Switch Theme:

Scratch build versus Commercial Terrain  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
»
Author Message
Advert


Forum adverts like this one are shown to any user who is not logged in. Join us by filling out a tiny 3 field form and you will get your own, free, dakka user account which gives a good range of benefits to you:
  • No adverts like this in the forums anymore.
  • Times and dates in your local timezone.
  • Full tracking of what you have read so you can skip to your first unread post, easily see what has changed since you last logged in, and easily see what is new at a glance.
  • Email notifications for threads you want to watch closely.
  • Being a part of the oldest wargaming community on the net.
If you are already a member then feel free to login now.




Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Myrtle Creek, OR

Feel like I am in a dead end cycle for terrain.
Sequence varies but things recur fairly common.

Love the look of new commercial products.
Hate the idea of paying that much for it.
Watch YouTube videos on how to make something just as cool for a fraction.
Spend money on supplies and tools.
Putter around failing to replicate terrain built in video.
Chuck sad attempts in the trash.
Start calculating if I’m really saving money.
Love the look of new commercial products.
Buy some professional terrain and then have remorse due to price.
Decide next time I can build it myself.
And around we go...

What about you guys?
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Commercial, all the way. I don't have the room, tools, time, talent, or know-how to make my own terrain (beyond simply flocking) - but I have enough money to buy a gamemat and some terrain.

I really like how Warcry has integrated the terrain into the game. Too often, the terrain is considered to be window dressing. Something which makes the models look good. Warcry tries to make the terrain into first order game components, complete with integrated game mechanics (terrain cards) and specific terrain-related products (ravaged lands). The ease of building a good looking, thematic table is really how all miniature games should behave, but only the Infinity starter sets come anywhere as close. I just wish Warcry/AoS had a terrain kit half as good as the Sector Mechanicus kits (the Dreadhold kits were about on par with Sector Imperialis, but were gimped by boxes which were too similar towers and didn't really explore the potential modularity of the kit).

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/17 04:00:35


 
   
Made in us
Esteemed Veteran Space Marine




San Jose, CA

I like both.

But for different reasons.

Planning, building, painting the piece is almost as much fun playing on/in/around it.

So when I see a terrain kit that I like (generally buildings) I think of how I can utilise it. but more as an added storytelling device so the kits have to meet a theme.

Fabricating something from scratch allows me to be very creative in the execution. I for one really like elevation changes and try to incorporate as much altitude as possible/practical.
Having helped my Uncle with his model train layouts and enjoy getting my hands dirty, this is the preferred method. But I'm not very proficient in making urban terrain so anything that falls into that category I generally buy ready to build.

I'll spend a while with Google image search looking at varied natural terrain. when I made my Nocturne Volcano for AOP 2 years ago, I probably looked at thousands of pictures of volcanic anything(lava flow, basalt, etc...).
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






The biggest step is simple: treat terrain as you would treat models.

Nothing blows my mind more than watching people balk at a decently priced piece of terrain...only to turn around and buy a $30 figure. Your game is only as attractive as your terrain. As has been said on numerous occasions, terrain is the third army on your table. It's easily the most ignored thing among 40K gamers. It's not nearly as ignored in other genres or games...but that's probably owing to 40K's much younger audience compared to, say, historicals, etc.

A few things I've learned; much like painting...any professional can make it look easy. They can make it look even easier if they have all the tools and hundreds or thousands of hours of experience in making terrain. Having made a lot of hand-built terrain myself I can say it's not particularly easy, and it's endlessly frustrating if you don't have the right tools for the job. Again, like painting there can be a heavy investment in the tools and bits up front....and like painting you won't suddenly do it like the guys on YouTube. If you're dedicated you may eventually get to that point and produce something cool. You simply won't do that at the drop of a hat.

Anything you give up and throw away? Yep, that's 100% wasted money. But so is a nice commercial building if you buy it, slap it together half-assed and don't paint it.

Treat your terrain like you treat your models. I'm not saying go to the same effort to paint the damn things, but clean, assemble, prime, and paint. A good piece of terrain is better than most models because, depending on the type, you may use it for 20 years in a dozen different genres or games.

Terrain isn't some necessary evil. It's part of playing tabletop miniatures games. Spend the money on it....OR...be prepared to invest in tools, and a lot of trial and error on the way to becoming a terrain ninja like you see on the interwebs.

I take pride in hosting games on attractive tables when I have the chance. It increases the joy I get out of partaking in a game or running a game, and I think it occasionally spoils my opponents/players.

