Ainsty Castings Tech Tunnels – A Review

Regular readers will remember that on the run up to Salute I came over a little bit mental and decided that I simply had to own this…

Img_4155-1It’s the Tech Tunnels range from Ainsty Castings. This particular layout is four-foot by four-foot and will, with all the groovy extras, plus a few others not shown, costs roughly £440.

Now, before you recoil in horror and close your browser window in disgust let’s thinking logically for a moment. That money gets you an entire, self-contained four by four board. Made from resin. Boxed up it weighs a tonne! Let’s look at it another way, the four by four Zone Mortalis board is £350 without anything. Granted it’s not directly comparable because they look and will play dramatically different but you get the idea. It’s not that expensive considering the sheer volume of stuff you get. And because it’s modular you can jiggle around with the layout giving you no shortage of iterations which only increase if you choose to make the board smaller but with more twists and turns. Plus there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from buying the board in stages because we can’t all be utterly bonkers like me.

But on to the kit itself.

Let’s make one thing perfectly, crystal clear: the tech tunnels looks fantastic all laid out on a board. Even unpainted it’s the coolest piece of terrain I will ever own. I love the classic sci-fi styling with a few industrial touches which make it, with the right paint job incredibly flexible. I bought it for a game I’m developing with a couple of The Chaps and it suits perfectly. But the thing that really tickles me is that Andy, from Ainsty, doesn’t like it very much. How high do you standards need to be to not like that?!

But anyway, as I said, the combination of crisp lines and semi-exposed piping means that this set will pretty much fit with any board short of something super industrial or grimy, like, for example, the deep underhive of Necromunda. But then again, you paint it up right and you could probably get away with it.

The casting quality is very good. The set contains something like 28 large corridor sections of one type or another and they were all pretty much flawless. The only thing worth noting is that they don’t all marry up exactly. It’s not a complaint by any means, it’s just something worth noting but it’s much to do with the subtle expansions and contractions that the pieces experience during the casting process. It’s noticeable but it doesn’t really detract from the overall look.

The various wall sections have doors which helps give the board a sense of scale but the nice thing is that because they’re cast into the wall quite thin you can punch them out with no effort at all to have doorways that are either open or at various stages of destruction. If you opt for the latter then just be careful storing them as resin, as we all know, likes to blast itself into oblivion.

The aforementioned overall look is one of tight, close range fighting that is only going to end with bodies littering the floor. The board creates a brilliantly claustrophobic feel. Think the scene in A New Hope when the Storm Troopers storm the Blockade Runner and you’ve got the right idea. Games will become a morass of sneaky feints, cutting through rooms, close range fire fights over barricades, crates and data terminals, all rounded off with daring charges down corridors into the teeth of enemy guns. And it’s going to be fantastic!

Which brings me on to the accessories as without the details the rooms are just big empty spaces. Albeit ones with cool walls. Much like the corridors, are a testament to Ainsty Castings’ quality. Taken, predominantly from the Base Camp range, every item has been given just as much attention to detail as the corridors they’re going to spruce up. The breadth of range means that you can style the rooms of your board towards a specific purpose. It means that on my board I have a billet room, medical bay, security office and systems room. And lots and lots of lovely narrow corridors to fight down. At it all looks so damn good.

As I say, it’s a big lump of up front money, they’re also not going to suit every game. They’re also going to force you to play a specific style of game play but that doesn’t really matter because it’s an indulgence. A piece of something special that every gamer should own in on iteration or other. Not every game will or should be played down narrow corridors but sometimes you just have to play a game that’s going to be knee-deep in guts. And that’s exactly why sets like this exist.

Skullvane Manse – A Review

Following on from our review of the 4Ground Warehouse, we turn our sights to a Games Workshop scenery kit. Although half the price of the warehouse, the Skullvane Manse is roughly the same mass.  Or at least it would be is you put the warehouse on its end.

