Amera City Block Ruins – A Review

amera_130

It’s been a good few weeks since Salute and now the excitement of building all of the things has worn off slightly, it’s about time I put fingers to keyboard and typed up some reviews. First up is the City Block Ruins from Amera Plastic Mouldings.

City Block Ruin (with Buttresses cut to fit)
City Block Ruin (with Buttresses cut to fit)

I’ve never had the pleasure of assembling one of Amera’s kits before, although I have played over a number of them, so building one was going to be a new experience for me. For those of you who don’t know: Amera’s kits are made from vacuum formed plastic sheets which are very durable and almost act like a frame-work, or blank canvas if you will, for you to put in as much or as little effort as you wish into getting the piece ready for the table top.  Some effort does have to go into cutting out the pieces from these sheets, but it’s nothing more than the trimming you have to do with any kit, and you can be quite rough and ready depending on the look you’re going for.

This was one thing I found myself having to get accustomed to as I’m so used to carefully trimming and assembling each piece so as not to do anything wrong.  The Amera kits are quite a departure from that and allow you to go cutting pieces all over the place and so alien was this concept to me I actually had to consult the website to check how I was supposed to use the buttresses, only to find out you just cut them to the desired length and put them wherever you want – which left me feeling slightly silly at not having surmised this myself [He even checked with me. – Ed].

The kit itself is surprisingly big, topping out at just about 4 levels if you include the ground floor and is significantly wide enough that it almost accounts for an entire building itself and thus needs less supporting scenery to represent a complete building footprint.  Equivalent kits from other companies often don’t cover enough ground and need at least another full kit to complete what could be considered a realistic structure – whereas you could get away with just adding some piles of rubble with this just to show where part of the building had collapsed. Or seeing as they’re half the price of comparable kits you could just get two and make one even bigger ruin, whatever you want really – and therein lays one of the pieces biggest strengths, its cost.  At less than £10 a pop you don’t have to compromise with your scenery coverage on a board as you’ll generally be getting double the amount, and this enables you to do some pretty epic looking boards without breaking the bank. I’m sure many of us have gazed across a fully modelled board in awe and then resigned ourselves to the thought we will likely never come to owning such a pretty set of matching terrain – but with Amera you can.

The blank canvas approach makes owning a an entire board’s worth of matching scenery a reality by keeping it simple and giving you the option of adding as much or as little detail as you want.  Only got time for a basecoat and a drybrush – no problem, it looks fine.  Or sand it up and add some flock? Now it looks even better.  Or you can go to town and start adding in details like interior walls and extra structures like scaffolds to make it look really good.  The point is it’s up to you and it does the job no matter how much effort you put into it. I personally love building terrain – it was one of things that really drew me into the hobby when I was a kid.  Back then it was all on you to find interesting bits and pieces that could represent structures and then detail them to look realistic, and this is an evolution of that. It brings back some of the creativity that has been somewhat lost with the growth of more complex scenery ranges which has taken away the need to be inventive.

Amera - City Block Ruin (painted)

£9.95 for what is almost a complete building is great value, and it’s almost a victim of Amera’s cheap prices across the range – the same price can also get you even more impressive pieces.  But like I said, as they are so reasonably priced you don’t have to compromise, you don’t have to go straight for the biggest pieces you can afford because you need to stretch your budget as far you can. Instead you can pick the right piece for the right job without worrying if you’ll have enough, which means you should assemble a better and looking and better playing scenery set as a result.  And if you need a ruined building that is versatile enough to suit almost any 28mm game that uses a gun then look no further, this one does the job perfectly well.

The City Block Ruin is available from Amera Plastic Mouldings for £9.95.  Additional City Block Buttresses Sets are also available priced £1.50.

-Lee

Salute in Review: Dreadball Fest!

Salute 2014

Salute, salute, salute salute salute. (sung to the tune of Black Adder) I’m sure no one minded me singing Rob’s Salute theme tune on the way home one little bit. In fact it probably made the trip back from London go even quicker [Especially as it took four hours thanks to Mat’s atrocious SatNav – Ed.]. So I am sorry to say that it is over for another year and with 365(ish) days to go until the next Salute, I am going to have to go back to buying models in shops or online like the rest of the world. Oh the horror! The whole event was great and there was some awesome stuff to see: so much variety (which is a great sign for the hobby in general), so many great people to meet and I know even though I spent the whole day trying to see everything I probably only got to see half of what Salute had to offer.

The day went pretty much to plan, with no help from Forge World. They had everything a Warhammer 40k player could want…as long as you wanted something from the Horus Heresy. However as an Ork player I was disappointed to find out that they had brought none of their awesome Ork range so I had to order the heavy weapons I needed for my Battle wagon conversion. I hope they turn up soon. Needless to say I have learnt my lesson and next year I will be ordering in advance, still at least I didn’t have to pay the postage and packaging.