Old West: Mix of handmade and commercial (commercial also modified and touched up)
Spoiler:


40K (why play on a boring table?)
Spoiler:


40K (laying siege to a Renegade Knight Household's keep!)
Spoiler:


40K (Urban zone inspired by Hue city from Full Metal Jacket)
Spoiler:


In short...get stuck in. Either spend the money or start working on the skills. Wargames are too cool/expensive to play on lame tables.

PS: I do hand-build stuff too when I feel like it....fancy some Mordheim?
Spoiler:

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/17 06:14:49


 
   
Made in ca
Longtime Dakkanaut





Surrey, BC - Canada

Very nice terrain Elbows,

I do a mix, I will get some commercial terrain for a centrepiece, and make my own for other parts of the table. When I make my own, sometimes it does not work out, but rather than trash it, I repurpose it or try to make it more appealing.

As for my gaming group, I am the only one who makes terrain, the rest would rather purchase or us GW cardboard terrain from 2nd Edition.

My two cents,

CB


DC:70S++G+M++B+I++PW40k-89-+D+++++A+++/aWD088R+T(M)DM+  
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





Mix for me - I like full 3D environment, so I invested in making modular XPS ground level and hills/rocks, but on top of that I have proper Necromunda worth of Sector Mechanicus (simply because achieving so detailed terrain by scratchbuilding would take ages). I have plans for further scratch build ground boards (this time industrial) and some large stronghold structures with Zone Mortalis ready interiors, where I would probably throw some commercial structures.

But I wholeheartedly second what Elbows wrote - you cannot overestimate the impact that a proper terrain make in any miniature game, with 40K community as a whole having the worst and longest tradition of playing on inadequate tables.
   
Made in us
[DCM]
[***]







Eh...game night at Elbows’ house?

Please?
   
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut





Myrtle Creek, OR

 Alpharius wrote:
Eh...game night at Elbows’ house?

Please?


Agreed


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 Elbows wrote:
The biggest step is simple: treat terrain as you would treat models.......


Excellent points. I never considered terrain to be the third army on the table.
That's a super way to put terrain into perspective.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/18 20:21:42


 
   
Made in gb
Androgynous Daemon Prince of Slaanesh





Devon, UK

Go for a 3D printer, it won't cost much more than a decent set of purchased terrain and you can then churn out near commercial quality stuff for pennies forever.

We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't. - Frank Howard Clark

The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate, and doubts not; he knows all things but his own ignorance.

The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!” Professor Brian Cox

Ask me about
Barnstaple Slayers Club 
   
Made in au
Anti-Armour Swiss Guard






Newcastle, OZ

I make a lot of my own, but I've worked in an FX prop-shop so I know I have the skills to do so.

I also have the tool cupboard full of tools that allow me to do it.

As a "maker", the assembly and making of models is the part of this hobby that appeals to me more than the playing of games with it afterwards (the game is a bonus to having the models, not the raison d'etre for having the models)

I'm 50.
Old enough to know better, young enough to not give a ****.

That is not dead which can eternal lie ...

... and yet, with strange aeons, even death may die.
 
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






Yeah, having the know-how and tools to do it is something that a lot of scratch-builders take for granted. I've lived in apartment numerous times where I had little to no room to prime, spray, cut, chop, hack, and melt stuff...let along room for tools, and boxes worth of paints and sprays etc.

I'd prefer to have a sexy little workshop with all the tools and bits needed to make terrain, but the reality is it just isn't super common. I make what I can, and I often enjoy it, but a lot of people get too overzealous when they just say "dur, make your own!" as if it's something extraordinarily easy.

There are some guys on other forums who literally work or worked in visual effects studios and have done movie-set style kits, etc. They make bonkers frikkin' tables and stuff. A lot of us will have to settle for commercial options more often than not. That's not a crime. Just do what you can to put together a table that elevates the game experience.

 
   
Made in ca
Trustworthy Shas'vre






Time is money. You reach a point where your time is more valuable than the money you'd spend on commercial terrain.

Unless you really enjoy building terrain from scratch, then by all means, do that.

   
Made in us
Tail-spinning Tomb Blade Pilot





Very nice terrain, Elbows.
 John Prins wrote:
Time is money. You reach a point where your time is more valuable than the money you'd spend on commercial terrain.
Agreed. It's how I try to make my hobby purchasing decisions nowadays.