SkullvaneManse1 copyLet’s get the two obvious points out-of-the-way early. 1. It’s bloody massive. 2. It’s covered in skulls. Why bring this up? Well the every increasing number of skulls on Games Workshop’s scenery for both Warhammer and Warhammer 40k has proven to be a bit of a Marmite situation. Some love it, some would rather poke their eyes out with a tank brush than look at it. Me? I couldn’t give two shits as long as it looks good on the board and didn’t cost me an arm and a leg. Plus with this kit, the clue is in the name so if you do fall into the latter category this kit probably isn’t for you.

Which would be a shame because it’s fantastic. And not just because it’s a massive massive tower that would work brilliantly for Mordheim – and weirdly not so well for Warhammer considering it’s emphasis on big regiments these days – but because it’s so very cleverly designed.

The base, for a start, is made up of two solid, sturdy, and thick halves. Made using the sprueless technology the Games Workshop bought off Lego it presents a reassuring base from which to build up. Models would be forgiven for thinking that this is a very top-heavy, wobbly and fragile kit. Thanks to that base it really isn’t an issue. However, the halves don’t go flush. The pegs go into the holes easy enough (fnar fnar) but despite running glue along the edges and squeezing with all my (considerable) might I couldn’t get the joins to meet up. This means green stuffing which is pretty poor form on a plastic kit to be honest.

It’s a similar story with a few of the other parts that make up the main tower. None of the panels quite married up properly. They took and are solid but either it was a shoddy sculpt or warping during the casting process. However, what is clever is that everything is glued to at least three other parts so even though some panels aren’t as snug as they could be, there’s plenty of solidity that it’s tough enough for use and storage. Which is all you need really. The only question that remains is whether or not you try to plug the gap or leave it as tumbledown and ramshackle which does rather suit the look of the piece anyway.

Despite those issues, it is a very quick kit to build. Considering the number of parts, and the rather poor instructions, I had the thing built within an episode and a half of Top Gear. So just over an hour. One does have to ask the question: why number the components on the instructions but not on the sprue?

SkullvaneManse2

But it does look fantastic. The texturing on the rocks is understated, the roof tiles look as shoddy as they should, the stonework feels authentic and it’s all topped off by a healthy bit of mental. The wooden stilts that prop up the various structures is mad daft but brilliant. The effigy of Sigmar carved into the rock is totally unnecessary and the platform going up to the tower is shakier than the detox bus. Oh and the back door has a milk bottle by it.

There are lots of other subtle touches that could, because of the general shoutiness of the other stuff, get missed like the twin tailed comets in the eaves of roofs and door frames and the gargoyles which will be extremely familiar to anyone who owned the Mordheim boxset. It’s such a shame the Specialist Games are now more as this piece of terrain really does suit Mordheim down to the ground. Height, room to move, good cover and the fact that you get the parts to make both tower tops – telescope or ramparts – means that you’ve also got flexibility to use it as an objective, the focus of a scenario or just a sniper tower. Lee…

It does mean that it won’t be a quick kit to paint which isn’t a bad thing, per se, it’s just a consideration because to get the best of it you’ll be painting for a while. That is once you’ve finished plugging the gaps. But you know what? It’ll be worth it because it’s big and massive and cool and big. And massive. And actually pretty good value considering.

The Skullvane Manse is, by a country mile, the coolest scenery kit for Warhammer. There are simpler and cheaper kits but nothing will command the board, and look so awesome doing so, as the Skullvane Manse.

The Skullvane Manse is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.

4Ground Warehouse – A Review

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[Following on from my review of the Damaged Building, those lovely chaps at 4Ground sent me the Warehouse set to review. Now, when the box arrived I was both excited and intimidated. It was a big kit and one that I could quite easily bugger up. Because I’m inpatient. Thus, knowing my limits and knowing that Lee – staunch friend and brand new contributor to the site – is a man of mad hobby skills I handed the kit over to him to build and review. And here’s what he had to say… Phil]

warehouse

So I’m the lucky chap Phil asked to build and review the slightly exhaustively titled ‘Whitechapel to Baker Street Warehouse’ kit from 4Ground. Retailing at £100, and thus falling in the realm of a premium scenery kit, I was looking forward to seeing if it would live up to its price tag. Worth remembering though that MDF/HDF laser cut terrain seems to fetch a higher price across the industry.

