Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Terrain - Making It Modern

Each period in History has a distinctive look and feel to the terrain, this tends to live in the representation of the man made features, buildings structures, roads tracks and the nature of things like cultivated land.  So wanting to game the Cold War on the central front I wanted to think about what would make the cold war game distinct from World War Two.

Some very common features of the Modern world that scream "today" are of course a little too modern certainly for the early 80s game, in this Category sits mobile phone masts and wind turbines.  Although these are probably good for the early nineties and certainly for any fanciful late 90s Games.

Another thing that says modern is the juxtaposition of the old with the new, histroical buildings and ruins can sit happily along side modern buildings, so all those churches castles and WW2 buildings, Medieval bridges and even Iron age huts can be put to good use.

Some of the Key things that say Modern to me are Roads and Road networks that include Motorways with central barriers embankments and big Blue Signs, bridge construction methods are also quite time specific. Car parks are distinctively modern weather multi storey or open tarmac and marked ground.

Another distinctive element is the 60's and 70's low rise and high rise flats Office blocks and public buildings which tend to be landscaped complexes.  Mixing a variety of buildings in close proximity with car parking fencing lighting roads and trees can achieve the required effect.

Some building functions say modern particularly when the function and building materials are looked at together. Supermarkets started in low numbers pre war but did not really start to take off in numbers until the 50's Tescos didn't start till the 60s so they are inherently a modern feature, originally housed in traditional large buildings they now occupy structures that exploit similar materials to light industrial buildings.

The industrial base of Europe has evolved significantly transitioning from heavy to light industry and services, these types of activity are associated with buildings of a particular look and feel, together with the clustering of these activities around the edge rather than in the centre of Built up areas.

then there are a whole range of services ranging from Power distribution with high voltage electricity pylons, through telephony with its distinctive telegraph poles to trafic control systems with lights at junctions water treatment plants and water towers to street lighting and petrol distribution.

In the country side the main impact of the modern age other than the ubiquitous services are the impact of modern structures within the Agricultural community and in this the most obvious item is the prefabricated metal barn.

In addition to it looking Modern it also has to represent some part of the world and for me thats the Central front in Germany North or South depending on which armies I am fighting with, the Germans have fairly distinctive housing, the signs are in German, they don't love the roundabout, they don't tend to enclose there fields or houses as much as we do, they have an awful lot of Fir trees and they do love rail ways.

So thats the recipe for the central front not being WW2 revisited:
  • A Bunch of old buildings
  • Petrol Stations
  • Supermarkets
  • Low rise, Flats, Offices and shops
  • Light Industry
  • Modern Barns
  • Modern Services Power, Telephony, Water, Lighting
and a German Flavour created by:
  • German Building style
  • no hedges
  • no roundabouts
  • German signs
  • Fir Trees

For this summers game I produced a number of terrain items from the list above which I will be covering over the next few months.

Terrain - Byzantium 20mm, German Buildings
Terrain - Modern Farm Buildings
Terrain - Modern Supermarket


  1. nice... I guess that we all must put all this into account for our games. also isn't google earth one of the best ways we can look at the modern world :-D all you need to do for the 80's is to get rid of the obviously 21st century stuff, as you listen

  2. Great pointers Andy - thanks