Terranscapes Martian Must Haves

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.

Martian Pond

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.

Jungle Terrain for Martian Board Set, Privateer Press & DUST, Other Stuff

I am not a big fan of jungles. I like deciduous forests and elven glades. But I want some foliage for my Martian board set from Terranscapes. He just released cacti tree stands, which look great, but I don’t want to tie myself to the Desert Southwest theme. I also wanted to practice getting down matching colors for the board so I can add more terrain to it myself.

The result:
Aquarium plants mounted on CDs and painted to match Terranscapes Martian board sets.

One of the things that got me going on these jungle stands was dropping by the Exotic Pet Store on Smoke Ranch and Decatur when I was picking up my mother’s ashes last month. I noticed that besides the wallabies and prairie dogs that they also had some pretty decent looking small aquarium plants for 4.99. Use aquarium plants! has always been what’s said on forums, in person, and in White Dwarf. But all of the plants I have ever seen at Petco or Petsmart have been either a.) crappy ones I’d never use or b.) 9.99+ for something pretty, but wouldn’t go far. I just checked out both stores again this week after I made these and still nothing new for me to get. So here’s what I got from the Exotic Pet Store:

Zoo Med – BU-14 Small Australian Maple $4.99
Zoo Med – BU-13 Small Malaysian Fern $4.99
Zoo Med – BU-18 Small Cashuarina $4.99

I also got two plastic plants from Michael’s for $6.99 each and cut them up using snips. One of the plants I really ended up disliking and was staring at all of my leftovers until I started thinking of jungle traps like in Swiss Family Robinson with a tiger in them, or just the jungle getting plowed over by tanks like at the end of Platoon and made a couple of smooshed stands:

Emperor forsakes Grey Knights, Eldar Celebrate

Originally posted at vegasgamers.org.

Harry and I had our 4th game with his Eldar and my Grey Knights. The first had been 600 and the last three have all been 750. The last two games I hadn’t taken a HQ, but decided that if he were losing the points in his Farseer getting taken down easily, I could throw in my own 61 pt. Brother Captain. My list was also very different this time because I didn’t take any psycannons and had 4 squads:

  • Brother Captain
  • 2 squads of 5 GKs w/Justicar
  • 2 squads of 6 GKs w/Justicars + a flamer in a squad (to get closer to 750)

With the Brother Captain in my Dreadnought had to go (I thought for some reason), so I instead made some small squads. I took out the psycannons because while I like them, once I am in assault, I just have 1 S4 attack.

Harry had an Autarch with a Dark Reaper launcher, three squads of Dire Avengers with 4 shots for the Exarchs, a squad of 6-7 Warp Spiders, and 6 Swooping Hawks including the Exarch.

I think it was also the first game against Harry that I went first. I set up. Then Harry set up. I reminded him of the Shrouding when I saw how far away his Autarch was, but he kept him far away.

We were playing Capture and Control with long table edges. Harry set up his objective behind this mesa and then sneakily used his Warp Spiders to play a small game.

Now you see us…

NOW you don’t.

I wasted my first turn with the Brother Captain and squad of 6 keeping them behind a hill and not moving them forward. Basically the game moved forward with me driving off one of his Guard- oops, Dire Avenger squads and then the remnants of two squads assaulted into his second Dire Avengers squad. The remaining Dire Avengers annihilated one of my Grey Knight squads in a single round of shooting (without Blade Storm)! waaaaaa, I sobbed. His Autarch kept lobbing missiles over, but wait: oh yeah, the Shrouding, nope, sorry. Turn 4 and Turn 5 the Autarch started shooting and hitting my Brother Captain to no effect.

Meanwhile the Swooping Hawks kept swooping in making their puny bombing run. However on one swoop, Harry deviated them into difficult terrain. They all made dangerous terrain tests and their Exarch rolled a 1 and died! haha Then I was able to assault that squad with the Brother Captain who saw them off.

The game really came down to my having 0 troops left. The only thing I had was the Brother Captain with 1 wound on him. But Harry only had part of a Dire Avengers squad which I was getting very close to. At the last moment of Turn 5 I had one 2+ Armor Save to make on him and I rolled a 1. Otherwise we quite possibly would have had a draw.


God, the game got very small pretty quickly! I’ve never played Kill Team, but when I’m rolling 4 dice for shooting for a squad of 2, I imagine it must feel like that. Harry did a very good job of putting his tough unit of Warp Spiders with their 3+ save 1.) behind the mesa but also 2.) near the Dire Avengers. To take the Warp Spiders down I had to get close to assault and open myself up to all those Dire Avenger shots.

Listening to one of the 11th Company Podcasts suggested by Walter, I was surprised that they say that Warp Spiders are a joke. They move 12″, shoot 12″ 3s to hit, 2+ to wound (Str 6). Ouch. Then Warp back 2d6.

Necrons Rising: New Army

I didn’t even know it was time for it, but all of a sudden I was spending some birthday money on a new Necron army. I won a Monolith on eBay (yet to arrive), ordered a Necron Battleforce, and won some other eBay auctions including some for Wraiths.

I am going to go with a “classic” Necron metallic look for the army, as seen here by my Wraiths. I just need to do the eyes and final base highlights and then I’ll seal them.

Why Necrons?

