Building a Gaming Table: Part 2 – Terrain

It’s been a while since I blogged the first part of this series on building my gaming table, so I wanted to catch up about where I’m at. I’m skipping a couple of steps on the building of the table itself, as it’s not that dissimilar to what was talked about in part one. Essentially all I’ve done to the table itself is add a couple of batons running the length of the board, for more support and to slot into the two notches in the saw horses I’m using as supports. That, and I’ve painted the top surface a slate grey using some household emulsion. The grey isn’t the finished surface – more on that in the future – but it will do for now.

What I want to talk about in this part was a much more interesting: gaming terrain and scenery. Let’s face it: playing on a flat or sparse table would be very, very boring. It would also be no fun as the player with the most effective fire power would win. So terrain is an essential part of the experience in games like Warhammer 40,000. A good terrain setup will make for a better game nearly every time.

Not like this.
Not like this.

With that in mind, I wanted to have enough terrain available to have a variety of layouts, while presenting different challenges and opportunities to players: dense areas inaccessible to vehicles mixed with open areas which would be dangerous for foot soldiers to be caught in; natural objective zones for narrative games; varying heights for interesting line of sight opportunities; different styles of terrain to give “themes” to each area. This was the dream – the question was how to make it so.

My starting point were some Games Workshop kits I had stockpiled. I’d ordered the Tempestus Firebase set at the end of last year, in anticipation of this very project, and I had most of one of the Cities of Death buildings as well (a Basilica I believe) – I’d previously used a couple of the parts for a diorama. These gave me enough to loosely fill about a third of my table.

For the rest of the table I opted to make use of the excellent Battlezones scenery Mantic have spun out of the Deadzone game. This system is seriously amazing1 – expect a few more posts about it – as it is so flexible. To begin with I used the contents of the Deadzone starter box, and one of the Deadzone scenery “booster” packs, as I had these before Battlezones were officially launched. This gave me enough buildings for a small settlement or compound. Utilising some barricades made from the same kit, and I had around about another third of my table covered densely. If I spread things out slightly I could cover the whole table more or less. The best bit is, all these buildings would work well in a game of Deadzone as well – so I was getting more bang for my buck! You can see the results in the picture below. I must have been doing something right, as Mantic featured the work in progress photo on their blog2.

IMG_0973

Since then I’ve added a Landing Pad kit (which was slightly bigger than I envisioned) and a “Fortified Sector” – think bunkers and the like. I’ve built the landing pad already, and will be starting on the bunkers soon. Various work-in-progress shots are available in the gallery below, including the full table before the addition of the landing pad and fortified sector buildings.


  1. Deadzone itself is also amazing. If you’re looking for a fast, fun, sci-fi skirmish game you should seriously check it out. 
  2. As I jokingly noted on Twitter, this just adds a little more pressure to getting the terrain all nice and painted! 
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