The sun has been shining and what better time to whip together a quick desert themed board. I wanted to get a board up quick for a game the next week (socially distanced outside of course). First stop was my local timber merchant Alsford Timber:
8x6ft MDF (9mm thick - £24)
I like this Timber Yard in particular as they’re quick about cutting up your board into 4x2ft manageable slices whereas the large brank UK hardware stores (Homebase/B&Q) often rely on the correctly trained person being in the store that day and available.
Sand (£4) – I bought Kiln dried sand but this was probably not required as it all ultimately ends up in a PVA, Paint, sand and water mix pictured. The paint I really cheap'd out on diving into a bargain bucket for 50p each.
Slathering on the paint-sand-glue mixture thickly you very quickly get a nice sandy texture. I did ever so lightly finish mine with a sideways bit of sandy coloured spray, brushing off any excess sand once the board is dry.
I finished the set-up with some terrain including a railway line, desert buildings (from the Adobe Desert Building Set) and some telegraph poles.
I have the luxury of being able to cut my own poles and railway, though I recommended either giving this a go using balsa wood or consulting model railway model sellers. I hope that in the future these elements may help form part of a new set – (El Alamein?).
Quick flashback: Here is a picture of me adding rendering to the Adobe set prior to spraying using spackle/polyfilla. For reasons of convenience I am seen here using the expensive tube type, but off brands in tubs are just as good (costing around £4 for a small one).
As we drew closer to the game day we decided having a go at a Bolt Action scenario (Western Desert book) specifically the battle of Bir Hakeim. Bir Hakeim was part of a wider battle of Gazala near Tobruk in WW2. At Bir Hakeim the Free French took on a much larger Axis force delaying them and providing vital breathing room to allow a strategic regrouping of the British 8th Army.
The book scenario calls for French minefields (6 inch by 6 inch) as well as a backfield set of French entrenchments. I return to our friend polyfilla to heap on to a right angle of boards. I used MDF but the traditional way is to use lollipop sticks or balsa wood to prop up the Spackle and create the trench boards.
The minefields were created with little 6 inch wooden squares though thick card would also work. I pilled on some sand mixture to make the ground a little more rough as well as adding a little minefield sign. Given more time I would have loved to experiment here with some barbed-wire.
Anyway, with these elements complete it was time for my Bolt Action Italians to meet up with Rommel and start the battle!