Friday, 8 April 2016

The Crater Good

One of the big things for me that really makes wargaming enjoyable is the terrain on the table top. Not only does it add to the whole spectacle but it often enhances game play and adds new tactical dimensions. In fact the whole narrative of a game can centre on a particularly important piece of terrain and the desperate struggles to control it.

Now most of my terrain is geared to Warhammer Fantasy as that is what I've played most of over the years. Happily much of it has been usable in Rogue Trader games as well - I still plan on playing an RT Siege game one day with Imperial Army units assaulting the Mighty Fortress, defended by feral and Space Orks!

Epic poses a slight problem in that you have to create a new set of scenery to cater for the much smaller scale. I've got by in the past with just plonking down the card buildings on my grass mat and getting on with it but that's always bugged me a bit - where are the streets and roads that make the presence of massive gothic sky scrapers on a grassy plain believable?

A new step forward in Green Belt development - road-less High Rise accommodation!

Thanks to an ebay bargain I managed to score some time ago, I ended up with a good sized pile of the plastic ruins that came with the Titan Legions box set. These were perfect for constructing the ruined city that I use as a backdrop for my Epic stuff. I've often been asked how I created these city tiles and I plan on doing another similar tutorial when I get round to basing up the polystyrene buildings from Adeptus Titanicus. I also have plans for building a slightly less ruined sector of the city using the card building from the Space Marine 2nd ed box set along the lines of Warlord Paul's fantastic city scenery.

However, I digress and the whole point of this post is all about craters - namely the vacuum formed set of plastic craters that were released back in 1989 to accompany Adeptus Titanicus. released the previous year.

Another ebay bargain saw me come into the possession of a set of these and having read the article that featured in White Dwarf 111 that detailed a whole host of rules for using them in games, I had to get them spruced up and on to the battlefield!

In Adeptus Titanicus they basically represent an obstacle in the form of difficult or dangerous terrain for vehicles and Titans, depending how quickly they attempt to move across them. They can also count as cover for infantry and vehicles have the option of going hull down to take advantage of the cover provided by the crater rim.

Things can be made more interesting by having the crater filled with various unpleasant substances, depending on how the craters might have been formed - meteor impact, long range bombardment or geological processes. Lava, hot mud, radiation hot spots and noxious gas can pose a deadly threat to unprotected vehicles and infantry, while smoking craters completely block line of sight thanks to the thick column of smoke belching out of it. Flashpoint craters erupt in an unpredictable manner (or very predictably if plasma weapons are fired into it!) destroying anything unfortunate enough to be in the crater when it goes up and throwing out great gobbets of red hot magma in all directions.

What I really like about craters in Adeptus Titanicus is that they can be created in game. Probably the most common cause is reactor meltdowns when a Titan is destroyed. Typically this forms a size 3 lava filled crater, adding to the chaos on the battlefield!

Titans can also deliberately create size 1 craters by concentrating very heavy weapon fire on one spot. Plasma weapons, fired on maximal, create lava craters, while Macro Cannon and the like create normal craters.

The craters I got through the post arrived in a bit of a mess. The previous owner had roughly cut them out of the plastic sheet they came on and had lathered on the glue and sand. After trimming the edges down and neatening them up a bit they were ready for texturing. I also based them on plasticard to strengthen them up a bit and ensure they laid flat on the table.

Firstly I splodged on some big dollops of PVA and stuck down the stones - I got these by sieving Builder's Sharp Sand and removing the larger stones. Once this was dry I went back over the crater with some slightly watered down PVA, missing out the rocks, and applied the sand itself - this way you don't cover your rubble with sand.

Once this is all dry I mixed up some very watery PVA - about the consistency of milk - and splashed it liberally over the rubble piles. This is a great tip I learnt ages ago for ensuring that larger bits like rocks stay attached to your scenery. Once the PVA dries it forms quite a strong seal over the rocks and stops your scenics molting all over your gaming table!

Once this had all dried it was painting time. I forgot to take pics of this bit but its pretty straightforward. What with the large surface area that needed painting, I dispensed with my usual dark brown ink wash and used watered down cheap artist's acrylics to get a dark brown base colour. I then drybrushed the craters with an off white, bleached bone colour - cheap acrylics again. To make the rubble stand out a bit more I gave it a watery black wash and a light grey drybrush and voila - craters to go!

I've got a few more to do and am quite tempted to try and make a mold of the crater interior so that I can press mold some inserts that could go in them to represent lava, gas and the like.


  1. If you need more Amera do some small ones that might be about the right size.

    1. Good point - Amera do some great stuff and arfe really good value. Should have thought of them since we're talking about vacuum formed plastic!

      Just wish they'd do some 6mm buildings - I'm sure they'd make a killing as they'd be a lot cheaper than the rest of the 6mm terrain out there.

  2. I use foil pie dishes. You can squash them into a crater shape and fill them with plaster for strength.

    1. Nice idea - with the added bonus of getting a free pie with your crater!

  3. Goar headwrecker2 July 2016 at 09:11

    Hello Thantsants

    I've got an old school Skaven Army and I'd love to try out a game of WFB3rd edition with you sometime -am based in Mandchester to come to York occassionally - you can see my army at the oldhammer site under if you search for Goar Headwrecker posts - drop me a line if you are interested - fluffydread(at)

    1. Wow - nice army mate! Actually I moved to Cumbria, up near Cockermouth, back in January but still go over to York to game with my buddies over there once a month or so, so I'm sure we can sort something out. Email on the way!