Uncle Sam Wants You to Use Line of Sight Blocking Terrain!

Do it for Murica!

Reecius here from Frontline Gaming to tell you you NEED LoS blocking terrain.

A lot of folks saw the results from NOVA. 7 out of the top 10 in the Invitational had Tau….wow, that’s uglier than 8/16 Grey Knights in the finals of Adepticon at the twilight of 5th ed!

Now, the NOVA format has a lot to do with those results, too (and I am not in any way taking a swing at NOVA, I have heard nothing but praise for the event itself and wish I could have gone) but the fact is that we have builds that can almost entirely ignore cover now. Yuck.

Between Tau, Chaos, IG, Eldar and any army with access to Divination, cover has become a bit of a joke in 40K at this point in time. Often, it actually hinders you as it makes it harder to get across the table to close with the enemy! If they can see you, you might as well be in the wide open. The best thing you can do is spread out to mitigate the damage.

A lot of tournaments lack adequate LoS blocking terrain. Again, no attack on tournaments here. We as TO’s understand all too well how hard it is to buy, build, paint and store enough terrain to keep a large number of tables covered. As difficult as it is it is important to keep tables covered as nothing ruins a tournament game faster than feeling like you had no chance at victory from the word go due to the fact that you had absolutely no cover. That is only exacerbated when your opponent ignores what little cover you do have and can shoot across the entire board! I built my very successful Bjorn Missile Wolf list in 5th on the knowledge that most tournaments had a severe lack of LoS blocking terrain. I knew that with an army that went first roughly 3/4 games and had massive fire power, I would win games frequently just on the strength of my list. Turns out I was right and I won many GTs with that army (although it did get pretty boring to play after a while). We see that again now with armies that largely ignore cover but the problem is even more pronounced.

For me as a player that values maneuver, laying traps, and clever deployment this is especially vexing as it makes me feel like any tactical prowess is reduced from the game. When armies ignore cover and I can’t hide the game is reduced down to who brought the more points efficient shooting list and who goes first. A bit of an exaggeration here but at times it feels like you may as well flip a coin whereas WITH LoS blocking terrain the more clever player can win through maneuver, deployment and tactics. You can play around the firepower advantage of your opponent and the game is now more fair and more importantly, more fun.

So, here is a practical solution to the LoS issue: Beer cans. Yup. Beer cans.

Step 1: Drink beers.

Step 2: Spray beer cans black.

Step 3: Tape diagonal lines on beer cans with painters tape.

Step 4: Spray beer cans yellow.

Step 5: Remove tape.

Step 6: Dry brush cans with metalic, add some red/brown spray for rust effects.

Step 7: Gorilla glue painted cans to a hardboard base in whatever configuration pleases you.

Step 8: Flock base.

Step 9: Place several of these LoS blocking terrain pieces on the table so that it is no longer a shooting gallery.

Step 10: Profit.

The above images are dressed up with some very cool Keebler Studios laser cut Candimonium kits to hold the cans, but they look good even on their own. That is a realistic, affordable, easy to implement and aesthetically pleasing solution that anyone can do to make the game more fun for both players while not resorting to comp or anything like that.  Both players can play the army they want to play, have fun and not feel like they’re taking it right in the shorts because they’re facing Tau on planet Bowling Ball.

For some variation to the above formula, you can spray cans various colors, using rattle cans as a poor man’s airbrush to get fade effects, use textured spray paints, and add bits from your bits box to really spice them up. Let your imagination be your guide, the resulting terrain is very functional and fun to make.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

47 Responses to “Uncle Sam Wants You to Use Line of Sight Blocking Terrain!”

  1. Hippesthippo September 4, 2013 5:33 am #

    Hear hear! I’ve been building more and more LOSB terrain for games in my basement. Lo and behold, it makes assault/skirmish armies playable!

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 7:50 am #

      Right? The game is SO much more fun when it’s not just point and shoot.

  2. Gordy September 4, 2013 6:11 am #

    I don’t think it’s actually possible to have too much terrain.

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 8:01 am #

      Spoken like a true Tau, commie!!!! Haha, but I know you play GK so I won’t call the troops on you…..yet!

      But of course, too much terrain is a real problem it just happens almost never in tournament play.

      • Gordy September 4, 2013 3:56 pm #

        I think too much terrain just turns into Space Hulk, which would be pretty awesome. Though, yes, it would be a little clunky and misbalanced at the 40k scale.

