Playing Soviets in Bolt Action, how can you not have a Stalingrad playing board? I happen to really like city fighting and the cinematic feel of densely packed ruins on a game board. Our local gaming store has a city board but it's in FOW scale (15mm) and it can work for Bolt Action, but only barely. I could wait for Rob to build his own, or I could just do it myself. I like making terrain, so I figured why not.
Things for me to consider as I get started on a 4'X8' ruined city gaming board:
1) Barmaley fountain. Gotta have the Barmaley fountain. It's such an iconic image of Stalingrad, that square needs to be made to happen. The scene where Danilov and Zeitzev meet in Enemy at the Gates is one that sticks with me, so yeah. I think this is the only feature I really *must* make happen. I have the model (Puppetswar made an awesome one in 28mm)
2) Balance of terrain. The ruined city look has to have a balance of destroyed buildings and open-ish areas where buildings once stood. One thing about city is the shorter line-of-sight. Fire lanes and sight blocking makes city tactics more challenging, requiring units to maneuver and end up getting close. I need to make sure I balance the layout so players can adapt their units accordingly. What a city board lacks in open lanes of fire, it makes up for in elevated positions. Units can get up into the upper levels of a ruined building, opening up different lanes and changing the scope of the game from a 2-d to more of a 3-D consideration.
3) Roads. This is a big one. A city board is either buildings/space where buildings once stood and roads. Currently, wheeled vehicles can move 24" and fire, while tracked vehicles can move 18" and fire while on roads. An infantry squad would take 3 turns to cover that distance while firing. The new rules that enable transports to continue on the board and shoot while leaving their troops or tow behind will just add to the weight of mechanized units. On turn 2, a wheeled vehicle can be all the way across the board while following a road. There are two ways to balance that out:
a) build the city on a diagonal. Have the board be at a 45 degree angle to the roads, forcing the vehicles to have to maneuver with turns, and cutting their distance traveled perpendicularly. Another aspect of building it like this is that it will play with the minds of the players. Most people think in straight lines, and are psychologically drawn to pre-set roads. Setting the board on an angle will add a sub-conscious challenge to the players.
b) have the board be congruent with the streets, but have so much damage and fallen buildings in the way that it blocks direct road travel from one side of the board to the other.
4) Factory district. Another area of terrain I would like to have, but am not as focused on as I am for the Barmaley fountain, is the factory district. Having a large area of terrain that is just one big destroyed building with multiple levels where infantry can spread out would totally eliminate vehicular advance, and also would be a challenge for players. The question is: would it be too much of a challenge and so, not fun. The visual would be neat, but ...
5) I wanted to have a river feature, but I can't figure how to get that factored in. Stalingrad had the Volga, but that would be an entire side of the board. I could do a river through the city in a smaller scale, but I think that would take away from the feel I'm going for.
These are my thoughts as I get started on the project. There are plenty of makers of buildings out there and I'll also be doing my own out of foamcore and sintra for specific buildings I want to replicate.
Below are just a couple images of where I am for now:
A screen grab from Enemy at the Gates..
And the building I made for the board.