1. I picked Necrons as another 40k army primarily because of how easy and quick it would be to paint them.

2. I like some of the models: Warriors, Immortals

3. I DISLIKE some of the models too. I am going to convert all of my Destroyers, any Heavy Destroyers if I ever get any, and Destroyer Lord(s) to riding on top of their flying hover boards. I really hate the weird spider/centaur design of them, similar to the Cryx Soulchasers. And then I really love the way the Battle Droids in Phantom Menace zoomed around on their personal hover things (AT-SPs?), as well as the boards in “Masters of the Universe” (oh yes!) Even Champions of Tzeentch.

4. I’m also not particularly fond of the Monolith’s design. I would like to flip it upside down and mount warriors on the top, even though it’s not a true transport. I envision something like the RIFTS cover with a floating barge. Since there are game reasons not to flip, such as using the Monolith as cover, I probably won’t be making a flipped battle barge Monolith.

Rifts Cover.

Img of Inverted Monolith.

5. Flayed Ones are out for me; I hate the models and concept. Also because of the dollar price, Immortals and Pariahs will probably not make it into my force.

Craptastic Warriors

One of the eBay Auctions for 30 Warriors and 7 Scarab stands came like this with the rods half-primed. Actually each figure was half-primed in white over an existing paint scheme underneath. Now I’ve had to go in and paint black over it. You can see that the green rods for their Gausses were also primed white.

I scraped the rods with an Xacto which could work, then tried out my Dremel to see if that would speed things up and took out part of a rod, and then went chemical with Pine Sol, but Harry pointed out it would melt the plastic. He suggested Simple Green, which is what I went with.

Anyways, I read 92 pages of Warseer posts about Necron Tactics in 5th Edition as I’ve waited for the army to arrive.

Grey Knights vs. Eldar Battle 3

Originally posted at vegasgamers.org.

Harry and I played again Monday morning, his Eldar versus my Grey Knights. It was another 750 point game.

Harry had some Fire Dragons, a small Guardian squad with a Scatter Laser, two Guardian Jetbike squadrons, a Farseer, Dire Avengers, and some Kroot Mercenaries he was very excited about fielding, especially in the jungle.

Turn 2 opened with his 6 FIre Dragons opening fire on my Grey Knights, killing 6! :-/ But then I excitedly remembered that they were in cover. And then I rolled cover saves and only 1 made it, so there went 125 points. His Dire Avengers then laid into the same squad and killed three more. He also blew the twin-linked lascannon off of my Dread which spent the rest of the game either stunned or trying to run into close combat, but not doing anything else but be a fire magnet.

At this point I was very demoralized!! Squad Azulus with just the Justicar and GK with Psycannon opened fire on the Fire Dragons and assaulted them, beating them bloody, causing them to fail their Morale, and I GOT the Sweeping Advance roll on them, my two guys wiping them out. Next turn the Dire Avengers charged them. My two guys survived it and dished out death to the entire squad as well. Then they took aim at the Farseer and shot him up. Having accomplished so much, I think they went down from some Kroot rifle fire.

The game stretched on to Turn 6 or 7 and I won because it was the Kill Points mission and I had 3 KPs vs. his 1. Not “having my army evaporate by turn 4” was enjoyable for Harry haha. Hmmn, the 3+ cover saves for the Kroot in the woods was annoying as was the Eldar Jet Bikes’ 3+ saves too. In my opinion I was lucky that the Dreadnought got so much of Harry’s Strength 6 fire because it could have been a lot more dead GKs.

This game was very different from most of our other games. I am not used to having to go to Harry and be the aggressor. When we play Dark Age, St. Mark forces him to come out. Most of our Star Wars games Harry has Jedi or something else that excels at getting up close so I’m usually trying to evade. Even in Heroclix I might have a lot of Ranged Combat Expert going on. But here is his army towards the end, backing up to the very edge of the board or staying in that nice cushy cover not that I blame them/him:

The Guardian Scatter Laser had been falling back for 2 or 3 turns.

Updates: 40k, 4E Forgotten Realms

Originally posted at vegasgamers.org. Blog post slightly modified.

In small games against pointy-eared Xenos, Grey Knights carry the day.

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve seen him last, but Harry and I got together last week and this to play – of all things – some 40k. He’s been working on an Eldar army and got a major boost to his forces when someone sent him an entire army.

So in this first battle, we had 600 points. I took 2 9-man GK squads with a psycanon in each. He had some tender Guardians, shooty Dire Avengers, and pathetic Fire Dragons.

Here is what we do to the last Fire Dragon!

Battle, the Second

Then he came over today and this time we had a 750 point battle. I added a non-WYSIWYG Dreadnought with a CCW and twin-linked lascannon. You can see the wrecked Vyper behind the trees. Harry had never seen so many failed Morale checks. I hadn’t either! Both of his Guardian squads took off. His Howling Banshees took off. His Dire Avengers took off. All ran away! The Autarch alone remained and was soon cut down.

4E Forgotten Realms campaign

One thing that’s been on hold for a while now because of my mother’s death and then not feeling up to it or not being done with the dungeon is our 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign. I’m excited for it to resume though.

One thing I’ve been working on for it is a Hirst Arts dungeon that they might be exploring in the next session or two. I cast a lot back in June and even made my first mold to help speed up the dungeon creation. Here’s a little layout. If my players read this, it will be a slight spoiler.

Since last posting in January, both of my brother-in-laws have joined the party, so now I have 5 PCs. Christel is up to 3rd level as is Azrid the warden. I actually want to post about the campaign more in depth, but will do that later.

I reread the Avatar Trilogy to help flavor the D&D campaign and just reread Azure Bonds too. It’s better than I remembered.