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Terrain: Easiest & Best

My not-so-humble opinion is that the linked blog post describes the easiest & best way to make wargame terrain. Wargame terrain is a trade-off of many considerations.

Common wargamer terrain types:

  • Sand tables are considered by many to be ideal. The problems include: they are heavy and messy. While unique terrain can be quickly produced, the undulating nature of the sandy rises and hills provides no clear distinction of where one level begins and ends. That distinction may be important in some rulesets.

  • Modular terrain provides the flexibility of re-arrangement. But whether the modules are hexes or squares, one cannot match a map well and may feel artificial. Road angles, river courses, and hill contours will not usually reproduce unique terrain. The joins of the modules distract from the continuous terrain feel.

  • Custom terrain looks great, especially for a convention, but it takes time and effort to model well and bulky to store.

  • The billiard table flat has no depth for rises or hills without building custom hills to be added. The featured image is an example of this; nice so far as it goes.

I raise questions so that you weigh the effort and results to see if they are worth it:

  1. Looks. Does it look like a diorama?

  2. Practicality. Are boundaries of terrain types clearly defined* so that gamers know when their troops move from one type to another?

  3. Affordable. What's your budget long-term? What seems inexpensive at first may require more purchases over time. Roads, rivers, woods and buildings can add up when many of each is needed.

  4. Flexible. Can one duplicate a map's idiosyncracies to the tabletop readily?

  5. Easy. Are you comfortable with the modeling required?

  6. Recyclable. Can you avoid making many custom features that may not be used in other games but need bulky storage?

  7. Time. Must one create unique features and modular terrain that require more time to produce but are not used for most game tables?

  8. Transportable. Are you going to take the terrain "on the road" to a club or convention so that it needs to be compact, light, and sturdy enough to survive the trip?

You may emphasize one consideration more and value and rank an approach differently than mine. This may give you ideas and guidelines on how to decide. Again the same link to my Wargame Campaign blog is here.

*I address this issue by suggesting a Terrain Key, which defines how the terrain types affect the game.

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