By pure coincidence, I saw that yesterday it was exactly one year since my last article regarding GHQ terrain hexes. In other words, it’s about time to add to the “series”.
OK, this time around, let’s talk about roads. Once again, it’s pretty basic stuff – unless you’re in need of some odd, scenario specific combination, what you’ll need are hexes with straight roads and turns of 60 degrees. Beyond those, you’ll usually need couple of forks and crossroads.My layouts vary between 10x10 and 16x14 hexagons and one pack of 1/2’ thick variant (24 hexes) covered comfortably most of my needs. I make odd pieces when I when I them for a scenario.
Now for a bit of bad news – to have a truly flexible road network, you’ll actually need to make hexes with straight sections in two different variants. The obvious variant is with roads running between two parallel vertices. The other one needs to have the road running between two diagonal vertices. You’ll won’t have to do this second variant immediately, but you’ll need when you’ll want your road network to have true 90 degrees crossroads.
Things to consider beforehand
Couple of things need to be considered before making first batch of road hexes. First of all, how wide roads do you need? When I started out, I remembered what someone once wrote on TMP – that roads should be twice as wide as standard bases, so that two columns could pass each other without problems. My infantry bases are 15mm wide, thus based on the opinion above, my roads are 30mm wide, which is about half the width of a GHQ hexagon (about 60mm +/-3mm, depending on how well particular batch is cut). In hindsight, I wish I went with width of 20 mm or even less. But as always, it’s a question of personal taste.
Next, you need to decide whether or not to have ditches. This detail adds an additional step to making process and involves a sharp blade, with all possible consequences. Cutting a ditch is however quite straightforward – just mark the outline of the ditch and cut the styrofoam at about 40 degrees on both sides. Don’t worry about the resulting v-shape of the ditch – some additional white glue at the bottom will catch an extra about of sand and provide nice u-turned profile.
Different strokes for different folks
I make my road hexagons in exactly same way as basic hexes, which I already described in previous post about this topic. There are two main differences. As a first step, I cut out the drainage ditches, as already described above. Then it’s paint-sand-paint sandwich and finally flocking with one minor difference – I flock only the sides of the road and sprinkle a littile flock on the edges of the road. Process is finished by sealing the flock with mixture of white glue and water.
The main advantage of method above is that I user the painted sand texture for the roads, which is very convenient and quick. However, I must admit that it’s not the most appealing technique from the visual perspective. Another possibility is to cover the road surface with thin layer of wall filler to hide the unattractive texture of styrofoam and maybe even scribe wheel tracks and such. Yet another alternative is to not even bother with hiding the natural texture of the hex and simply use sand-coloured flock for road surfaces.
Is it worth the trouble?
Considering the fact that I have by now made over 100 of road hexes of all possible shapes and forms, it may be a bit odd question. Nonetheless, I have to say that there are times when I wonder if the end result is worth the bother.
The obvious advantage of roads recreated directly on the hexes lies in visual appeal. However, one also needs to consider all the extra work that is required to achieve this effect – I am constantly making new road hexes for elevations and different types of terrain. There are also limitations to this approach that are purely geometrical – hexagons allow a minimum 30 degree turns, unless one is willing to make one of bits. This in turn limits the flexibility in road network layout and forced me on more than one occasion to a compromise.
The fact is that the overhead in work effort required by ‘inherent’ road hexes is so big, that I am seriously considering moving over to some alternative system. More specifically, I am eying with curiosity those flexible roads made out of silicone that Total Battle Miniatures are making. If I decide to give them a try, I’ll tell you all about it.