North African battlefield look like?

Building a North African Battlefield

This is what a lot of people think about when it comes to the desert. Maybe add some scrub and vegetation but otherwise just a great big open space. Already I can hear players with 88’s getting very excited! To one degree or another this preconception is actually not far off the truth, but oh my goodness as a gamer it would be so dull to play on unless I was the one with the 88's!

So what can we add to the table to give it a little flair as well as turning a flat landscape into something that is fun and challenging?

Desert Villages
Villages tick a lot of boxes for me regardless of the types of forces that will be on the table. To start with they are great for blocking out lines of sight across the table with only a small number of buildings.

For infantry players they provide a ready-made defensive position that enemy forces are loath to attack. Seizing a village in no mans land can give your infantry a useful jump off point for launching an assault on an enemy objective as well as denying enemy armour the ability to move through the area.

Building a North African Battlefield

Of course, a village can be useful for tank players too as buildings are normally larger than the average tank so they make great cover. They can also protect a tanks vulnerable flanks from enemy fire.

Building a North African Battlefield

Ruins are almost as useful as buildings to infantry players as a ready-made source of protection as they are bulletproof cover and tanks need to pass a cross test to go through them.

Ruins can be very useful if you are worried about tanks roving unchecked across the battlefield.

Hills, Escarpments and Wadis
Adding elevated ground to any battlefield adds some interesting challenges to a game as now you are not just worried about what can see across the table, but now what can look down or over cover.

Hills provide rolling terrain, whilst escarpments can channel attacking forces, and by placing a series of escarpments together you can create the appearance of a wadi or dry river valley.

Building a North African Battlefield

Palm Groves and Scrubs
Palm Groves take the place of forests in North Africa games and make excellent blocking terrain, Scrubs provide some low terrain that provides concealment. Great for an attacking player to use as a halfway point during an advance, or a handy place for a defender to hide in. 

It Doesn't Stop There...
We have now covered off all the easy and obvious things that you can use so now comes the different and slightly more left field options.

Building a North African Battlefield

Railway Tracks
Allied forces built a number of railway lines to assist with the movement of troops and supplies. This provides (if nothing else) a nice colour contrast from all the sand but can also have a terrain effect if you choose to have it on a low embankment. Don’t forget to add a railway station to your village as well.

Just because your armies are running around the desert doesn’t mean that they are not following a common path, track or road.

Oasis (and streams)
Not the UK band, but rather a body of water. An oasis will deny players the use of that terrain as the water is impassable. Use it to anchor your defensive line to stop someone from outflanking you. In the desert it will also provide a nice place for your troops to cool off after crushing the enemy.

Looking for inspiration on how you can enhance your desert terrain and make it look really interesting?

Check out Mike's article The Lost Oasis and find out what he did here...

Lost Oasis

Let's Build A Table
So enough Theory-Flames, lets try putting some of these pieces on a table and see what they look like.

Below: If you build it, they will come. Table assembled, now to find an opponent...

Building a North African Battlefield

My logic here was simple, start with the railway line and see what grew from there. I knew I wanted a Railway Station on the table. From here it made sense to add either a small village or the outskirts of something a little larger. It also made sense to use some of the escarpment pieces to create cuttings where the engineers had just cut away some of the earth rather than forcing the line to go around these small hills.

I added the palm groves on the assumption that the people in the village would either be growing dates or just chose to build there based on the knowledge that if the palms are growing then there must be a water source nearby.

On 'the wrong side of the tracks' I added some ruined buildings. They could have been damaged in the fighting or have just fallen into disrepair. Near the ruined buildings I added some scrubs, partially to balance out the table a little but also to ensure that whilst the left side of the table was open, it wasn't too open. Logically speaking these scrubs could have been something that the residents of the ruined buildings were farming.

Last, but not least I added the oasis for a splash of colour (get it... 'splash' of colour) and to tie in with all the vegetation perhaps this is the source of all the water in the area.

Building a North African Battlefield

Building a North African Battlefield

Building a North African Battlefield

Check out the range of Desert pre-painted Battlefield in a Box terrain in our Online Store.

Battlefield in a Box Mid War Terrain...

Building a North African Battlefield

As you can see a desert table can be as sparce or full of terrain as you want, it is all about creating something that will be fun for you and your opponent to play on.


Last Updated On Wednesday, April 25, 2018 by Chris at Battlefront