It can look complicated to build Warhammer terrain. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are our best tricks to help you nail it!
Build Warhammer Terrain Like a Pro
Making terrain is almost a different hobby than the actual game we play it. As such, here a a few life hacks to help you build Warhammer terrain without the headache.
1- Bros before… The Sisterhood of… Friendship is Mag… The more the merrier!
While terrain building certainly is something you can do alone while drinking beer in the shed, I’ve found that it’s a great community activity
Whether it’s just you and a couple of friends pounding on beers and terrain alike, or your gaming club that will end up using the terrain anyway, extra hands go a long way when you build Warhammer terrain!
This also means you get to either be done faster, or work on more terrain.
There are two approaches when it comes to the group terrain building day.
To each their own
Not in a sense of everyone works on their own thing, but more as in taking turns in building each other’s table’s worth of terrain. One Saturday, we all work on Jay’s table; the next, we work on Francis’.
The club build
Similar to what we did to get our first events running back in the day, gather a bunch of friends and work on the groups’ table for the club/garage/store you play at. This requires some more planning, but yields great results in the long run.
The best approach to get a group together, is with food and/or beer. Or offer to get pizza or fire the BBQ and get everyone hot dogs. It’s not the most expensive and usually pleases everyone.
Something can be said of how many is too many, where past a certain point, it just becomes a problem to have too many people around. It’s best to lay down what you want to work on ahead of time, and invite a number that is appropriate.
2- Manage Expectations
It’s easy to get carried away. Let’s not.
Both in what you can accomplish and on what everyone’s skill set is.
If you’re having buddies over or trying the group thing, try to have tasks or projects for various hobby skills. Don’t let beginners next to shaker cans or cutting foam pieces they can ruin. It sounds like something obvious, but I’ve seen it done first hand.
Having to run to the hardware store mid-day to buy more foam boards is the worst. You waste time and money.
Also, try getting everyone up to speed on the goal. If you want to bang out as many tables together, no one should be spending one hour painting a hill.
Get everyone on the same page. If you are doing this on your own, it’s also worth reminding yourself from time to time.
3- Cost Cutting
This is the most important point. It’s incredibly easy to get carried away and spending a fortune on boards. It’s also incredibly easy to cut cost if you know where to look.
And where to look is right here.
I’ve broken down most areas of terrain buildings and tools into where you can save some money.
A lot of supplies and materials to build Warhammer terrain are generic items. You often don’t need to buy hobby brands to get the same quality, often in more appropriate size for terrain, i.e. large.
For terrain pieces themselves, you are looking at money versus time. With every piece, it’s a choice you have to make: How much time can you save versus how much money you want to spend.
Everyone will have a preferred ratio in this, I suggest you figure out before you start, to save on the frustrating “I should’ve bought this instead” moment.
You have a lot of options here.
The cheapest is MDF boards cut in 2 or 3 sections that you will flock and paint.
If you are on a budget, if you are making a lot of tables or if you want everything to fit, this is probably your best bet. It’s easy to put together and put away quickly.
Other options are gaming mats, which you can get from a plethora of companies, like GameMats, Mats From Mars, or Frontline Gaming, just to name a few.
Mats come with the bonus that they require zero hobby work. Roll ’em out and they are ready!
Hills are very common in most games, and are the easiest to do.
You will need insulation foam and a foam cutter. Foam is a great terrain material that you can use for a lot of things. Don’t get the cheap white one that breaks down in little pebbles, it makes a mess and breaks easily for the little you save.
If you plan on making terrain with foam, you 100% want to buy a foam cutter, it saves you all kinds of trouble.
Regardless if you buy this model or not, always get one with a cord. Never ever buy a battery-powered one; they are the devil.
Ruins is another area were the money versus time ratio is worth considering.
Pre-made ruins, painted or not, are pretty detailed and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
Alternatively, you can build generic broken walls with insulation foam or foam core cards.
I find that it takes too much time to have really good looking ruins versus buying the pre made ones and painting them to match the mat I’m using.
The other question when it comes to ruins is wether or not to put them on a base. This is another debate of aesthetics versus use. Ruins usually look better on their own, but are more practical on bases for gaming purposes.
If you opt for the base, small MDF boards are perfect for this. Foam core tends to not be sturdy enough in the long run.
Forests are another area where you have to pick your poison.
My personal favorite is bare trees, because they are much easier to make, and much more sturdy.
I value sturdiness a lot, because with tournaments and the local club use, they take more of a beating than they would in a loving home.
However, I’ve had great results with Woodland Scenics forest kits when looking for bulk trees.
I bought various sizes, and build them all in one evening. It’s a lot of work, hence why I did it in bulk, but the results are really nice. I airbrushed some different tones of green on the leaves and drybrushed trunks once everything was built and dry.
Supplies is the secret to great savings, because everything you need is made as generic crafting tools. You get the same quality for a fraction of the price, no compromise needed.
If you are to buy only one thing, get a hot glue gun and some glue sticks.
This is the best tool for terrain. It’s incredibly cheap, comes in large quantity and sticks anything to anything – including foam, which can be tricky to work with.
Dollar store paints
Generic acrylic paint, despite being terrible for models, is perfect for terrain.
You can usually get the most useful colors, greens, browns, greys, black, and white, in large containers.
There really isn’t much value in using 5 pots of Rhinox Hide to paint a full board when you can get a dark brown for a dollar that will do 6 table’s worth.
The spray gun
I’ve went over this beast more than a few times already and every single time it features the word terrain in multiple instances.
Efficiency is king, and for large surfaces like terrain, there is no better tool. You can read our review of it if you’re still not convinced.
You want brushes that are dedicated to terrain and that will take a beating.
Large surfaces, applying glue, dry brushing rocks… these techniques will take a beating on any brush. As such, you want to buy brushes that you are okay with trashing, not your fancy-shmancy Winsor & Newton.
With very little care, you can get a lot of days worth of working on terrain like a savage with them, which makes them that much more valuable.