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View Full Version : Do you play on a cluttered table?



defcat
10-10-2009, 18:50
I recently visited my "local" store to talk with and watch the 40K guys on the regularly scheduled 40K night. One thing that I noticed was that every table seemed cluttered to me. I'm still really new to table top gaming and I have read topics on % of terrain on tables so I understand how certain terrain % can affect certain army builds for better or worse. My problem is that they probably had 50% of the table filled with "stuff". Also, none of it was similar and to me it took away from the visual aspect of the game. Basically we had city fight terrain with lots of trees and hills and pretty much everything anyone could find. I'm pretty sure that I saw a coke bottle laid out on one of the tables. I can deal with unpainted armies as I have 3 kids at home and a pregnant wife who keep me from getting much painting done. I just prefer to have a "clean" table to play on. By clean I mean a coherent board that just looks well put together. I started thinking about this after reading the Space Wolf terrain article on their website. To me that board just looks great. I can deal with the comments that I'm trying to play to my army's strengths(BA and Nids) if thats what people want to say. Does anyone else have trouble with this or maybe the exact opposite?

Corrode
10-10-2009, 18:55
I think the problem you're having isn't so much clutter as it is mismatched terrain. Very clustered terrain can work if it's coherent and looks good together (find a table with a ton of the GW plastic city terrain at some point, it looks great), and sparse terrain looks good if coherently laid out too. The problem comes with the things you highlighted - throwing down any old crap and calling it a board.

Garanaul the Black
10-10-2009, 18:59
My regular's tables tend to be fairly clutter free as we don't have a lot of terrain between the four of us, unless we go to our local shop, The Portal, where terrain is plentiful.

However, I do paint on a table that is so obscured by clutter it may just be a pile of crap and not contain a table at all. ;)


G

Bunnahabhain
10-10-2009, 19:18
No.

I use busy, but coherant tables. Too little terrain is boring for game play, and mismatched terrain looks aweful.

Certain terrain types allow you to cover half the board, and it looks good- Urban ruins and wooded hills are both good examples.

acme2468
10-10-2009, 19:30
A little Thought should always be put into terrain setup. Both for gameplay and Aesthetic purposes.

starlight
10-10-2009, 19:38
Unless you're playing something like Cities of Death/Cityfight/etc where 50+% is expected, the standard GW recommended 25% is good, up to about 40% if some time and thought is invested in selection and placement. The problem is that so few people actually play with 25% that when they *do* it looks cluttered and they have a hard time dealing with *so much* terrain. :rolleyes:

IcedAnimals
10-10-2009, 19:39
solution, bring your own terrain. If you bring 5-6 pieces of terrain instead of relying on what is at the store you can set up the board to your own standards.

defcat
10-10-2009, 19:45
The most recent game that I saw at the store was a 2v2 game. I'm thinking it was around 1500 per force. It was already crowded, expecially with about 10 rhinos and several drop pods on the board. I would say that 50-60% of the board was terrain. And yeah, it wasn't set up in anything close to a coherent way. Has anyone ever tried some type of random terrain generator system? Maybe set up some guidelines and let the dice determine how much terrain is used? Might add a little something to friendly games. Then again maybe too much Blood Bowl influence.

JHZ
10-10-2009, 19:58
25% doesn't sound much, but I remember someone once illustrating just how freaking much it was. Stock one table quarter full of terrain, and then spread it across the table. Of course, the size of terrain matters. Large hills and city blocks, while take up as much area as little piles of rubble, ruined walls, etc., unless you stick those little pieces in clumps, but in fact put some space between them, they'll cover large areas.

Imperius
10-10-2009, 20:01
I regularily use lots of terrain, it makes for a better game dunnit?

Corrode
10-10-2009, 20:05
The most recent game that I saw at the store was a 2v2 game. I'm thinking it was around 1500 per force. It was already crowded, expecially with about 10 rhinos and several drop pods on the board. I would say that 50-60% of the board was terrain. And yeah, it wasn't set up in anything close to a coherent way. Has anyone ever tried some type of random terrain generator system? Maybe set up some guidelines and let the dice determine how much terrain is used? Might add a little something to friendly games. Then again maybe too much Blood Bowl influence.

The 3rd edition book had some charts for random terrain generation which might be of interest to you. My club often uses a system of 'grab some coherent-looking stuff, take turns placing it' which works out quite well since it's hard to set up a board to your own advantage.

Lord Cook
10-10-2009, 20:11
I like about 30-35% terrain, so it's probably fair to say I prefer clutter to sparsity.

That said, it needs to be coherent. If you have random crap thrown down (like coke bottles) it just looks incredibly stupid. But having a nice city area cover most of the board gradually giving way to hills and trees to represent the edge of a town, that's cool.

dblaz3r
11-10-2009, 00:19
Terrain for my home games seem a little mismatched but I'm hoping to fix this with some terrain investments in the coming months. They also always feel quite cluttered but maybe that's because I always manage to deepstrike on top of something. :(

Lothlanathorian
11-10-2009, 01:34
For my friends and I it is function over form. We want a wall line, then either a wall or a hedge is fine. We want some ruins, those ruins will do. Let's add some area terrain, here is medium sized tree base. Oh, and, for s&g's, here is a pyramid.

