Full disclosure - I had no real interest in starting a North Africa table and had actually just sold my 15mm NA table a couple of months ago. I don't even own any desert armies, in either 28 or 15mm! But, things just came together and here I am with a North Africa table for local Bolt Action events. This is a strong departure from my normally dense tables, as I really wanted to emphasize the almost featureless expanse of the desert surrounding the Alamein train station itself.
I had actually started work on the dunes earlier this summer with the intent of using them for Gaslands, in sort of a post-apocalyptic Wastelands table. They're spare off-cuts of pink foamboard from previous projects that were cut to shape, sanded, and then textured. I wanted to get a "flowing" feel to each dune, with a gently sloped windward side and and steeply sloped leeward side to provide a more "natural" feel to the table itself. While it's hard to tell from the pictures, the dunes do provide some measure of cover and the higher dunes block LOS for most infantry and troops on the "ground".
The first piece of terrain that helped push me towards a 28mm desert table was Warlord's Desert Table scenery box I won at a tournament early this year. Overall, the set itself is useful, if rather uninspired for the advanced modeler. The star of that set are these excellent resin ruined wall pieces. I really enjoy the look of them and, being separate pieces, they enjoy a good amount of flexibility in arrangement. Here I've made them into a small walled enclosure or heavily ruined building site.
Years ago, I had made two very large rocky hills for Flames of War. I was never really satisfied with how they turned out (or how big they were), so they never saw much use. One was eventually damaged in a move but the other living on in a dusty box. I hate to see terrain sit unused - I would rather sell old terrain and let someone else enjoy it, than have it be neglected in my own extensive terrain collection. So I repurposed this piece to serve as a representation of the high ground to the south of the station, giving it a thorough repaint, and some new flocking. I used a lot of different spray paints and drybrushing to build up a depth of color.
Last, but really the entire reason this became the El Alamein battlefield was finding an amazing deal on Sarissa's El Alamein Station kit. I love Sarissa's kits (the majority of my Seelowe/Channel Islands table are Sarissa's "Europe At War" building line) and this was no exception. The rail line is about 5' long but VERY delicate (so be sure to take extra care when painting the trestles before gluing on the rails, one of my pieces snapped off about 2" from the end). The train cars are great and, when I have a little more in the hobby budget, I'd like to add one of their steam engines as well.
I'd be remiss to not mention the station itself. I'll be honest - on the dry fit build, I was a little disappointed by how plain it all was. However, I assembled the entire station and used some of the spare cardboard sheets to "bulk out" the bottom portion of the exterior walls. This added a nice transition and sense of depth that the kit lacks. I then filled in the joints with spackle and gave the entire structure three coats (!) of gesso, giving it a textured and durable finish. I again used a lot of different spray paints and drybrushing to give it a depth of color quickly. To finish it off, I painted on the English and Arabic signs, added a few of the always helpful pickle barrels, and glued on some British propaganda posters in the vestibule. From pictures, the station at the time appears almost brand new, likely due to the dry climate, so I avoided a lot of weathering besides some drybrush streaking on the roof.
To finish off, I added some leftover crate stacks from my Necromunda Freight Hub table and bought a cheap Twin flat sheet at Walmart for $6 that I spraypainted....to give it a depth of color.
A lot of players will probably disregard this table as being plain but, that was always the intention. The El Alamein battlefield itself is, for the most part, scrubby featureless desert so there is a toss-up decision for the gamer to either go completely historically accurate (and likely end up a death trap for gamers) or anachronistic (and likely end up not resembling the area at all). I feel like this table sits somewhere in the middle - it combines features that are largely miles apart in actual groundscale to ensure a balanced play, while also staying true to the "spirit" of the battle itself.