Wargames; Terrain & Building - WW1 Trench Systems

Wargames; Terrain & Building - WW1 Trench Systems

ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
Although WW1 was a global conflict, the image many of us think of is the miles and miles of trenches on the Western Front. For anyone interested in wargaming WW1, a good trench system is imperative.

The author, Douglas Hardy, is a very experienced wargamer and an expert terrain modeller. He is a member of the Western Front Association and has walked many battlefields a number of times. Hardy takes us through the many phases of trench construction, ranging from choice of type, nationality and even replicas of the real thing. He is a modeller of the same ilk as many of us, using everyday products to achieve an overall result.

His book gives us a quick introduction and then gets right into the subject at hand. The first world war has, until recently, been much overlooked by wargamer but are catching up fast. Chapter 2 is where Hardy takes us through the materials needed, glues, putties and clays and general tools used. He also gives us a little safety brief, ensuring safe use of cutting tools especially when working with styrofoam.

Chapter 3 ponders over the choices of either scratch built or commercially made systems are suitable. From my point of view, scratch built will always win because modellers are squirrels, hoarding away materials for their creations. It is also a much cheaper way of producing the same result. There are, however, some very good commercially produced models available and well worth investing in for a try out.

Chapter 4 brings us in contact with the commercially available kits, and some of them are very good. Companies like Ironclad and Javis, together with Kallistra and occasionally Battlefront produce some very good systems. All of these systems are good but require a good deal of finessing to achieve a reasonable standard. Hardy gives an excellent tutorial on building, painting and showing these items.

As large as chapter 4 is, it is eclipsed by it's successor. Chapter 5 which deals with scratch building. From deciding which scale to build it in to the the size of the wargaming table, this chapters details all you will need. From shell-holes to blasted buildings, destroyed forests to mud-filled trenches, there is much to be gained by any scenic modeller. Moving neatly into chapter 6, entitled Projects, we are invited to make up a few terrain pieces which can either be used as symbolic or as part of a larger structure later. This is quite an invaluable chapter in that it teaches us not to overstate but actually understate! This improves our time spent on manufacture and gives us more chance to get on with the game.

Chapter 7 is a stand-alone chapter titled Researching first world war trenches today. Here Hardy give us the titles of some excellent reference books plus some handy instructions on how to see the actual battlefields in France. Hardy rounds off this final chapter with some first class coloured photographs of preserved trenches and details of museums in the area.
I found this book to be thoroughly enthralling, giving excellent references to the subject matter while at the same time, not getting lost in the timeless history surrounding it. The author has managed to show history through a few clever tricks and displays.

I would definitely recommend this book to any modeller or amateur historian.

Rating: five out of five.

Wargames - Terrain & Buildings; WW1 French Systems by Douglas Hardy
ISBN: 978 1 52679 354 6. Published by: Pen and Sword Books, 2021

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