Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adepticon: The Terrain

by SandWyrm

Here's my analysis of the terrain in the 40K Championship/Team Tourney hall at Adepticon.

I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much of the tables going into Adepticon. Most events I attend have trouble scraping together enough quality terrain for 15 tables, let alone 128. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the terrain was plentiful, as you can see in these pics.

About 5 in 6 of the tables followed a standard layout of 6 pieces, arranged in an X with another central piece over to one side.

From a tactical movement perspective, I REALLY liked this layout.

You would get about 6-8 tables of the same style (Desert, snow, crystals, whatever...), and then the style would change.

But the layout would remain essentially the same.

Problem is though, none of this terrain was really LOS-blocking for anything larger than an infantry model. So Dark Eldar were obviously screwed over by it. Trying to hide from a Leafblower IG build? Good luck buddy...

About 1 in 6 of the tables was just strange, like this one. Thank god I never had to play on one of these. I would never have been able to move my tanks at all. But as strange/bad as these were, they were also standardized. Though they were scattered around at the heads of table rows instead of in 6-8 table runs like the other terrain styles.

There was a short run of tables around the 100 mark that didn't follow the standard plan, but had enough height to hide things behind. These looked really cobbled together in comparison to the rest.

And this one... How are you supposed to play in or around a huge intact building like that? These seem stripped off of someone's diorama, and not like pieces of playable tourney terrain.

Overall, in terms of expectations, I give the Adepticon terrain a B+. Better than I expected, but not really fair to all armies. The standard layouts need some higher LOS-blocking pieces added in, while the non-standard layouts just need to go away.


  1. I actually find that "strange" table to be the coolest one and likely the most fun to play on. Perhaps shifting things around slightly and you likely wouldn't have had a terribly large issue with moving loads of tanks around. Plus lots of nice LOS blocking terrain! Unlike most of the other tables, which are waiting for a SW/IG player to take out their broom and sweep the other non-SW/IG army off the table.

    But then again, maybe that's partly the slightly terrain-frustrated Dark Eldar player talking :P

  2. The more terrain the better the game. Lots of times in battle there isn't room to drive a tank, that is why despite all it's gadgets and remote controlled drone planes, the US still needs boots on the street.

    I don't think the terrain should be set up so uniformly and I don't really worry about the Dark Eldar, the world doesn't revolve around one army, not even the Loyalist Spacemarines.

  3. The real problem with all those battlefields, besides needing more small annoying pieces of terrain is they are flat. Flat as a table, when is the last time you saw a real battle field that was perfectly flat...

    At least the GW Battleboard has some contours to it... More tables should be like that, fully sculpted tables.

  4. In an aesthetic sense, I agree with you 100% (Just wait, I have some very pretty battle reports to show you). But from a competition standpoint, a table needs certain things to make sure that all armies have a reasonable chance on the field.

    Too much clutter means that mech armies (like mine) immobilize themselves everywhere and can't move. Too little means that mech has too much freedom of movement and doesn't have to gamble on terrain tests. Not enough height in some of the terrain means that fast skimmer armies are screwed. Not enough cover in the deployment zone gives infantry gunlines the shaft. Etc.

    It's a balancing act.

  5. I would appreciate someone, as a sort of project, put together ideal Warhammer 40K tables using terrain one can buy or easily build. There is a lot of talk around these days of what constitutes a balanced board, as in doesn't give Dark Eldar the shaft without allowing it to completely hide 5+ Raiders from LOS. Could this perhaps be organized?

  6. I prefer flat tables. Sure, a fully sculpted table looks great. But since we are talking about gaming tables, keeping the board more or less flat also has its benefits.

    For me a perfect gaming table is a compromise between great looks and staying practical, with a terrain mixture and set-up that neither caters towards a particular style of playing nor gives an unfair advantage to the guy that goes first (and/or pick table deployment zones).

    Heavily structure terrain/tables is a huge pain in the ass with top-heavy models (esp. those white metal ones).