        Regardless, I think that you should be somewhere between 25-50% terrain, and that a significant portion of it should be solid LOS blocking stuff, not buildings full of holes. Not only do people not use enough terrain (25% as the max rather than the min), but they also use too many large area terrain pieces that don’t really contribute much compared to walls and buildings.

  3. Captn Dees September 4, 2013 7:27 am #

    I drink beer and approve this post!

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 8:01 am #

      Seconded AND thirded!

      • Baal Viper September 4, 2013 8:15 am #

        Nice article reecius, I hope this takes off with the tournament scene. I am ususally that guy at mt local store that gets accused of “putting to much terrain down” and blocking the middle of the board. I suspect that more armies would be competatively playable if more terrain was used, which is my ultimate goal/hope, to see 6 or 7 different codexes in the top bracket insead of 2-3.

        • Reecius September 4, 2013 9:34 am #

          Totally agree. You need a table that creates firing lanes, the game is more fun than just sitting there throwing dice at one another. Look at the BAO, we had an almost even distribution of armies in the top 16. I’m not saying we’re absolutely the best or anything, just that it is possible to have a smooth curve rather than a grossly lopsided meta favoring a single book which is so boring for everyone.

  4. David Key September 4, 2013 8:58 am #

    I disagree with you big time Reece. The answer to beating Tau is not to change terrain to compensate for their ability to ignore cover and outshoot your shooty army. That is their built in strength. The answer is to play different armies meta. What you can do is make an army that beats Tau with what they cannot do. ie CC. Deamons can do it, and I imagine the new Raven Guard assault armies can do it. My Deathwing Army that you stomped with your Footdar has stomped every Tau army I have faced by considerable margins. If Tau make up the greater part of the competitive meta, then maybe it is time people start taking armies that can stomp Tau. The terrain is not the problem(In my opinion. =) Love ya buddy)

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 9:33 am #

      So, the solution is that we all change our armies and not the terrain =P

      But I agree, fearless, resilient assault armies beat Tau, we find Daemons built right beat Tau almost every time. But, but, but, I WANT to play MY army!!!!!

      Cans, more cans I say, muahaha!

    • Jason Brown September 4, 2013 8:10 pm #

      Here is my issue, and I play vs Tau alot, and good tau players (including the guy that got 6th at Nova): so I need to pack up armies and just play the one or two hard counters to tau? That kinda sucks and is lame. I can jockey and play like a champ and all one army has to do is just roll dice (yes its that easy with tau for the most part) and still loose. The ignores cover as it stands and the sheer volume of it, makes using strategy and tactics null and void. What you propose is that Tau get on one end, and you just have to have an army that can take it on the chin and move forward until you can roll dice. That seems to me to be far to simplistic of a game meant for adults to play.

      Its the one reason I wont play the jetseer council thing. You will loose that expensive unit to the Ignores Cover. Sure I can play 3 knights and just walk up to the tau and b slap them off the table, but thats boring.

      • Reecius September 5, 2013 8:25 am #

        Actually, the Jetseer council has a 2+ cover, armor and invul save. With a reroll. That is why it is so ungodly durable.

  5. Adam September 4, 2013 9:16 am #

    Haha, yes… YES! I feel like I’ve been arguing this angle long enough that it is slowly becoming popular opinion!

    Something to think about, GW is a model company, they sell Scenery. How do they make it so people buy more scenery? They wrote this edition of 40k (and the current edition of Fantasy) both requiring more terrain than the previous editions! People have been fighting this change tooth and nail, trying to find anything else to blame, inventing horrendous comp systems (in Fantasy), and just relenting to the idea that “shooting wins” in 40k.

    But no longer! Vive la Terrain!

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 9:36 am #

      Yeah, comp is not fun and IMO, a system of last resort ONLY. To my mind, the simplest, most fair and easiest solution is to simply add terrain to the table that fully blocks LoS. With adequate terrain any army can compete by playing the game of movement. Shock! Horror! Awe!

  6. fluger September 4, 2013 9:36 am #

    I’ve been using hills for my LOS-blocking terrain. I have lots of examples of it on my blog.


    Anyhoo, I completely agree, LOS-blocking is really important at reducing the power of static-shooting Tau, but not much to stop Riptide/Suit-heavy Tau. It also does virtually nothing to stop Wave Serpents as they can move and shoot quite effectively.

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 9:42 am #

      I actually disagree with your second point to an extent. Let me expand: if you have a LOT of LoS blocking terrain on the table, it limits fire lanes and allows assault and short ranged shooting armies armies to move up the field. If you only have a piece or two, it helps but not enough against mobile shooty armies (as you mentioned). The solution, IMO, is to have several, large pieces of LoS blocking terrain so partition up the board.

