Home Forums General Game Design Hidding Mines and IEDs, “Odd Terrains”

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    Bartosz Orzechowski

    Hello! So, I am not sure if this idea is original or not, I’m sure someone else has though about this idea already before, but I have come up with a idea for hidden mines/traps using a small mechanic I’d like to call “Odd Terrain”

    Now, what do I mean when I say odd terrain? Well, I’m talking about pieces of terrain such as rubble, rocks, disturbed grass, a pile of newspapers, and junk. And in a war zone or a battlefield, you’ll find many things like that. A city that’s been bombed will have rubble and rocks scattered everywhere, and a tank driving through a forest will change the grass it runs over.

    But moving on, how will I use such terrain for hidden mine/trap placement? Well, the idea is that under the base of every single odd piece of terrain will be a color representing what is around the terrain. Red can stand for a mine, green can stand for no mines, etc.

    It is a pretty simple idea, but I see a lot of great things with this. If you have enough scatter terrain and keep them in every game you play, you can pretty much keep the presence of mines always unknown. You could, for example, have 5 games where the terrain served nothing but as a background, but then in the 6th game it can turn out that three of the odd terrain pieces were now IEDs and have injured or killed many of your men. You could also use the terrain as a way to keep hiding units hidden, and have the odd terrain flip over and reveal a soldier when the situation seems fit for it.

    Of course, for this to work there is going to be a minimum amount of terrain pieces needed depending on the map size. If you have too little then players are more likely avoid certain areas because of perceiving the object as a trap. I haven’t tried this mechanic yet, but I’d be interested on what people’s thoughts are on this.


    I have used it.
    I did find that people would sometimes avoid all scatter terrain because of the possibility it could be dangerous.
    I guess you could add reasons they have to go near, but would that feel forced?

    Bartosz Orzechowski

    Well, what I’ll be trying to do is making scatter terrain somewhat unavoidable in a game/clutter the map with it, and I’ll be keeping them even when the mission has no mines. I can also make scatter terrain count as extra cover.

    Thorsten FrankThorsten Frank

    A mechanic I used a few times is like yours with a difference – I´ve done a simple 2D6 with a 2, 6 and 12 showing there´s a mine. And as extension a D6 with a mine detected on even and exploding on uneven rolls. Worked pretty well and I think it could be modified (for campaigns – like heavily mined areas with higher percentage etc)

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda


    Featherstone had a ploy of using hole punch paper shards as potential mines, marking the reverse if it was a real mine; not quite so aesthetically pleasing.

    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games

    For Vietnam games I have extensively used these sorts of things to keep the players on their toes.  Short length of piano wire across an opening in a hedge for a tripwire, green floral wire with a little paint to represent a cobra or 2-step viper, some grit that is slightly different in color from that around it…  Warned the players ahead of time that the area was VC controlled and heavily boobytrapped and watch the paranoia set in, especially after the first trap is found.  Good times!

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Adrian Arnold

    Intriguing and worth a try I think.


    I do wonder though – what other methods people use for mines/boobytraps/ied etc? Both on the tabletop and in the rules?

    craig cartmellcraig cartmell

    I have placed a fair number of counters randomly across the battlefield. Each is numbered on the underside, and once placed I then generate a series of random numbers that indicate hazards and treasures/bonuses. So when a counter is encountered the person who does so can look at it and check the list for the result.



    The Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare


    I have for some games made the mines very obvious, a known minefield is a good way to ensure troops are funnelled in a certain direction.


    I don’t necessarily use a piece of scatter terrain unless it is particularly appropriate.  I simply mark it on a map prior to the start of a game, and if a player happens on that spot, I announce that the player must role lass than “x”.  If they fail the roll, the event takes place.  It can be a mine, attacked by an animal, or any number of things threatening or none depending on what we are playing.  Players may be aware of such threats or not, prior to start of the game, again, depending on the scenario.

    Brian Handley

    If its hidden minefield then a map is best.   For modest areas can and we have used Minfields marked underside of say a ploughed field in a key position.   Also we have marked minefields that are marked but some may be dunmies,.  I suspect you solutions are a bit random for most mines and its important to be able to ratinalise how big an area of mines is being represented.  Booby traps for instance were often placed to catch troops actually touching/removing booty, if that is not the case the employment may be unrealistic, typicaly maines will be at choe points like doorways of key houses so even on a skirmish game it sould be easy to map them.     I have seen lots of games where the representation of mine/mine fileds is completely unrealistic detracting rather than adding to the games.

    Phil DutréPhil Dutré

    I have used such “random terrain” markers as well, not only for mines and such, but also for woods (light/difficult going), possible fords (fordable or not), ditches (movement penalty or not), etc.

    Most of these are heavily scenario dependent though. Simply using them as “random terrain” is a bit off-putting, but if used well in the context of a scenario, it can be a fun. It also makes the use of recon elements much more meaningful.

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    Bartosz Orzechowski

    that is a great point, recon is more vital so you can find out what you have ahead.

    Robey JenkinsRobey Jenkins

    Mike’s point at the start I think is a really strong one and reflects real life: if every pile of rubble and box could hide a mine… you don’t touch the piles of rubble and suspicious boxes!

    I think the best solution to this sort of thing is simply random events that emerge naturally from gameplay.  So, for example, if you have a 2d6 system, then a roll of snake eyes might generate a random event.

    I played a game today with a similar system and my brave hero fight through her wounds to reach the objective only for the bloody thing to blow up in her face and nearly kill her!

    Les Hammond

    Well, what I’ll be trying to do is making scatter terrain somewhat unavoidable in a game/clutter the map with it, and I’ll be keeping them even when the mission has no mines. I can also make scatter terrain count as extra cover.

    If encountering traps etc is going to be unavoidable, any movement at all might as well trigger an automatic roll for them, albeit maybe a very small percentage so that players kinda stop fretting about it…until a track gets blown off. Then it doesn’t matter if there’s no scatter at that spot and besides, who plants mines somewhere suspicious?

    6mm France 1940


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