19 January 2012

How much terrain?

This is a question that has been in my mind since starting Malifaux. With Necromunda back in the day you had the terrain provided for you and that was pretty much that. When we first started playing Malifaux we had very little appropriate scenery to use, so the early games were quite sparse and led to ranged experts such as the Convict Gunslinger ruling the roost.

As time has crept by and our terrain collection has expanded, we've seen the table get more and more crowded, to the point I'm wondering is there too much terrain on the table now? The photo of Tuesday night's game above is actually quite open by our standards.

Scouting around blogdom on a daily basis you see photos now and again of other people's games and gaming tables. Above is a photo from Bill's DeadTau Project blog, below a photo from Sholto's Incunabulog. Both tables have significantly less terrain than our own weekly layout, with some quite open spaces with nowhere to hide.

So I'm going to throw the question out to you viewing folks – how much terrain do you use?


  1. I usually play with a lot more terrain than you see in the photo above, and I think that more (and better) terrain really takes the game to a whole new level (that terrain in the photo just happened to be a club set neither of us had ever used before!)

    If you take another look at my blog you will see loads of other batreps using what I think is the right amount of terrain - usually across multiple levels and multiple large LOS blocking pieces. Not only does this allow for the game to be played the way it was (I think) intended, but a narrative game like Malifaux is best enjoyed on a board where the terrain is as equal a part of the game as the models.

    Good, game-changing terrain is one of the reasons I hope more and more people pick up Terraclips. It can easily give you the kind of terrain density you need, coupled with a very strong visual theme. It is either expensive or time-consuming (or both) to get that kind of setup with anything but Terraclips, I believe.

  2. Thanks Sholto, a very good point made. With Malifaux, more than any other game I can think of, the terrain should be as important as the models and, as you say, helps tell the story.

    I'm eager to see Terraclips first hand to see if it is the ideal solution that people say. I like the idea of multi-level playing that it encourages.

  3. I meant to add that Sholto has a a number a fantastic posts – including video – about Terraclips and is definitely worth a visit to his blog.

  4. For skirmish games a lot as people like cover and somewhere to hide and everybody hates snipers....

    1. As part of Bill's group, I should just add that the board you see at the top is generally the least-covered board we use. Often it's one of the later boards used - gets grabbed by the third or fourth game being played at the same time. Most of our boards end up with more terrain than the one photographed. I'm a big fan of more terrain.

  5. Thanks for the clarification Mike. I have seen the board several times in batreps by you guys, so I guessed it was standard fayre in your area (you guys are clearly just late to games night).

    I am encouraged by the comments here that having a larger amount of terrain is preferred. We're liking the amount we currently use – just need a bit of variety.

  6. I have played in tournaments where the terrain was very scarce, but when playing amongst my friends we adhere to the rule book when it states: We recommend that each square foot of the battlefield have approximately 2 - 4 pieces of area terrain measuring 3" x 3". . . thee elements is roughly the equivalent of one piece of area terrain.

    Even if the book didn't state this, I would prefer to have more terrain than less! It makes the game much more fun.

  7. I haven't played any Malifaux tourneys, but I've been in plenty of 40k tournaments that had a token 3 terrain pieces on a 6x4 board which, as expected, makes for a very short game.

  8. I generally got for at least 50% terrain when playing with my regular group... for tournaments it can change since we have only so many tables and are also sharing with the other games going on at the time so we go for at least 10 peices of terrain from walls to hills to swamps...

    More is better otherwise everyone would be playing Viks with 2 Trappers and Hans!

  9. Much like Necromunda, I find that Malifax means: the more terrain, the better.

  10. I've posted up some pics of the tables from the UK Masters last weekend. They're fairly typical of the terrain density I've played on both locally and at other tournaments. I think they're maybe a little on the terrain-lite side, but not by much. Just lacking a few smaller obstacles scattered around.