As for terrain, when I started there was almost nothing available commercially, just a few things like gabions (used in siege warfare to provide cover), earthworks, and simple bridges as used in the US Civil War. So you had to build your own, often visiting the local HO train store for parts even though HO scale is 20mm, and thus small for 25mm which was the standard back then. My scratch-built terrain is only passable, but it works, and since pretty much everyone was on that level we did not suffer from terrain envy. Now I feel some envy when someone has beautiful custom terrain built by professionals, since I can't spend that kind of money. So I will slowly improve things. Have bought some 3d printed terrain, an "aztec" temple, and some Grecian towers (modern Greece, not Classical, but I like the look).
https://www.amazon.com/EnderToys-Buildings-Tabletop-Miniatures-Paintable/dp/B079C5MYDP?ref_=bl_dp_s_web_13100798011

Oh, and I have a whole village of GW cardboard printed at the time of WHFB 2nd ed. Not as nice as some of their later cardboard offerings, but a good buy at the time. Even had a mine head! (Moral of the story. Do not tunnel near tombs of forgotten ancients. You might wake something best left sleeping. Begin WHFB scenario.)

Kings of War: Abyssal Dwarves, Dwarves, Elves, Undead
Kings of War Historical: Macedonian
Dropzone Commander: PHR
Blood Angels Necron [WiP]

 
   
Made in us
Dangerous Outrider






 Elbows wrote:
The biggest step is simple: treat terrain as you would treat models.



That's a great quote... If you have a great looking table of terrain, It just makes the game feel the game as at different level.
But most posters are right... It really is down to time and money.. Some people can not afford any of the new GW terrain sets. Hills have to be
a stack of books under a blanket on the table. that doesn't make for a very good looking table.. If you had the "poorhammer" set up at a convention
people most likely keep walking on by...at the same convention if you had a great custom terrain table, people would stop and take pictures.

Like the kill zones that are released, those are some quick, nice set up for a nice simple looking table with not a lot of cost if you were able
to catch them during their original release. Then you have hand made terrain like the subway set up at gen con for the new marvel table top game.
That thing was beautiful, but no telling how much that cost the company. They are lucky to be able to write it off as a business expense.

So I agree with elbow, great looking terrain is as important as great looking models, Its just how much time and money you have available.
I personally have some old cardboard necromunda terrain that I am slowly replacing with plastic card. Because I love the look old stuff and want to make it
more durable than what it originally was.

 
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






You bring up a good point. A budget is a budget. To that end, I never shrug off terrain if it's terrain. There are some excellent all-cardboard options out there. This is a good example of a mat along with a bunch of card-stock terrain, some dating back to the original Necromunda.

It still holds up and provides a superb game! This is my friend's set up.

Spoiler:


Another thing is that people on a budget simply need to do more google-fu, as there are some really solid options available for non-GW terrain. A favourite of mine is TT Combat. They recently established free shipping over 100 pounds. Most of my stuff in the above pictures on the 40K tables is TT Combat. Stuff that is much larger than GW kits while around half the price.

There's no escaping budgetary restraints unfortunately. However, there are far superior products out there than GW for less money. Of course some companies make a crap product at a crap price too...so you have to be wary.


 
   
Made in gb
Princeps of the Emperor's Titan!






It depends.

Some commercial terrain is a rip off - regardless of the price.

Some is pricey, but good quality.

Some is cheap and cheerful.

Making your own is I suppose the dream, but not everyone has the time, resources and skills for that.

Me? I'm happy with GW's output. I find it nicely designed, very flexible, and works well for the games of my preference. And, crucially, kit wise it's use friendly. No harder to build than the average GW kit.

But then, my bias here is that I don't like the look of MDF or cardboard terrain. It always looks cheap to my eye, so I plump for plastic.

All just opinion of course. And for the GW stuff, it's defo worth waiting for Christmas or other boxed sets to come out to mitigate the price somewhat. Spesh if you're buying from Darksphere or Element, my online retailers of choice.


Fed up of Scalpers? But still want your Exclusives?Why not join us?

 
   
Made in us
Horrific Hive Tyrant




Tampa, FL

I am not creative so I like commercial but depending on the game system it can be hard to find appropriate terrain. AOS for example, has very little in the way of terrain that looks appropriate outside of GW (most "fantasy" terrain you see is still WHFB-esque. Medieval style buildings and architecture rather than the "fantastic" scapes of the Mortal Realms).

- Wayne
Formerly WayneTheGame 
   
Made in us
Rotting Sorcerer of Nurgle






 Elbows wrote:


It still holds up and provides a superb game! This is my friend's set up.

Spoiler:





Nice. Where are those red bits from in the bottom left corner? I recognise them but cannot quite place the makers.



A GW fan walks into a bar, buys the same drink as yesterday but pays more.

""Unite" is a human word, ... join me or die."

