After completing the first stage of a fairly mammoth project (which I will get around to writing about one day) I decided to take a bit of a break and focus on something else for a while. I really enjoy making terrain and with the cost of the hobby find it a cheap way to indulge my desire to model and paint that results in something useful that I can always put on the table.
A while back I made some industrial terrain and I generally feel that themed tables offer the greatest aid to an evocative game as it gives a visual context for the battle to take place in. Modern way after all is rarely fought in a featureless landscape but instead around vital objectives, roads, manufacturing plants and power stations etc. I recently attended the WH40k doubles tournament at Warhammer World, a great venue and somewhere that has often felt like the centre of the hobby to me. I have in the past enjoyed wandering around the tables not looking at the armies but the tables themselves marvelling at the evocative landscapes and depth of creativity in capturing the look and feel of the 40k universe in pieces of scenery and whole battlescapes.
My recent trip was a bit of a disappointment in that as the terrain was perfectly serviceable but was ultimately bland and uniform. This is often essential at a tournament but it doesn't serve to really create an atmosphere or a mood for the game to be played which to me is like having an action movie without the sound on.
As one piece of terrain is almost identical to another piece in the current rules (the only exceptions being how much space does it take up and does it block line of sight) it seems strange that there can't be a wider variety of pieces in a place with such available creativity and talent.
The terrain I built is from an old Bisto tube and several feet of pluming pipe with a few connectors and that’s pretty much it. The grate of the drain is from hobby craft (the jewellery section) with notices and the slime modelled from green stuff. The slime is just plain green stuff stretched and pushed into the pipe to give the appearance of flowing before being gloss varnished. The green flock is to match the realm of battle I own but for a more 40k look could go for gravel burnt out and charred around the site. I've covered rust in a previous post (way back in March) and had to check myself the best way to get the effect right.
A long low piece of terrain it’s useful as a piece that doesn't block line of sight. An example of such an additional rule could be - any shot blocked by the terrain can attempt to penetrate against AV12. If successful roll a dice 1-2 the terrain becomes dangerous as toxic chemicals pour out, lasts till end of game. 3-6 places the large blast template anywhere in the terrain, models at least partially covered must take a toughness test or suffer 1 wound (armour saves may be taken as normal) as clouds of noxious gas are released, no further effect.
These are made up on the spot and no doubt need some more work but what they do is cause the models to interact with the terrain. When playing computer games we all know its a pretty bad idea to shelter behind a fuel drum, by doing this the game makes us assess the situation more carefully and interact with the battlefield a bit more. Introduced into tabletop games this has the potential to slow the game (or discourage cover forcing units even deeped inside transports, and I'd have to appologise now to Tyranid players) but also the potential to make more vivid battlefields and encourage imagination in the scenery presented.