Thursday, October 18, 2012

Placing Terrain

To me, the best part of wargaming is the visual aspect. Seeing painted armies clash over beautiful terrain is a great sight. Placing terrain effectively and balanced on the board is just as important as having good looking terrain.

I have been working on a way to randomize terrain to make a battle interesting and fair. Too much terrain heavily favors slower armies, melee armies, and armies with lots of access to pathfinder. Too little terrain favors faster armies, and gunlines.

Some things to consider when placing terrain:

1. Terrain Spacing. Keep the terrain open enough to not create bottlenecks.
2. Asymmetrical battlefield. This is very important. If the terrain is symmetrical, the advantage of going second and choosing table edge is nil. If the table is Asymmetrical, the second player gets a needed little boost here.
3. Don't leave the middle open. Which is why I always put my first piece of terrain near the center of the board. How many horrible table set ups do you see in all wargames where each side has a hill and a forest and the rest of the board is barren.

Here are the guidelines I use to layout a battlefield. I am not a computer guy, so bear with the stellar diagram that I made in paint.

The P represents the primary piece of terrain. Each D represents a die roll in that fantastic diagram. I have found that 5 pieces of area terrain fill the board up pretty well. If you think the board is a bit sparse, add a piece or two of scatter terrain to fill up the blank spaces.

Step 1: Choose your battlefield. I have put a few battlefields at the end of the article.
Step 2:  Deviate the primary piece of terrain from the center of the table, always keeping one edge of the terrain on the center point. This forces the battlefield to be asymmetrical.
Step 3: Roll a die for each table quarter. If you roll the same number more than twice, reroll one or more of the dice.
Step 4: Using an 8" spray (or a ruler) space your terrain at least 8" apart. Take a look and make sure that every piece of terrain can affect the battle.
Step 5: Deploy and do battle.

Battlefield Charts

The Wilds
Generic battlefield that offers a little bit of everything.
Primary Terrain: Scrub
Scatter: Rocks
1. Forest
2. Hill
3. Structure
4. Rubble
5. Wall
6. Marsh

Old Battlefield
The site of a battle, still littered with wreckage. 
Primary Terrain: 2 connected trenches
Scatter:Wreck markers
1. Rubble
2. Forest
3. Wall
4. 2 Rocks
5. 2 Wreck Markers
6. Hill

Battlefield heavy with forests and marshes.
Primary Terrain: 6" Marsh
Scatter: Obstructions
1. Forest
2. Rocks
3. Scrub
4. Structure
5. Hill
6. Marsh

Battlefield with lots of walls and structures.
Primary Terrain: Rubble
Scatter Terrain: Wall
1. Wall
2. Scrub
3. 2 Wreck Markers
4. Hill
5. Structure
6. Rubble

List of Terrain that I use-all measurements are roughly accurate

Hills- 8" circles; provides elevation
Forest- 6"x8"; rough terrain, forest, provides concealment
Marsh- 6" round; rough terrain, water, provides concealment
Scrub- 6" round; rough terrain, provides concealment
Rubble- 4" x 6" rectangles; rough terrain, cover
Structure- 3" x 4" obstruction; can be broken, provides cover.
Wall- 6" linear obstacle, provides cover
Wreck Marker- 2" wreck marker; rough terrain, cover
Rocks- 2x4" obstruction; provides cover.

Some Sample Battlefields




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