Monday, November 30, 2015

Pick your battle(fields) - Terrain part 1

Recently, I have been working with a lot of war games terrain. Part of this is to get some variety in my miniatures work, and part is because I have agreed to run a Dropzone Commander tournament in the spring - and I need to be able to supply three or four tables worth of terrain! As part of that project, I will be sharing some of my experiences with 10mm scale terrain over the next few weeks. This week, we begin with pre-painted, laser-cut terrain by 4Ground Miniatures.

4Ground offers quite a range of terrain styles for 10mm, 15mm, 20mm, and 28mm gaming. They also offer terrain from many genres, but they are not evenly distributed across scales. Happily, their 10mm terrain focuses on a combination of ultra-modern and art-deco urban terrain. I will leave it to your imagination to guess why.

Say, is that a Scourge Grav tank in their promotional image? How did that get there?


 The buildings come as a stack of MDF sheets. Each sheet is pre-painted in a single color, with dark lines engraved with the laser to add details. Interestingly, they seem to work with two different thicknesses of material: A sturdy ~2mm thickness for the main structure, and a much thinner variety for detail parts - and there are a lot of detail parts!

Also included in the package are an instruction sheet, and a bundle of rubber bands and clothes pins, presumably to be used as tools during construction.

I quickly set to work cutting parts from the sprues, and assembling the building. A criticism I have is that the instructions are not always clear on how to orient different parts. On the other hand, each part is labelled on the sprue, and most of the time, they can only fit into position one way. I would say there is a bit of a learning curve the first time you work on one of these kits, but I was moving along smoothly by the time I started the second one.

As you can see, the supplied rubber bands can actually be quite handy to bind the pieces together while your glue dries. What's more, since each sprue is painted with a different color, 4ground has you layer parts together to create a detailed, multicolored model. The end result is really quite good. The down side is that some of the parts are very thin and fiddly, and may threaten to break. The little archways you see above are certainly less than a millimeter thick!

Extra detail, and extra fiddliness comes into play in the colorful detail work. Here you can see where an extra part has been laid in like a mosaic tile to add color to the building's first story. Pretty, but definitely extra time taken.

Once the structure is assembled, you have something that looks almost finished, and feels like an accomplishment. Unfortunately, that's when the really finicky work begins: The windows, doors and other little details are comprised of tiny detail parts from the thin sheets of material. Each must be carefully cut from the sprue, and glued into place.

In many cases, the windows are two parts, and there can be 100 or more windows on each building. Of course, that does not include the window ledges, cornice, HVAC details, and more. I will give 4ground a lot of credit for including one or two spare windows for each size and shape, just in case a few get damaged during installation.

Another nice feature, shared with some other terrain brands, is that 4ground makes provisions for their buildings to separate into pieces, allowing extra floors to be added to, or removed from, the building to adjust its height. in the case of the 4ground buildings, the fittings between levels are quite precise, and fit snugly into position.

I am going to reserve my closing thoughts until I have posted overviews for a couple of other terrain brands that I am trying out, hopefully in the next few weeks. I will say that 4ground is not the cheapest option out there. This two building set carries a recommended retail price of £37, but the end result will look very nice on the table. (and, as one may expect, it is possible to find better pricing deals with enough searching.)


  1. I also built a couple 4grounds buildings and I agree with you : they do require a lot of work. Also a lot of really fragile details to glue (windows). It's a very nice range, but it's almost the price range of the resin buildings !

  2. To be fair, they are still cheaper than what *painted* resin would probably cost, but they are pricey. Right now, I am treating them as Lego kits for gaming.

    Have you experimented with other 10mm options?

    1. hi, sorry for the late answer (haven't been notified). My feeling is that the price difference is not really that big between HWG resin and 4grounds. I have both, but haven't got my hands on any other 10mm options (but I have some n-scale railroad scenery).