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The Empire at War => WHFB The Electors' Forum => Topic started by: Michael Stockin on January 18, 2021, 08:03:50 PM

Title: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Michael Stockin on January 18, 2021, 08:03:50 PM
Looking at old WD's and some stunning work here you can easily imagine a games table having fully contoured hills, sunken rivers and roads, crop fields, hedges, wayside shrines, broken down peasant carts and all of this leading up to a walled town with beautifully realised buildings and shops and little vignettes that occupies the last 1/3rd of the tabletop.

BUT.

How practical is this for moving big units around on big trays?

What do you actually use on your tabletops and is the terrain eye candy or of tactical significance?
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Warlord on January 19, 2021, 10:29:11 PM
I had a whole issue around storing that much terrain too.
8th edition had a terrain chart, and I got it into my head I wanted to make terrain for every entry. I did decently well, but ended up with a lot of terrain that barely got used.

It also depends on how you make it.
Regarding trees or woods in particular, I made a gameplay rather than aesthetic choice. I made the base shapes for woods, but didnt attach trees. I then glued my trees to different bases (I used GWs clear flying bases) so that trees can be placed on the wood base seperate, and can be moved around to enable units to navigate woods.

Hills - again depends on how you make them. All my hills ascend up to a flat top. So the old gamer trick, of creating pillars of dice under the movement tray corners to support a unit partially on a hill, helps make it playable.

All my buildings have no bases at all, so can interchange the terrain they are placed on - from grass, to snow, to pavement. And the spacing therefore isnít fixed either.

Crop fields - now that in particular I made walls around the field, and then left the hayfield completely removable. I donít recall if I ever photographed it or not....

Various details like in old reference books, etc I have found are best made as individual pieces that you can add or remove to terrain as you see fit. Attaching them specifically to terrain does make it more awkward to use.

Its a shame padre left, because he has some excellent pictures of units and models moving through terrain seamlessly that could have give you some guidance and learnings.
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Michael Stockin on January 20, 2021, 09:15:30 AM
My trees are like that, a base of rough ground that defines the area of the woods but individual trees you can move around to let the units move about easily.

I think I may make some pretty scatter that is just for show.

Padre has joined my own wargames in general forum and is sharing his stuff there so I am catching up on that over there.

:)
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: S.O.F on January 20, 2021, 11:47:49 AM
What do you actually use on your tabletops and is the terrain eye candy or of tactical significance?

I think it very much depends on the scale (army size that is) you are using in the engagement. The more towards skirmish the more fiddly the terrain interaction can be and the larger it just gets treated as impassable terrain, buildings in particular.  The 8th edition building rules I always hated since it created a sort of Hougoumont problem, a cool idea and image perhaps but really a side show in the scope of the battle at hand*.

*Yes Reille failed to recognize this...
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Zygmund on January 21, 2021, 10:57:40 AM
How practical is this for moving big units around on big trays?

What do you actually use on your tabletops and is the terrain eye candy or of tactical significance?

I like to play slowly, and even place individual combatants within terrain pieces if a unit enters them. This is a modelling approach to gaming, where the game is a reason to toy with the models and terrain pieces.

I usually try to frame the board with two or three dominating terrain elements, but I place one or two of them on the sides. They act more like scenery, and tell the story why there is no significant attempt at flanking maneuvers. For example, a river on one side and a rugged, wooded hill on the other side.

In this way, there is usually just one or maybe two larger terrain pieces on the board centre. And these are then key tactical elements, and usually objectives too.

In addition to this, there are usually some fields and/or small woods, some fences and/or hedgerows, and possibly a creek with a bridge, which are present as gaming terrain that has minor influence on movement, cover and line of sight. I find the existence of these is paramount for giving the players small tactical goals and creating the story of the battle: the defence and charge around a hedgerow, the nuisance of a scout unit in a woods, hesitation to cross the creek (or the bridge), etc. etc.

Lastly, I love putting all sort of scatter terrain and even domestic/wild animals on the board, But these are cosmetic, and can be moved around to make place for the units.

In general, I like to play games where units are not WFB 8th ed horde-size. On the other hand, I find it perfectly acceptable that this size units may be awkward to maneuver. Me & friends are well-adviced to think twice if we want to bring such units. We know the terrain is not easy, and that there is bound to be a trade-off between the effective & reliable aspects of large units and the hindraces for maneuver.

Lately, I've mostly played story-oriented campaigns, or then with people who share this kind of an approach to gaming terrain & its meaning for the game. Also, I prefer games where units fight units and heroes play a minor role (or play as individual units), so that it is not paramount to see exactly how the units align, which models touch which models, and where some individual characters are within the unit and in relation to the opponent.

Competitive tournaments and any kind of all-comer games are a different beast. One reason (among many) why I avoid such is the lacklustre attitude towards terrain. Some like to play with 2d terrain. Blasphemy, I say! They could go playing with 2d units too. Suits their standard, and is easier & cheaper that way.  :-D

In my holy opinion, miniature gaming requires meaningful miniature terrain too.

-Z
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Michael Stockin on January 21, 2021, 12:26:02 PM
Thanks, until the last few months when I started WFB I had been playing 15mm desert fantasy, skirmish style which meant no cumbersome units.
It has been a while since I did army games.
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: S.O.F on January 22, 2021, 12:39:21 AM
In my holy opinion

I don't think you mentioned you were ordained before..... :wink:
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Zygmund on January 22, 2021, 10:14:17 AM
In my holy opinion

I don't think you mentioned you were ordained before..... :wink:

IMHO, but not humble opinion.  :-P

-Z
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Old Stonebeard on January 22, 2021, 03:44:23 PM
Quote
I like to play slowly, and even place individual combatants within terrain pieces if a unit enters them. This is a modelling approach to gaming, where the game is a reason to toy with the models and terrain pieces.

Hear, hear!  :eusa_clap:

I believe a level of abstraction is needed when designing a table like Michael is describing. Just as you think of your models as bricks, reduce the rivers, buildings, trees, rocks etc. to their component shapes and then consider how your bricks are going to interact with them. Choosing a battlefield was hugely important in historical warfare, so what makes this place special? What advantages does each deployment area have? Are they asymmetrical or mirrored? What areas are going to be impassible or merely difficult? Where are the choke points a canny player can exploit? What avenues of flanking are available to fast units? Once you have all that figured out, you can detail it however you like while not encumbering gameplay.

I'd comment that AOS allows for units to exploit more complex scenery in historically realistic ways, but... this is the wrong subforum for that ;)

Alex
Title: Re: Terrain Aspirations vs Practicality
Post by: Michael W on January 23, 2021, 02:18:26 AM
For Warhammer-style gameplay I think it is important to remember that it's a battlefield, not a battlezone.  Big square units (even in 6e unit sizes) need space to move, maneuver, and adjust, and generals would want fairly unobstructed views across their army in order to ensure command and execution.  It drives me crazy when we do random terrain generation and players put forests or ruins or hills right across the middle of the board as some sort of line-of-sight blocker.  They become obstacles and the fights look like Thermopylae, while the edges of the board scream "why are you fighting directly over this patch off woods instead of over there to the left where it's clearly open?"  Don't get me wrong, it works for some scenarios - but not for general battles (at least not all the time).

Fairly open ground also rewards skillful deployment and movement, as it should.  And when terrain does kick in as an important factor, it's memorable - those woods you had to drive the skirmishers out of, or that hill the enemy cavalry held, or that bridge where you wasted two regiments in a row against the greatswords instead of sucking it up and fording downstream.  When everything is terrain, terrain isn't interesting.