When first handed the rather large box I was impressed by how heavy it was and on opening it, even more impressed by the quantity of material inside. I couldn’t resist arranging it all out on the floor to see just how much surface area was included and got to an area approximately 5’x 3’ – how many other scenery kits could you say that about? I know MDF kits are always going to be heavier than their plastic counterparts but it really had to be seen to be believed. As you would expect from laser cutting, the components were all precisely cut with no real issues removing them from the frames, but it’s worth noting you’ve got to take your time and take care. They possessed a good level of detail with even the burn marks from the laser giving the interior walls a suitable grimy feel. [The smell! Don’t forget about the smell! Ed.]

Given the size of this kit, and the ‘Level 6’ difficulty sticker on the box, I decided to treat it with respect and proceeded to do a check of all the frames against the schematic provided to ensure everything was present and accounted for. With everything okay I got stuck in locating the required parts. I was somewhat surprised the floor of the building comes in two halves. Looking at the size of the box it was easily big enough to fit a single piece. Other frames included in the kit were also large enough to have accommodated a single floor piece. With the significant weight the building would no doubt finish up as, this struck me as a possible weakness and an unnecessary complication.

I ensured the two-floor pieces were glued perfectly flat, and then added the interior and exterior walls to box the basic structure. 4Ground kindly include clothes pegs and elastic bands in the kit for you to use which is fantastic – and an absolute necessity, they are intrinsic to the build and should be used wherever and whenever possible. Happily working my way through the kit I came to a stumbling block. There are a set of columns that run centrally along the length of the warehouse with arches between them, and if you follow the instructions you’ll run into the problem that you won’t actually be able to fit in the last arch pieces. At all. With the walls glued and the columns in place there is no way to fit the tabs of arches into the holes on the columns as there’s no give mainly because of the material you’re working with.

warehouse2

On the upside, when it is built, with the floor textures and everything else, it looks the end result looks superb. As you can see from the image above, it looks authentic and robust.

That said, instructions could also be a bit clearer with some description to go with the images. And, to be honest, assuming I read them correctly, some of the components were mislabeled. It’s a quite frustrating as, because of the complexity of the kit, you really rely on the instructions and where they deviate you’re on your own a little bit. In the end I had to pull out the columns and lean them diagonally outwards, place the arches pieces between them, and then try to slide all the parts in at the same time, while they were covered in glue which was quite messy. Actually a lot messy. In the end I somehow managed to get all the pieces glued in and unbroken but there is a real risk of breakage, or losing of rags, and then more breakages. But it’s worth remembering that 4Ground have only been around a short while these issues will iron out in time.

With that done the build proceeded. The first floor is almost the same as the ground floor, but with some really nice details that set it apart – the corner office adds a great bit of character as well as having a gaming use. I chose to mix it up a bit when it came to installing the walls and windows to make it little more gaming friendly as it would almost certainly see some grizzly action on the Mordheim board. The instructions have the entire ground floor bricked out aside from the openings at each which gives it an almost fortress like function, but by switching some of the lower brick walls with the first floor window grate’s it opened it up a little without spoiling the aesthetic. And the fact that it was possible to do that highlights the intelligence that lays behind the design.

With construction complete I checked to see if the roof lined up with the ground floor and with a little minor trimming it locked in nicely. This modular aspect is really useful as you may not always want to use its full size in your games as it will dominate any board it sits on. But that said, it makes a fantastic centrepiece and if you choose to buy the extra floors, the building becomes a gaming area in its own right. A scenario involving a fight to reach the top floor then becomes compulsory. The victory the spoils. To the loser mockery and shame.

A point worth mentioning though is that you do have to decide if you want to build the kit to accommodate the extra floor kits – you receive optional floor sections and an extra staircase for this purpose, but this is only relevant to the first floor construction. You could always build the ground floor and roof sections first to get an idea for its size and potential and decide from there if you would ever want to take it higher.

Once finished the building is magnificent and if you’ve made it properly it should be very tough, just watch the corners and edges so you don’t lose any paint work. And one of the best things I experienced during construction was that once I had finally finished building it, it was painted and ready to go. I had been so wrapped up in the build I had completely forgotten that selling point!

