Painting wargaming miniatures is one of the most important aspects of high-level tabletop gaming. But without a properly constructed gaming table, it all appears to be for nothing. If you're part of a large scale gaming club, then you may have access to resources and funding to be used to create battlefields for your armies of aliens and undead soldiers. Simple flock will work well enough, applied to a layer of PVA glue spread over some chipboard. However, the real fun comes from having trenches to run through, puddles of mud to leap across and rubble-strewn streets to fight in.
The trouble with creating such dioramas is that at a gaming club everyone will want to play on it. Depending on the funding of the organisation that means a lot of chipboard, PVA glue and soil and sand supplies. You can often pick up large bags of sand and soil at a store like Freds Lagoon Hardware, and they make for a cost-effective alternative to plaster, which is not only heavy but also messy and difficult to shape.
To create a basic ruined battlefield, get multiple pieces of chipboard and lay them on a table suitable for DIY and painting. By using multiple boards you can vary the terrain with each fight, thus giving yourself greater replay-ability. Before you do anything you need to seal the wood with a good layer of PVA glue and let it dry. This will stop paint and oils leaking into the wood. When this is finished, apply another layer of thick PVA glue mixed with a little water if needed; you will then proceed to scatter the sand all over the board and again leave it to dry.
After a number of hours you should be able to gently brush any excess sand off and into a heavy-duty plastic bag to be used for basing model miniatures later. At this point you could easily spray the board with an undercoat and dry brush on lighter tones to pick out the texture. However, if you want to create a realistic mud effect, mix the soil you have purchased with yet more PVA glue to create a thick paste and slap it on. It doesn't matter how it looks as it's meant to be messy; just try to make it so your miniatures will be able to stand upright. The mixture will be easily mouldable and great for a First World War themed board.
From here you can just prime and undercoat the board with a good quality model spray paint and then use powdered pigments, dry brushing and water effect modelling liquid to give it a wet muddy appearance. Any leftover sand or soil can even be used for your communal garden (if you have one) or competition level dioramas.