Roll a D6 and determine the number of terrain pieces to be used:
1-2: 6, 3-4: 7, 5-6: 8
Roll off between the players to determine who will deploy terrain first.
Each player takes it in turn randomly generating a terrain piece and placing it on the table according to the terrain placement guidelines. If a player rolls a terrain result for which there are no pieces available, re-roll until a result is rolled that can be satisfied. If there are multiple variations of a type of terrain feature available (like a long hill or a round hill) randomize which one to use. Likewise if a specific result calls for a Rubble 5″ template, use whatever rubble feature is available that fits that size category.
Terrain Placement Guidelines:
– No terrain within 12″ of a table edge
-Terrain cannot be placed within 2″of another terrain feature (multiple 3″ templates placed at the same time are exempt from this rule)
–Restricted Terrain cannot be placed within 5″ of another Restricted Terrain feature
FOR TOURNAMENT PLAY:
TO’s definitely need to exercise some control over their tables at a tournament and frequently terrain limits will necessitate removing the random piece selection portion of the system.
To make this process tournament friendly, TO’s simply put the number and type of terrain pieces they want on the table for players to use BUT they do not place those pieces. When Players are assigned a table they simply roll off to see who places an available terrain piece. When it is the players turn to place a terrain piece they do not roll randomly to determine the nature of the terrain piece, instead their opponent selects one of the available pieces and hands it to them to place. Players continue alternating in the fashion until all available pieces have been placed legally using the terrain placement guidelines.
All terrain must be placed by the end of the process, any terrain that cannot be legally placed must be placed were there is the most available space on the table, displace other terrain previously placed following the rules for least disturbance.
It would also be preferable to time this process so that players do not unnecessarily slow the process down. For example once the players have randomly decided the the order of placing, the opponent has 10 seconds to choose a piece, then the player has 10 seconds to pick a location for the terrain piece.
Here are some examples of tables I generated using this system. I assumed that one player wanted a table that favored ranged elements whilst the other player wanted a terrain concentration that favored a melee oriented army.
Terrain is very important because it not only can give essential benefits and advantages to good players but it also makes every game different and adds character and interest to the table. The way terrain is placed in the current way, with pieces being spaced out visually on the table, makes most of it irrelevant to the game being played.
By increasing the distance terrain must be placed from the edge of the board, terrain is naturally made more relevant as it is in the vicinity of scenario where the actual fighting will take place.
By involving the players in the placement of terrain you can simulate the generals trying to locate a preferable battle field on which to meet the enemy while at the same time investing the players more in the game and table. Several of my colleagues believe that this could create an unbalanced and favorable table set up but that is part of the point. Tables should not be balanced, balanced tables are largely irrelevant. If both players are involved in the creation of the table then they both have strategies and tactics they can employ when dressing the table.
A player that wants clear lines of sight and little cover in the middle of the table can place his first piece in the central area of the table if it is say a pond or a hill, to prevent his opponent from placing a forest. In tournaments the nature of players opponents choosing the piece to be placed by them should create an interesting and interesting interaction between what pieces a player would like to place and the availability of table location.
Finally, this article is intended to get discussion going on terrain, it’s usage and the rules for placement. I have devised a system that I think adds something to that discussion and I intend to test it out within my local meta to check its viability. I encourage you to comment, give feedback and start a discussion in your meta on the dressing of tables. Maybe together we can find a better way to make our tables and terrain more interesting and relevant to the game we love!