It takes too much time, effort and money to be concerned with having enough terrain to always have a coherent board. If I could afford to spend all three of things to have one, you bet your sweet powdered buttocks I would, but I don't and it doesn't detract from the game at all for me. The gameplay is what I am in it for. Having a story behind it makes it even better and the terrain on the board looking good together is a distant fourth behind having a board with terrain on it.

Imperius
11-10-2009, 01:41
It looks silly though, most people prefer somthing that looks coherent. A mismatched pile of whatever you happen to have looks rather silly.

Bunnahabhain
11-10-2009, 02:36
It's amazing how good the following can look as terrain, relative to time, effort and money involved in getting them ready for the gaming table.

Rocks- ensure table is strong enough for rocks concerned. Good as either area terrain or big LOS blockers.

Tin cans- Take can, remove label in hot water. Left with shiny metal fuel/chemical tank. if using full tins, label their contents in permanent marker on one end first...

Wrecked vehicles. Take whatever spare vehicles you have to hand, add cotton wool. smoke and flames, and you have instant, race specific scenery.

Cost and time for all: minimal.

mdauben
11-10-2009, 03:31
One thing that I noticed was that every table seemed cluttered to me.
Personally, I like the rulebook suggesiton of 25% terrain. Before that recomendation came out (IIRC in the 4th ed rulebook) I used to see a lot of very bare tables and many of the people who I gamed with complained if I put "too much" terrain down. Now at least I can point to the rulebook if they start to grumble. :D


I just prefer to have a "clean" table to play on. By clean I mean a coherent board that just looks well put together.
I do agree that a coherent and matched terrain "set" does look much better. Since terrain at the FLGS is always hit or miss, I put together my own "themed" terrain for my Tau and SM armies. One is a jungle "theme" (Tau) and the other is a wasteland "theme" (SM), each with enough terrain pieces to cover 25-30% of the table.


The problem is that so few people actually play with 25% that when they *do* it looks cluttered and they have a hard time dealing with *so much* terrain. :rolleyes:
I have had this same experience, with people who complain that what I have put down must be more than 25% of the table and are then supprised when I prove it is in fact that amount. They don't stop and think that we are talking about six square feet of terrain on a 4x6 table. That is six big terrain pieces or a dozen or more smaller ones. :eek:


It takes too much time, effort and money to be concerned with having enough terrain to always have a coherent board.
I don't know, compared to the cost in time, effort and money to put together even the smallest and cheapest of 40K armies, putting together a matching set of terrain seems pretty trival. Certainly you can spend many hours and hundreds of dollars on a beautiful modular game board with wonderful painted resin terrain pieces, but you can easily put together a perfectly decent terrain set for $10-20 and an easy weekends worth of time. I know that not everyone feels the same way, but to me a big part of the fun of the game is the visual spectacle. That is seeing two nicely painted armies fighting across a nice set of terrain. ;)

Sunyavadin
11-10-2009, 04:07
I've always been big on putting a fair bit of LoS blocking terrain on the table, as well as good sized pieces to serve as vantage points with commanding views, and low, well concealed access points, while intervening terrian provides a good option if you feel like flanking or cutting off your opponent's forces. It makes it a tactical challenge to control the battlefield, and decide which areas to control, because of course the more you split your forces, the more detrimental it can be...

BrotherErekose
11-10-2009, 04:20
A 'system' I picked up from some guy:
Lay out the terrain, leaving no gaps, to cover one quarter of the table to establish the 25%. A good mix of 3 to 4 'big' pieces, possibly having a square foot base, usually a GW building. 3 to 6 felt pieces for forrest terrain, complete with trees to fit 5e's AT rules. A handful of hedges (green brush bristle thingies), walls and smaller pieces of, hopefully, GW terrain, like the barrels & ammo bag. Water (blue felt) and roads always make things interesting.

Next, divide the table into sixths, 2 by 3 feet. Roll a d3 into each of 6 compartments. Alternating players, start placing one terrain piece, a building or a small set of barrels or a AT felt into each compartment according to the d3s you rolled. Each section will have at least one piece, and some will not have more than 3.

And there's no need to place the piece 'squarely' in the middle of the section. No one has turned me down yet when I've suggested this.
---------------
A good fall back: have a third party set up your table. He ought to have an objective view point so it makes for a more interesting table.

Alessander
11-10-2009, 04:26
The recommended "25% is actually a LOT of terrain, believe it or not. You actually play with way less terrain than most people play with.
(i've posted this before but it's a good FYI)
Exactly 25% of the table filled with various crap
72453

Same pic with everything spread out.
72454
looks like a TON of terrain, nothing like "25%". but it is. makes you think about terrain, huh?

