Setting up 40k Scenery for Battles
One of the key things to a great Warhammer 40k Battle is having great terrain setup on your game board. Great terrain is as important to defining the character of the battle as the armies that you will be playing. How much terrain should you use? How should you put it out on the table? These are the questions that this article addresses.
Terrain for 40k battles is fairly straight forward – the rules treatment is direct. Battlefields should contain terrain sufficient to cover 25% of the game board (page 88, Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook, 5th edition). Many players and clubs in the United States use much less than 25%. This is unfortunate – how a player leverages or compensates for terrain is one of the most important aspects of the game! How do you know you’ve got 25%? It’s simple, really: place the terrain you plan on using on one corner of the playing surface, filling up that area as densely as you can until you cover one quarter of your game surface.
There are several approaches to actually placing the terrain. The most important thing to do, however, is for the players to discuss how they are going to do it and then discuss the rules they want to apply to EACH terrain piece. This is good practice even when using a preset battlefield, such as during tournaments. A disagreement on whether a piece of terrain provides 4+ or 5+ cover is a great way to ruin an otherwise fantastic match between friends.
My favorite way to place terrain is to first select the scenario (I often use the Battle Missions book), choose the defending and attacking armies according to the scenario, and then have players role off to choose to place the first terrain piece. Then they alternate until everything is placed. This may seem funny to do after you’ve chosen the scenario, but I think it adds to the simulation aspects of the game. Commanders, after all, choose to fight where they do (most often, anyway). In this way, it allows both players to have influence that reflects why they will have chosen to fight on that particular battlefield. This approach works equally well whether playing basic games, Cities of Death, Planetstrike, or Apocalypse.
However, this approach isn’t always best. If you’re playing a campaign game, you may need to do something more specific. Similarly, your battle may be part of story line and needs to have specific terrain elements in certain combinations. Perhaps a key structure is what the battle will center around. Place that key piece of terrain – then do everything else as described above.
This article should give you some ideas on how to approach setting up your Warhammer Terrain. Always keep in mind that the game is supposed to be fun — set up terrain as you feel best. Just make sure both players understand the terrain pieces, and make sure the set up is agreeable to both players.