The first game of the recent DZC Tournament at Endgame was different not only because of the scenario, but also because it was played on 100% Rural boards. Absolutely no buildings were on any of the tables. This changes the game and throws some conventional wisdom straight out the window. Before I get to the reflective part, let me go over some of the changes to the terrain rules I made.
- Forests were 4” high substantial area terrain.
- Boulder Fields were 1” high substantial area terrain.
- Light Vegetation/Deep Snow/Deep Sand were ¼” high insubstantial area terrain. It has the following deviations from the rulebook. Vehicles that are ½” tall, or less, treat this terrain as Poor Ground, making it Tough, but they also claim Soft Cover. Vehicles taller than ½” are not slowed, but do not claim any cover. Disregard any turrets or weapons when measuring the height of the vehicle to determine how it interacts with this terrain. This terrain does not obstruct the LZ of aircraft that do not count as skimmers while landed.
- Water is Barrier Ground with no height. It has the following deviations from the rulebook. Infantry and vehicles may move into the shallow water surrounding the body of water. Shallow water is defined as the unit being wholly within the terrain while still touching the edge of it or moving in until the center of the unit is 1” in from the edge of the terrain whichever occurs first. Infantry and vehicles moving over the shallow water in any way will count the terrain and Tough and will halve their move. Vehicles 1/2” tall, and under, and Infantry, with their center point within the terrain feature will receive Soft Cover.
- Cliffs are vertical, or near vertical, pieces of terrain and are impassable to infantry and vehicles. Aircraft may fly over them assuming the cliff is less than 6” high.
- Slopes are gradual ramps and can be moved over freely.
Some of these changes were to allow more areas for infantry to deploy into as they count their points as double while in or on terrain features. Others were an attempt to balance out and plug holes found in the terrain rules.
By strict rules, vehicles cannot enter substantial terrain, unless they are walkers. They cannot enter water, unless they are skimmers. Some armies have little to no access to either of these vehicles types. Skimmers get their bonus and walkers inside forest get cover, but the standard tracked or wheeled vehicle has no place to hide.
To help balance this out a bit I added the rules about ½” high vehicles as that covers all the tracked and wheeled vehicles in the game. I added the Poor Ground rule to make it a trade equal to that of walkers in forests. I went ahead and added it to the water, though in the shallows all vehicles are slowed as you cannot just plow through unknown water recklessly. I also didn’t like the idea of a Jaguar or Hades getting cover while in ¼” high grass, as they are quite tall and very visible.
The games went smoothly as I could have hoped for, considering most games are played without much, if any, of these different terrain types. I’ve really enjoyed small arms fire on rural boards, and wanted to see more of it. I saw plenty. The best had to be a huge firefight in a forest between 8 bases of legionnaires and 12 bases of legionnaires in what was surely some kind of training exercises. It started turn 2 I think and went the entire game.
Now the ugly side of rural boards. There are no buildings, which means no CQB. This is by far the largest gripe players have. It can feel as though you are being penalized for taking CQB specialists which costs more points. I attempted to balance this out by releasing all scenarios and rules being played a month in advance, including playing Bunker Strike as the second game (this is Surging Strike with the FPs replaced with bunkers from the Bunker Assault scenario). In my opinion, a lot of this stems from Hawk.
All official tournaments are run with buildings and little to no terrain of the other types. The tournament pack terrain guidelines read 10-15 buildings for a 4’x4’ table. Part of it is logistics, as transporting that many cardstock buildings is much easier than rural terrain (maybe we need cardstock rural terrain). Also, when you start playing with the terrain rules provided in the rulebook they feel half baked. You don’t even need to read them, just look at the real estate the rules for all of these other terrain types take up in the rulebook compared with rules for Structures. Furthermore, looking at CQB specialist with weapons that are range CC still pay more points for their CQB stat. This stat is only good in buildings.
It seems fairly clear the game is meant to be played with buildings on the table, though funnily enough there is a variant listed in Targets of Opportunity for a Jungle variant. How do you handle Objectives in Forests? The tournament pack terrain guidelines, in parenthesis, also mention “or alternative building replacements such as dense forests”. This seems to indicate they should just be building proxies. So it appears to me that the structure rules are essential.
I really hope this changes in the future, as there is a wealth of opportunity for new and interesting rules. I know that we are fully capable of making our own modifications to the game to enhance it to where we want it to be, but new rules from the company have an air of legitimacy that I can never give them. I like the way it shakes up conventional wisdom and breathes new life into units you do not see as often. I hope to continue working on my own modifications to the terrain rules and have begun toying with CQB outside of structures. If you have only ever played on a mostly urban board, do yourself a favor and try a more rural board for fun.