P1000581

I found an interesting article the other day over on Bell of Lost Souls - its this one -  discussing how you should set up your terrain for your games. It  discusses Flames of War and is really arguing for accuracy when setting up your scenery – so your French village terrain is setup in the way a real French village would have looked in WW2 – its well worth a read, even if you are not a FOW player. This set me thinking about scenery setup in general, and how striving for 'accuracy' when making and deploying your terrain may enhance the gaming experience.  I think something similar was touched on in a recent White Dwarf. Of course, if you are  a Sci-Fi or Fantasy player, accuracy is a moot point really – but you can still use the real world for inspiration. What am I talking about? Well, for instance – if you are a Warhammer fantasy player, think about an Empire village. How would this have looked? Half timbered houses, some grand, some mere hovels, especially in an outlying village. How would they be arranged? Along a road or dirt track or tracks? Where would their food come from? Would there be outlying farms? Would there be a village pond? A river? Where would the village sit in relation to the river? Would it be in the river valley, surrounded by higher ground? Would there be a religious building – a chapel, a shrine to Sigmar? Where would it be? Would they be close to woodlands to help with building materials? Or would there be a stone quarry? You can ask yourself endless questions like this, and set up your scenery how it would make sense in the real (or imaginary) world. The same sort of exercise  could apply to Warhammer 40K or Lord of The Rings players. In the latter case, you have the books and films to think about when building and deploying your scenery – what about making Hobbiton and playing a game of Despoiling The Shire?
To me, setting up your scenery this way helps you tell a story with your games, much more so than if you just applied scatter terrain and a hill there, and another over there... For me, the ability to tell a story with a game is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the hobby – you can have a story in mind to fit with the fluff appropriate to your game, create a scenario around this, build some wargames scenery to fit and then play the game and see how it turns out. Setting up the terrain this way may also provide some interesting tactical challenges – maybe the village is surrounded by fields that can be used for cover on approach, maybe higher ground and the river funnels any approaching troops in a particular direction. In this method of terrain deployment, the scenery may perhaps dictate the tactics more than is often the  case.
As an example, I'm planning to build an Empire village (a long term plan) – I have in mind telling the story of Beastmen raids on outlying Empire villages. My head is full of such scenarios – perhaps I am just a frustrated fantasy writer at heart!
What can you come up with to enhance your gaming?


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