Terrain scale comparison: Black Site Studio vs. 4Ground

For those who have bought the prepainted MDF terrain from Black Site Studio and 4Ground, I was wondering if you had any opinions on how they compare, specifically when it comes to scale?

I recently bought (and am awaiting in the mail) some of the post-apocalyptic residential houses from BSS’s “Haven 28mm” line, including the Miller, Beaumont, and Kingsley houses. While the line is ostensibly 28mm and FWW is 32mm, BSS’s houses seem heavily used for FWW. For instance, it saw heavy use at Adepticon’s FWW tables and the houses seemed to scale well with FWW’s 32mm miniatures. BSS’s Ark line also seems specifically made for FWW - the Ark basically lets you recreate vaults. So I felt BSS was a safe purchase for my FWW games.

But how does 4Ground compare scale-wise? They also seem to make good-looking prepainted MDF terrain, but I haven’t seen a ton of use for them in FWW. They have some interesting pieces that could be useful for FWW, such as their Emma’s Diner piece (which comes in a “damaged” version that looks suitably post-apocalyptic). But are they a “true” 28mm scale and would they look too small next to FWW’s 32mm miniatures?

Would appreciate thoughts from people who have terrain from these companies, all of who make very attractive pieces.

I’m part way through assembling 4Ground’s Emma’s (Damaged) Diner - have yet to complete the roof.

It’s definitely 28mm - I don’t think it looks too bad. If anything the height of the bases, make it seem worse.

Forgive the poor phone photography, but I tried to get off a few snaps to give you an idea…

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Isnt all the terrain for tabletop wargaming slightly wrong? I forget the term they use, but it’s not the absolute scale you get in model railways O and HO etc. It’s all a bit undersized where they overscale the windows, doors, fireplaces etc to make it ‘look’ as if the scale is right, but it’s all small. If you are standing next to a doorway that scales properly, you dont notice the structure of the building is 3/4 size, but you only really get away with it if the rooms are mostly empty. The more you ask of it in terms of all the internal features and spaces scaling properly, the more it looks a bit undersized. I think it’s done so you can get more on a table. Ranges for all the weapons are a bit wrong. If it was all done accurately, you’d need a tabletop the size of a tennis court to represent a town.

I think it varies a bit company by company, like how some miniatures will be ‘true-scale’ and some will be ‘heroic scale’ (where they enlarge the heads and hands and so on). One of the reasons I’ve been trying to teach myself scratch building techniques (other than the cost of buying kits) is so I can make things be as accurate to the scale as I want them to be, though of course that means they take more time to make :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the pictures! They do a good job of showing the scale :slight_smile:

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Yeah, I know …that’s not really what I meant though. If you consider projectile ranges such as a cannon for example, the possible range on a tabletop is very limited. So the scale is adapted down to make it fit. In reality, if you fired a miniature canon from one end of your table, the canon ball would end up at the bottom of your garden. So everything is squashed up to make it fit. I think that is why traditional wargaming has very small models, 15mm or so. The bigger the human figures, the more ‘compressed’ you have to make the scale because you are still working on the same 6x4 tabletop. So the buildings are all deliberately undersized, even for 28mm with low roofs, small room dimensions etc, but with oversized windows, doors and fireplaces …to ‘trick’ the eye if you are standing next to them. Mel the terrain tutor explained it really well in a video, I’ll see if I can dig it out. But the point is there will always be scale issues at 28-32mm - it’s all a bit illusionary …and that illusion gets a lot harder to pull off if you want to use the interiors of buildings.

I’ll see if I can find that video.

Here we go: https://youtu.be/3S0Qja3q5oA?t=199

‘Abstract’ scale is the word I was looking for. Mel does a brilliant job of explaining it here.

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That’s a really interesting video :slight_smile: I think I personally still prefer the idea of trying to make buildings close to absolute scale though. While of course the rules need to be abstract scale (because as you say, realistic weapons ranges for 32mm miniatures would be too big for a tabletop), the purpose of the terrain, in my opinion at least, is to break up the board and give players tactical options. If you’re trying to make it look like a whole town is on the table, then yes the buildings need to be smaller, but you could also just fight over more localised areas (ie, a particular backstreet of a large city, or a bottleneck along a trade route). As long as the terrain still breaks up the open space and gives different options to players in terms of how they try to achieve their objectives, then it doesn’t matter if it’s absolute or abstract scale, and it just comes down to what you prefer to look at.

I can imagine that in wargames that are about large scale battles, with lots of tanks and artillery, then you want to feel like you’re fighting over a suitably large and worthy territory. But in a more skirmish style game like F:WW, then I think it’s fine representing a smaller area as long as the terrain still makes things more tactically interesting. That’s just my view anyway :slight_smile:

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It is isn’t it? I think the main thing I took away from it, was that an absolute scale like 1/56 being exactly 1/56 of life, so A to B is 1/56, floor to ceiling is 1/56 etc …is a linear scale. Whereas wargaming scale is a curve. So 24 feet away is less than 2x12 feet and 48 feet high is MUCH shorter than 4x 12 feet etc. So the further away or the taller something is, the more exponentially compressed the scale becomes. The problem is, it’s a theoretical scale because things dont actually get shorter or smaller. So when you are standing next to something, it is never quite right, so they use perspective tricks when they are designing buildings …like oversize windows and doors. What I hadn’t appreciated was that this makes ‘interior’ play extremely difficult to scale, because you are standing next to everything. So the more décor you have inside a building, the more your model will look wrong. So you either need to scratch build and scale properly for interiors …in which case your exterior is going to look oversized next to your other models …or just accept ultra minimalistic interiors and try and keep most of the gameplay to the exteriors.

