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Terrain: Setting the Scene

PrinTerrain Desert Sands

I’m happy to say that it’s been a pretty productive year of hobby for me so far, including painting up quite a few minis (as of this writing, I’m right around 115 finished minis for 2018). And, as I’m painting up more minis, it’s also allowing me to feel freer to tackle some terrain projects I’ve been meaning to dig into.

While I love painting minis and coming up with stories and themes for my various armies and warbands, there’s something sincerely rewarding and enjoyable about having terrain on your gaming table that helps to tell the story of the game you’re playing.

At its heart, wargaming is a storytelling medium – you’re playing out battles with armies that have their own storied histories, heroes with their own mighty exploits, etc. It’s infinitely beyond just rolling dice. Similarly, terrain is more than just something that affects line of sight – it’s a living, breathing part of the game. The right terrain helps add flavor and a sense of realism and drama. It draws you in. Certainly, I’ve known people who had their first wargaming experience using a few stacks of books and empty cans for terrain; I, however, had my first wargaming experience on a huge plaster Hirst Arts table created to resemble an underground cavern. I couldn’t go back after that.

Maybe one of the most fun parts of having terrain on your wargaming table is using it to set the scene. Whether you’re having a skirmish in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or massing mighty armies in a primeval jungle, the terrain that you’re playing on can radically alter how you enjoy your game.

The Mat

 RedOx Wastes 6 x 4 game mat

The first consideration for any wargame is the surface you’re playing on, and more often than not, you’ll likely be playing on some form of gaming mat. As you might guess, offers a wide variety of mats in a number of sizes, with great terrain options – a frozen tundra, ruins, etc.

GameMats double sided mat desert/forest

I’m a big fan of the double-sided Desert/Woodland mat; I’m a proud owner of this mat, and I love that you have the ability to use it in a variety of settings. For instance, I’ve been planning a skirmish game in which the warbands will be fighting in a swamp on a series of interconnected walkways and platforms. The forest side of the map will be perfect for that, and the desert side will be awesome for post-apocalyptic, western, or sci-fi settings.

The Buildings

While some wargaming settings don’t call for them, buildings and structures of all kinds can be used on your board to add realism, and also to give your minis places to duck behind or run into when the frying pan of battle turns into the fire.
Part of the key is having the right buildings for the right setting. For instance, in Warhammer 40K, you’re not really going to want Tudor-style half-timbered houses interspersed with your Space Marines. The good thing about sci-fi buildings, for instance, is that most of them can fit in a variety of settings, from steampunk to modern to futuristic.

PrinTerrain gamma station zone mortalis terrain

Something I’ve always wanted to do is build a Zone Mortalis board. Zone Mortalis, or, as some call it, “tunnel fighting,” mimics the kind of battles you’d have in the corridors of a derelict spaceship, an underground temple complex, and so forth.’s “Gamma Zone” PrinTerrain files can build this kind of terrain. I’m excited to get them on the table.

The Extras

PrinTerrain Tech crate set

It’s not just the mat and buildings that make a wargaming board sing. The extras really add something too. Crates, machinery, rocks, tree stumps, and so forth make a board look like it’s a real living, breathing place. They may sound small and inconsequential, but they pack a wallop from a visual and storytelling aspect when your troops are maneuvering around a factory complex or a deep woods.

PrinTerrain Moisture vaporators

You’ll find a lot of nifty items like this in the PrinTerrain store.

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