Awesome terrain is what sets the stage for great narrative 40K events. I’m going to show you how to create terrain for very large narrative tables.
For me personally, terrain is as important to the game as the player’s armies. It takes as much planning, modeling, and cost as the building of a new army. I build terrain for the WarGames Con Narrative event in Austin Texas. Great terrain is one of the ways we try to create a special experience for our players and to give a real narrative feel to the event. This set of articles will talk about creating great terrain at the event level scale. Most of these concepts will also help you build terrain for your local games store, club or even your home.
There is a ‘holy grail’ of terrain: terrain that looks good, is playable, durable, easy to store and transport. This is always my goal when I start a terrain project. Good looking terrain starts with a good concept. I start the project with a code name that has a good visual concept associated with it. For example, ruined city is not as good as London Blitz. The code name London Blitz sets a much more detailed visual image in my head.
Playability can be as simple as “do minis stand up on the playable areas of the terrain”, or as complex as “does it give one army an advantage”, or just how fun it is to play on. Playability and great looking, detailed terrain are sometimes at odds with each other. Realistic ruins are awesome looking, but crap to play on. Too many flat surfaces and your terrain looks like an action figure play set. You really have to think about how the board will play.
You also have to look at how much of the board is playable. I look at the board layout, line of sight, lanes of movement and play areas. When thinking about these elements, my goal is to maximize the amount of the board that gets used. In 40K, moving across more than 12 inches of open ground in clear line of sight of most of the table is not fun. We need to create lanes of advance and large line of sight blocks with the goal of having many little fights.
Next time we’ll talk about durability, store and transport the terrain. What was the best terrain you ever played on? Show me.