Confessions of a scenery Fiend. Or the Clash Epiphany. Part 1 of an irregular series
I love making scenery, I admit it, what can be more satisfying than a Tournament set up of multiple tables populated with the fruit of my labours. However I have recently come to realise that my collection of Kings of War Scenery is a bit bland. Cowpat hills and identical wood bases, clone walls and ornamental ponds abound amid a plethora of 3D printed houses. Don’t get me wrong, I love my scenery, but as I plan for the Golden Troll Teams participation in the Country’s largest Kings of War Tournament in a Month or so (A Month ! aaaahhhhh where has all that time gone !) I have realised that I can do better. I need to cease making the scenery just “functional” for the Tabletop and club use and step up the game to make it “Visual”.
The reason the scenery I make is the way it is can be summed up in one word – Warhammer. I served my apprenticeship running a club through 4th – 8th edition Warhammer and all the phases that entailed (Green bases, flock bases, Black Bases. Layered corrugated card hills, Warhammer Townscape prefab card buildings, Stillmania and “How to build Wargames Terrain” in both its editions, I bear the scars and the Thousand Yard stare of the dedicated Warhammerer) The scenery is formed by its need to be functional and hard wearing, able to be packed and unpacked repeatedly with minimal cushioning in order that it can be used in different venues. There are some variations in the builds however. Gone are the flat green tables – although the Ribble Warriors proudly own a number of boards which were painted in Colour Matched “Goblin Green” in order to be used at Tournaments – and in are the Neoprene mats which make a much nicer gaming surface and open up the opportunity for better “Themed” tables.
We have built a Desert table with Oasis and tombs and palm groves, a Lava table with lava pools, Mushroom forests and improbable Lava Hills, and a Wasteland table with Tribal buildings, dead mammoths and such,
but the majority of the scenery tables are still green and the sets are Two Hills, two woods, two flat difficult , two linear obstacles and two tall impassable items.
The reasoning behind this is to allow the set-up of identical tables for each round of the Tournament so that players know that the playing field is level, so to speak, and they are playing their opponent on as fair a table as we can provide. Occasionally this has been altered by the use of themed tables , usually at the top of the table rankings and these may have extra hills of more difficult terrain just to mix up the match to provide a non-standard experience for the better players at an event( well that’s my excuse to make oddball scenery anyway)
Just recently Several new TO’s have entered into the Tournament scene and attending their events has given me more Terrain related thinkage. I have attended a tournament where the terrain was beautifully crafted but (in my opinion) small and sparse and some pieces would have benefitted from a Terrain map with a key to let you know what it was supposed to represent – although in KoW this is not a major thing as you usually agree with your opponent before the game what everything is supposed to be- but this could result in the same table being played differently by different players. I have also played a couple of events where the terrain was intended for other games and so was awkward to balance KoW units on. There was also a couple of events I have attended where the Scenery is done table by table and nothing has been standardised, each table having an eclectic mix of scenery( some varying from the sublime to the ridiculous in size and shape) and this has got me thinking about the gradual replacement of the Golden Troll Tournament scenery. This is no small undertaking as we currently have fifteen tables worth of terrain in the collection and also several larger pieces for big battles but if it is properly planned it could be feasible.
This in turn also got me to thinking about what level of terrain do I want, should I simply repeat the previous format but with vastly improved terrain pieces? Should I try and sort out each table as a carefully themed and lovingly matched set of terrain? Or something in between?
In order to answer those Thinks I had to weigh up the Pro’s and Con’s
The Pro’s – Shiny new scenery which will allow me to bask in the praise of my peers, that will look great on photos and allow even more tables worth of Terrain to be available to play on.
The Con’s – More Storage space required – this will also involve the purchase of storage boxes – if the terrain is more complex or more fragile, then the same amount of terrain may take up more space than it currently does due to the need for more protective packing. More time spent building terrain rather than merely maintaining the Terrain we already have. Expense of replacing all the terrain with new improved Terrain (see also additional storage)
With this in mind I made the decision to give myself the go ahead to start planning several tables worth of scenery to build with the idea of making the terrain in basic sets but to a higher standard than I currently have , better finished and better looking with a view to replacing all the basic terrain(approximately 10 sets) that we currently have, while making several pieces of themed terrain to add some sparkle to the already themed tables. This plan was hatched so that the replacement would not be rushed due to the need to get terrain on the table quickly, which had been the reason the existing terrain was bog basic in form, and that the expense could be spread over several Tournaments to reduce the financial burden somewhat.
So, once the decision has been made, where to start? The initial thought was to do my research for the types of terrain to be placed on the new tables. This research took the form of digging out the old Games Workshop Terrain books and re-watching my YouTube terrain watchlist( although it immediately reminded me of my irritation for the Terrain Tutors inability to say the word Foliage properly and he uses the word a lot lol). This led me to make copious notes this time rather than just diving off and attempting builds.
To make the terrain more robust I have made the decision to base all the pieces on MDF , the resulting pieces will be heavier than the existing none based one but exponentially sturdier and more “Stable on the Table” as one bit of feedback over the past few years is that my Polystyrene hills “Spin” on the tabletop( one more result of this is a programme of retrobasing these hills and reflocking them to bring them up to a higher standard so that they will not feel left out of the great Terrain Caper.
So all in all a large undertaking, mostly brought about by Ego and the desire for the approbation of Others but also a learning experience and hopefully I will come out the other side having improved myself materially in the form of a collection of gorgeous terrain and spiritually having gained a mahoosive boost to my already inflated ego. Who Knows ? Watch this space !!