Friday, May 27, 2011

Concept Art: Destroyable Buildings

The other night I had an exciting idea. I cannot claim to be the first to think of doing this, but it is the first I have thought of this and the prospect of making it work excites me as a gamer and hobbyist. That is, of course, destroyable buildings that are easily employed during a game.

   I don't care what other people say, I find Planetstrike to be the most enjoyable way to play Warhammer 40, 000. Sure, being able to assault immediately after Deep Striking helps, but that's not why I enjoy it. It is all about the terrain; being able to set up a fortified position; the changing battlefield; adding craters, blast markers, laser scars and wreckage. To me, terrain makes the game, and when the terrain plays such a key part like it does in Planetstrike games, it makes the game far more enjoyable.

   So I present to you, fine readers, this pink, rectangular shaped thing that is supposed to be representative of a building. For the purpose of presentation, I ensured that the 3D test model retained the natural colours of the materials used. So in the case above, pink insulation foam, and for the rest of the examples, white plasticard, brown Medium Density Fibre (MDF) board, and grey rubble of which could be made from anything, be it sand, slate or chopped up plastic sprue. I didn't make a fully detailed building since I have yet to decide on any one final design before construction, I only wanted a simple template to present so that whoever decides to try this for themselves may make anything they can imagine, so long as the inside remains hollow and unobstructed. It is what is on the inside that really counts.


   For purposes of understanding scale, the previous box is roughly three inches tall. You can of course increase the size, adding multiple layers or various decorations like cooling units. However, the overall theory remains the same. A roughly rectangular box to be a solid building in 40K terms, set on top of a wooden board to hide ruins underneath of the building. Four plasticard Angle beams provide support to keep the building in place while it is not destroyed on the battlefield. This makes the beams cut to about the height of a Space Marine in this example. For the size of the base to mount this all on, I suggest no more than a maximum length of twelve inches and a maximum width of six inches. Don't let that stop you from creating a crazy creation yourself though, it's just that these dimensions have precedent in previous books containing rules to play 40K.

    The most important thing to consider is the actual rules for these. Warhammer 40, 000 Fifth Edition outlined quite thoroughly rules for using and even destroying solid buildings. When a building is wrecked, it simply becomes a difficult and dangerous ruin. Supposedly we're supposed to replace it with some rubble that we just happen to have on hand. When it is destroyed, a suitably large crater would suffice. So for the internal layout, I propose a compromise between these two states. A suitably wrecked interior with ruined walls and rubble strewn about to show that it has either been wrecked or destroyed. After all, craters, wrecks, and buildings all provide the same cover save anyway. The only aggravating flaw in this is that the ruined walls will always be farther in than the original walls. I suppose if you were to carve into the front of the ruined walls to make it look like the original walls simple tore away from them, that would make for a sufficient solution, but the effort might not be worth the result.

    As for the height of the internal ruined walls, I would suggest a mix of line-of-sight blocking heights and only-cover heights. Not that the walls need to be of a covering height, since the building has a defined edge making it area terrain providing a cover save regardless, but it's the aesthetic that's important. Once the internal layout has been set out and the ruined walls glued in place, it's time to throw on some rubble to complete the piece. As long as it's not too bumpy so that models have a hard time standing on top of it, rubble adds visual interest to an otherwise now drab, ruined structure. Almost anything will work, such as sand, fallen I beams, maybe even some left over bitz from the GW terrain kits, all that matters is that bases can still fit in or stand on top of the rubble piles.

Everyone loves pictures of cute animals

   There you have it, solid structures that can quickly and easily be turned into ruins during a game. I know in my local gaming area, the terrain rules are more often than not ignored simply because invoking them is a time consuming and terrain limited prospect. Having to find pieces to replace the area on the table and show where the wrecked building now occupies is a hassle when one is trying to quickly play through a game that can easily consume hours. I hope that this design can help implement these rules in a more efficient manner so that even regular games of 40K can have that battlefield shifting experience that Planetstrike is very much based around. That's all for now, I look forward to hearing your comments, concerns, questions, flames and feedback.

Signing out,

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