Friday, February 23, 2018

Zorndorf Terrain Adjustments

The new Zorndorf battlefield with the Zabern Grund and Galgen Grund features.
The lichen has not been added to the depressions in this picture.

I have been fiddling around with the terrain set up for my Zorndorf game that will be played at this year's Seven Years War Association ("SYWA") convention on April 4-6, 2018 in South Bend, IN.

I decided that the Zabern Grund terrain feature needed to look more imposing and I could barely make out a depression in the ground where the Galgen Grund was located. While I would dearly love to make purpose-built terrain boards, I don't have the time with the convention game coming up in about six weeks. Also, the terrain needs to be portable.

My terrain system involves placing some insulation board on the table top and then placing my game mat on top of the foam boards. I can add pieces to create elevations or make cuts in the boards to create rivers, streams and a few Grunds.

I bought some one-inch thick pink insulation board at Home Depot and transported the boards, which I had cut down inside the store, from 8 feet long to 6 feet long. It was a very windy day and so the boards all wanted to take flight. To make matters even more difficult, I could barely fit the boards into my SUV vehicle, which I had imagined would have enough space to do the job. I was able to cram a couple of the boards into the car, but the others had to be cut lengthwise. Fortunately, the boards come with scored lines that make it easy to break off sections along the length of the board. I finally got everything loaded and delivered to my basement.

The first step in the process was to lay out some markers to make sure that I was making enough space for the Prussian battalions of Manteuffel's advance guard to deploy. By coincidence, my infantry battalions are 12-inches wide when deployed in line, so I was able to use foot long rulers to stand in for my infantry. Thus I could estimate how much room I needed for troops before I started cutting into the foam boards.

I also set out some dowel rods to mark off the area of the Zabern Grund; placed the footprint of the Stein Busch on the table; set up a temporary Galgen Grund; and placed some Russian infantry on the far end of the table to see how much table space I would have on the far side of the wooded area.

Working on the layout before cutting into the insulation boards.
 I wanted to have enough room to deploy four battalions in the area between the Zabern Grund and the Stein Busch.

Conveniently, my infantry battalions are 12-inches long when deployed in line. Thus I can set 12-inch rulers on the table to estimate how much room I will need on the table for the troops.

More of the pre-cutting layout work as seen from the opposite end of the field.
 Once I had the troop placement set in my mind, it was time to start cutting up the foam boards. I hope to keep some of them intact (without cut outs) so that I can use them over and over again for other scenarios. I only had to cut one board to create the Zabern Grund and a second board had just a small cut out, otherwise it was a whole board.

Cutting the Zabern Grund (nearest to the front) and Galgen Grund (mid-lefthand side of the boards)

The next step was to lay my game mat on top of the foam boards. Now you can see the depressions of the two grunds on my table top.

Now that the cutouts are made, I can lay my game mat on top of the insulation boards and get a nice deep Zabern Grund terrain feature.

Now I start laying the trees and foliage on the table.
The Galgen Grund and the Stein Busch can be seen in the middle part of the table.
I now filled up the grunds with trees and lots of lichen to give it a wild appearance. The Galgen Grund was not passable for troops and I think that this is conveyed by the new terrain. Below is a picture of the new Galgen Grund

The new Galgen Grund terrain feature.
Now it is clear that the feature is inpassable to troops.

Another view of the new Galgen Grund, with the Russian light baggage train
providing further obstacles to troop movement
The Zabern Grund was decorated in the same manner, although this time I added some small stream pieces that I had purchased many years ago at Historicon.

The new Zabern Grund - deeper and more imposing looking.
The lichen really makes the depression in the ground "pop".

Russian infantry anchor their right flank on the Zabern Grund.
Cossacks patrol the right bank of the stream.

A view of the Stein Busch. Troops can move through the feature at a slower than normal speed.
European woods were often more open to allow livestock and wildlife roam through it.
You can just barely see the tip of the Galgen Grund at the bottom of the picture.

The finished new tabletop terrain with the Russians deployed on the left side
and the Prussians deployed on the right side of the table.

I will have to rent a van to carry my terrain to the convention, so the boards shall fit inside rather easily. I have to rent a van anyway because I am also transporting all of by Minden and Fife & Drum inventory bins, and my game troops, to the convention.

I'm giving some thought to maybe running a couple of Zorndorf games at this year's Historicon convention in July 2018. Stay tuned to this blog for more information about a possible Historicon appearance this year.

As of today, I have most of the Russian army needed for the game painted and based. So now I can focus on painting some of the accoutrements such as limbers, wagons and casualty markers, among other things. I also want to make a hill that I can set on top of the map, rather than under the mat, where I can deploy the Prussian artillery. For this game I shall allow the cannons to fire over the heads of the Prussian infantry as it advances towards the Russians. At some point the infantry will be too close to the Russians to allow for Prussian artillery fire. However, the Prussian guns will all be howitzers so that they can fire on other targets deeper into the table.


  1. Awesome and inspirational!

  2. Yes! A real museum piece.

    Best Regards,


  3. It was interesting to follow the process by which you created this battlefield.
    I hope that moving everything to the convention doesn't give you backache and that you make some good sales.
    I'm sure folk will enjoy the game


  4. The set up looks great very realistic!

  5. I'll have to try that. I too have a Terrain Guy mat and love it!