Use our forest tree sets and your imagination to implement some of the tips we set out on these pages to help you ramp your games up to more adventurous and exciting levels.   

In this section, comparisons are made between the fighting tactics of well trained and disciplined soldiers accustomed to fighting in open spaces and the practical and cunning tactics of partisan frontier dwellers, or bush fighters.   This information is largely based on research into the heavily wooded regions of North America, from the time of the French and Indian Wars, the American War of Independence, through to the American War of 1812.  

The French Canadians became expert at irregular warfare under the tutelage of their Indian native allies.  These tactics were later incorporated into the English military system, most notably by Robert Rogers of Rogers' Rangers whose American companies influenced the shape and character of Britain’s American Army.  By the time of the War of Independence, even Britain’s Hessian (mercenary) allies were trained to take cover in wilderness fighting.   

These observations are also based upon universal truths and are just as relevant to Ancient times when the Roman Army fought the tribes in Western and Central Europe, and the Middle Ages, given some variation in social customs and the use of weaponry through the ages. 




 Different Kinds of Fighting Tactics


Conventional military units or town-based militias were less conversant in bush or hit and run partisan style tactics than fighters living on the frontier. 

Fighters living on the frontier were familiar with rugged terrain, bush craft and fighting tactics such as using tree and ground cover to minimalise casualties.  In contrast, continental or European warfare was often fought on open ground.  It required companies of soldiers to form in rows in order to fire volleys of shot into an enemy’s ranks and create maximum damage.


In past times, military units entered into and passed through heavily wooded regions as a solid unit that could readily deploy into a defensive position when under attack.

Soldiers would be wary and possibly fearful of an alien terrain that held unknown dangers. 

This was an era of superstition when the forests depicted in European folklore/fairytales could be dark, mysterious and dangerous places.  The woodland Indians became the bogeymen of the dark forests of the New World until the British found their measure and developed their own alliances with the Iroquois League of Six Nations during the French and Indian War.

By the time of the 1812 War between the fledgling United States and British Canada, Britain's Indian allies only had to give a war cry to create panic amonst the poorly trained troops of the enemy's army.

Even rowdy (and out of sight) Scottish Highland troops were recorded as having unnerved the enemy with a war cry, thinking they were about to be attacked by the dreaded Indians.  

 Unlike troops in other armies, British soldiers were trained to execute the commands of their officers in silence during engagements.


 Military units travelling in columns did not usually give chase to random attackers, as individuals or small groups breaking away from a column would be quickly captured or killed.

Small attacks against a larger force could be used to distract and disorient an enemy prior to an attack with a larger force - possibly close by by and hidden from view.  They could also slow down the movement of an enemy force prior to a major attack, and weaken morale.


Native Indian tribes, rangers and frontiersmen would usually employ the use of tree cover as strategic cover, while maintaining close contact with their comrades during fighting.  

Rangers with rifle/musket, such as Rogers' Rangers, would fight in pairs.  One man loaded, while the other fired at a mark or target.


A bush-fighting unit such as rangers or Indians would most likely travel in single file with scouts fore and aft, and on the flanks.

This would ensure that they were forewarned of an ambush ahead, and that an enemy unit was not trailing them from behind.


Scouts were the eyes and ears of small units and large forces.

Their job was to observe and report an enemy presence without making their presence known, or engaging the enemy.


On more open ground, a trained unit of soldiers being charged by cavalry would form a square.  A 'square' formation provided a defence against attack on four sides and prevented the enemy from attacking the vulnerable flanks or exposed sides of a unit.


Single shot firearms and bows and arrows were generally used at close quarters to ensure optimal effect within heavily vegetated areas.

A projectile might be deflected by any number of non-targeted obstacles.  

Practices under normal conditions used for hunting food were similar to those used in war.  A sure shot of an animal at close distance ensured that there would be food on the table.  During war, a wounded enemy could be no less dangerous than an unwounded one, unless a fighter(s) wanted to take prisoners.


Prior to the late 19th Century, the black powder smoke from firearms could reveal the position of snipers.

Palls of smoke generated during a heavy battle could further obscure vision in dimly lit forest areas.  Smoke could be used to obscure movement for either attack or retreat.  

It could blind a unit, affecting its judgement, causing confusion and possibly panic.


Trees acted as windbreaks. 

Within a thickly wooded forest, gunpowder smoke could linger in the air for a long time without being dissipated by a breeze or wind. 

In more open ground, breezes would clear the air more readily.




Entertaining Reading on this Subject


A great story on the theme of American Colonial Adventures is:

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, published by Arcturus Publishing. The classic story of the French Indian War and the capture of the English Fort William Henry by the French.