    I would rate the adepticon tables as above average on my "perfect gaming table" scale. The terrain itself looks quit good in terms of aesthetic sense and getting that much good looking tables done isn't easy too. I also like the standardized layout, but it suffers in my humble opinion from a severe lack of decent LOS-blocking terrain pieces and a "small amount of large pieces"-syndrome.

  7. From the pictures I've seen Adepticon has done better than I had expected. Especially as they have to cater for over 400 gamers. Can expect that next years tables will be even better.


  8. That was pretty much the exact table set-up as last year. They vary the tables a bit, but not much. However, it does make it clear what terrain is what and it is hard to argue line of sight, area, blocking etc. Glad to see they kept it the same this year.

  9. I hate to say it, but most of those tables look boring to me. Terrain (and the lack thereof) is probably one of my biggest pet peeves about the game at this point.

    6 huge chunks of terrain covers the table, but it's just that... 6 chunks of terrain. Probably all the same "area terrain", too. What happened to Dangerous? Impassible to Vehicles (which honestly, how often do you see anymore)?

    Of course, when I stack a board to 25% with a few big pieces, and a lot of small pieces (small hills, fences, etc), the first thing my opponent will say is "wow, lots of terrain". Well... no. It's not, actually. It's the standard amount. It's just not 4 buildings and a hill.

    Sandwyrm, looking at that table that you don't like... heh... it looks the best to me. You say you vehicles wouldn't make it past any terrain, but I can see at least 4 good routes from that side of the board. Honestly I think we're too lenient on tanks. Dangerous Terrain tests *should* come into play. It's one of the downsides of being in a huge metal armored box - there *should* be some routes you can't take. You *should* have to take the long way around sometimes. Or get out and walk. Is that not a wee bit realistic?

    Maybe this is a big part of why mech builds are so common (ie, that's what you play). The inherent downsides are largely ignored, simply because people want to just throw a few buildings on the table and call it a day. Interactive terrain is a big part of the game, and one that I think is sadly underutilized.

  10. @Foodie

    Yes, my transition to Mech was helped along by the bad terrain at the tourneys I attended. There was a tourney at Lafayette in particular that screwed over my old gunline guard by not having anything at all count as area terrain.

    That said, these tables were perfect from a Mech-balance perspective. The tables weren't wide open, but there was enough stuff to limit movement to specific corridors. I actually like that because I can throw blocking vehicles in the way of other Mech armies that they can't just drive around. It encourages good tactics.

    Put some cover in the deployment zones, increase the height of one of the center pieces, and I'm perfectly happy.

  11. One of the challenges of building terrain for Adepticon is that it needs to be large enough to block LOS, sturdy enough to get tossed in a bin & stored for a year, and cheap enough to be mass produced. Hats off to Dave C. and Capital City games for the work they do to create and maintain 200+ tables worth of terrain.

    Disclosure: I work with Adepticon & contribute to the terrain project.

  12. Congrats to you guys! Despite my criticisms I really do appreciate the effort involved.

  13. I know it's a heck of a job churning out enough terrain for the tables.

    good job.

    I'd like to see more small stuff on tables too. I also understand the small things like barricades and tank traps are harder to keep standard.
    I think they add a lot to tables, and give infantry something to move for.

  14. I should say I don't mean to be overly critical on Adepticon, or the people who put work into those tables. I think for the scale of things, it's far better than a lot of what I've seen.

    I'm talking more from a "hey, i have a full wall of terrain, but I'ma just use this one patch of grass" perspective of local hobby stores and players who don't give much thought to terrain.

  15. I've been to GTs or GT-level events in seven different states over the past ten+ years, and Adepticon has by far the best terrain. The hills are largely 2"-3" high,and the buildings/bunkers taller than that, which means you CAN hide vehicles. Most of the hills and bunkers are on bases, but that doesn't mean they're area terrain. It is an outstanding balance of looks and practical playability. I agree that it could use some more little walls or small difficult elements to break up the open areas a little more (which the Swedes also agreed on), but given the practicality of storing and not losing (or having knocked over or dropped on the floor) little pieces for that many tables, I understand why they don't have them.


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