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Category: Terrain

Very Quick and Easy Flames of War Terrain: Ubiquitous Wheatfields

We’re kicking off the Tank Aces campaign tomorrow night and I decided to bolster the shop terrain in the simplest way possible. Impromptu wheat fields. They’re a staple of every operational theatre from Western Front to Eastern Front, Italy to North Africa. A quick internet search reveals that coir doormats are the best material, some blogs came with dire warnings as to blisters caused by the cutting/shaving, others mentioned the endless clean up of stray hairs afterwards. It’s all lies.

The fields are incredibly easy and incredibly quick, it took less than five minutes to get enough wheat fields to cover a 2.5 x 1.5 foot section of table completely.

The Five Steps

Step 1) Buy a door mat. This one cost just under seven euro and came from Woodies DIY.
Step 2) Find your Stanley knife. I like the newer versions with the snap off blades.
Step 3) Turn mat over, use a steel ruler to line up your cut. You don’t need much pressure as you really only have to break through the rubber, keep the blade at a shallow angle.
Step 4) Do that a few times, making different sizes and you’re done.
Step 5) There are some stray hairs but as long as you’re not cutting the mat directly above the up-turned faces of asthmatic children, it’s really a complete non-issue.
If you want to show them some more love, just add a border of flock around the base of the wheat fields to hide any stray rubber. 

Getting a Grip on 6th Edition: Terrain

What’s wrong with this table?

It contains six fine pieces of terrain: lovely ruins with some LOS blocking that allow 40k to be played in three dimensions.  It’s more terrain than I ever saw on a table in a 5th edition tournament.  The terrain has also been arranged in a relatively benign manner so no possible deployment zone benefits more than another.

So what’s wrong with it?

 It is wholly inadequate in terms of 6th ed. terrain.  Allies and Flyers are getting all the press these days, but it’s the new terrain rules that I think people will have the hardest time implementing.  “Terrain Density” dictates that every 2’x2′ square of a table receive d3 pieces of terrain.  So an average table should have twelve pieces of terrain.  They don’t have to all be cool ruins as you see above–forests, statues, rivers, area terrain (craters, wrecks, etc.), and unoccupied fortifications are all on the terrain palette.  So take the above table and add six more pieces of terrain to it.  I like terrain, but in my experience many tournament 40k players have always treated it as a nuisance.  Players are eager to start using allies and flyers, but who cares about terrain?

We all should.  For starters, you’re going to need some place to hide from all those flyers zooming around the table with their square flight paths.  The change to a 5+ cover save should also be understood in the context of increased terrain: cover saves are poorer quality (and the new focus fire rules allow you to go after troops in the open) but should be easier to find.  Because cover saves are 5+ now players may now be more welcoming of LOS blocking terrain.  The new deployment types also increase the importance of terrain–who wants to walk the length of a table without lots of terrain?

Terrain is also important because of the new rules for fortifications.  Players alternate placing terrain after fortifications are down.  This means that you can place pieces of terrain in such a way that your troops have a modicum of cover as they approach my Fortress of Redemption.  

Terrain is not glamorous–it’s a tedious part of organizing a tournament and it presents practical obstacles in terms of transportation.  I think TOs right now would have a hard time finding and transporting 12 pieces of terrain per table.  There’s a 24 person 6th edition tournament coming up at Gamers World in September.  I don’t think even the largest shop in Ireland has enough terrain to put down 144 pieces (average of 12 pieces x 12 tables).  In the short term an increase in smaller, poorer quality pieces may be needed.  In the medium term people are going to have to build more terrain (and take better care of the terrain in existence).  Either that or sparse terrain will be the uncommented upon survivor from 5th edition.

Product review: PaperTerrain.com

Travel east in southern Russia across the heat saturated steppes and you will eventually reach the cool waters of the Laba and Kuban.  In between these two rivers lies the somniferous village of Bristolscalia.
The product under review here is the South Russian Village pack (http://paperterrain.mybisi.com/product/south-russian-village-pack) in 15mm.  It costs $40.00 (roughly 31 euro) with an additional $11.00 for shipping from the U.S.  We ordered the village online and received it seven days later.  In addition to the village we received a signed letter from PaperTerrain.com’s CEO/CFO.  That’s a nice touch.
The village consists of seventeen buildings–barns, workhouses, houses, and a church.  The buildings are printed on cardstock with each building clearly labeled.  We unpacked the buildings and sorted out the inventory.

.    A key feature of paperterrain.com buildings is the double-construction.  Each of the main buildings comes as a ruined “core” and an outer healthy shell that slides over the core.  This was a compelling reason for our decision to give this product a trial.  This also effectively doubles the assembly time so plan accordingly. Our xacto knives were sharp and we got straight to work cutting out two houses, sheds, and some fences 

The assembly of the house was straightforward.  A ruler with a sharp edge is helpful with the folds, particularly the small tabs that are used to glue the components together.  We used Scotch’s “scapbook glue” and it worked nicely.  
The detail is impressive, as we expected from a printed product.  The chimney is a nice touch and you can imagine a family sitting around a poorly fueled fire waiting to be crushed under the treads of an IS-2. Having assembled two houses we decided to make a compound.  The base is the cork underside of a place mat that has been painted brown.  Our compound consists of two sheds (one wood shed is just visible to the right of a house), a pig pen, and some fences.  
Next we simply applied some flock.
And as soon as we had we finished assembling our compound a ZIS-76 crew occupied it.  

Let’s conclude this brief review.
Price: Inexpensive.  Flames of War requires a serious commitment to terrain and this product gets you most of the way there.
Gaming: Perfect.  The footprint of each building is ideally suited to FoW sized bases.  The ability to remove the outer shell of each building is a great feature.  
Assembly:  The editorial team struggled to reach a consensus on this.  The general feeling of our team is: do not purchase paper terrain unless you are prepared for the assembly. Papercraft is not for everyone.  It requires a certain temperament and hands that aren’t riddled with caffeine.  It will take you hours–DAYS EVEN–to assemble your village.  We suggest that the lack of painting required makes the build time average out with other types of terrain.  This review covers only a small sampling of houses because one of the editors had an “accident” with his knife while assembling the church.   

Bristolscalia will be the site of several bloody conflicts in the upcoming months. We’ll be sure to post some AARs here and at On The Step.


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