The movie of the same name, with Daniel Day Lewis, provides an excellent visual reference point to this story.


In the Osprey illustrated histories you might try:

American Colonial Ranger, The Northern Colonies 1724-64, Gary Zaboly, Osprey Warrior 85.

Montcalm's Army, text by Martin Windrow, Colour plates by Michael Roffe, Osprey Men at Arms.

Tomahawk and Musket, French and Indian Raids in The Ohio Valley 1758 by Rene Chartrand, Osprey Raid 27.

The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion's Campaign in the Carolinas 1780 by David R. Higgins, Osprey Raid 42.










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 To get inspiration and new ideas for your games with our forest tree models and toy soldiers, combined with other small scale models and toys from your collection, you may wish to check out some of these books of popular adventure fiction.  

If you aren’t a prolific reader, some of the adventure titles in Puffin Classics for children are still highly readable for adults.  We've also provided some relevant non-fiction, including some illustrated histories from Osprey Publishing. 


Robin Hood themed adventures:

There is no doubt most people have seen any one of a number of Robin Hood movies.  Now read the books!

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, published by Puffin Classics.

Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert, published by Wordsworth Classics. This is written in an older style of English.

Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, published by Penguin Classics.

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson, published by Wordsworth Classics.


General medieval themes:

King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by Roger Lancelyn Green, published by Puffin Classics. Totally fantasy based.

The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published by Wordsworth Classics. Set at the time of the100 Years War.

Sir Nigel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published by Wordsworth Classics. Sequel to The White Company. Set at the time of the100 Years War. A witty book with great story set-ups.


Pirate themed adventures:

The Buccaneers of America by Alexander O. Exquemelin, published by Dover Publishing. The primary historical source for all of the great buccaneering/pirate stories of the 1600s. The highlight of this book is a first hand account of Henry Morgan’s epic attack on the original city of Panama, a classic wilderness adventure. This book provides a wealth of ideas for games scenarios with a difference.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, published by Wordsworth Classics features wonderful period pen and ink illustrations.


American Colonial adventures:

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, published by Arcturus Publishing. The classic story of the French Indian War and the capture of the English Fort William Henry by the French.  The movie of the same name, with Daniel Day Lewis, provides an excellent visual reference point to this story.


Also in relation to American Colonial Adventures, you might try the following Osprey illustrated histories:

American Colonial Ranger, The Northern Colonies 1724-64 by Gary Zaboly, Osprey Warrior 85.

Montcalm's Army, text by Martin Windrow, Colour plates by Michael Roffe, Osprey Men at Arms.

Tomahawk and Musket, French and Indian Raids in The Ohio Valley 1758 by Rene Chartrand, Osprey Raid 27.

The Swamp Fox, Francis Marion's Campaign in the Carolinas 1780 by David R. Higgins, Osprey Raid 42.

For Armies in Plastic figures relating to the American colonial adventures theme, see our Products menu - Box Sets: French & Indian War 1754-1763.


In the mould of Indiana Jones:

King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard, published by Wordsworth Classics and Puffin Classics.

Allan Quartermain by H. Rider Haggard, published by Puffin Classics.

She by H. Rider Haggard, published by Wordsworth Classics. An early masterpiece of modern (Lost Worlds) fantasy whose title character is an ancient white sorceress and queen, Ayesha, ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’.

For games purposes, H. Rider Haggard’s stories provide great inspiration for pulp fiction style adventure games as well as fantasy styles of games according to the personal interests and tastes of gamers.

The Lost World and Other Stories by Conan Doyle, published by Wordsworth Classics.

The Lost World has been a primary source for much magazine ‘pulp fiction that has provided inspiration for Michael Creighton’s Jurassic Park stories, translated into movies; TV series such as Primeval; and film classics such as the 1933 black and white version of King Kong, created by British writer, Edgar Wallace.


Other real-life adventures:

The Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt, published by Dover Publications Inc., New York (first published 1899 by C. Scribner's, New York).  

This story is a classic 'ripping yarn' where the author documents the outdoor life of an army on campaign in the Caribbean.  Theodore 'Teddy' Roosevelt provides fascinating insights into a diverse group of men ranging from Spanish Americans, Indians, and the black cavalrymen or Buffalo Soldiers who gallantly served alongside the Rough Riders during the attack on the heavily defended San Juan Hill. He also speaks well of his Spanish adversaries who put up some fierce resistance against the invaders, most famously at San Juan Hill.   

Theodore Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary for the United States Navy when the warship, USS Maine, mysteriously exploded and sank in Havana Harbour in 1898.  With public opinion inflamed by domestic press coverage, Roosevelt actively pushed for the Independence of Cuba from Spanish rule.  Within ten weeks, the Spanish lost their colony of 407 years.  When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Roosevelt resigned from his post and helped to form several regiments of Rough Riders.

