Terrain Tutorial- Desert Tree Bases

Hi everyone, Michael here with a quick and easy way to make some tree bases for your wargames tables. For more reviews and analyses, check out the Tactics Corner.

Terrain makes a huge difference to your battlefield, and is a vital component of games of 40k in 9th edition. I love making terrain, it is generally quicker and easier to paint up than your intricate models, and it makes a huge difference to the look of your games.

Recently, I have been making a ton of scratch-built terrain for my local gaming club and the tournaments that we run. I thought I would share some of the techniques and pieces that I have been making, to allow you to add them all to your own table.

This first tutorial is for some desert tree bases. I made these to add to my Field Base FLG Mat and Field Base Terrain, but they would work just as well with any sand-coloured mat, such as Oasis or Badlands.

To make these bases, you will need:

  • 6 mm MDF board
  • Sand
  • PVA glue
  • Desert trees
  • Dry grass tufts
  • Sand-coloured paints
  • Epoxy resin or superglue
  • Jigsaw, Sandpaper, drill or hobby pin vice.

I use 6 mm MDF for my tree bases, as they are very sturdy and durable for the rigours of gaming and storage at my local gaming club. You can obviously switch this out for another sturdy material, such as plasticard or thick cardboard. Just make sure the material will not warp when the water and glue are applied.

Step 1- Cut out your bases in the MDF using your Jigsaw or cutting tool. Be sure to use a dust mask and googles, based on whatever material you are using. The bases work best in irregular shapes, and you can do various sizes to match your table or layouts.

Step 2- Sand down the edges of the bases, so that they are more rounded.

Step 3- Glue some sand onto the base using PVA glue. Allow to fully dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 4- The next stage is to add a protective seal to the sand to make it a bit more durable for painting. I use a 1:1 mix of PVA:water with a little bit of washing up liquid/dish soap added. The dish soap helps to break the surface tension of the water/PVA mix and allows it to seep into the sand for better coverage. Paint this mix all over the sand and allow to dry fully (usually overnight) before moving on.

Step 5- Paint the bases. I spray the bases a sand-coloured spraypaint for convenience and speed, but any appropriate paint can be used. Once dry, I give the base a highlight of a lighter colour to add a bit of definition.

Step 6- Add tufts of static grass or flock to the base. This helps to break them up a little, and add some additional elements to your base.

Step 7- Drill the tree holes. The plastic trees that I used had spike protrusions at the bottom of the trunks to make it easier to attach them to the bases. I used my hobby drill to make holes in the bases for the trees to sit in. When adding the holes, try not to cluster too many together. For the desert trees, it works better if they are spaced further apart. Not only does it look better, but it is more functional for your games if your models can deploy on the base and move through the trees.

Step 8- Glue your trees to the base. This is an optional step, as you may wish to leave them removable for ease of storage. I used epoxy resin to glue the trees to the base, as I wanted a really strong attachment to stand up to the rigours of gaming. You may need to trim any protrusions so that they fit in the base.

And done! These bases were really easy to put together. Plus, the plastic trees and supplies were pretty cheap, allowing you to do a lot of coverage to your board for little expense. These make great dense terrain for your battlefield, decreasing enemy firepower that can target your forces.

I hope to bring you a few more examples of terrain pieces that I have made in the coming months.

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About Michael Corr

An avid 40k player and blogger from Scotland. I started in 3rd edition and have been playing ever since. I detail my adventures in my own blog "St Andrews Wargaming", highlighting my mediocre painting skills, regular battle reports and my occasional random ramblings.
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