Yes you can. You could have an entire battle inside one big room and scale everything in absolute terms. The problem is it gets a bit limiting with scenarios. I think it’s possible to pull off a happy middle, but I think you have to be very careful with how far you decorate interiors.

Actually, I have the perfect example of exactly this issue. You know that hut from Sarissa Precision I’ve been working on? Well the scale looks fine from the outside…

The models look fine standing next to it or around it, they look fine on the roof by the sandbags, or on the balcony at the back etc. No scale issues. It’s a small hut, but it’s fine.

I’m thinking about the interior and I have 2 small rooms to decorate. I’m thinking I’ll make this playable. Maybe put a mattress in one room, with a crate and a bottle of beer or something. Then a desk with a terminal on it and a safe somewhere. So there is lock challenges, hacking challenges, potential finds or even a rest spot for the RPG.

But I had put this stove pipe on the roof, so I thought I’ll start by putting a little woodstove in there. A sort of a cooking station that adds to the aesthetic. So I made one.

I scaled it to match the figures…

It looks OK, there are smaller stoves and bigger ones, but it looked about right to me and I was limited by what materials I had at hand anyway.

Then I came to install it…

Standing room only for one model. There is no way I’m going to get all that stuff in this hut. I realised just how undersized the thing is. You can see how massively overscale the door is in the first pic. It’s huge. This is the problem. If you scale so you can get lots of interesting, tactical terrain on the outside, you really sacrifice a lot of internal play. So you either have to live with a fudge that doesnt look quite right, or you have to have different sets of terrain for internal/external scenarios. I havent got the time or the money to have 2 sets of terrain, so I’ll go with the fudge and just try and be as creative as I can within the limits of this abstract scale.

On a related note, Modiphius have finally re-stocked their terrain starter set so I have finally got some Nuka machines, terminals and wotnot on the way. Didnt you say you had a scale issue with the terminal?

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Interior scale is definitely something I want to get right, as I want players to be able to get into and explore as many of the buildings I make as possible. Your pictures really show how much the base affects it though. If you imagine the model without the base it seems like a decent (if ‘cozy’) room, but as you say there’s only room for one when you take the base into account. This is the building I’m currently working on, although so far it’s only the initial foamboard outline (with Piper for scale):

When it’s done, it should have a ground floor, two floors above that, and a slight roof section (potentially with a small fire escape stairway to access it, if I can get the materials). About a third of the building will be collapsed, but I’m hoping that the number of floors above each other should result in a fairly decent overall surface area to put things on/move around on.

In terms of the scale of the terminal, my thinking was that it looked a bit big compared to the models. Put it on the (yet to be glued and painted) desk, and even with Nora’s base it almost looks as tall as she does:
image

I also accidentally got sent part of a radioactive barrels set, which also looked a bit on the large side next to the miniatures. If we compare the nuka-cola bottles on the barrels with the half buried one on Nora’s base (which I admittedly need to try repainting with a proper glass technique):
image

I realise I’m nitpicking a fair bit, as when you’re looking at them from half a metre away on the tabletop it’s probably not noticeable. But I don’t get many chances to game, so most of the time they’re on my window sill on display, and the small details start to stand out a bit more then.

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I see what you meran about the terminal scale. There is no way I would get that and a desk inside my hut. But it doesnt look wrong next to Nora …it’s big, but given how monstrous computers used to be even 20 ears ago, I think it works. It just causes problems when you are trying to craft interesting things in tiny spaces.

I see what you mean about the Nuka bottle too …that is a huge difference. Modiphius should be trying to avoid those kind of continuity errors, but I suppose the odd one will slip through when you are making so many pices and they all have scenic bases. I’ve noticed Modiphius are using the same sculpts on various bits of terrain. I assume they just use a 3D sculpt and adapt it to whatever, but they shouldnt be messing with the size. I hope that is just a one-off.

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Ah fair enough, I’m at a disadvantage on that front as I’m only a couple of years older than that myself!

Yeah I hope so too, I wouldn’t have thought size would need to be adjusted once they’d made the digital sculpts. I did see someone on another site comment that the new barricade set they got “seemed huge”, but they might have just meant they didn’t realise how big it would be and didn’t mean that the scale looked off.

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Well consider it has a Nuka Cola machine embedded in it and look how big they are?

The old computers were massive partly because the tech was just bigger, but mainly because they were all built around old cathode ray tube monitors. The biggest you could get was 14", it was in a box about a yard square and weighed a metric ton. I had my first computer 35 years ago. They were very different.

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Yeah I can imagine they would have weighed a lot compared to modern devices! I remember seeing a ZX Spectrum (or at least the box for one) turn up briefly in a shop in town once, I’m told that was quite a big thing in its day?
Some of the older pieces of equipment I see around the lab (I’m currently at uni) have CRT monitors still, but they’re often at the back of cupboards with a layer of dust on them these days.