How to choose the terrain
Terrain selection and placement is critical to help your army to fight at its maximum efficiency and to hamper your opponent.
First of all is necessary to know the strength and weak points of yours and of the enemy army. Once you know that, you can proceed to pick up the terrains that benefit you more, and can lower enemy efficiency.
The main criteria should be the impact on combat factors and eventually the on quick kills results, slow down enemy troops movement, and the interdiction partial or total of some sectors.
1) Do my troops QK enemy, or they die to him?
This is the first and vital question. You should check the core troops, and evaluate the relation between the two armies.
If you have the edge, you need to be able to deliver a blow against as many elements as possible, so you need a terrain that doesn’t disrupt your attack.
Basically you need good going in the attack sector, or in some cases, like warbands fighting enemy infantry, RGo.
By the opposite, if you are at disadvantage, you should try to fight with an advantage. This can be a +1CF from uphill position, or placing some going that deny the enemy QK.
2) Is my army slower or faster than enemy?
This criteria is important too. Being faster usually gives initiative at tactical level, to deliver the first charge, and at operational level, for faster armies have usually the overall initiative and dictate the tempo in the battle. Usually mounted armies are faster, and terrain that reduces the speed has also a negative impact on CF.
A more mobile army need to keep the table as open as possible, to use at best the speed it has.
Au contraire a slower army often likes a broken game table
3) Is my army rigid and need terrain to protect a flank? Has it terrain troops superiority over enemy?
These question are linked to difficult going. This kind of terrain often is the best protection to avoid enemy sweeping maneuvers and to protect from outflanking. Difficult going is also useful to deny an area to enemy and force him to combat elsewhere, maybe where we want.
The difficult is not an absolute barrier, because for some armies can be an avenue to attack or penetrate the enemy line. There are armies that extremize this necessity being constituted mostly by terrain troops. These kind of armies are terrain sensitive, and benefit from low aggression.
The ideal terrain should come from a combination of these three criteria.
Now let’s examine the details.
Low Ag armies has the advantage of picking more terrain and fighting at home, so they can have the army better tailored for the battlefield. High Ag armies can position themselves to hit the enemy with the better matchups, expecially if they enjoys QKs.
The Attacker choose first his 2 FE of terrain. He should always choose 2 FE, otherwise the defender will have even more terrain to place.
This first choice is very important, for it will give an hint to the defender about the terrain the attacker wants, and will let him select the terrain best suited to the order of placement.
If the attacker wants an open table, there are two options:
a) Choose Roads, gentle hills, open fields, a small waterway or a river of width counting as rough for the majority of troops. Selected your edge for terrain placement. In such a way rough and difficult will be placed just by the defender, that would need some luck to roll all FE where he needs. On average at least a wing should be open.
b) Choose the same board edge selected by the defender, and select some FE in the top position of the terrain list. The attacker can try to gamble and clutter the sector where defender needs to have terrains, hoping that many will be discarded.
If the attacker need some terrain:
1) to protect a flank I suggest to choose 2 FE of terrain to be placed soon. At least one flank should be protected. The nearer this terrain is to your own baseline, the more defensive will be your attitude. A terrain placed on a side edge in a middle position will help to protect your flank even when you advance towards the enemy, but will expose your rear flank to an enemy flank march. The position reflects your tactic of choice. At worst, mass on one flank and try to attack there wheeling the combat frontage of 90° degree.
2) to protect the many troops vulnerable to enemy army, I suggest a big 1FE and 2 small ˝ FE terrain elements of bad going to be selected later, trying to place them in a central position to disrupt enemy attack. Opponent will be forced to enter the bad going or maneuver to avoid it. This will take time and will provide overlaps and flanking opportunities. All the list, even steppe ones, have some kind of bad terrain. Look for gullies at worst.
3) A river can be a risky but rewarding choose. The goal is to split the battlefield in two sectors, with the river counting as difficult going for the more dangerous enemy troops. Deploying second the attacker can choose where concentrate and where and if face enemy. He can attack the less dangerous enemy part if the opponent deployment gives this opportunity. This tactic works well if the attacker is more mobile than defender.
The defender can use the same guide lines, with the advantage of having more terrain. The defender can also use a BUA that is an excellent choice to block a side. BUAf can be fortified and placed in the middle of the table or in enemy deployment area if a road runs there. A garrison will create some problems to the enemy, either should he choose to assault it or ignore it.
Being usually the first to move the defender can benefit from elevated positions, so hills are usually a good choice.
Position too much terrain means that one of the two players has probably made a mistake, for it will make the fight difficult and a decisive result sometime impossible. If you look for a victory, always leave some opportunities or an attack avenue to the enemy. Let him come to you. If he does, and you have the right terrain in the right position, you have selected well.