One of the joys of attending a Kings of War tournament is seeing the different tables laid out with an impressive array of terrain.
But how effective is battlefield terrain in enabling game play? In this article I will look at some issues caused by the terrain on the battlefield and look at some solutions. This will not be to everybody’s taste – those of a nervous disposition should stop reading now.
“The first casualty of war is the truth.” This is however, not true in Pannithor where the first casualty of war is the trees of the forest that are swiftly moved out of the way when a unit wants to enter the wood. The trees are then abandoned somewhere else on the battlefield.
The Goblin cavalry want to enter the wood:
And now the Great Birnam wood shall come to high Dunsinane hill.
How about obstacles? Do you balance a unit on top of the wall, possibly losing track of the exact positioning of that unit? Or do you move the obstacle while fighting over it and then try to remember to put it back in the right place (something that Andy 2D6 admitted to getting wrong in a battle report)?
After a couple of turns playing, the nicely laid out table is now a bit of a mess of displaced terrain.
And then there are hills. Or rather, low rises in the ground. ‘Hills’ are generally height 3 which means that they conceal regular cavalry but not large cavalry, meaning they are about 8’ high. My garden slopes by more than 8’, which is a pain when gardening but hardly deserves to be called a hill. Typical problems with hills include tall models falling over.
One option is to build a dice tower.
So what is the answer? Well, 2D terrain.
However, pure 2D terrain can look a bit sterile, so is there anything that can be done to gain the advantages of 2D terrain while mitigating the poor aesthetic? Here’s some options.
Obstacles frankly do not need anything other than the 2D outline and make life a lot easier.
2D woods can look a little sterile.
Single tree however, can make the scene more lively without causing the issue of having to accommodate multiple displaced conifers.
2D hills also make life a lot easier.
Building them up with a piece of foam board can give some elevation to distinguish them from flat difficult terrain without compromising significantly their advantages.
Blocking terrain can not be entered by units and therefore need not be represented by 2D pieces on the battlefield.
So what does a 2D battlefield look like? Here’s an example:
And as another benefit, the entire terrain set will fit into a box this size.
2D terrain is available from several sources and comes in a variety of colours. This is a typical set of 2D desert terrain.
So, this is not a solution for everyone, but something to bear in mind when planning future terrain set ups.