Teddy Roosevelt was a man with a love for the great outdoors and a genuine curiosity and fascination for the people with whom he came into contact.

For Armies in Plastic figures relating to this theme, see our Products menu - Box Sets: World Armies - Spanish & Americans 1898-1902.





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Bold Frontiers forest tree sets are designed to be used in useful ways with 28-54mm toy soldiers.  Think of a forest as a city of buildings, with lots of obstructions for people to move around and through.  The trees become an important feature of a game and they can take toy soldier games to new levels of adventure and fun.  

Once you start playing with these forest tree playsets, they will become an essential accessory for all your future games with toy soldiers and other game pieces.




Purpose of Forest Tree Models


Bold Frontiers forest tree sets can be set up as solid wilderness interiors, physical barriers, obstacle courses and mazes, background settings, or tree islands.  They can also be used to represent forest ruins, hiding architectural ruins or lost cities.   

In closely grouped tree set-ups, soldiers can move easily around the trees - especially the small sized tree markers which mark the spot of full size trees.  The tops on these smaller models are cropped to enable the players to easily see and move their own figures in a game, without dislodging the trees.

Solid tree trunks and thick foliage provide protective cover while other small bushes can hide the movements of figures lurking nearby.


Forest Tree Screens and Forest Pine Screens (Sets 1 and 2):

These are medium and large size tree models that serve to form tree screens.  They represent dense areas of forest with restricted visibility.  Their undergrowth provides extra cover for figures.  

These tree screens are an effective natural barrier or fortification - rival players will require some extra effort to penetrate this dense cover in pursuit of their enemy.

 Also, they can be used to hide the strength and movement of a unit from rival players.  

In a structured game with rules, screen trees can be used to slow down the movement of figures needing to pass through them.



  Forest Tree Screens - Set 1 (Left);  Set 2 (Right)


Forest Tree Markers (Set 3):

The smaller tree markers, shown below, are a cropped version of the Forest Tree Screens in Set 1, pictured above.  

Each of these small tree models represents the position of a full-size tree.  They can serve as a mini-fortification, providing defensive cover for a small unit or group of figures.  

 Openings between the tree trunks provide protective cover for figures to shoot firearms or arrows through.  With their reduced height, these tree models allow players to easily observe their figures as the battle progresses.  Their reduced height makes it easier for players to position their figures.  

These smaller trees can be used to show the more open areas of forest with a clearer line of sight for figures (that may only be obstructed by another tree marker).  More importantly, these trees ensure that players have a combination of tall and short trees which can make the movement of figures much easier.

Set 3 also includes one fallen tree and a copse (a small grouping of trees).  The fallen tree is ideal for kneeling figures and the copse is good for hiding figures behind.  





 Guidelines for Tree Set Ups


Use tree screens to provide dense foliage that can be used as cover for figures:

Set up the tree screens (Sets 2 and/or 3) at about 7.5cm (3 inchesapart so they appear to overlap each other when viewed face on (at 'eye level' of the figures). This tree cover is considered to be too dense to be seen into.


Use tree screens and markers together to create a more challenging and interesting environment:

For best effect, set out the screens and markers (Set 3) at irregular angles from each other, to give the appearance of a maze or obstacle course through which single figures or units can navigate.  For instance, sighted units might suddenly disappear and head off in one or more different directions.

To simulate the more open interior of a forest, place the markers behind the screens.  Additional screen models may be placed randomly amongst the markers to create a blend of dense and open forest.


Use screens and markers together on a large games area to keep track of figures as they move across the area:

If a large area is filled only with the larger tree screen models, players may find it difficult to move their figures across the games area without disrupting or moving the tree models. Also, they may start losing sight of figures - some may get moved a long way while others may get left behind.  This is where forest tree markers become really useful.

When figures are placed in marker sections, between groupings of screens, players can clearly see where the figures are and move them easily from tree to tree as they move into closer contact with an enemy unit. 



You can create different types of tree landscapes by looking at some of the photos in this section and also in our Photo Gallery.  You can also use your imagination to do whatever suits your needs.

Solid wilderness interiors    

Trees can be used to hide figures or as defensive cover for fighting.

Physical barriers  

Trees can be used as natural physical barriers that can add to the atmosphere of the game.

Obstacle courses or mazes   

Trees can be massed together in a mazed effect that will challenge players to guide their figures safely through.

Background settings    

Trees can be set up as small stands of forest or woods bordering open fields.  This can lead to different types of environmental settings and different game scenarios being played out simultaneously in the one game.

