Thursday, December 16, 2010

Terrain Maker, Terrain Maker, Make me a Swamp build me a Hill

I went to my Friendly Local Gaming Store last night.  Our store is called Borderland Comics and Games and it is the last one of its kind in Jacksonville, FL.  I have been going to Borderlands since it opened many years ago and like many of you am on a first name basis with the owner and employees.  Chip over at Borderlands runs a very well maintained game store.  Sadly, other game stores did not do so well over the years.

It is sad really because of the economy and people putting less money into their hobbies stores are closing all around the country.  There used to be several FLGS here in town such as Sanctuary Comics and Games, Broadsword Comics and Games, and Wardogs Game Center but sadly their owners have sold them all over the past two years. 

We do have two other stores that cater to gamer types here in Jacksonville, FL.  One of them called Universe of Superhero my cousin Tim works out of as the store manager and the other one is called Dragon’s Tale.  Both are very good stores though Universe tends to cater to the comic book crowd and collectables.  I almost forgot.  There’s another place in town too called The Collector’s Den.  It specializes is old toys like the vintage Star Wars and GI Joe action figures and vehicles.  All of these places are great places to visit and I often spend countless hours visiting them on a monthly basis.

Often I will get into deep conversations about history, gaming, politics general goofiness such as spoonerisms and puns (we love our puns at Borderlands) and movies with Chip and the gang.  Last night we had one such conversation with one of the regulars named Gabe, Chip and one of the game store employees who I’ve known a long time and consider a friend named Jonathan and some others. 

The terrain guy
Now I have known Gabe as a fellow gamer for most of my life and he is quite possibly one of the most gifted players and painters of Warhammer out there.  He has won several golden demon awards and has been placed high in the ranking so when it comes to 40k I respect his opinion highly.  Chip has been wargaming since before I was around as had several others that were there. I have been gaming a long time and my opinion is respected among my peers.  Most of the people that were in this conversation are also very highly knowledgeable about the gaming industry and many are actual gaming professionals and designers myself included.

That being said, this is not a post to list accolades. To explain what this post means with breviolquence I heard an interesting comment last night regarding the  GW prepackaged terrain that got me to thinking. The comment was made (no I will not call out the person who said it) that since Games Workshop has starting producing these prepackaged pre-molded terrain features such as towers, hills, trees etc it has put independent terrain makers out of business.

wargame terrain
Do not get me wrong the prepackaged stuff looks really nice and I have seen the level of detail that GW puts into these terrain features. I am just not sure if I want something everyone else already has. Has the prepackaged terrain put indy terrain builders out of business?  I do not know if I agree with the comment.  I mean does everyone want the same exact piece of terrain even if it is cheaper than the custom stuff offered by such companies as WarGame Terrain, The Terrain Guy, Battlefield ArchitectFoxhole Terrain, or my friend Dwight Jones who does custom work? 


I happen to have something from every one of these guys and I personally feel that custom terrain is much better because it is something unique and different that you can put on the table that not everyone else has.  I do have some store bought buildings and terrain and it looks good but the river that I got from Wargame Terrain and the hills I picked up from Battlefield Architect have a character about them that I feel cannot be duplicated with mass-producing models.
Battlefield Architect

I have tons of WoTC prepainted miniatures and I use them all the time but when I want to show a Villain or put a special NPC out there such as Marcus in the Chronicles of the Six campaign I go for one of my custom figures. 

So sadly yeah, some of what was said may be true.  It is cheaper for GW to put out a model and sell it to someone than it is for someone to purchase a model that was custom made. The countless hours that terrain makers put into their models tends to make the product more expensive than something purchased off the shelf.   For me though nothing beats the custom terrain that someone puts love and time into not even a cool modeled terrain piece.


  1. I'm with you here too. The hobby is after all about imagination and part of being a player is not only building the playing pieces but building the playing surface. The whole picture.

  2. @ Porky - I agree and your point is part of what I am saying in my post. Personally I'd rather have something made by either myself or by someone specifically for me.

  3. I would say I go as far as to design a board including the terrain features, buildings etc to the nature of the battle I have in mind. If it is to be a historical battle then I want to have all my ducks in a row so-to-speak.