And remember that since there isn't such thing as "area terrain" anymore, all tables just become more cluttered - since you deal with individual trees and rocks, instead of general bases of forest.

mdauben
11-10-2009, 04:35
And remember that since there isn't such thing as "area terrain" anymore, all tables just become more cluttered - since you deal with individual trees and rocks, instead of general bases of forest.
Well, for purposes of LOS that's true, but I still use based forest "area terrain", as while the base does not effect LOS, it does provide a cover save for any model standing on it (5E p.22).

Very important for my Kroot, who get a +1 to their cover save in woods or jungle. :D

DuskRaider
11-10-2009, 05:11
I LOVE "cluttered" boards. Cluttered as in a lot of terrain, but matching and coherent. I was lucky and got my hands on an Imperial City box back in the day, unfortunately GW doesn't sell it anymore (that was a hell of a bargain). I have about 14 buildings... But I also have an 8' x 4' board, so it really doesn't look like much.

MadHatter
11-10-2009, 05:52
I would love to have mass terrain that was very cohesive with everything else on the table. However it is not likely to happen at FLGS as there are 4 tables and who ever gets there first gets to use whatever terrain they want. I gave all my old terrain away to my club before i moved.
Its ok with me, I do not find terrain to be that big of a deal to make. And I rather enjoy it. I find most stuff on nature walks or in the scrap piles at construction site, and they generally let me have it for a little clean up time. So it really is not expensive. time consuming sure. but worth it in the end.


As for the 25% rule I used to have to demand it because several Dark Angel players in our area sat thier entire force on the edge of the table and just shot heavy weapons and did nothing else.

Personally my favorite tables to play are the games where my opponent and I set a table up to match our over all battle theme. And we do try to match the terrain.

Lothlanathorian
11-10-2009, 06:13
Well, if it is choosing between having an army or having terrain, I'd rather have an army :p

I don't have much money to spend so at this point it is about buying one unit a month. I wish I could afford to buy GW terrain.

big squig
11-10-2009, 06:48
Well, don't underestimate just how much terrain 25% really is. And alos remember that 25% is the minimum rule of thumb. (technically, the book says the more terrain the better). Also, I can't remember the last time I walked into a GW and saw anyone playing with the proper amount of terrain. Most 40k games at GWs seem to take place on fantasy battlefields.

Though, I agree that a unified look and placement. I often see other people at my local store mix all sorts of terrain and just place random walls and rocks and trees everywhere. It's not only ugly, it makes for a bad game.

Another issue I have is with people who clearly put a lot of effort into their army doing super fine detailed paint jobs, but then proceed to play on coffee tables and use cans, books, felt, and un-cut, un-painted foam as terrain. If you care about your army enough to assemble and paint it, you should care about you're table just as much.

Seriously, $50-$80 and a trip to home depot is enough to make a full 6x4 game table with enough modular terrain to keep you playing forever. The last thing you should be doing is buying GW's ultra-overpriced terrain considering how cheap and easy home made terrain is. You can do everything in about a day.

Jellicoe
11-10-2009, 08:57
What Big Squig said.

Good terrain will complement a beautifully painted army and enhance a mediocre one in terms of the feel of the game. I like lots of terrain as it forces a bit more tactics into 40k and as such play city fight a lot. The 40k city terrain is some of the best stuff they have produced. I have just finished another building using 2 shrine of the Aqulia sets as a city fight centre piece, but that is supplemented by lots of other cheaper stuff including the plastic scenery/diorama stuff you used to get with matchbox tank kits as well as various polystrene and cardboard buildings built from the wonderful stuff they package computers with.

I find I am doing more scenery than armies these days as they are basically complete

freddythebig
11-10-2009, 12:01
I find that a bit of inspiration from real world terrain can make for better tables.

By this I mean that instead of putting hills down at random equally spaced around the board, lay them out in a rough line to simulate a ridge line. Similarly trees can be laid out in a rough double line as if they are following a stream bed.
City fight buildings are often laid out in grids but most European cities have a more random design with wide boulevards and narrow streets and alleys.

Look at some arial views or maps to get inspiration. I find google earth is a useful tool for this.

I am not saying that you cannot have a good game on the usual style of tables, just that with a little bit of extra effort usually using the terrian that you already have, you can make for some more interesting games.

Giganthrax
11-10-2009, 12:53
The one rule I try to follow every time I set up a table for gaming is;

- Have one big, heighty building/somesuch in the very center of the table. This is necessary because it directly interferes with long-range shooting by making it relatively easy to get cover saves.

Against some armies (tyranids) this is absolutely central to the table design, because if you make a flat center of the table you can pretty much take potshots at nids with your lascannons and the like, they'll mostly die out before they get close.

In other situations, these big pieces of terrain are needed to hide your transports as they advance, and players have to think in advance to deny cover-saves to an opponent.