October 13, 2011

GHQ Terrain PART 2 – Basic Hexes

Let me start by clarifying a couple of things. First of all, stuff I intend to cover here is pretty basic and familiar to anyone who's been wargaming for a while. Second, the way I handle GHQ hexes isn't the only way to do it, nor is it the right way to do it, it's just the way I do it. When I decided to use those hexes, my goal was to get functional and flexible terrain setup, quickly and with minimum fuss. Thus the techniques I use are really very simple. If you think that there are better ways or could give me some advice about how to improve my results, any comments are appreciated.

OK, with that out of the way, let's move on. Basic hexes are just that -basic plain, probably green terrain. 1/2 inch thick tiles are perfect for that type of hexes and you will need a whole bunch of those. I would say that two packs, total of 48 hexes, is pretty good amount for basic setup.
Besides the tiles, you'll need following materials:

  • Paint - don't bother with the expensive, artistic stuff. Find a DIY shop and grab a good sized jar of acrylic wall paint. It's much cheaper and it's thick, so it protects the hex pretty well.
  • Sand - in my opinion, texture of expanded polystyrene is pretty unattractive, so I prefer to cover my hexes with sand. I got mine from pet shop, 5 kg of sand intended for the bottom of an aquarium, which is enough to cover thousands of hexes.
  • Flock - since I wanted to have green, grassy hexes (standard for wargaming terrain), I needed flock and a lot of it. Stay clear from the stuff from Nine Force Gale and Warpainter, their small jars of flock are very nice, but they are insanely overpriced. GHQ provides its own brand of flock, but it's a bit hard to find in Europe, so the simplest solution is to find a model railroad shop and get as large bags of flock as possible from one of the major producers. Faller, Woodland Scenics or Noch will probably work equally well and big bags of flock from one of them is probably the cheapest alternative short of making flock from scratch (and who would want do that).
  • PVA glue - common white glue, commonly available in DIY shops. Grab a big bottle, you'll need it.
  • At least one medium sized flat brush - the kind with synthetic bristles, normally used for wall painting.

And here's how I do my basic tiles:

  1. Paint the tile with wall paint.
  2. Cover the hex with sand, wait for couple of seconds so that the sand sticks to the wet paint. Next, pour the excess sand back into its container. Leave for at least couple of hours for the paint to dry.
  3. Since the sand I use is orange-red, I have to paint the tile again to get more suitable base color. If you use more naturally colored sand, you may want to skip this step.
  4. Once the paint is dry (again), I next flock the top of the tile. Pour some PVA glue into a container, add some water (normally I go for 3 parts glue and 2 parts water) and mix it together. Cover the part of the hex that is to be flocked with the glue/water mix and cover it with flock. Wait for couple of seconds and pour excess flock back into its container. Let the glue dry completely.
  5. Paint over the flock with mixture of glue and water again. This will harden the flock and fix it to the surface of the tile. At that stage I also sprinkle the hex with another shade of flock in an irregular pattern to break up the monotony of same color, but it's a question of personal taste and can be skipped. Once again, leave the tiles to try.

Basic Hexes
Main stages of basic tile “production”

Some final thoughts... If I had to do it all over again, I would have painted sides of the hexes in color that is as close as possible to the color of the flock. Why? Well, for some unexplainable reason GHQ doesn't bother to cut their hexes precisely, with the end result being that the hexes don't align perfectly. This means that once the tiles are set up on the table, there are gaps between them. As can be seen in the pictures I've posted before, those gaps are quite visible when the paint on the sides is of different color than the flock. I believe that this rather unaesthetic visual effect can be reduced if the paint on the sides of the hexes is of same color as the flock.

Also, in case you haven't already figured it out on your own, working with one tile at a time isn't very efficient. I usually work with one pack of tiles at the time, one step at the time.

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