      • fluger September 4, 2013 9:55 am #

        Fair enough, it certainly helps, but I think it still isn’t the ultimate solution.

        I’m interested that you guys are seeing Tau beaten by Daemons regularly, whereas some of the other competitive people I talk to (Jeremy Veysserie, the 11th Company folks, etc) don’t rate Daemons vs Tau very well.

        Other than FMCs, what is the plan? Lotsa dogs? I hear screamer star is pretty nasty as well.

        Just wanting to pick your brain.

        • Reecius September 4, 2013 10:09 am #

          Yeah, it is interesting to us, too. I have found that generally speaking, East Coast Tau is more oriented towards Pulse Bomb lists while West Coast Tau is more Suit heavy. I am generalizing of course, but that is my general impression. Also, I am hearing in general that East Coast Daemon is FMC heavy while West Coast Daemons are infantry heavy. Infantry heavy Daemons against Suit heavy Tau is a huge mathematical advantage. Infantry heavy Tau vs. FMC heavy Daemons is n advantage in the other way. I think that may be the source of some of it.

          Daemons with a lot of hard to hurt, fast, fearless, hard hitting infantry assault Tau turn 2. That means Tau gets 1-2 rounds of shooting and are in combat where they die horribly. So far, we find that to be an excellent solution. Nids fair well too when built right.

          • fluger September 4, 2013 10:26 am

            Do you not find riptides to be the answer for holding up Daemon assaults?

            Quad riptide is a thing of silly beauty.

          • Reecius September 4, 2013 1:01 pm

            Daemons can smash Riptides in combat, they are purpose built for it. Massed rending, high strength attacks, AP2, etc. will go through them like a hot knife. Plus, invul saves help so much with surviving overwatch. Not saying it’s easy by any means, just that it is infinitely more doable for Daemons than a lot of armies.

          • dr.insanotron September 4, 2013 12:35 pm

            The biggest problem I see with west coast Tau players losing to Daemons is that they don’t take enough kroot. They are what beat deamons buy never allowing them to assualt what they want and give you more time to shot them. Remember you still get to over watch with the rest of your army when they assualt the kroot. Then shot them again on your turn, rinse and repeat

          • Reecius September 4, 2013 1:02 pm

            Shoot kroot, that is my solution =)

          • fluger September 4, 2013 12:59 pm

            Ben, I see ravenguard vanguard vets as being the hard counter to kroot bubble wrap since they can jump over them and multiassault with impunity.

          • dr.insanotron September 4, 2013 1:06 pm

            It we are not talking about a codex that isn’t even out yet. We are talking about Daemons 🙂

          • dr.insanotron September 4, 2013 1:16 pm

            Besides the big problem for Raven guard is going to be the same problem Ravenwing has. Heldrake does as Heldrake pleases 🙂

          • Reecius September 4, 2013 2:28 pm

            And the fact that Assault marine sin general are not that great =(

          • fluger September 4, 2013 1:55 pm

            Yeah, no doubt about the Heldrake, but to your original point, I think kroot bubble wrap is indeed one of the toughest things for daemons to deal with. I think going with the Mike Brandt idea of maxed kroot, 3 riptides, 3 skyrays, and pathfinders to taste is about the best answer to daemons as Tau can muster. They might chomp a unit a turn of kroot, but odds are they will run out of steam before the Tau do, and the riptides can tank pretty effectively.

          • Reecius September 4, 2013 2:31 pm

            Unless you have a layer of Kroot 2 deep, Horrors will obliterate them, particularly with a herald and Perfect Timing.

  7. Alex Yuen September 4, 2013 10:39 am #

    From what i see and read. Nova got a lot of LoS pieces. they got pics of them line up in a roll last year. And on their mission package you see how they layout their LoS terrain. But the article got little to do with Nova anyway is more you need LoS terrain.

    7/10 is more due to Nova Missions. I will skip why Nova Missions is a terrible misunderstand 6th ed. Is a long Go-Chess-Checker explanation.

  8. Hotsauceman1 September 4, 2013 11:32 am #

    Reece, I like your idea for terrain. but the problem is that we just end up to hammered after the drinking to build terrain.
    Maybe Soda?

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 1:01 pm #

      That sir, is a win/win situation! Drunk AND more LoS blocking terrain =P

      Or yeah, you could just use soda cans.