Tree islands    

Trees can be clusterd as small islands and surrounded by open spaces such as grasslands or fields.



Click on the image to see the caption



 Tactical Play with the Model Trees


Contact rules for trees and figures (visibility and safety):

By touching the sides or edges of the tree models, figures can be considered as having disappeared safely within those forested areas for an agreed amount of time.  This means that rival players cannot see opposing figures or make an attack on them while they remain there.

Hidden marksmen can fire from the edge of the tree cover by placing figure bases in direct contact against the edges of the screens and tree markers.

While the screens don't have apertures for firing through, a common games trick for hiding figures amongst the trees, even when they are fully visible, is to place the figure bases directly against the sides or edges of the model.  The rule here is that the figures cannot be seen until the smoke of their firearms reveals their position, and they are protected by thick tree trunks which they are supposedly hiding behind.


 Click on the image to see the caption


Veiled moves:

Veiled moves introduce elements of secrecy and surprise and can give players an advantage over opponents.   The following information refers to when a player does not want to reveal the true strenth of his unit to another player.

Only reveal the true strength of a unit when it is ready to engage in a hostile encounter.  The sudden appearance of a unit in full force can be more surprising than a cluster of figures whose strength and movements have been exposed and closely observed by rival players during the course of a game.

Use a single token figure to represent a core unit of figures including scouts (fore, aft and flanks).  The full strength of a unit can be recorded on paper or with a die (single dice), hidden from common view. This system is particularly relevant to situations where a unit's strength may be increased during the course of a game.

This last procedure also eliminates the clumsiness of moving mass figures and unnecessarily disrupting the scenery.  

It streamlines the game and cuts down on time wasted by repositioning groups of figures for normal moves.


Units entering into heavy forest areas (tree screens):

Units can temporarily disappear into the dense areas of screens when the leader of a unit touches, with its base, any part of a large tree screen model or enters into a 7.5 cm gap betwen larger tree models.

Any unit figure that is left behind or in direct contact with an enemy figure could be considered as killed or captured.


 Click on the image to see the caption


Hidden moves with the tree screens:

Here are some suggested rules on how to use the tree screens as hidden cover, and how figures can perform inside that cover, using different types of screens.

When several tree screens are placed close together (about 7.5 cm apart and slightly overlapping ) to form a row of dense cover, a unit of figures reaching that cover may remain unsighted for 1 move only, and then they must leave that cover.

When the tree screens are used singly in a forest setting, a unit of figures reachng that cover may remain unsighted for 1 move only, and then they must leave that cover.

When the smaller screen models are used on their own or as an isolated feature, a unit of figures must pass straight through to the other side without stopping: that is, they must move away from the screen on the screen on the next turn.

When leaving or passing through the screens, players can follow these suggestions regarding the use of tokens:

  1. When leaving a screen, a player may exchange 1 unit figure for up to 3 coloured tokens comprising 1 marked token and 2 blank dummy tokens indicating the hidden unit at full strength.

  2. These tokens can be moved simultaneously in various directions to deceive any rival units within that area, for up to 2 moves.  

  3. In the picture below, we have only shown 2 dummy markers against the side of the distant screen model to indicate where the hidden figure might be.  The blue figure has only moved once before its position is revealed, while the khaki figure has made 2 hidden moves before it has been revealed.  

  4. In an actual game, only 1 of these markers might be used to hide the actual movement of a figure, representing a unit of perhaps 4 figures.



  Click on the image to see the caption


Escaping through the screens:

Soldiers can disappear safely into the protective cover of the screens by touching the sides or edges of the models.

If a unit is pursued into a screen by a hostile force, it can be detected by an enemy unit by rolling 1 die and geting a score of 6 (1D6, or 1 x 6 sided die).  The pursued unit must then leave the screen to make its escape.

The detected unit can make a desperate run by rolling 2D6 and adding 7.5 cm.


Shooting from screens and markers:

Taking the likely deflection of fired arrows or musket balls by undergrowth (small trees and bushes under larger trees) into account, shooting can only be effective at a close and murderous range of, say, up to 15 cm.  In colonial North America, it was recognised that 'almost reaching distance' had the most lethal effect in bush fighting.  

The tree markers are ideal for skirmish battles, with their apertures for shooting through, and their thick trunks to shoot from behind.



 Click on the images to see the captions


To get your imagination working on how you can have fun with our forest tree sets and toy soldiers, as well as your own collection of figures and other game accessories, see our information on wilderness battle tactics and adventure story titles (fact and fiction) that are well written and many of which will have great illustrations in them (e.g. the illustrated histories by Osprey Publishing).