Miniatures terrain and TTRPG terrain tiles have been a growing category of products in game stores, and the task of knowing what to carry can be daunting.  Here’s the lay of the land on gaming terrain in 2021.

The miniatures terrain category of game products dates back to the early days of the hobby games industry.  The advent of historical miniature wargaming spurred the need for miniature trees, grass mats, and various barriers, which players initially found in stores selling model railroad products.  As the miniatures battles hobby progressed, game companies came out with their own scenery and now there is a plethora of miniatures terrain out there.

For free-form tabletop miniatures games, less expensive products often win out with customers because miniatures games are played out in campaigns which change locations.  Customers are unlikely to drop large amounts of money on terrain that they will only use in one or two scenarios.  Thus, generic terrain and battle mats are popular choices with dedicated wargamers that play through campaigns.  Mantic Games makes a line called TerrainCrates that offers collections of terrain for a reasonable price (see "Mantic Games Unveils Five New 'Terraincrates'").  For scenery mats, WizKids will be launching a series of game mats depicting various landscapes (see "WizKids Announces Two 'Warlock Tiles: Game Mats'").

For those that want more elaborate settings, Games Workshop makes terrain specific to its games like the Warhammer 40,000 products shown here.

Tabletop roleplaying game players have gotten in on the terrain game in the last decade. One of the classic industry debates has always been whether Dungeons & Dragons is a RPG game that utilizes miniatures or actually a miniatures game that utilizes roleplaying to facilitate skirmishes.  Either way, players have demanded more of their D&D games lately, and in a lot of cases, a dry erase marker and a few minis aren't enough to represent this elaborate world.  Thus, dungeon tiles and papercraft terrain enter the retail fray.

There are a few companies that make these types of terrain pieces, but few are as prominent as Dwarven Forge and WizKids.  Dwarven Forge makes elaborate dungeon tile systems, and has run a few million-dollar Kickstarters in the past (see "Top 10 Tabletop Game Kickstarters").  Their tiles, buildings, and miniatures are well-crafted and carry a price to match the quality. WizKids, who ventured deeper into terrain in 2020 with WarLock Tiles (see "First WizKids 'WarLock Tile' Sets"), has produced a vast line of mass-produced tile terrain since their first release.  Their sets have gotten more elaborate as time has gone on, with one of their most intricate sets arriving in April (see "WizKids Reveals a Massive $349.99 Inn Miniatures Set for 'D&D Icons of the Realms'!").

The moral of the story, when approaching the notion of carrying terrain in a retail store, is simply to be very selective and make decisions based on the needs of the store's customer-base.  Terrain can be a moneymaker in a retail setting as long as the terrain products carried hit a certain price point that is in their customers' disposable income comfort. Remember, terrain is a luxury addition to a wargame table, not a necessity.

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