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    Ivan Sorensen

    Do you call it “terrain” or “scenery”?

    Is it a “miniature” or a “figure” ?

    Is it a “base coat” or a “primer” ?

    Is it a “base” or a “stand” of troops ?

    Feel free to add in more terms and keep it friendly 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games


    For me:

    Terrain is natural, so trees, rivers, hills etc.
    Scenery is man made.

    Figure is infantry only, miniature can be either.

    Undercoat. Base coat is the first layer of colour over the undercoat.

    Normally a base, as that is generic, stand would be infantry, and not vehicles.

    Mr. Average

    Terrain. Definitely.

    Miniatures collectively, a single is a figure.

    Definitely primer, a base coat is the first color I apply to a figure.

    And it’s a stand of infantry, and usually a base under s single figure.

    Ivan Sorensen

    So yeah, I always took “base coat” to mean the initial undercoating and not the first layer on top. Today I learned 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games

    John D Salt

    For me it’s

    “Terrain” in a terrestrial miniatures game (thiugh I might sometimes use the older English term “ground”)
    “Sea” in a naval minatures game
    “Map” in a terrestrial boardgame
    “Chart” in a naval boardgame (or sometimes “tactical table” if I want to give the impression of being at HMS Dryad).

    “Figure” I regard as British English, “miniature” as American, although “Miniature wargaming” has become standard (in Britain we used to call this just “wargaming”, board wargames being much more an American thing). I will also often use “model”, especially if it is not a model of a person.

    “Primer” is probably what I say for an undercoat, but often I don’t bother (yes, block-colour acrylic straight on to the plastic, no shading or washes, shoot me now).

    “Base” to me means a permanent military or naval establishment, and “stand” means either “a stand of colours” or “a stand of pike”. The things I move around the wargames tabletop I might call “counters” in a boardgame or “elements” in a miniatures game, but I would usually try to refer to them by the level of military organisation they correspond to, so team, section, battalion, or whatever it happens to be. In particular Mr Picky likes to reserve “unit” for its correct military meaning, so I’ll only call a bunch of toy soldiers a “unit” if they represent a battalion (British Army) or regiment (other armies).

    Now, does your wargame happen in “turns”, “game-turns”, “bounds”, “impulses”, or what?

    All the best,



    Do you call it “terrain” or “scenery”? Is it a “miniature” or a “figure” ? Is it a “base coat” or a “primer” ? Is it a “base” or a “stand” of troops ? Feel free to add in more terms and keep it friendly 🙂

      [*]Both, though I wouldn’t use “figure” for non-“living” miniatures like ships or tanks
      [*]Like Mike, I tend to call it “undercoat”, with “base coat” being the first layer of colour. I will sometimes refer to “primer” but not usually.
      [*]Uusally “base” but I have a feeling I would use “stand” in some situations – though I have no idea what.

    “Punic” or “Carthaginian”?
    “English Civil War” or “Wars of the Three Kingdoms”?
    “American Revolutionary War” or “American War of Independence”?*
    “Elves” or “Aelfs”?

    *I suspect this distinction is an entirely regional one

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Deuce.
    Ivan Sorensen

    First World War or Great War? 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Mr. Average

    “Punic” or “Carthaginian”? – The wars were Punic, fought by those who were Carthaginian.
    “English Civil War” or “Wars of the Three Kingdoms”? – English Civil War, mainly to place it in context with the Civil War, by which we tend to mean the American Civil War.
    “American Revolutionary War” or “American War of Independence?” – It’s usually just The Revolution.  Political and military all get rolled up when talking about it, but yeah, I suppose it could be regional.

    And it’s World War I, normally, over here.  Although typically I say First World War.  And it also gets confusing because people frequently talk about The War, meaning World War II, but it’s mostly in the context of a complaint, like “It’s like we lost The War” which is a turn of phrase meaning something like “This thing I expect to work isn’t working.”

    Nathaniel Weber
    1. Terrain
    2. The stuff I spray on a figure to cover the bare metal and plastic is Primer. The main colors that I paint on a figure, before highlighting etc., are the Basecoat.
    3. Figures are infantry/cavalry; I say “models” for tanks, artillery, etc.
    4. I say “stands”

    Terrain – never scenery

    I buy “miniatures” but I paint and play with “figures”. That may have to do with the manufacturer names than any lexicographical distinction. I buy Pendraken or Old Glory miniatures but paint WWII figures.

    primer – base coat is the first layer of paint after that.

    base – can have one or more figures attached. Depending on the scale, it can also have a vehicle model attached.


    Terrain, figures, undercoat, base (as in, I’m going to base these figures).

    “miniature” is terribly American, and scenery is something you look at in the countryside.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke


    Scenery is what gets placed in(on!) the terrain. AKA terrain pieces…

    It’s Section for British Commonwealth troops, squad for American troops.

    Iain Fuller

    English – you don’t need to add the British, it’s only those colonial types that need to add a prefix!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Iain Fuller.

    Toy sojers. 😀

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Not Connard Sage

    Terrain. It sounds suitably military. My model railways had scenery. And scenics…


    Primer. Because that’s what I use.



    And what Iain said. 🙂


    "I'm not signing that"

    Norm S

    Terrain, figures, primer (I think a base coat could go onto a primer, so they are different terms to me), bases.

    Wargame show rather than convention

    It was the Great War ……. until we had another one, so now have WWI and WWII instead, hope and pray we never add to that.

    rulebook rather than rule set, though I do inter-mix

    I think if I have a peave  it is when a poster refers to something like 10mm as a scale (which I am OK with) and someone then comes along and feels the need to correct them that 10mm is a size not a scale etc, when we all know what is meant and what is being talked about. As this thread already shows, exact terminology is not a prerequisite for us all to share in a common hobby and a good thing about this forum is that that politeness and tolerance seems ever present.



