Why does Brutalism make great Terrain?

Why does Brutalism make great Terrain?

Read on! Otherwise The TL;DR is

  • Brutal Cities Brutalist inspired kits suit sci-fi, grimdark, modern settings = more bang for your buck
  • Durable designs that are easy to make and paint
  • More realistic impressive scales
  • Look cool as hell

If you don’t know the reason I started Brutal Cities,

When I was 12, I got into Warhammer. I loved making terrain in particular, and when I was doing my final high school art project (Basically a big 40k ruin!) 

I realised I wanted to keep doing this.

I studied architecture at the University of Newcastle for 5 years and worked in the industry for 5 more.

And then I was introduced to the cyberpunk cities of Infinity through a friend.

In Infinity terrain I found the designs a bit more relatable to real world architecture - but I felt that there were all these fantastic architectural movements, ideas and designs that tabletop gamers were missing out on. I was working at a firm in Newcastle, Australia when I realised that no-one was going to make the terrain that gamers needed - because if you’re not exposed to something, how can you know you need it?

So I left the firm, got designing and started Brutal Cities!

I design, make, paint, produce, promote the Brutal Cities range myself.


Bundle of 28mm Brutalist MDF wargaming terrain for modern, cyberpunk and sci-fi settings. Pictures show grimey concrete buildings, a hong kong inspired shop, a minimalist office building, a tall data centre tower to block LOS and a massive concrete building with a large stairway.

Okay… So why Brutalism?

In the world of tabletop wargaming, you can come across hundreds of different terrain designers. Many designs are really cool but I think a lot are lacking. I was of course also obsessed with the terrain side of the hobby, and a customer to other companies before I started Brutal Cities.

A lot of sci-fi terrain designs you’ve probably seen just add angled random shapes for the sake of filling a blank space. Or people add small details that are obviously just going to break with a few months’ use.

Something that I really love about Brutalism is the elegance of simple forms and the monumental nature of the architecture. It feels very solid, like it will be there forever.

I won’t bore you will all the many reasons that I think it was a beautiful architectural movement, but one main design philosophy I learnt from my love of Brutalism was this:

Brutalism used exposed concrete and other raw materials, sculptural geometric forms and emphasis was placed on function over decoration.

In my own designs, I try to take some of these principles and apply them in ways that I think make your terrain experience better. I design for the material of Laser Cut MDF, rather than forcing the MDF to do unnatural things, like those weird hinged living joints you may have seen.

Regarding monumentalism, like many public brutalist buildings, the Brutal Cities range features terrain designs that are typically more monolithic and larger than other wargaming terrain.

The Fadelight range and the Epic Scale terrain ranges use translucent plastic which allows me to bring you modern curtain wall glazing systems.

When it comes to the products themselves, you might find that some (not all) of the designs are a bit more expensive than others you can find elsewhere. That’s partly due to the size of the designs - I try to ensure my designs are more realistically scaled (almost all terrain is massively under scaled) - because my customers often want their tabletop layouts to look like real, urban cities. So you’ll find many three storey buildings, and even the one storey kits have larger footprints than many other designs.

Another factor is the more boutique nature of the business - it’s just me doing it, with some help here or there, and there’s an economy of scale that comes with larger companies - and I don’t own a garage but rent a workshop.

BUT that means that I make every single kit myself. I’m always choosing top quality raw materials, from local suppliers. My laser cutter is a state of the art Trotec laser (Made sustainably in Austria) so you can be sure that the engravings and cut lines are absolutely precise. As a hobbyist myself, I expect good quality products so I won’t sell you stuff I wouldn’t buy myself! Check out our customers reviews

This brings me back to the Why Brutalism point:

While some (not all) kits are a bit more expensive, I think overall they are cheaper, because

Most people don’t have unlimited space - but many tabletop gamers and hobbyists do play different games. Brutalism is a favourite architecture for sci-fi film directors - despite it being a movement originating in the 1950’s and 60’s! Some designs have a bunker-like aspect to them, which I think suits the grim dark worlds of 40k (I refuse to believe every single planet is covered in skull adorned gothic ruins, It’s not actually even possible to have a universal architecture)

But the same terrain also suits modern, ultramodern or pulp gamers! (but if you’re playing in the 1960’s I don’t hold a grudge if you buy the historical terrain from other terrain makers - if every building was brutalist your tabletop game must be set in Brasilia.

And of course, cyberpunk movies aren’t cyberpunk without massive, Bladerunner-esque concrete structures! So Infinity players and Cyberpunk Red or the plethora of other cyberpunk rules enjoyers will also find many great candidates for their base in the sprawl, or the corpo-HQs you’ve gotta infiltrate.

So you can get great value with one set of terrain able to work for most of your games.

Now the final part of this story is that I’ve now been running Brutal Cities for 5 years! It’s been a great run. If you’d like to see these buildings in your own tabletop cities and want to see more designs realised in the future, pick up some on the 5 years anniversary sale today!

Thanks for reading and for all the support,