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On The Cheap: Wargaming Terrain

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

It's possible to play miniature wargames on a dining room table with some shoe boxes and fluffed up towels as terrain, but it's not very appealing. In fact, it kinda sucks. As a starting point for someone with nearly zero dollars, there's nothing wrong with it, but the experience and enjoyment of the hobby is increased when you have a nice table and terrain pieces meant for the purpose. Unfortunately, having a dedicated table and high quality terrain can be spendy, and if you're like me money is a limiting factor. Well, today I'm going to help alleviate that money problem by going over some of my favorite terrain pieces that cost next to nothing.

The first free terrain piece is the humble tin can. They come in a variety of sizes and are purchased in mass quantities by just about everyone. I have yet to hear my wife complain about me keeping them for my own nefarious purposes, and with a little imagination, they can be converted into some truly impressive terrain pieces themselves. Not only that, but they can be used as a base for other pieces of terrain as well. Did I mention that they're free? Whether you're a teenager just getting started, or a veteran father of four trying to hobby harder without affecting the family budget, soup cans are a great place to start.

With a little imagination, cans can. :)

The next free piece of terrain that I like is that plastic container that mushrooms come in. Not only are the mushrooms a great source of vitamins and fiber- they come with awesome futuristic houses for your table top minions to fight over. Painted up, these simple pieces of plastic look like something you'd see in a science fiction colony on some newly settled dust ball. What's more, most are uniform in size and shape, allowing them to be easily stacked making them easy to store and transport. Who'd have thought that the humble mushroom would be so great for bowel movements AND gaming? Makes me love them even more.

Mushroom containers and some simple printed doors.

The third and final free piece of terrain I'll mention today is the simple box. Buildings are basically boxes that we store ourselves and our stuff in. Why wouldn't a box be a good representation of a building on a tabletop? And, like the soup cans and mushroom containers mentioned earlier- they're free! Just cut some doors and windows into them, and they are pretty much ready. Granted, you'll want to do a little more work with them than that (which I will show you in my next hobby post) but on the main, there's not much more to them than that. They too come in various sizes and shapes giving you a truly dynamic terrain set in virtually no time at all.

Buildings in the rough. Boxes get it done.

So there you have it- my three favorite FREE terrain hacks for those on a severe budget. In my next post, I'll go over how to convert a box into a simple building that will look good on the table top and cost you pennies compared to mass produced terrain pieces of comparable size. Stay tuned. More money saving wargame tips are coming.

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