Terrain kits are one of the most characterful parts of Warhammer 40,000. These are our favorite kits that really let us forge the narrative in the grimdark.
For a very long time, GW has been in the terrain business. As far back as 2nd Edition int he 1990s we got the plastic and card terrain sets like this Imperial bunker:
Over the years, we have seen several sets of generic Imperial urban ruins, that seem to grow taller and larger in scale as the years go by. just recently we got some industrial interior sets thanks to the Necromunda line. But for the last two editions or so we have seen GW move into faction-specific terrain units. These are fantastic additions to the game, as while the generic sets are good – it can get a bit “same-y” to constantly duke it out over burned out Imperial ruins. Getting little insights into the architecture and style of the other races is characterful, and can make for some fantastic looking boards.
While we went over these in our heads, we tried to discount the rules as they can swing wildly from edition to edition, and instead look primarily at the aesthetic of the pieces. How much are they unique? How much do they reflect the faction they are part of? How much do they really glitz up a table.
Oh boy. Part Stargate, part chains and skull ritualistic site, and enormous. The Noctilith Crown REALLY nails what Chaos is all about. The piece dominates the table with it’s presence, and looks right at home among the CSM ranges. It’s that perfect blend of sci-fi and low-tech. As an extra bonus, it’s made from that extra hard plastic so watch out, it’s spikey bits can draw blood if you’re disrespectful to the ruinous powers.
The opposing twin to the Noctilith Crown. This Webway Gate was released alongside the Harlequins, and really captures the impossibly ancient organic tech vibe of the Craftworlders. It is a super tall, elegant, and incredibly fine piece that draws the eye and demands attention. No matter where you put it, it makes your tabletop look like some ancient locale that has just been rediscovered. It’s background and lore make it a natural fit to fuel the imagination for endless battlefield narratives. It’s simply beautiful and I hope to see GW add more pieces in this aesthetic in the years to come.
It’s ugly, brutal, and looks perfectly at home in the mining vibe that defines the Genestealer Cult range. Sure this could have been a kit from the Mechanicus Factorum ranges that was moved into the GSC codex, but no matter. The cultists have that never-say-die, hopelessly outmatched theme, and their use of Imperial civilian equipment to get the job done is great. There’s a Skaven undercurrent to the fragdrill that also works quite well. With some additional sector mechanicus terrain, you can drop in the Fragdrill and end up with a fantastic thematic table – that perfectly complements your GSC army.
All high tech, floaty, and sporting clear plastic energy barriers. The T’au Tidewall range (all 3 kits) is such a perfect fit for the anime hard-tech aesthetic of the race. Alongside the Imperial Trenchlines, this one really gives you that ability to set up a fortified base, or entrenched position. We’ve all imagined those bitter grimdark WW1 analogs a thousand times, but the Tidewall lets you turn those dreams into a sci-fi tabletop reality. Even if you never use the rules, it’s a fantastic kit to throw on your tables to forge that narrative.
Convergence of Dominion
What I like the most about the Necron kit is that you get three of them and they are in various states of decay. This immediately set up the visual cues about the age and timelessness of the Necrons, their massive and inscrutable technology, and that feeling of being small and insignificant in the face of mysterious power. The fact that the rules let them move around the board makes them even better. The Convergence of Dominion fit right in almost anywhere, as them suddenly appearing in the midst of other culture’s environments and terrain only enhances the creepiness of the Necron threat. Love em!
~Did we miss one of your favorites? Which do you like the most?
I’ll have more to say on this Nurgly contraption when it is officially available, but wow – I can smell it from here!