The Forge: Make Modular Plasticard Rivers

Make simple, affordable rivers for your next battle adventure with plasticard

Making rivers does not need to be complicated. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best solutions. I think this is certainly the case with plasticard rivers.

I started with an 8 by 10 inch sheet of plasticard. I cut the sheet into strips of river segments. It is helpful to create a variety of shapes, trying to mimic the variability seen in natural rivers. You may need a few sheets of plasticard in order to allow enough river length to span your battlefield. I play on a 4×8 foot table and used 3-5 sheets in order to have plenty of segments available.

Next, paint your river to suit. The paint job does not need to be complicated. Just make it convincible as to what they represent. And that’s it! You have an inexpensive, modular river. It doesn’t look half-bad either.

Now let me explain a few reasons why making plasticard rivers has it’s advantages…

#1. It is easy to make many river segments. If you are like me, you don’t want to get stuck with just a few segments to play with. I want the river to look different every time I set it up. You can make many river segments without much effort. Typically plasticard comes in packages with several sheets, giving you plenty of material to work with.

#2. The pieces lay flat to the table. They don’t get in the way of each other and can easily overlap. Their flatness makes them look appealing and makes them look integral to the battle surface. They provide a 2D terrain feature that has advantages that will be made apparent soon.

#3. The segments are highly modular. I can set the river up differently every time. I can choose how to overlap the segments, and can pivot them in any direction. For this reason, I suggest to only paint the water surface of the river. Avoid painting detailed shorelines, or other features along the segments. Details may prevent the many ways that you could arrange the segments without looking funny. I think in-stream rocks are okay, and I painted a few of them on these segments.

#4. The river width can also be modular. It is very easy to double the width of your river with plasticard. Without details like shorelines, you can add width to your heart’s content.

You can add variety to the width and make ponds like this.

You can add another tributary. The sky is the limit.

#5. The clean, crisp edge of the plasticard makes it easy to define the boundaries of the river. There is nothing complicated that makes gameplay hard to interpret. Despite the wavy bank lines of this river, the skeletons shown are clearly not within the river.

#6. Plasticard can be painted on both sides of the sheet. Paint does not bleed through to the other side. This makes it possible to flip a river over to the other side and depict a river that has been tainted in some form or another. This finally gives us an opportunity to represent different types of rivers that we may encounter in the Warhammer world.

#7. You can cut smaller pieces of plasticard to indicate a wide variety of river types. Here are some white pieces that represent snow or ice. Now I don’t need to have a completely different set of river segments that are white and can represent a frozen river. This will help reduce the amount of plasticard needed to create a fun variety of river types.

You can also paint the reverse side of these type modifiers. I painted these ones orange to represent fire or lava.

I used purple to represent poison, or magic rivers. The possibilities are endless, and only limited by your imagination.

#8. It is easy slide units across the river terrain. The 2-dimensional characteristic of the river makes it easy to play units on it. Nothing could be easier to play units on than a 2D surface. Any features stacked on top of the river segments can just be temporarily moved away until the unit finishes crossing the river. Then whatever was moved can be replaced to its original location.

3D features can be added to the 2D segments to increase aesthetics or feature presence. You can add shrubs, logs, or rocks to add vertical relief and variability to the river scene. Then, those 3D enhancements may be easily moved out of the way when a units needs to move across the river.

So, there’s a lot that can be done with plasticard rivers, and I think it balances the four most important factors in deciding how to create battlefield terrain. These are: playability, aesthetics, variety, and expense.

I also explain the benefits of making plasticard rivers in the video below.

I hope this helps you put together some ideas on how you might create your next river for your Warhammer battlefield.

Happy Wargaming!

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