Zzappa

But then I wondered over to the Mantic stand…Not only did I got a great look at their Battlezones range (watch this space), but I also got some really exciting information about Dreadball Xtreme and Deadzone and how new rules will work and I am now more excited about both games than ever. I’ll be covering that in more detail soon. Then I bought a lot of stuff for Dreadball including the new supplement Azure Forest. Review to follow. [Damn Neil, you’re gonna be busy. -Ed.] We’ve also made it on to Mantic’s reviewer list so we should be able to cover their products much more thoroughly in the future.

I also confirmed that I have definitely fallen in love with Malifaux and saw some amazing figures from Twisted, Black Scorpion, Taban and Mierce miniatures. I checked out some of the great scenery from Amera Plastic Mouldings, where I picked up a great amphitheatre piece and still regret not picking up another Dreadball Stadium, especially as by the end of the show they had them for £25! I was also really interested by a range I had not come across before – Z Clipz by Studio Miniatures.

Amphitheatre

So onto the spoils, and like I said I did buy a lot of Dreadball. I picked up booster squads for both my human and robot teams, as well as two hard-hitting MVPs Buzzcut and DRB7 Firewall and the Azure Forest supplement. Away from Dreadball I got some red dice (because red ones roll higher – it’s science), and a the aforementioned Ork Big Zzappa.

Firewall Buzzcut

Human booster

dice

It wasn’t the biggest haul I know but it was what I wanted and regrettably all I had time to get the rest of my day was meeting some of the #warmongers at the meet up, watching the mild-mannered Mat turn into a model buying machine and the rest of the day was business, meeting some great companies and talking about their new projects and The Shell Case. It should make for some great articles over the next few months.

Amera River Sections – A Review

TaleOfTwoArmies copyAs A Tale of Two Armies series ramps ever upwards towards the 3,000 point total and an almighty game of fisticuffs I started thinking about the different types of scenery that could give the games a bit of zing. And those lovely people at Amera obliged me with a solution in the form of their river sections.

I’m a bit of a fan of Amera (this being my fourth review of their stuff) because they do a wide range of cool looking gaming standard scenery that doesn’t break the bank. But the really great thing about Amera is they provide you with the template and you have the freedom to turn it into something stunning. Whereas kits from the likes from the Games Workshop are crammed with detail – and you pay a premium for it – that will take an age to paint, Amera focuses on practicality and usability. That’s not to say that their scenery lacks detail – not at all – but the details is the important stuff rather than indulgent stuff. As I say, it’s proper gaming terrain.

But on to the river sections themselves. For a start they’re incredible value. The set I received was enough to occupy a two foot by one foot space and comes in at around a tenner, which is very good. And because it’s modular you can just add to it. Or, because the outlay is far from bank busting you can have sets of rivers painted up like different environments to suit your boards and existing scenery sets.

The simple fact is the river sections simple and designed with real thought, not only from a gaming point of view but a real life one too. The latter being that they’re incredibly light, being moulded plastic, and easy to store. The pieces all stack nicely together and will tuck into a spare gap in a storage box nicely. The former is the best bit. The sections have a very gentle gradient leading up to the water’s edge make adds to the realism as so many sets I’ve seen have very high/steep banks so the river feels very out-of-place on the board. This feels far more natural and does a much better job of suggesting water running below board level rather than on top of it. The other good thing about the shallow gradient is that you can stand toys on it.

An obvious thing to take into account when designing wargaming scenery, one might say, but you’d be surprised how many times the aesthetic of a model is put before functionality and the banks are rounded abominations that you can’t balance anything on. This is not the case with the Amera river sections and in fact, they’re awesome because the river bank has a slight lip at the water’s edge which is a lovely touch as it gives the sections as sense of movement,with sediment building up on the banks.

The only downside to the sections, if it can be called that, is that they do lack texture so if you wanted something you can spray and drybrush these aren’t necessarily the sections for you. And that’s fine because as I mentioned before, one of the best things about Amera’s scenery is that you get the chance to work with a bit of a blank canvas whilst all the key elements are there right in front of you. Just be prepared to get through a lot of sand, PVA and pots of gloss varnish.

The river sections from Amera are superb value and very good quality. And because of that value you’ll be able to buy the number of sections you need without worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to afford food and electricity as well. Yes they’ll arguable require a fair bit of sand and paint to get them to where you’d want them to be but it’s more than off set by the cheapness of the products.

The river sections are available direct from Amera.co.uk from £1.50.