At £100 and a further £40 per extra floor, it’s not cheap but it does fill a sizeable portion of the board and looks fantastic while doing it. The instructions do need improving as, coupled with the price tag, they are a point of frustration. If I’m honest I do wish 4Ground had done something to reduce the base cost of the Warehouse just to make it a bit more accessible, but they are in line with current MDF scenery prices on the market. In fact they’re in line with unpainted MDF scenery sets, so 4Ground are actually good value in that respect. When compared with what you could get for your cash in plastics they do seem a bit much – but then plastic doesn’t come pre-painted either, or smell as nice. [Finally! Ed.]

New Maki Games Renders

Over on Kickstarter, Maki Games have put up some new renders of their scenery sets. If they don’t make you go all funny in your hobby spot then you’re just not having enough fun with your hobby.
There’s about 56 hours to go (at time of posting) so if you fancy helping them hit the £60k mark then click here.

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4Ground Damaged Building – A Review

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Regular readers will know how feel about scenery. It’s one of the most important, but often most under invested in, parts of the hobby. Until a couple of years ago the scenery I had in my terrain boxes was 20 years old until I got fed up playing games of 40k across crap boards and spent a healthy lump of money on lots of plastic kits from the Games Workshop.

Ever since then I’ve always had my eye out for good scenery kits to make my ever diversifying games exciting to play. Regular readers will also know that me and The Chaps are bit mental for Mordheim and my search inevitably leads me towards finding buildings that can sex up our games. Especially as the cardboard buildings are 13 years old now and starting to show their age.

So it was with much excitement that I came across 4Ground.

4Ground, for the uninitiated, produce laser-cut MDF scenery kits for 28 & 15 mm sets for Ancients, Dark Ages, Renaissance, Old West, Colonial, Victorian/Steampunk and World War 2. But with the rather lovely twist that they’re all pre-painted.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Damaged Detached Building. And I’m gonna get this out in the open right up front. It smells amazing. I don’t know what it is about freshly lasered MDF but it’s a brilliant brilliant smell.

4Ground1Moving on…

You get quite a bit for your twenty-five notes as not only is the building pre-painted to a pretty good standard the level of detail is bonkers. Individual tiles, window frames, floorboards, ladders, doors, even bullet holes and rafters. Sodding rafters! The guys at 4Ground are completely and utterly mental. And I love them for it. That kind of attention to detail only comes from a group of people who really love what they do. Yes there’s lots of scenery out there with some incredible detail but to go to that much trouble with MDF kits is ace.

It’s also modular which means that if the level of openess isn’t enough for you then you can split the levels out. Which is way cool. However it’s been intelligently designed so the option of lifting off a level doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the rest of the building. Which means it’s not going to collapse in on the other models you’ve got running around inside. So, bonus.

4Ground2Now all this paints a very rosy picture, and never let it be said that The Shell Case is all one-sided because you still have to build the thing. This isn’t a complaint, just an observation. And actually, compared to some MDF kits I’ve built, the instructions are pretty good. The etching is also precision enough that the pieces to pop out with relative ease. However, it’s still wood and it’ll still break if you don’t treat it nicely, which is always a bit of a point of contention with me when you consider the cost. Plus, because the detail is so good, you have to be extremely careful punching out some bits or run the risk of breaking it.

To be fair, it’s not a tremendous negative. If anything it’s highlighting the skill and the craftsmanship involved. But it also highlights that you want to give yourself plenty of time to build it as rushing and kits like this really don’t go hand in hand. Especially as PVA is involved and you may have to walk away for a couple of hours and leave parts to set. Which I’m shit at. I want everything in a plate, or on a stick and possibly made of gold, now god dammit now…

But moving on…

In all seriousness, 4Ground has produced a spanking good kit. Love the fact that it has stairs, and double dept walls and window frames and snapped floor boards, burnt rafters and broken tiles. It feels real and that means it’ll look absolutely pimp on the gaming board, which is all you can really ask for of a piece of terrain.

