Monday, July 19, 2010

Terrain Rant

image courtesy of battlefield architect

Brother C here,

With our July 40k bloodbath approaching fast, I wanted to rant a bit about terrain. Terrain is a pain in the ass for a lot of people. 40k players simply do not want to be bothered by such inconsequential tasks as modeling and painting terrain when there are lists to debate, assemble, and paint. However, as a club manager, terrain has become one of the most important aspects of the game for me. Players come to club meetings and need terrain to play their matches. Thankfully many of our members have extended a lot of grace for us while we assemble an armory of board pieces for their use.

All this worrying about supplying terrain for member use led me to do a little research into the 40k rulebook and I discovered some interesting things. The first is the amount of terrain which is recommended for each match. The rulebook suggests 25% of the board be covered in terrain pieces. Using a standard 6’-0”x 4’-0” game board, that is, for example, 7 pieces of 12”x12” terrain. Now that made me stop and think. I cannot remember the last time I’ve watched a video bat rep, or have seen images from 40k matches where there has been this much terrain on the boards.

See images below for sketches showing exactly what 25% terrain looks like.

No wonder so many people fear the IG gunline lists, there is nothing to freaking hide behind. My recommendation: PUT MORE TERRAIN ON THE BOARDS. Again, the rulebook states a minimum of 25% should be used for each and every match, AND further goes on to describe that the more terrain you use, the better the gaming experience. There is a direct relationship between the amount of enjoyment, the amount of terrain, and amount of space for gun line spam of the game. So why aren't we enjoying more and spamming less?!!?!

Its simple. Lets look at an example from history. Funny how we can just use England and the US as the perfect scenario. We all remember learning about the ‘red coats’ and their gigantic gun lines across the battlefield. They would set up on a wide open field and simply ‘leafblow’ their opponents away. Nothing could stand against them. That is until the revolutionary minute men started using cover and terrain to their advantages to fight the British. They didn’t go out and try to stand toe to toe with that line of fire, they knew they had no chance. So why, as 40k players are we going out, into gunline or spam fire and not using the game board to provide us with the advantage?

Fight the use of gun lines; put more terrain on the boards. If your club is not providing enough for your use, try offering to help fund the purchase of additional terrain pieces, bring some of your own, or hell, just use whatever you have laying around. Using a stack of books for cover is better than getting blown off the board on turn 2.

Let your opponent take first turn, spread your units thin, into as much cover as possible while they deploy in the middle of no man’s land. Let all their shots rain down, while you hide, and when its on your turn, unleash the fury. rinse and repeat.

/end rant


  1. Good post! I agree but I would also like to point out that a lot of people do cover their boards with %25 terrain however most of this terrain is craters and low terrain that doesn't block LOS.

    So while a lot of the required amount of terrain, it really for all purposes isn't there anyway since it doesn't block shots and barely gives a cover save to anything, especially vehicles.

    I really think there needs to be more sight blocking terrain.

    But I guess the dilemma is that the more sight block terrain you have the more the game will become about assault. So it's a double edged sword. Do you want the game to revolve around gun lines or heavy assault armies?

    I would be interested to see what people think the balance should be.

    Personally I think a board that has lots of LOS blocking terrain would make for a more interesting and tactical match.

  2. I agree with Moros on the point that my army is big on heavy weapons. The tactic of hiding and running out only to shoot and then return to your hiding spot isn't for me. The idea of having more cover for An army with high cover saves is a great one indeed. But the idea of dishing out sucker punches just isn't for the Blood Angels. It's an Eldar thing. I would be more than happy to assist in the purchase of more and better terrain for the growing popularity of the club. All in all, you are the best at ranting. Seriously, politics are a definate option for you

  3. Terrain my favorite... Unfortunately I probably wont have anything new this weekend, but if I do it will be very small or unfinished. I do agree that we need more terrain but how much should block LOS compared to just crummy 5 or 6+ cover saves from tree branches.

    Personally I would love to get enough city buildings to do a cities of death or necromunda board but frankly I don't have the cash to shell out for them. more on that when I finally get to making a video series on terrain.

    Anyway not only would more terrain make the game more fun, but players would actually have to think about their deployment and strategy a little more. I'm getting tired of games which involve me slogging my Necrons across an open battlefield whilst my opponent drops pie plates on my army. also Brother C you forgot the <> on your rant tag