If you break apart my posts line by line I will not read them. 
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





I find a claim that making (basic) terrain requires too much skill a bit odd. Making believable rock formations from XPS require the same skill set as making a battle ready assembled/painted/based miniature, just scaled up, and for a full table worth of terrain cost about the same as a large Sector Mechanicus/ Sector Imperialis structure. You need to know how to cut with a knife, how to use glue (styrofoam glue, hot glue and pva glue), how to apply sand texture and how to base paint and drybrush and all of this can be made on your desk. That is it, everybody in this hobby has those basic skills already.

It is only when you want to play on industrial or ruined city tables that things get more complicated and time consuming, but even then making a set of basic ruins, bunkers or fortified walls from underflooring foam or extruded PVA and crafts paints is pretty much cost free (a total of infantry box cost for a large set of ruins is perfectly achievable). Will it look like those awesome cinematic boards on pinterest? Of course not. Will it let you play immersive battles on densely populated terrain without books under a cloth? Most certainly. And it will take you less time than removing all those mould lines from a box of Skitarii Rangers

Where even basic scratchbuilt terrain begins to be time consuming enough to consider commercial alternatives are skirmish games like Necromunda or Infinity, as those require not only loads of multi level terrain features, but also a lot of functional details on those features: ladders, railings, small LoS obstacles/partial covers etc - the sheer volume of work here to achieve the functionality of lasercut MDF, even without any visual bells and whistles of Sector Mechanicus can indeed be daunting and exceed the value of your time if you have a job with a decent wage. But games like 40k do not benefit mechanically from such details, but do benefit greatly from volume of terrain on the table, so personally I would (and I did) go for a hand made „base layer” of functional table and then add commercial kits for added detail and immersion if/when funds allow.
   
Made in us
Napoleonics Obsesser




MN

If I have time, I make it myself....

If i have money, I buy it....

I have different mixtures at different times.

Do you like Free Wargames?
http://bloodandspectacles.blogspot.com/ 
   
Made in us
Focused Fire Warrior




United States

I personally don't have the artistry skills for scratch built terrain, and whenever I use the scratch-built terrain that get's donated to my local hobby shop. It always feels out of scale for the game we are playing. I started using commercial terrain that was specifically designed for my 28mm/heroic scale games as a result and like it much better.
   
Made in us
Excellent Exalted Champion of Chaos





I do both. A good looking table is one of my prerequisites for playing the game. If the scratch built terrain is coke can forests and piles of books that are hills, I will politely pass.

Same with commercial terrain that is unpainted grey blobs. I will also politely pass.

GW points don't bring balance. They exist purely for structure. You can get more balance from no points than you do from GW points. You however can get no structure in your game without points. 
   
Made in gb
Rotting Sorcerer of Nurgle






I do a bit of both, though much is scratch built. I’ve got chemical towers made from hot chocolate tubs and copper piping. For rocks I used real rocks. I’ve got scrap piles made from abandoned and/or half finished projects. Hills made from tinfoil covered in papier mache. Piles of pipe made from the centres of till rolls. I have a giant statue made from plasticard, bits and a John Cena figure.

All of these were dead easy to make. Much of my scatter terrain is commercial stuff with most being barrels and crates. The former of which can be found incredibly cheaply on eBay from China.

EDIT- went and took some pics of various board setups. Didn't set up the table though, only rolled out the mat but it gives you an idea of what can be done quite cheaply and easily.

Spoiler:

General table setup with a mix of scratch built and commercial stuff.

Spoiler:




Some closeups of various pieces

Spoiler:

A more Fantasy/Chaos setup.

Spoiler:




Closeups. Though you might not be able to see two of them.

Spoiler:


Crash site in the wilderness setup.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/19 15:48:49




A GW fan walks into a bar, buys the same drink as yesterday but pays more.

""Unite" is a human word, ... join me or die."

If you break apart my posts line by line I will not read them. 
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






Nou,

No one has said that people aren't capable of making some foam hills or basic ruins from foam-core, etc. We're discussing the argument that many people make against commercial terrain when they say "well, just make your own". Most people don't have the skills or tools to make scratch made terrain which rivals commercial terrain, with regards to looks, aesthetics or detail.

Anyone can spray paint foam, or glue insulation foam together, but we're talking about replicating some of the nicer commercial terrain.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/19 16:52:00


 
   
Made in us
Oberleutnant





3D Printing. A <$200 Ender3 and a $20 roll of PLA. There are dozens of free .stl out there to choose from or pay a bit and get some amazingly nice files.







 
   
Made in ca
Stealthy Dark Angels Scout with Shotgun




NB, Canada

I've always wanted to get into 3d printing but never took the plunge. I should start doing some research!

