The tabletop gaming landscape is very different today than what it was a little over 20 years ago when I was introduced to the hobby via my father. This was via a trip into a local Games Workshop, no doubt the entry way that many of us proceeded through that led us to where we are today.
At the time GW was really the only option. I did some looking around at independent retailers and there was nothing out there that came close to what GW offered. Their models were (and some could argue still are) a cut above the rest and there wasn’t any other game that gave you the scale of combat that was possible for either Fantasy or 40k and that was when 40k was far more of a skirmish game than it is today.
If you wanted terrain for your games you had to make it. Eventually GW did come out with some cardboard kits (as well as stuff they gave away in White Dwarf… remember those days?). Gaming was generally done on a green felt mat, or white table cover (lots of games on snowy terrain there!) Very different to how things are today.
After making the decision to finally leave GW behind I’ve been much more free to rediscover some other gaming systems and look at the games I want to play. I’m waiting on some boards to arrive for Dropzone Commander from a Kickstarter that I backed. Turning my mind to some other skirmish games I rediscovered Malifaux, a game and universe I’d already enjoyed previously, not with a second version of the rules and a huge improvement to boot.
I picked up the Rules manuals and some Arsenal decks and took a look, liked what I see and decided I needed to return. But, I hear you utter, what on earth does that have to do with the title of this post? I’m glad that you asked. In this day and age there is a whole gamut of places whereby one can get affordably priced terrain to enhance your games. I’ve spent a large portion of my gaming life fighting across the grey plastic battlefields of the 41st millennium after all. As I looked into Malifaux again I decided that I wanted to make a proper table, one that would encourage me to have a painted force to play with too. So, I went looking.
4 Ground is a company I’ve been aware of for a while and are at the forefront of this, very popular, movement of laser cut MDF terrain. As anyone who has ever purchased their stuff knows, it smells fantastic! It looks good too and is relatively light on the wallet.
There have been very few moments in my gaming career that I have come across a product that I would have little reservation in completely recommending to anybody, the 4 Ground terrain is in that elite category. I have a little collection of the stuff now and have found it to be a really great product.
Each kit comes in a bag with a number of sheets of pre-cut, pre-painted MDF, along with a page or two of instructions. I heartily recommend that you familiarise yourself with the assembly instructions and look over the terrain sprues just so you know which parts are where and how they are supposed to fit together, this will save time later on when you’ve put glue on the wrong bit!
I will say that these are certainly not for your beginners, there are also some parts that are very easy to break, especially door frames. However, because this is all just wood, a good dab of PVA and you can resurrect most pieces.
I’ve assembled three kits so far and have bought another three and I’ve never had so much fun putting terrain together. Some of the parts can be a tight fit, but these can be shaved down and you will feel like you’re going to break some of the parts as your try to prise them out of their frames, but as you build things up and you see the building come to life… Well, it’s a pure pleasure, I’ve seriously never enjoyed putting terrain together as much as I have with this stuff.
While the instructions could be clearer in some instances (hence why I recommend you study it out first) things go together easily enough. Occasionally you’re going to want to leave some assemblies to dry for a while as you’re using PVA not superglue so bonding isn’t instantaneous. This is not always a bad thing, although I end up really anticipating getting to sit down and finish off the buildings.
As well as the Marshall’s Office shown above (that I finished last night) I have Rogan’s Bar, the Gallows set and, as of yesterday, Hitching posts, Corrall set and an Under-construction 2 storey building. That should round out my Malifaux table quite nicely.
What I love about these buildings is that they aren’t just shells. If you pop the roof off there are interior details, this is more obvious in the Marshall’s Office as it has actual working jail cells and interior doors. The bar shown above you could actually decorate if you so wanted, there’s a lot of room in there for stuff.
My only complaint with the Gallows is that the rope is a little too thick and therefore doesn’t quite work to the scale of the models it’s going to be used with (and the string in the instructions is obviously much thinner). But, I still can’t really complain about it for the price.
This terrain set has also been bought for potential use with Deadman’s Hand. In fact, all of the terrain I have is from this range in 4 Ground’s catalogue. I can’t speak highly enough about the quality of it and the wonderful experience I’ve had assembling stuff. It makes me happy to think I still have some more to do at home and when I think of how this is going to look when it’s on the battlefield… This is certainly going to be the best one I’ve ever put out to play games over.