Thursday, February 6, 2014

The importance of terrain in skirmish games

What makes skirmish games different from other miniature tabletop games is the way your models interact with the terrain on the tabletop. Experienced skirmish gamers know that terrain is an extremely important part of having a successful game. It is important to have multiple levels of terrain and having places to hide are both very important; it also adds a very realistic feeling.
Battlesystems starship or military complex table
Your strategy should evolve from the terrain present in your game. Having multiple levels of terrain makes the game interesting and adds to your strategy. There is nothing more realistic and evocative than placing a sniper on the highest point on the board with a good viewpoint of the tabletop. Plus from this vantage point he may be able to ignore some terrain since at this elevation the terrain may be too low to affect the snipers shots as you are looking at your target from above. 

City fight table from the Grunts website
My general rule of thumb when setting up a skirmish gaming table it to make sure that at least 60% of the surface area is covered in terrain of some sort! With this terrain density you can get a really great tactically deep game.

Infinity demo table from the interwebz
No matter in what kind of terrain your game is taking place on you should always have plenty of cover. If you are playing on ruined city streets you should be able to gain cover peeking around corners or hiding behind piles of rubble. Realistically you want to have protection for incoming fire. It is almost always better to get your models into cover suffering any movement penalties than to stay out in the open to move at your full move rate. In my opinion it is better to play smart using every ounce of cover to your advantage than to rush in and get your units killed.
Another fantastic thing about skirmish gaming terrain is that if you are a clever modeler you can have close quarters firefights within buildings. Fighting room by room is a fantastically tense and fun thing to do in skirmish gaming. It can be done with battle level games but is not very practical to do well above the skirmish level.

Until next time, keep your powder dry and lead flying!

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