5000 points
1800 points
5000 points
2000 points
3000 points  
   
Made in us
Regular Dakkanaut





I think it's worth it to splurge for a few commercial pieces, but you really can fill out a table with inexpensive terrain if you're willing to DIY. Rocks and hills in particular are not hard at all to do well, since they don't have any strict shape to adhere to. I can see where some people might be seduced by the idea of scratch built Sector Imperialis style ruins, only to find themselves biting off more than they can chew. It's always easier to make natural features look convincing, compared to a building or machine.

Space-wise, if you have the ability to do spray priming or airbrush work, you have enough space to do terrain. You don't even need to use spray cans; terrain is tolerant of brush-on priming and rougher paintjobs.

Of course, just like painting minis it comes down to enjoying the process. If your only motivation is saving money then I can see losing interest in the time and effort commitment. Building terrain feels relaxing and creative to me.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/19 18:23:50


 
   
Made in pl
Screaming Shining Spear





 Elbows wrote:
Nou,

No one has said that people aren't capable of making some foam hills or basic ruins from foam-core, etc. We're discussing the argument that many people make against commercial terrain when they say "well, just make your own". Most people don't have the skills or tools to make scratch made terrain which rivals commercial terrain, with regards to looks, aesthetics or detail.

Anyone can spray paint foam, or glue insulation foam together, but we're talking about replicating some of the nicer commercial terrain.


That was the starting point of the thread, yes, but then people threw in MDF as desirable/affordable commercial sets or even cardboard scenery and pictured scratchbuilding to high standards requiring a shed full of tools and a long prior VFX career. That is what I'm debating with. Anything MDF can be replicated using extruded PVC and a knife, with added benefits of PVC being bendable and engraveable with a ballpen, because most MDF kits are rudimentary to say politely. Pretty detailed fantasy/medieval scenery and realistic natural formations can be done using XPS, knife, various glues, cement, balsa wood/icecream sticks and flock - and I'm not talking about pseudo scenery slapped together during a coffe break. Hardly a skill or tool set above that required to assembly and base a centerpiece mini in your army. In a lot of cases the only valid argument is time vs wage. Where this does not apply are highly geometric industrial or architectural features which prohibit freehanding and require precise repetition in details (like GWs industrial or neogothic). Replicating say, Sector Mechanicus with lots of scatter containers, barrels, machinery etc or sets like Wall of Martyrs is IMHO a reckless attempt if someone does not take pride solely in such an achievement and such commercial scenery is trully "buy only" for most people, but making your own Imperial Bastion or Dominion of Sigmar (barring statues) equivalents is pretty straightforward but can be time consuming. And some areas of terrain making are irreplaceable by buying off the shelf products - very few can afford Realms of Battle or Forgeworld tiles (and the variety of available to buy readily is also low) compared to how easy and cheap it is to have a scratchbuild 3D base level with close to same level of detail instead of a gaming mat?

It would be easier to discuss this appropriately if OP had provided some examples of his vicious circle of "well, just make your own" attempts, as difficulty of terrain making depends very much on style, not only on detail level.
   
Made in us
Awesome Autarch






By that statement though you're casually painting all MDF with a broad brush, easily cut out with an xacto, which is a silly.

Can you hand make this?



Sure.

Can you hand make this?



Probably not without an extreme amount of time, material, and know-how. You seem to be arguing that everything is doable with some elbow grease and some time. That's perhaps true, but consider the overwhelming majority of gamers who may have not been wargaming for 20+ years, and many of whom even struggle to paint a simple space marine, despite their enthusiasm for the game or genre. I can hand-make terrain, and I do...but it's not something that came quickly or easily without some effort, and a lot of trial and error.

No offense but you seem really heavily biased in your tone and seem like you're just here to argue for the sake of arguing?

 
   
Made in gb
Wise Ethereal with Bodyguard







For the examples above, the issue with scratchbuilding them is the curves. I think you could come up with something that looks very much like the bunker above in maybe 2 hours tops using foamed PVC costing about £1 and with maybe half a bottle of super glue. It wouldn't have the arch window surrounds, but they could easily be replaced by something more angular

The fantasy example would be really hard to replicate precisely, but again something pretty similar could be created with some judicious ruler work and a sharp knife. It would be much harder than the simple bunker though.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2019/08/19 19:57:34


Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

Terranwing - w3;d1;l1
51st Dunedinw2;d0;l0
Cadre Coronal Afterglow w1;d0;l0 
   
 
Forum Index » Dakka Discussions
Go to: