Assembling an Honourable Battlefield: Buildings and Terrain Scatter

Watermill, by Sarissa Precision. Image credit: Sarissa Precision.

Although the Test of Honour base set includes some 2D terrain in the box, adding 3D terrain can really enhance your game and make it more immersive.

There is, of course, the time-honoured tradition of simply grabbing whatever is at hand and using that. Books and boxes can quickly substitute as housing and other buildings that block LOS. However, for that real historic feel, we have to go deeper!

Although it’s absolutely possible to make your own terrain (and is arguably cheaper), in this article I’ll focus on terrain that you can buy or download. The subject of making scratch-built terrain would be worthy of an article, or series of articles, in its own right! I’ve also excluded trees and foliage from this article, although I plan to cover those in a follow-up article.

So, how do you add terrain to your table? There are several options, and all of them can enhance your table in game terms, as well as set the tone for a battle. Let’s look at them.

Plan your battlefield

Before you dive into buying (or making) your layout, it’s worth thinking about what you want to achieve, and possibly deciding on a theme. Do you want to build a town, or a village? Perhaps you might want to build some temple grounds, or replicate the grounds of a castle.

It’s a good idea to have some idea of what you’d like to game with before starting to acquire terrain. Don’t get into the situation where you feel like you have to use a piece of terrain just because you bought it! Your plan doesn’t have to be super detailed, just a rough idea will suffice.

Manufactured MDF

There is a surprising amount of terrain that can be bought for 28mm feudal Japanese wargaming. The ranges from 4Ground and Sarissa Precision are popular, and are made from MDF wood (usually 3mm-thick per sheet). 4Ground’s terrain is pre-coloured (although painting is still an option), but Sarissa’s terrain needs to be painted, unless you’re going for that natural look! Blotz has also recently introduced a Japanese house to their range of terrain.

Watermill, by Sarissa Precision. Image credit: Sarissa Precision.
Watermill, by Sarissa Precision. Image credit: Sarissa Precision.

If MDF isn’t your thing, try Plast Craft Games’ range of terrain made from PVC. This Spanish producer originally created their collection for Kensei, and it works well for the cinematic escapades of Test of Honour. It’s also slightly cheaper than the MDF terrain, so it might be an option for the more budget conscious among us.

Speaking of Kensei, Zenit Miniatures, producers of the game, also have some terrain bundles available on their site. They’re a little pricey, but the convenience might be worth it to you (as long as you like the designs, that is!). Unlike the PCG terrain, the Zenit terrain is made from resin.

Staying with resin, I have to mention Oshiro. They have been producing 28mm Japanese-themed terrain for quite some time, and any one of their pieces would make a great addition to your table. Alongside them is Wargames Terrain Workshop, which has a range of nice-looking resin terrain including a dojo, and some koi fish!

Koi fish, by Wargames Terrain Workshop. Image credit: Wargames Terrain Workshop.
Koi fish, by Wargames Terrain Workshop. Image credit: Wargames Terrain Workshop.

Print, build, play

Another option is papercraft. This is terrain that you print on card, cut out, and build. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a lot of feudal Japan-themed papercraft terrain on the internet, although there is one source that stands out.

Canon (yes, the electronics company) has a papercraft site called Creative Park, which offers a range of famous world landmarks in paper form including Japanese sites such as Osaka Castle, and the fantastic Matsuyama Castle. Best of all, it’s all free to download. The scale isn’t explicitly stated, though, so a little trial and error might be needed to print at the right size for Test of Honour, but most of it looks close to 28mm.

Don’t forget the scatter!

To most wargamers, “scatter” means grass or dirt scatter. Although these are useful to help bring your table to life, here I mean terrain scatter — things like lanterns, rice stores, and carts. Terrain scatter is usually inexpensive, and adds a bit of extra interest to your table.

Many of the manufacturers listed in this article produce scatter, including Sarissa, Oshiro, and Master Crafted Miniatures.

Yukimi Japanese Lantern by Master Crafted Miniatures. Image credit: Master Crafted Miniatures.
Yukimi Japanese Lantern by Master Crafted Miniatures. Image credit: Master Crafted Miniatures.

Create your battlefield

Don’t go crazy and order a bunch of terrain in one go (unless you’re making a big order with one company to save on shipping). It’s better to construct one or two pieces to start with, then add more as your table takes shape.

Hopefully before long you’ll have a great-looking, atmospheric table for Test of Honour!