Help support TMP


"Desert terrain - question on availability and content" Topic


6 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board



570 hits since 30 Apr 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

captaincold6930 Apr 2018 11:11 a.m. PST

Looking to start up some 20mm ww2 gaming in a North Africa setting and was wondering who sells 20mm terrain items in the US for this kind of setting and, more important, other than some random tumbleweeds what's needed on a good desert terrain table?

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2018 11:24 a.m. PST

If you look at photos of the North Africa campaign in WWII you will see that the majority of terain has low hills, clumps of small shrubs, gullies, and in a few occasional sand dunes. Real desert doesn't look like hollywood desert.

captaincold6930 Apr 2018 11:29 a.m. PST

Sorry for the double post :(

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP01 May 2018 5:49 a.m. PST

Captain: agree completely with SMM.

If you are going to go with generic desert and assuming you're not going to build specific terrain boards then I think the key is get a good quality mat which drapes and allows you to place objects underneath which will give you a sense of rolling low hills with various degrees of elevation / depression.

In the desert a height of only a few meters can be critical in combat.

If possible, the bases of your figures (and vehicles, if you base them) should match the color of the mat and blend in.

On top of the mat you will want to add desert scrub: this can be scattered but I prefer to mount mine on bases. I was making my own until BF/FOW came out with their product in 15mm: it is large and perfect for 20mm (BB226). All I did was repaint / mute the colors down.

You really don't need buildings but a few plus but a small oasis with palm trees is a nice touch.

The above is really all you need for a generic set up.

If you are looking at specific battles than a study of maps will be required. One issue with the majority of maps published in books dealing with the desert battles is the lack of elevation / depression noted. It all just seems 'flat' which can be very misleading.

The majority of tank battles were fought on hard rocky plateau's bisected by gebels / wadi's (hills / ravines).

Then you have the effect of escarpments relative to the coastal areas.

The map below will give you an idea:


mysteron Supporting Member of TMP02 May 2018 1:53 a.m. PST

Just to add to the above. Buildings should be kept to a minimum . Some games I have seen feature too many buildings.
If your into modelling then perhaps a small mine field could be constructed marked out with wire to represent barbed wire and some hand painted notices. The key to your terrain is really a good quality desert mat.

However to add further if you are doing Tunisia then a Med European feel best represents the Northern part of the country.

Andy ONeill02 May 2018 2:58 a.m. PST

A whole load of almost totally flat nothing would be most common but a wadi, ridge or depression were also fairly common battle locations.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.