    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Norm S.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 3 months ago by Norm S.
    Guy Farrish

    What NCS said.

    With the caveat re John’s comment that:
    i)I don’t accept that ‘Miniature Wargaming’ has become standard,
    ii) Even if it has, it will always be wargaming to me, or at a pinch figure gaming. (a boardgame is…well…a boardgame innit?)

    Carry on.

    (I think the question re turns/phases/game turns/bounds/impulses/pulses etc is simply trolling for a flame war and I refuse to fall for it)


    Now, does your wargame happen in “turns”, “game-turns”, “bounds”, “impulses”, or what? All the best, John.

    Usually, I will use the terminology the game in question uses. But I will use “turn” generically if there’s no reason not to.

    I would tend to call the First World War by that name (or World War I) rather than “the Great War”. I think I’m young enough that “Great War” was already somewhat old-fashioned by the time I was growing up, and at a distance of 100 years, there doesn’t seem much reason to resurrect it for common use. I will still refer to WW2 as “the War”, though, and devoid of other context would normally expect people to know what I’m referring to.


    “Terrain” – That’s the ground, the stuff that the little dudes fight on.

    “Constructs” and “Foliage” – The stuff that clutters up the terrain, thus sometimes called “Clutter” or Terrain Clutter”.

    Usually “Fig” or “Figs” in reference to dudes, “Miniatures” in reference to everything else, or to a mix of dudes and non-dudes.

    “Primer” for primer.  “Base Coat” for a first layer of paint.

    A “Base” is what a “Fig” is mounted on to keep it from falling over.  A “Stand” is something that some “Figs” might do, generally a last act, often futile.

    I play games in “Turns”, though some of the “Rules” break down the “Turns” into smaller segments called “impulses”.

    “Cons” are those events where gamers and venders collect and do gaming stuff.

    “Rules” explain how the game is played, and provide all of the data required to play the game.

    “Miniatures Gaming” is a hobby, in which participants play games with “miniatures”.  A subset of this is “Miniature Wargaming”.  “Wargaming” is a hobby that mostly consists of playing board games involving  war or battle.


    …though I could be mistaken.



    Not Connard Sage

    “Wargaming” is a hobby that mostly consists of playing board games involving war or battle. …though I could be mistaken.


    In this case? You are 🙂

    My hobby has always been ‘wargaming’, meaning playing battles with toy soldiers.

    I was a ‘wargamer’ for years before I even saw an actual American board wargame, let alone play one.


    "I'm not signing that"

    Guy Farrish


    Wargaming for me is, bizarrely enough, a game concerning war.

    Those games can be:

    Figure games (my default position for ‘wargame’ as it was how I discovered the idea and the only type I played for my formative gaming years).

    Boardgames .

    Kriegsspiel/Map games.

    Committee games

    Role Playing Games

    Cardboard Simulators

    Mugger/Matrix games.

    (Several of these can overlap).

    None of these has an exclusive right to the title ‘wargame’.


    I could be wrong, but primer refers to a specific formulation of paint that is used as the first coat of paint to be applied to whatever you are painting. So you use primer for your undercoat.

    (I’ll put Mr Pedantic back in his box now!)

    I use terrain and scenery fairly interchangeably. Although terrain clearly should be just the landscape you are fighting on.

    Figures or models. Miniatures are tiny bottles of booze…

    My figures are mounted on bases and games are broken down into turns. I remember the first time I read something that used bounds, and I immediately formed a mental picture of wargamers having to leap over the table…!

    Ivan Sorensen

    Bound always seemed odd to me. I always figured “turn” is literally “it’s my turn to play”.

    Nordic Weasel Games

    James Manto

    To me “base” is the scenic thingy the figures are attached to so they stand up. It can be any size and accommodate any number of figures.

    A “stand” however implies some defined size, number of figures etc that is important in the rules. So that stand removal is important.

    Mike Headden

    Depends who I’m talking to, in what context and about what. I think I use all of these terms and never thought it odd … until now 🙁

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    Ivan Sorensen

    Does a stray grenade “scatter” or “deviate” ?

    Nordic Weasel Games


    Does a stray grenade “scatter” or “deviate” ?

    No it just causes “panic” as it’s been drooped in the wrong place.


    Yeah, I’m pretty flexible, too. Much of my terminology depends upon the audience. Though, in my head, a ‘stand’ is a group of ‘figures’ attached to a base–which may have a rules defined base size. ‘Terrain’ is the arrangement of ‘scenery’ items on the table. ‘Primer’ is an underlying substance that provides greater adherence for the paint. ‘Base coat’ is color, generally in a medium hue which will then have shading and highlights added. ‘Top coat’ is a clear varnish, either matt, gloss or somewhere in between. ‘Wargaming’ involves figures on a table–and in my world is simply called ‘gaming;’ ‘boardgaming’ is… boardgaming and ‘role playing’ is… role playing. They are separate. Oddly enough, if I’m talking about 54mm figures, I’m quite comfortable calling them ‘toy soldiers.’ But for smaller figures, I usually refer to them as figures. If playing with ships, planes or vehicles, then they are ‘models.’ Figures and models may be referred to by their size (10mm) or their scale (1/144). Personally, I prefer talking in scales because it makes a more direct association to the real world item being represented. But I’m not dogmatic about it. During the game, we take ‘turns.’ ‘Bounds’ and ‘impulses’ are inconvenient, artificial constructs. Each player’s turn may, however, be divided into distinct ‘phases.’

    The Great War is World War I. Though if talking with people who are not that familiar with it, I consciously call it ‘The Great War’ to emphasize how significant an even it was in world history.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/


    Very interesting and educative thread, thanks for all comments. 

    I’m often uneasy about the correct terms I should use in English…


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