One of the biggest challenges for many players when getting started with tabletop miniature war gaming is to find the right terrain. Even as a seasoned war gamer I felt like it was a struggle to find good terrain for my games of Batman Miniature Game. In this article I dive into some of the best places I have found to pick up terrain for my modern war gaming needs.
Modern war game terrain can take several forms. You have to decide if you are gaming in the more urban areas of the world, residential suburbs, or even rural locations. The place in the world becomes a consideration as well. Playing a game set, for example, in the Middle East is much different than trying to play out a game on the streets of Gotham or New York City!
Let’s take a look at a few of the more popular game settings and see who makes great terrain for that environment.
Urban Terrain War Game Terrain
For urban terrain you are typically looking for the types of things you would see in an inner city: buildings, street signs, streets, and more. For this type of terrain 3D Printing and MDF terrain kits are excellent places to look. Since many of us don’t have 3D printers I will stay away from places to pick up .STL files. There are still plenty of places that you can pick up this kind of terrain without such a fancy tool!
4Ground is a UK company that specialized is producing MDF terrain that comes “pre-painted”. Really it’s just a method that they use to add the color to the wood as part of the production process. Each piece looks really good on the table. They have a number of scales available no matter the scale of miniature war gaming you are playing. I am a fan of their 28mm Gothic City terrain. While a little under scaled for a game like Marvel: Crisis Protocol, it still works well to create a very cool looking modern urban battlefield.
What I love about 4Ground is the speed at which you can get this terrain to the table. It’s really just the time it takes you to build the kit. Especially when you are getting into a game and are busy painting up your figures this can be a great way to put those carefully painted figures into a really cool looking battle very quickly.
TTCombat is another UK company that produces MDF terrain. In this case, the kits don’t come pre-painted. While I find their kits are a bit less fancy than those engineered by the people at 4Ground they are far more reasonably priced.
For those of thus that enjoy the artistic side of the hobby this gives us a platform to be creative. From not only putting custom paint jobs on your terrain pieces, but also adding your own simple textures can go a long ways from taking these lower price point buildings into something really special on the table. Just take a look at this little rooftop fire escape I painted up to know that there’s a lot you can do with these kits.
TTCombat also produces a number of small resin bits that are great for dressing up alley ways and adding a little extra rubbish to the table. These types of terrain pieces are excellent scatter terrain pieces that will give your models plenty to duck and hide behind during a firefight in the streets!
Black Site Studio
Black Site Studio is a US company that makes MDF kits and STL files. Their Midnight City range of “pre-painted” MDF kits are of a similar quality to 4Ground kits. Very quick and easy to assemble and get to the table with the pre-coloring added to their manufacturing process. I am a particular fan of their The Mirsky Building with it’s multiple levels, building sign, and interesting exterior levels. It’s sure to be a cool and interesting building on the table top.
Branching out to the Suburbs
TTCombat, 4Ground, and Black Site Studio have a number of MDF buildings that work well for suburbia games. However, here’s a couple more companies you might want to look at for fleshing out these types of games.
It’s at this point I want to mention Etsy as it’s a great source of terrain kits of all types and sizes. From great scatter terrain like trash bins, dumpsters, vending machines to buildings and other terrain. There is a massive variety of options available via Etsy. Be aware when you look at terrain on Etsy that you try to match up the scale of kits and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need.
Lionel and other Model Railroad Scenery Companies
Lionel and other model railroad companies have been making terrain in various scales for years. Kits typically come pre-painted, are hard plastic, and fairly durable. In many cases they have working lights and you can even pick up scale pedestrians/animals/critters to give your tables that extra level of realism.
There is almost always no assembly required with these kits. Simply unpack from the box and place on your table. You’ll find that you will spend a bit more, but O Gauge terrain for your 28-32mm games scales pretty well with the figures you are using.
Modern Desert War Game Terrain
Playing miniature war games in the desert is becoming increasingly popular for modern age war gaming. Whether you are playing out modern military actions in the Middle East or you are diving into the more fantastic such as having your Batman crew trying to gain access to Ra’s Al Ghul’s lair there are some very interesting options to look at.
Knights of Dice
Knights of Dice is a brilliant little company that provides great wargame terrain of all sorts of types. Their line of Desert Buildings provides a great basic framework of MDF buildings with multiple layers to build out a small settlement on your war game table. The thing that makes these pieces particularly cool is that they are fairly inexpensive and allows the artist in us to be able to model these buildings to match the look and feel of the game you intend to play.
What Other War Game Terrain Pieces Do You Need?
Most of your game tables will still need some form of gaming mat, whether that’s a bed sheet, neoprene mat, or a 3D modeled board there are plenty of options. On top of that, you may want to add a few trees, hills, rocks, or other natural terrain pieces.
We’ll dive into more tutorials on how to make these war game terrain pieces over time. At this point though you can make some decisions on where to pick up some great terrain pieces for your modern gaming needs.
We would love to see what you come up with for your war game tables. Share your pictures of your war game terrain with us on our social media.