Musings and Opinions on Terrain

Hey everybody,
Most of you fine folks who regularly read this blog will undoubtedly know how much I like the Warhammer 40k universe. While the current edition of the game does feel a little bit weird for reasons I hope to explore in an upcoming blog, I nevertheless enjoy playing games and seeing game boards set up with the “official” Games Workshop terrain.

Sector Mechanicus terrain in particular is just great, especially when you have a lot of it together. I’ve recently finished painting my second such terrain piece, the Galvanic Magnavent, and it looks great, even if I say so myself! The kits are all fantastic, and they can be used quite interchangeably to make some truly magnificent game boards to fight over.

But as of the time I’m writing this, barely any of these kits are available.

What’s going on?!

Let’s go back to the heady days of 2017, when Shadow War Armageddon was released as what many people thought was an attempt to update Necromunda, though the result was closer to Kill Team. The box came out with brand new, multi-level terrain, and it was gone within seconds of pre-order. The terrain included was roughly equivalent to a Ferratonic Incinerator and an Alchomite Stack, though with additional walkways. The box set was followed up in short order by five big kits, each of which brought something slightly different to the table, and could be combined in multiple ways to create some truly mind-boggling displays!

The Alchomite Stack was simply a set of chimney-like structures, ostensibly two, but you could create as many or as few as you like.

The Ferratonic Furnace was a big canister piece with a walkway on top.

The Ferratonic Incinerator was an enlarged Furnace, with some more walkways and the infamous skull-crane thing.

The Galvanic Magnavent was a large structure, with a lot of walkways and a central, slimmer canister piece that linked to a huge chimney piece.

The Promethium Forge was another large piece, with more presence than the Magnavent.

There were of course the special boxes that were released for Christmas or whatever, such as the Promethium Refinery that combined several kits (the Promethium Forge and Ferratonic Furnace, with more walkways from the Forge and elements from the Alchomite Stack). Then a secondary wave of kits was released, which were less structures and more battlefield decoration, almost.

The Haemotrope Reactors were immense terrain pieces that basically serve to block line of sight.

The Thermic Plasma Conduits replaced the Promethium Relay Pipes as the de-facto pipe network that provides an element of running cover for game boards.

Galvanic Servohaulers were a trio of vehicles that essentially serve as scatter terrain.

Thermic Plasma Regulators are a pair of smaller structures, a bit like the Reactors in that they are line of sight blockers, but they also have platforms allowing you to link them to the main range.

Finally, and separately, when the Knights Codex came out, they had a Sacristan Forgeshrine, which was like a mini Promethium Forge with some added bits and pieces. In a similar move, the Genestealer Cults had a Tectonic Fragdrill which was compatible with the Mechanicus range.

Seventh Edition was a crazy time, and most of these kits came out with rules for them. Some scenery pieces granted better cover, or allowed you to re-roll 1s for cover saves. Some made your plasma or flamer weaponry better if you were close by. Some were volatile, and could potentially damage models nearby. It was slightly bonkers, but I loved it. When Eighth Edition sought to initially streamline things, the rules for shooting at models within a certain distance of these terrain features were still there to some degree, but in Ninth Edition all terrain rules have been greatly simplified. Well, they’re still complex, but terrain is now in categories, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in a Ferratonic Incinerator (volatile cover) or a Promethium Forge (aegis of the Omnissiah). It’s all just area terrain and that’s that.

However, the big thing today is that only the Galvanic Servohaulers, Sacristan Forgeshrine and Galvanic Magnavent are available to order. The rest of the range disappeared a couple of years back, but then we started to see the big terrain boxes come out, like War Zone Charadon, which featured numerous Sector Mechanicus terrain features. Kill Team Nachmund also included a lot of the Charadon stuff – a Ferratonic Furnace, Thermic Plasma Regulators, etc. But the big pieces have disappeared, and it’s kinda concerning me.

It’s not particularly old, although I know plenty of gamers who think a 5 year old model would require an update. However, even if we were to consider this stuff old, that doesn’t explain why a lot of their terrain pieces that came out for Ninth Edition, such as the new Manufactorum pieces, are also no longer available. The Manufactorum terrain set is, in particular, weird. There were two large pieces, the Sanctum Administratus (still available) and the Sub-Cloister and Storage Fane (no longer on the site), then there was the Command Edition terrain set (still available) which looks like it has some of the Sub-Cloister as well as a bunch of new relay pipes. Then came the big Vertigus terrain box (no longer on the site), which seemed to repackage the Sub-Cloister set alongside the Command Edition terrain, and also included some kind of shrine which was only available in that box.

Terrain seems to be an afterthought for GW these days, and while they are knocking it out of the park when it comes to the stuff they do stock, it’s just upsetting to see so many good pieces just ignored or left to fall out of stock.

Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the issues around the new (for Eighth Edition) Sector Imperialis stuff, which was just glorious and beautiful. I’m very pleased with the fact I was able to get some of those pieces back in the day, thanks mainly to the Kill Team box of course. The latest Kill Team Charadon set did give us a second-wind for some of that stuff, as well, although that doesn’t appear to be aimed at the regular 40k crowd.

I’m still in mourning for the Derelict Factorum set that I came close to purchasing, but now can no longer be found…

I can’t help but wonder what’s going on, and why they have such few pieces in the catalogue. It’s most likely due to sales, and I guess you could quite easily say that people are far more likely to buy another squad of marines than they would be to buy a box of industrial terrain. I suppose the pandemic has put a lot of community gaming on hold, so clubs etc weren’t open to need terrain for their gaming spaces. People have gotten by with piles of books or cans of coke for terrain, if they were able to game at all, and so here we are.

For all my doom and gloom, though, it’s good to see games like Necromunda keeping the need for terrain alive, with some mad stuff we’ve had for that game in the last few years, starting with plastic zone mortalis stuff and moving through the Gang Stronghold to last year’s Underhive Market set, all of which is still thankfully available to buy! Of course, Necromunda does have rules for Sector Mechanicus terrain as well, which makes it annoying when you can’t buy more of it any longer.

Rumours are all over the place about Tenth Edition coming next year. Who knows if we’ll get some more terrain to coincide with that, such as we had with the Manufactorum stuff for the current edition?

2 thoughts on “Musings and Opinions on Terrain”

    1. Stop it! That’s a dark path of temptation, right there! Some of the stuff I’ve seen for zone mortalis alone is just phenomenal! My backlog is bad enough…

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