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Is terrain determining the winner?

As wargaming players we all love to play on beautifully thought through gaming boards. The type of boards where you can see that real love and care has gone into their creation. Here at Twisted Dice we are no different we love creating cool and unique boards for our games of 40k.

There is however a massive difference between the casual game and a tournament game, we all know that in a tournament setting having a cool board is good but what is almost more important is having a fair board. The worst thing in the world is to be playing in a tournament, you come to your next table and their greeting you is a table either full of terrain or hardly any at all, your heart sinks as you know you have lost either way.

This happened to me a few years ago, I was playing a smite spam list with a ton of Plague-bearers, I was doing well I have won 2, lost 1 and going into day 2 I knew that this was a turning point, either I could go on to do well or fall back down the pack. I came up against a lovely guy playing Eldar using Hornets from forge-world... as we both got to the table I could see his heart sink, the table was really heavy with terrain, so heavy that he could hardly move around the board and firing lanes were a no go. As you might have guessed I won the game...

The question in all of this thought is this: did I win the game or did the terrain cause him to lose?

The answer of course is complex but if we are being honest with ourselves whilst the terrain on a table can and will never win you a dice based game like 40k it can give you a significant advantage if you use it well.

With the world starting to come out of lockdown and tournaments starting to happen again lots of people are starting to plan lists and paint armies in preparation, the question any competitive player has to ask themselves is: how does terrain impact my army?

Lots of top GT's are going with a standard terrain layout instead of lots of different tables, this was seen most clearly in the UK with the London GT 18 months ago. Last weekend we had the Clutch City GT, here are a couple of screen grabs from there event:

You can see the consistency previously described across the 2 tables, this makes it fair and even for all players, it should mean that my opponents experience of a few years ago will not happen again.

It is defiantly a good thing for the overall balance of the game, but should make you sit up and pay attention, because this does have a massive impact on the meta and should have a massive impact on how you go about constructing your lists.

So with a terrain heavy meta how can we build a list for it?

There are I think a couple of things to note:

1) Speed is important: If you are a slow moving army not only will you struggle in 9th to grab objectives and control the board but you will also struggle to stop people jumping behind cover as they move up the board. This is especially important for shooting, I watched a live a game online the other day, the player was playing with some Eradicators, we all know they are a very good choice for marine armies at the moment, however they did very little in the game simply because his opponent was able to use a terrain heavy board to his advantage, if you can't see them you can't shoot them.

Speed is also important with close combat as well though, with terrain heavy boards if you have speed it allows to move around the board whilst cutting the lanes of fire for your opponent.

2) You need to think about your shooting: There are a few units in the game which just have the most horrific amount of fire power, I love the Forge-world Astraeus, it is a great model and has a horrific amount of shooting, but and it is a big but, if It can't see it you can't shoot it, and if that unit is not shooting every turn you are on the back foot already.

3) Indirect fire: With it being much easier to hide and limit your opponents ability to shoot, there is a question around whether this leads to re-evaluating indirect fire power, I think the ability to shoot someone with something like a manticore could have a real place in competitive lists, because it can shoot off your opponents objective sitters whilst being able to avoid incoming fire in return.

4) finally combat is competitive, with the boards at tournaments being more terrain heavy, the ability to use that to your advantage as a combat orientated army means that having a combat focus to your army if used right, might just work in competitive lists.

So in conclusion the studying the current terrain meta might seem boring and irrelevant but it is anything but, if you can use terrain to your advantage and build a list that stops your opponent from being able to hide or use terrain whilst competing for and controlling objectives you might just be on for a winning formula.

Tell us about your experience's with terrain at tournaments in the comments below, how does it affect your list building and planning?

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