The added bonus to this particular kit is that it’s not overly World at War – bullet holes aside, which means it can easily fit in to a fantasy skirmish game. Or any skirmish game set in the 1940’s back which gives it tremendous versatility and increases the return on investment markedly.

If what you want is a quick and basic kit then this probably isn’t for. Nor will much of the other items 4Ground sells. But if you want buildings that look the part and present a pleasant challenge to build then you need look no further.

Terrain Geek – A Review

terraingeek

If I’m honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when Stuart from Terrain Geek said he’d send me some bits to review. There’s a lot of companies out there and I’ve been to enough gaming conventions to know there is some real toss out there.

When the parcel arrived and I started rummaging through the baggies of base toppers, objectives and scenery I was struck by two things. The first was the variety. The second was the quality of the casting. Okay, so in terms of detail it’s not in the same league as Forge World, but does it need to be? What Terrain Geek produces is gaming scenery and every piece I received was faultless – which isn’t a boast Forge World can make – and is a fraction of the price. That said, the detail is good, more to the point once it’s painted and on the table it’ll look ace.

There was also some clear thought that went into the designs. Take the objective markers:

ObjectivesThey look good, they’re detailed but not to the point where you’ll avoid painting them but they’re designed to be as easy and cost-effective to cast as possible. The cannon especially is ace and would fit in on any fantasy or even steampunk board.

Equally the wall sets are simple but effective and can be painted in an hour. This doesn’t mean they lack detail, they just have the right detail. The magic stones are crumbling but still have the etchings on them telling of past glories. The generic walls look solid and hewn with the most basic tools.

WallsThe nice thing is that despite being cast from resin they feel solid and robust as any plastic kit and, again, suits just about any fantasy or steampunk board. For a fiver per section it’s pretty good value.

Now, scenery is all well and good. Especially scenery that does the job as efficiently and as cost effectively as these sets, but where it gets really good is the base toppers. I’ve never really been one for base toppers or pre-casts as I much prefer to do my basing the old-fashioned way. That said the bases from Terrain Geek, once again, strike the perfect balance between cool and practical.

basesIf I’m completely honest I can see the 3omm woodland bases being a bit of a faff to work with and as positioning could be limited the uniqueness of the bases could be impacted some what. That said they, and the stone and overgrown industrial ranges all look ace. Having just got my grubby little mits on a Warmachine starter set I can suddenly see the potential of the Industrial ranges as they all fit perfectly with Warmachine bases. A Warjack standing on a base of scrap would look awesome.

The other way cool thing is the 50mm base topper is perfect to mount Epic Titans on so the two Warhound Titans I just got from Forge World will get to be on proper manly bases rather than the tiny ones they’re supplied with.

I really like the base toppers. I really like the brilliant simplicity of them that can so easily be tarted up with the simple application of static grass or snow effect. I love the focussed ranges that keep the costs down but still offer a solution to most gamer’s needs. And I love the fact that each pack is only £2 a pop. So you can put scenic bases on 10 marines for £3.98. That’s not silly money. Granted a pot of sand from the Games Workshop will cost you £5.10 and it’ll base a lot more than 10 marines but it’s all the additions like scrap or bits of stone that’ll start the cost mounting.

I think what Terrain Geek has done with its range is present affordable, gaming standard, terrain and base toppers that look the part when you paint them and look the absolute balls when you put the effort in and a few tufts of grass or a sprinkling of snow. The resin is a good quality and has none of the waxy residue found on so many resin kits. It proves that resin is not the bank bustingly expensive material some companies will have us believe and that for not big money you can have a profound impact on your models and your board.

Ainsty New Releases and Christmas Offers

That lovely lot over at Ainsty Castings have not only released a raft of new lines just in time for your loved ones to buy and put under the Christmas tree, but they’re helping to make the pennies go that little bit further. Really ace to see a company in the community helping gamers out.

So, spend £50 on a single order and get 20% off. Spend £70 and get 20% off and free worldwide shipping. Considering some of the completely awesome sets Ainsty do – like the Flameblade Compound reviewed back in November last year – you’d be mad not to take advantage.

