In my work, I am used to defining requirements from the concepts that the client gives me. So, when our very talented terrain workshop at the NOVA Open, headed by Bob, asked me “what would you like to see for Infinity terrain?” I had to think about that for a bit.
Obviously, there are a number of qualitative attributes we can think of regarding the type of environment we try to evoke. For instance, our dear Old Shatter Hands has been busy producing some wonderful terrain inspired by District 9, evoking a derelict slum. Lo Pan, as you’ve seen, has been hard at work creating a much more “high urban” atmosphere. Both of these environments work in Infinity, as well as many others (I prefer “Highlands”, but only ‘cause I’m biased towards Caledonia and hills work for almost any game system).
But what I was left pondering are the quantitative aspects. How many terrain pieces? How many inches tall? How much “floor area” should the terrain grant? These I’ve had to think about, particularly in the realm of Highlands and Industrial terrain, which the NOVA Open terrain team is hard at work building. Here are some thoughts I’ve given on the matter:
• Obviously, the most oft quoted heuristic for number of terrain pieces is “enough to insure no more than 10 inches between terrain pieces”. A good starting point, but I would advocate for at least 50%, if not 70% coverage, to ensure for more tactical use of cover and placement of miniatures. How big should these pieces be? I would say an average of 6”x6”, with a wide variance in dimensions. A lot of small terrain pieces with a half-dozen large impressive pieces work particularly well in our games.
• I advocate for two rough terrain heights: 2” and 4” tall. This allows for some simple uniformity when dealing with difficult-to-measure vertical movements (i.e. Climbing Plus, Super Jump, Falling, etc.) This also conveniently gives a good uniformity of cover. 2” will give cover to an infantry model, while 4” will give sufficient (not total) cover to most TAGs. Can there be terrain less than 2”? Absolutely. Can there be terrain taller than 4”? Be careful of that, as Line of Fire can be abused with super-tall terrain. Speaking of which…
• Floor Area in terrain is vitally important to development of terrain. While OSH and Lo Pan have been doing their own thing, I would recommend this rule-of-thumb: terrain up to three inches can have the ability to stand miniatures; anything higher than that should not have enough ground for a miniature to stand on. This allows for some LoF blocking for all miniatures, and players can’t deploy miniatures “above the fray” and shoot fish in a barrel, as it were. This makes for a much more tactically interesting game, in my opinion.
These are my thoughts on terrain as we ramp up for the NOVA Open in August. My hope was to build much of this terrain myself, but work/school/life have collided this spring, and I have had to relegate my duties to much more capable hands. That being said, I hope to be posting pictures of this terrain in a month or so.
Next post: missions!