Episode 42: Tables and Terrain in 40K
In this episode, we discuss tables and terrain in 40k. This can make or break a game of 40k. When you attend events the most important thing players talk about is the terrain. Most tables don’t have enough. If you want to play a balanced and competitive game of 40k, you need to have the right terrain.
40k uses true line of sight, which means that terrain is not abstracted, it’s what is literally on the table. So you need terrain to make the game play the way it should.
The ideal table also looks good, so it feels like you are playing a game of 40k. Terrain is what sets it apart from other popular tabletop games.
Types of terrain
Line of sight (or LOS) blockers: The most important piece of terrain. Should be tall enough and wide enough for a vehicle to hide behind like a rhino or two, and to provide cover for something like a knight.
Ruins and buildings: 2-3 levels of ruins to allow units to hide in for cover. Usually good to have the bottom level blocked for LOS blocking for infantry units.
Fortifications: usually special rules that come with GW models. Can use them as buildings or just LOS blockers.
Area terrain: Craters, hills, and forests, wreckage, provides cover for infantry units when in them.
Barricades or barriers: typically used to restrict or slow down movement.
Miscellaneous: statutes, shrines, archways, etc. Limited cover, provides visual interest to the table.
Impassible: even more restricted movement or placement, these are areas a model cannot be placed or cross over.
Styles of terrain
Ruins most popular because of the flexibility it provides
Themed buildings or ruins; Necron, Eldar, Ork.
Hills or rocky terrain, or themed like lava or snow or desert.
How much to have?
Depends on what you are trying to do, but there is a minimum to have for the game to work the way it is supposed to work.
ITC or Tournament standards
- Two or more large LOS blockers, typically in the middle.
- 4 small to medium ruins/hills for cover and LOS blocking, one in each corner.
- Area terrain between the ruins in the corners.
Narrative standards or special themes should use the minimum required, but add to it as required for the scenario.
- Sand tables; you can get really creative, use sand/water effects for texture.
- Collapsible tables
- Table toppers (6×4 sheets of plywood)
- Cheap and “old school:” felt, usually a grass color.
- Mats: mousepad surface: easier to set up, durable, easy to roll dice on, with great designs.
- Battleboards: 3d plastic, lots of great detail, but dice do not roll as well, models don’t sit as well.
- Make your own
- Sheets of rigid insulation ½ to 2 inches. Glue with white glue, cut with a knife to make hills. Use sand, rocks static grass. You cannot spray paint it without melting it, have to use Latex spray paint. Craft paints to paint it colors. See tutorial here.
- Foam Boards from office supply stores, can cut to shape for walls and other structures.
- Miscellaneous supplies: anything that sits around the house that can be spray painted and useful.
- When building your own, test model placement so that its usable.
- Laser cut MDF terrain
- Cheapest to purchase, simple to put together with wood glue
- Usually buildings or structures
- Frontline Gaming has several styles of buildings, lots of options online.
- Plastic terrain
- Pre-painted and built terrain
- Battlefield in a box
- Custom terrain
Everyone should have at least one table of terrain.