Terrain: Too Much or Too Little?

When I'm surfing the net, checking out the various sites on the ol' blogosphere, I'm often surprised by the terrain I see in the pictures.  It runs the gamut, of course, but I have to say I think most people play with less than 25% terrain.  Too me, this is the most cogent argument for the lack of a national meta-game: bottom line, the game plays much differently if you're rewarding gunlines with stadium-style setups or melee-shock with dense, large buildings.

Note that, I've changed the post from the original line, 'run the gambit' to the correct idiom, 'run the gamut.'   The term means to extend over the entire range.  Thanks to a reader for the correction - I learned something new here.
So what's an adequate amount of terrain?  Here's the board I set up two Fridays ago; if you're curious, it's two 4x4 boards, which is our standard at 1000pts.  This is my 'We-Need-Trees-Damn-It' terrain.

The other side.  The trees are movable, allowing us to use the piece as area terrain without inhibiting model movement.

Here's Gauthic setting up his Dark Eldar Pirates.  He's converting the entire army, creating a nautical theme that I really enjoy.  What's coolest is his magnet work - everything is done up, including the troops that ride the sideboard.

So that's that - your thoughts?  How is the terrain in your area?


Gauthic said...

And a fantastic crotchshot of Gauthic! Enjoy, boys and girls!

Anonymous said...

I'm honestly not trying to be pendantic, since this is actually a great post, but it should be rub the "gamut", not "gambit". Sorry for the GrammarHammer.

At my various FLGSes, it seems like people don't want to have too much terrain, which I've always thought of as strange. Often, the gunlines are remindful of 1776, not 40k. I personally like dense terrain or trenches...seems more realistic.

Brent said...


No, that's great - it's pretty rare I get caught out on usage. In this case I can't even argue I knew better, 'cause I didn't. I'm always willing to be educated.

I actually dig the trench idea; I may have to give that a try.


Evil Homer said...

I tend to think trenches and rivers look good embedded in the table rather than on top. Trenches especially are difficult to manage on top the table rather than dug in.

If we had a permanent embedded table at the store or room at your house this would be feasible but without a permanent table emplacement I think it becomes difficult.


Big Jim said...

I think that the more terrain you have on the table the better the game gets!

Locally I am slowly getting people to grasp this idea.


Jwolf said...

We're pretty religious about the 25%, which the board you've shown seem to equal or exceed (maybe 30%). Oddly, a lot less terrain and a lot more terrain end up with a lot more maneuver and less kiling, and we like the killing.

Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said...

We are fairly religious as well on the 25% rule. The tables in the pics are a bit heavier (not much) than out normal standards. All of the tables we use at tourneys are real close to 25% (I know because I tried to cover a 2x3 rectangle while building/collecting it).

I think something that people miss on is not just the amount of terrain but the quality. You can cover 25% of the table with stuff and still have it be crap. A 2x3 amount of area covered in craters fits the 25% quota, but is still crappy. A good mix of area, large LOS blocking, and smaller crater/hill types works the best. Striking a balance is the key. Give just a hint of favor to everyone, but little real tilt to anyone if you get my drift.

Herr Fernseher said...

About trenches. One thing I've been meaning to do is build a "spacer" that rests between two tables. For example, if you have two 6x4 tables that are sitting end to end (12x4), then you could drop a 1x4 "spacer" piece of terrain between them and have your ravine or river below the surface of the tabletop. It would be much easier to store a 1x4 piece of terrain than an entire dedicated "river" table.

I'm thinking I'll probably make the very ends of the spacer rocky, difficult terrin and the majority in the middle impassible (a gorge?) with an arched bridge (to provide an elevated vantage) and a rialing (confering 4+ cover save,and maybe tall enough to obscure tanks). Hopefully I can mount some wing nuts underneath so I can screw the piece onto the table ends tightly.

Oh, and if you read this, Simon, can I store this in your garage? :)

Fritz said...

Forget about the terrain, is that Dark Eldar on the table?!?!?

SAJ said...

Can't really comment on terrain's effect on gameplay (having never played over 750pts or on a 4x6), but do know that a table with at least 25% of quality terrain is a lot more engaging.
Matt, good idea, and yes, I'll definitely store any terrain you make. Hopefully, I'll have a couple lay-out tables built soon, which will be good for your ravine piece as well.

Brent said...

Ya Fritz, the best thing about our project is seeing rare armies hit the table.

I've been excited about Gauthic's Dark Eldar.


Gauthic said...

Fritz: feel free to check the progress of my Dark Eldar at (pimp mode enabled): http://gauthic40k.blogspot.com/search/label/Dark%20Eldar

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