Saturday, May 21, 2011

Starting your Killzone: "Booster Pack" Terrain Tables

We live in interesting times, Wolf Brothers! We were made to battle in the name of the Emperor, to lead his armies and rip out the throats of the enemies of the Imperium of Man, but in this new Age of Strife our purpose in life is being taken from us! And by whom? Not xenos, not heretics, nor treacherous Chaos-worshippers. No.. Our one and only reason to exist is being taken from us by scriveners and accountants, by lords who have never seen a day of battle, have never held a dying brother in their blood-soaked hands... Our Crusades used to be fueled by glory, honor and pride - NOT MONEY! The assaults and sieges we carried out on so many planets under the blazing heat and light of a thousands suns and countless stars were done because it was our right to do so, not because they were potentially profitable. Dark times await us and Chaos beckons..    
- Skarvald the Troll-faced
So much for my commentary on the price-hike, the new resin/resin-plastic models and the new embargo policy of Games Workshop. Kirby has a great open letter to GW about it which has been floating around various blogs and forums for a while now. I agree with it, but what can I do? Words won't win against Capitalism, so the best thing to do is to figure out a way to still enjoy the hobby while eliminating the factors that undermine my budget. I love this hobby, I love the models, I lost most of the rules and I love my local Games Workshop store, but unfortunately it seems that none of them love me enough to grant me free miniatures on a regular basis.

Enter Special Operations Killzone...

Obviously, Killzone allows you to play small games. You can get a completely functional team from 1 or 2 boxes, so it still has an okay starting cost, despite the price-hike. With yet another price-hike hitting tons of essential items (codices, troops, vehicles, battleforces) starting and continuing any armies becomes much more expensive. Thus, any new projects will cost more and more with even a 1,000 army becoming a nuisance to buy. Killzone allows you to still enjoy the hobby but now you can have just as much fun fielding 250 points, using units and models that you've always wanted to use but never wanted to buy because they are so meh on the tabletop.

Needing only a 4x4 table to play, Killzone is also pretty easy to setup and you can even play it at home without needing too much space. This is important! For me, the two BIG money spenders are buying new and shiny stuff that I don't need and going out to lunch at fast food places. Finally manning up and creating your own gaming setup will save you some money in the long run, especially for those of you who live very, very far from your FLGS. And thus the idea of the "Booster Pack" terrain tables was born..

A few days ago, "Frozencore" Joe" and I were hanging out, playing some Killzone and then we got the idea for creating our own tables. Now, we live pretty far away from each other, so creating a 6'x4' table for regular gaming was out of the question due to transportation. Then we obviously came to the conclusion that Games Workshop got it right by making the modular Citadel Realm of Battle Game Table. The 2'x2' ft. squares are nice and allow for some mix-and-match, but not too much. The ability to quickly switch from playing on a 4x4 to a 6x8 is also pretty important, but ultimately we decided to make our own thing due to:
  • Games Workshop's lack of support for the Realm of Battle Game Table
  • Obligatory steep hills that dislike top-heavy metal models
  • The price. $290? Maybe when the Emperor comes back to life..

    We decided that 2'x2' ft. modular boards are definitely a must. Easy to transport and carry around while also giving many options when setting up terrain. But we didn't want a generic table for Killzone. We wanted something that would:
    • Add to the cinematic feel of Killzone
    • Be unique for each army
    • Still feels like an actual battle zone even when terrain and various pieces are connected 
    So I came up with the following idea. It works sort of like everyone's favorite trading card game Booster Pack, except without the total randomness. Or the crappy commons. Or the expensive rares.

     How To: "Booster Pack" Terrain Tables for Killzone
    • A 4'x4' table is made out of 4 modular 2'x2' boards.
    • Two 2'x2's are made to represent important sectors for different armies. For example, I will be building a Kroot Mercenary hideout complete with tall grass, swampy pools of water and trees/traps all over. Joe is making a hive-city with ramps and crazy walls-and-stuff for his Death Watch. In-game both pieces are ideally to be placed diagonally to each other, sort of like in a Spearhead setup. It is what both armies are fighting over and beats generic barren wastelands (which is what 99% of all terrain tables are) any day of the week.
    • Two 2'x2's are made to be "Generic". Good enough to match the basic feel of the other two pieces but simple enough to match any and all possible combinations when people make more army-specific pieces of terrain/2'x2' boards. 
    • For their 2'x2' tile, every player makes at least 4 army-specific pieces of terrain which are to be placed on the "Generic" tiles to bring together or "entwine" both of the main tiles. Ideally the terrain should include at least 1 large LOS-blocking piece, one medium LOS-blocking piece, 1 Area Terrain piece, 1 Building/Ruin piece. 
    And there you have it. A simple way to create a Killzone table which tells a story about the current conflict. It ties your armies together and due to its modular-setup any armies and any 2'x2' combinations are possible. And Ork player might bring his junkyard tile and field it against my Kroot hideout. Or a Tyranid player can use a tile that represents a part of the battlezone that has been parrtially (or fully) infested and devoured by the Hive Fleet.

    Add a few devoured, acid-covered pieces of terrain and some extra patches of tall-grass and fallen logs and you have a table that just....... makes sense. No more scavenging for random terrain pieces and ending up with a hive-city with an alien temple inside a jungle.. on a snow-covered planet. Think of it as bringing your Display Board to the fight. Heck, it even works as an Armies on Parade entry since your army-specific tile happens to be a 2'x2'. Man, I'm a machine!

    All it takes is some ply-board and 3/4'' pink foam from Home Depot, some wood glue and you're ready to go.  We have the materials and tomorrow me and Joe will open our first booster pack. And from there? Who know.. Extending the project to a 6'x4' is sooooo easy.

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