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FCE: Terrain Types

FCE: Example, completed game map

There are six different Terrain in Four Corners of the Earth. The game originally featured six-sided dice that determined which terrain were available, but I've since dropped that for a cube-pulling-and-picking mechanic which I think provides more player agency.

In any case, I stayed with the six types of terrain, which are as follows. There's nothing strange or dramatic about this list, and nearly anyone who plays the game will likely understand what they are:

  • Mountains
  • River
  • Plains
  • Forest
  • Desert
  • Swamp (though personally, I am not fond of that word...!)

Cubes in a player's supply can be used to Make Terrain on the map.

  • Use 1 cube to Make 1 Terrain
  • Use 3 cubes to Make 2 Terrain, and gain one Dominion rank with that Terrain type.
  • Use 5 cubes to Make 3 Terrain, and gain two Dominion ranks with that Terrain type.

Each Terrain also has distinctions based on special effects or how they are placed on the map grid. In the course of the game, players add Terrain to the map grid adjacent to another Terrain of the same type. Unless noted otherwise, Terrain cannot be over-written by new Terrain. There are some special rules specific to each type of terrain, as follows:

  • MOUNTAINS can be placed only in a straight line. The orientation of this line is determined by the first player to place a Mountain on the map grid. If an entire row is filled from one edge to the other, the player to next add Mountain to the grid chooses an opposite edge onto which they can start a new Mountain range.

    For example, if Mountain stretches all the way from the left to the right edge of the map grid, players start a new Mountain range at a square along the top or bottom edge of the map.

    In addition to this straight-line path, Mountains placed on the map grid can over-write any other Terrain for free.

  • RIVER must flow across the map, and no more than two River tiles can be touching each other. Rivers can "branch out" and even form "islands" within arrangements of River tiles, but you cannot form something that would suggest a pool or a lake.

    (I'm currently considering a score bonus to the player who has River Dominion for making islands)

  • PLAINS multiply quickly. When choosing to Make Plains on the map, the player doing so must add 1 extra Plains Terrain somewhere on the map, adjacent to any other Terrain type.

    For scoring purposes, only the largest contiguous mass of Plains Terrain is counted. There might be patches of Plains all over the map, but they are ignored once final scoring takes place.

  • FOREST can reach across terrain. If a player sacrifices one Forest Terrain, they may place a Forest one space away from another Forest. In this way, they can essentially "skip" over other Terrain types, establishing a Forest in another area.
  • DESERT can wipe out other Terrain. If a player sacrifices one Desert Terrain they may replace a pre-existing Terrain of another type with a Desert Terrain. The other Terrain must be adjacent to a pre-existing Desert. Only Mountain cannot be overwritten.

    (I am also considering a scoring bonus for the player with Desert Dominion, for making a "round" shape of 7 contiguous Desert tiles)

  • SWAMP likes being near the River. For final scoring, any Swamp adjacent to a River Terrain is worth 2 VP instead of 1.

The attached image shows an example of a complete game, with the entire map grid filled with the six different types of Terrain.



(M)ountains, (R)iver, (P)lains, (F)orest, (D)esert and (S)wamp!

Each has a UNIQUE letter and you have six (6) types of terrain. That should solve your naming issue.


Damnit, I didn't want to use the word Swamp, but you're probably right. :)

Don't worry... Magic

Doesn't own the "copyright" to the five (5) words used to represent Mana in their game... You are free to use them PLUS you have a sixth (6th) one so you are even further in the clear! :)

Also ...

You can "mix things up a little" (if you want to):

  • Mountains = (H)ills

  • Swamp = (M)arsh

That's another alternative. Mountains are usually more imposing. But maybe your game can work with Hills too... IDK it's your game! Cheers.

P.S.: Here's a way of marking them differently (Terrain).

Note #1: Using BOTH "Marsh" and "Hills" would definitely set you game apart from Magic. Using "Mountains" and "Swamp" would be very SIMILAR to Magic IMHO! Maybe you can get used to Hills as opposed to Mountains... IDK.

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