Thursday, August 30, 2012

When is terrain too much terrain?

I love a wargaming table that is well designed and surrounds you in the period of the game you are playing.  One persons table top that I admire is Bruce Weigle of 1870 fame.  His terrain boards are fantastic to look at and I would love some day to actually play a game on them.

You can see more of these terrain boards here: Bruce's Nice Terrain

When I saw this site I sent the url to my gaming buddies.  One of them came back with the question of how functional the boards are while actually gaming on them.  This started a little debate with him.  He claimed that, for example that the forest areas were to dense and unusable.  My counter to this was that maybe the woods are unusable and that it would depend on the army that you are gaming with that would dictate how you would use the woods.
We left it that we would agree to disagree but now I'm curious what others think about this.  So at what point is there too much terrain on the table?


  1. When you clip it with your arm and knock it over or have to move it to get troops through......

  2. i'm always amazed at how much time people will spend getting their toy soldiers to look correct and how little concern is shown for the terrain that their pride & joy if fighting over. The game table is the dominant feature of the game and yet is usually just an afterthought. Maybe people who are concerned about 'too much terrain' need to think about the effect that the terrain had on the actual battle and portion out their efforts accordingly. I certainly understand that the table features can get in the way of the gamers wishing to move their troops and it can be a pain to move the minis through woods, but if this is perceived as a real problem maybe they should stick to board games.
    These are beautiful tables and I would love to game on such works of art. They add so much to the atomsphere of the gaming 'experience'. We play with miniatures because we like the 3 dimensional and modelling aspects of the hobby. The table terrain is the most obvious feature of the game.

  3. I'm with MarkL on this. Battlefields were rarely featureless. Woods DID sometimes get in the way, and units got lost in them (physically and figuratively). Hedgerows became redoubts. Anything that makes it difficult for an all-seeing commander to manoeuvre his troops smoothly has to be applauded. Plus it looks bloody marvellous!

  4. I agree with Mark: there's nothing like a good looking table to enjoy a game. The Stalingrad campaign we played over several months between August 2011 and April this year would not have been so sucessful were not for the terrain and the quality of the painted figures and tank models (and the hard work of the umpire and órganiser, of course)

  5. I'm with Mark too. I'm equally amazed how many players spend an age on painting their forces to perfection only to plonk them on some roughly laed out tabletop. As he says the actual tabletop is the most eye catching portion of most wargames so a least make the effort to make it loog as good as possible!

  6. I agree with Mark!

    You can never have too much Great terrain.

    I would add that there is too much 'Blue Peter' or Subuteo terrain out and particularly at shows - If as a paying member of the public all I see is a green cloth over books and one or two shop bought trees with a string of lichen. No doubt I would be asking "What are these people doing?"

    Sermon over.


  7. Bruce's tables are indeed awesome - I have seen his games at Historicon in more than one occasion, and they are always breath-taking. That said, keep in mind he plays with microscale, and his figures are based on smallish bases, so the tabletop is still functional as far as gaming is concerned.
    In general, I try to strike a balance for my tables. I want them to look good, but to be functional; everything I display has implications in terms of rules, and I add very little in features with no other purpose than embellishing the table.

  8. These are stunning, hats off to the makers! I want more pictures, and tutorials!

  9. I tend to agree with all of you that a piece of beautiful terrain just adds so much to the battle and really forces the commanders to react somewhat realistically. This especially holds true if you're trying to recreate a historical battle.
    DestoFante- I do know that Bruce's terrain is for 6mm figures but there are some great 15mm and 25mm battlefields out there as well. For instance Eric B's jungle terrain boards are fantastic!
    Worldwarshed-if you want some tutorials on how to make them you need to pick up Bruce's rules 1870, 1859 or 1866. They all contain instructions on how to make them.

  10. Great terrain but I think the amount of terrain is related to scale of game beng played as a good deal less 'required,' foraDivn level game like say Spearhead than with a lower level skirmish type game. All ground scales are abstracted in any game so size of any terrain 'distorted' to a degree But beauty in the eye of the beholder

  11. There is a time and place for everything and that goes also for wargaming terrain. Terrain such as the example in the picture is certainly stunning and I can only admire the dedication and skill of the creator.
    At the same time I have to say that as a person who doesn't belong to a large club and who has limited resources in regard of time, money, storage and setup space, I would be foolish to embark on a project of this magnitude and limited usability.

  12. Scale is a big factor in doing something like this but it certainly is achievable if you have the room, money, knowhow etc... to get it all together.