  9. dr.insanotron September 4, 2013 11:53 am #

    Another point I didn’t see anyone mention is that more LOS blocking terrian only really helps CC armies and really helps out the Tau when they face another shooting army due to all the shooting that doesn’t need LOS and there jump shoot jump abilities

    • Reecius September 4, 2013 1:02 pm #

      It definitely is a knife that can cut both ways, but it generally more good than bad, IMO.

      • steven morrow September 4, 2013 3:17 pm #

        Until imperial guard carpet bomb you with massed artillery. nobody likes deathstrikes that you cant see muwhaha

  10. steven morrow September 4, 2013 3:40 pm #

    Plus it will open up army lists even more because what was a liability in an open battlefield suddenly becomes deadly effective.

  11. Fulcrum September 4, 2013 10:58 pm #

    I agree 6th has a bunch of problems, which it seems neither GW or TOs have any real interest in addressing(team0comp;). But what are the chances of this actually happening? As you stated it is a huge undertaking to build & maintain an adequate supply of LOS blocking terrain. Either way nothing will fix the biggest problem which is the massively unbalanced points cost of so many different units & equipment.

    • Reecius September 5, 2013 8:24 am #

      We don’t an interest in fixing what we perceive to be issues? I have to say that is not only untrue but mildly insulting. We go way, way out of our way to try and keep the playing field level by building lots of and adequate terrain, writing clear, concise missions that are fair and fun, etc. It’s a big deal to us.

      As for points costs and such, well, nothing we can do there but wait for the books to get updated for 6th.

      • Baal Viper September 5, 2013 8:40 am #

        I tend to agree with Reecius, BAO missions are in my opinions one of the most balanced mission sets I have seen. I wish everyone at my store would ditch BRB missions in favor of them even in casual games as it opens up the armies you can run and stand a fighting chance.

        • Reecius September 5, 2013 9:09 am #

          Thank you, sir. We appreciate that.

          • Fulcrum September 6, 2013 12:16 am

            What I mean by that statement is that there in no attempt to balance the playing field for particular codexes (aka comp). Which is how you like it, which is fine. I just wish there was more balance, more incentive not to min max, more reason to bring armies with a wider variety of units & not just fielding as many hard-to-counter units as you can fit in a FOC. It was in no way in reference to your missions or the BAO. I know that imbalance has always been inherent in the game. But this is the first time in 20 years that I am seriously thinking about dropping out. Like you I also got rid of my 100% Khorne army. The game just isn’t as fun anymore. I feel forced to always bring the cheese because I know I will be facing 4-6 FMCs, or WS spam, or helturkey spam, or seer council, or farsun bombs, pulse bombs, etc. Maybe I just miss close combat but this edition seems more RPS than ever before. As for the points issue, unfortunately I’m talking about the codexes that have already been released in 6th.

          • Reecius September 6, 2013 5:20 am

            Ah ok, that makes sense. And yeah, the game has changed a lot, this is a transitional time as other books get brought in line. Close combat still works so long as you can make it across the table, and proper terrain helps with that a lot. However, Khorne just isn’t getting it done, these days, I agree. The key to overcoming the current super lists is just patience and practice. It feels daunting at first and then you find a way to get past their strengths.

  12. Lemenhead September 5, 2013 5:11 pm #

    Totally agree about LoS terrain, but I think you’re wrong to single out NOVA as they have LOTS of LoS blocking pieces. I mean couldn’t it just be that Tau are silly good?

    • Reecius September 5, 2013 5:49 pm #

      The article was less about NOVA and more of a general statement using the results from NOVA as an example. I wasn’t trying to put them down in any way.

      Tau are silly good, particularly with the new supplement and Eldar allies, but, they haven’t really been winning so may other events and especially not in a 7/10 ratio, that hasn’t even come close to happening yet.

  13. Draigo September 12, 2013 7:59 am #

    I think this article is spot on. But I don’t care for the aesthetics of the beer cans.
    I have a full collection of the plastic cities of death buildings.

    In a normal game on a 6×4 table, this is what I am doing.
    6-8 ruins on the table.
    Before game starts, roll a D6 for each ruin. On a 4+ that ruin BLOS.

    A building that BLOS can’t be shot thru, out of, or into. But models can still be moved into, as it is not impassable terrain. If a model is in BTB contact with a wall of the building, it can shoot out of or inside of it, but not completely thru if it is on an opposite wall.

    • Reecius September 12, 2013 10:06 am #

      That sounds like a really solid solution, and the GW buildings do look really nice.

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