Terrain and tables…are we doing it right?
So, we have all done table setup. HOWEVER, how many of us do it right? Not many. I know I didn’t. Not even close. I set up a game with a friend a month or so ago and we rolled dead on even and had a TON of terrain. We RAN OUT of matching terrain. Plus…I’ve seen lots of pics of tourneys. We don’t set up terrain right. Period. You can argue all you want, but most of us are vets from 5th and we rock the 25%-ish theory when in reality it is a WHOLE LOT closer to 50%. HOWEVER…You should have 6D3 pieces of major terrain. Minor terrain should be 1-3 PER major piece of terrain. But…is more terrain what we need? No. Terrain should not just hamper a linear assault across the board. Wars wash over terrain like water, with hills, cities, and valleys shaping the movement of troops like it would water. This is how it REALLY happens. So…how can we build a better table to lead to, what I believe, an even more awesome experience!
By the way…this is what a strong roll looks like- 15 pieces. So THIS is possible and sort of plausible because we have seen 6 dice rolled before with three 5’s and 6’s and three 3’s and 4’s.
1) Elevation. Elevation exists. Find me a battlefield that is flat. It doesn’t happen. Things like raptors on flat ground aren’t that good… if you add some significant elevation changes and PRESTO! They are meaningful. Check out this table:
OKAY, OKAY! This IS a games day table. However, check it out. Lots of elevation changes. Does this mean that jump infantry is needed? No. BUT, it does mean that that Wave serpent army jumping around is gonna take a LOT of dangerous terrain checks JUST TO MOVE because a) it has lots of terrain and b) he can’t just be up high and see. This brings me to my next point…
2) Line of sight. With 2″ hills, ruins, and the occasional LOS blocking thing, fliers are brutal and skimmers are just disgusting. When drawing LOS is as simple as getting on top of a hill and then you are SOL, guess what…that’s what people will do. Check out the table. NOW…draw a line across the table. From one edge to another. Can you find a straight shot? I couldn’t. This changes the dynamics of combat. 6th hit assault armies, but buffed them again with increased terrain AND mysterious forests and rivers. Suddenly a) you gotta work to see the enemies entire army with your retardedly powerful gunline and b) I wouldn’t suggest hanging out in terrain JUST to get those estra hits cuz he doesn’t have assault grenades or try to deny an assault because of assaulting through difficult terrain. By not setting up terrain, we are empowering those cheezy metas that we all hate. The quad riptide gunline. Guess what…he aint that powerful when he has to always try to get a shot so he is always moving. When it is open terrain he can shoot then run away and never move TOWARDS the enemy. You make it with lots of LOS blocking stuff, he may only be able to get a shot from a certain spot.
3) Terrain as a shaping force: Check this out ——————————————————————–>
Basically, it’s a few hills…not even that much terrain (yes, I know it’s being worked on right now…). HOWEVER, this terrain shapes the battle. Terrain such as this allows for creation of choke points (because wars are not fought on random terrain!). Things that both sides can use for their advantage. Yes, the IG artillery player can hide beyond the canyon walls and ruin the day of enemies, but what happens when they flank the army? What happens when they DO clear that choke point and break the IG artillery! Now they are screwed. 😛
So, that’s all I will rant about this subject. I only brought this up after having played several games and realized that a) the terrain did little to nothing. Cover was minimal. I could START in cover, but there were HUGE chunks of area for infantry to die in. In total, about 25-30% of the table. About 1-2 small to medium pieces per 2×2 square. That’s some pretty weak rolls. 😛 I do it. Many of us are guilty of this. Sometimes it’s a theme thing (we are out of lava terrain…screw it, that’s enough). Many times, it’s a habit thing. I placed all the lava pieces available and much of the table was covered. Small pieces that did little, but I said “WOW, that’s too much terrain”…and I removed some. Often, we try to make things symmetrical and leave big open gaps.
I think a good test is this. If you can pick a spot in a deployment zone from 6″ up and see everything, even if it is in cover, then your terrain placement is not good. There is a reason why both players set up terrain. That is to ensure that the table IS balanced. Because tables set up with nothing really taller than that 2” hill with maybe two of them stacked is grossly in favor of gunline armies. It just is. Why oh why would we walk across no-mans-land into gunfire? It’s silly. Same time, why would a gunline player want a trail of terrain and LOS blocking stuff all the way up to them. It’s not my FLGS only, either! For example, some other examples:
That enough? Three different sites, similar results. Limited LOS blocking stuff. Almost zero terrain elevation, none of which could not be simply walked over or at an almost zero impact driven around. Look at the themes on the table. Necrons. Eldar. Fliers with 100% visibiltiy! What IS NOT present? Assault forces (yes, I know, it’s only 4 armies, not a good sampling…I get it!). However, let’s take a good look at our OWN FLGS and say “Hey, the book says do it this way, let’s try it”. Then, let’s not settle for the same old terrain. Do hills on hills! Ruins on hills. Treat that river as impassible except for bridges and ford sites. Use mysterious stuff. Think about the question – Can I get online and walk across to his online army and then beat the crap out of each other? If yes, then perhaps you could think about a different setup. This is NO WAY an attack on players setting up stuff like this…I DO! But, rather an idea to broaden our gaming experiences and make our terrain tables look like battlefields…not tables.
Thanks for reading,