What was life like before Terranscapes? Poor, nasty, and brutish, I think. I made do with my green modular board set and my feeble attempts at other boards. Then I found Terranscapes and experienced Martian joy. I am not exaggerating very much when I say that Terranscapes elevated my level of gaming in a big way.
If you’ve seen the Martian Boardsets and they appeal to you, here are my Martian Must Haves:
1. Martian Buttes Board 1
2. Martian Mesa
3. Martian Pond
4. Regular Board
5. Regular Board
6. Regular Board.
There are plenty of other great Terranscapes products and I do plan on writing about or videoing some of their features, but these are the essentials.
Martian Buttes Board
Besides the plain board the Buttes Board includes, you get three moveable pieces of terrain to block line of site and channel troop movements. If you play a true skirmish game like Dark Age, your models can even climb to the tops of the little buttes. You can also use these on other playing surfaces you might have like a green flocked board or the ever popular sand and static grass.
Martian Mesa Board
The Martian Mesa blocks Line of Site for most man-sized 28mm or 30mm troops, regardless of your system. It does this a bit better than the buttes because it is longer and wider, so your squad of 10 Space Marines can comfortably sit on an objective behind the mesa, quite cravenly if need be. The power of the Mesa Board is that your forces can also move on top of it to get a better vantage point for firing at the enemy. If you happen to be on top too, there should be a Difficult Terrain test to get up the sides to get you.
It’s a water feature that does not need to connect to other water features, it looks damn good, and is recessed realistically into the ground. I think you need this because depending upon how your game handles water (and what you agree with your opponent) you can have some very different experiences depending upon where you place this and how you orient this on the board. Water has some awesome effects on warjacks in Warmachine and several jacks or units have advantages over others in water. Static gunline armies deployed behindthe pond are going to love it in Warhammer 40k.
If you had just a bit more money…
I would replace one of the plain boards with the Martian Buttes Board 2. This gets you 2 more buttes for a total of 5 buttes to move around the table as you and your opponent see fit and it would be only $32 more (as of writing this). You would now have plenty of terrain and could expand your Martian lineup in the future, but have a beautiful area to play with in the meantime.
What about all the rest of the Martian Lineup?
I think most people will recognize they don’t need a Martian Mine Opening to have a perfect battle. You can make or buy your own Rock Outcroppings pretty easily. I have a Martian Waterfall, Martian Swamp, and Martian craters, but they’re not essential. If you don’t have a river then you don’t need an endcap. If you have a limited budget and want the maximum value for your money, avoid the rivers initially. As I write this, the Terranscapes store is closed and set to reopen on October 1. If you only had two river sections at this time, you would be stuck with whatever configuration that would leave you with. Hopefully one of the pieces would be a bend. Once you start involving curves in the river, you also do need to do somethinking. Which kind of bend you have is going to dictate where the river is going to be placed. The Martian Pond is much more flexible and forgiving in its placement. The Martian Butte with Arch and the Martian Mesa are both impressive pieces, but you can probably make do without them for now. Likewise with the cacti stands or my modified Martian jungle stands.
Why six boards?
There is some interesting math in enlarging your Terranscapes collection. One board by itself is useless. Moving up, unless you intend to create a long and narrow playing field, the next usable number of boards are 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. 5 boards won’t make a rectangular surface, neither will 7. With 6 Terranscapes boards you begin to have a decent number of configuration options. It will still be a smaller area (40″x30″)than almost any game I am familiar with uses, but you and your opponent can decide how to adjust for that. Obviously you would want to move up to 4’x4′ (the minimum standard for most wargames) as soon as possible.
To keep making rectangular table layouts with only the regular 20″ by 10″ boards, you would have to avoid prime numbers of boards greater than 3. 5, 7, 11, 13 board sets etc. would not work as rectangular layouts. I could be wrong about this.
Why not just buy a lot of plain boards?
I don’t know that this would be an actual question from anyone, but if you really just want a flat playing surface, then I would not buy Terranscapes boards sets. The awesomeness of the mesa and the pond lie in the fact that they are elevated and recessed respectively. I don’t care what your level of experience or ability is, if you want a flat textured playing surface that looks great, you can do it yourself pretty quickly for much much less than buying a bunch of plain modular boards.