Below is a grab of all the goodies Ainsty has released in December. As usual I go straight to the industrial looking scenery and have a little yearn. Especially now as it’s perfect for the game I’ve developing…

 

Ainsty December Releases

Woodland Scenics – A Review

Many many (many many) months ago I got in touch with Woodland Scenics to write a review of some of their starter kits having seen pictures of scenery made by their products on the interwebs and was, generally, quite impressed.

The kits arrived and I was, if I’m honest, intimidated by the level of work that would be needed to build something. Not because it’s hard but because I lacked the (a) time, (b) patience & (c) the ability. However, I’m very fortunate to know a Chap who is a bit of scenery building guru. A certain Chap who worked for the Games Workshop around the same time as I did and was responsible for building some truly awesome boards in his store.

I refer, of course, to Lee of The Chaps. Passing him the two starter kits just prior to a game of Dystopian Wars a couple of days after getting the kits whilst I muttering; ‘Here, a present. All you have to do is build something awesome and write a review. But don’t take too long.’ Well 9 months isn’t that long I suppose. So, without further a do I hand the reigns of this post over to Lee and his review of Woodland Scenics.

I was happily plodding away with getting my FSA fleet (slowly) painted when Phil gave me two boxes of ‘scenery stuff’ and asked me to ‘build something awesome’ and write a review on how I got on.

The ‘stuff’ in question was two of the Learning Kits from scenery masters Woodland Scenics, specifically the Rock Face and Landscaping kits.  Being firmly in the Dystopian Wars groove, I thought building a nice big island to sail around/hide behind/crash into (Jeremy) would be the ideal piece to demonstrate the contents of the two kits quite nicely.

I’m fairly experienced at building scenery so I pretty much jumped straight into the Rock Face kit after a quick glance at the basic instructions on the box.  There are far more detailed guides on their website – but what can I say, I’m a cowboy.  Casting the faces from the mould was simplicity itself, just mix the correct ratio of powder with  water and hey presto; you’ve got a paste that dries fairly quickly to produce a good-sized slab like rock face and a smaller, more versatile, rocky strip.

Doing this first meant I could crack on producing the basic island structure while it dried.  I settled for a fairly standard largish island made from a hardboard base and polystyrene landmass, and figured I’d try and get two of the rock face moulds along one of the sides for the cliff.  Once I’d produced the second set of faces I played around with how they’d fit together without making it clear they were identical.  I ended up cutting one diagonally in half and a placing each ‘triangle’ either side of the intact rectangle piece. They were very easy to cut using a modelling saw which gave enough precision to keep the detail intact. The smaller strips from the mould came in very handy adding smaller height faces and fallen rock sections around the main cliff section.

You are also provided with a roll of plaster cloth to fix the cliffs in place and there is a very good reason for this – do not use glue, trust me. More on this in a moment.  After using up all the plaster cloth around the cliffs and over other areas of the island, I decided to add some areas of sand around the base of the cliffs to represent shingle using PVA glue (see what I did there?)

With the construction complete I moved on to the paints you also receive in the Rock face kit (it’s like they thought of everything) but these work in quite a specific way.  You dilute the paint to an almost wash like consistency and apply it directly to the Rock face which is made of Hydrocal.  Hydrocal is kind of like chalk and it soaks up the washes like a sponge giving a very realistic stone effect.

However, it doesn’t work if there’s something like glue preventing this from happening, and this was when I realised that gluing the sand on perhaps wasn’t the best way to go. I sorted it in the end, but the short of it is:  Do not use glue anywhere near Hydrocal. Ever.

It was now I dug into the landscape kit and discovered a green base coat paint with which to cover what would be the green areas of the island.  This stuff was great and gave a very nice muddy green tone with which to glue my choice of flock over afterwards.  And what a choice! There’s a flock for every occasion in there.  Along with a big bag of standard green you get another four types in various colours plus a bag of larger clumps to represent bushes or trees depending on your scale.

After a liberal coating of Scenic Cement using the spray gun included in the kit, I covered the muddy green base in the generic green and then added some of the lighter and darker shades to represent shadows, foliage etc.  It was here I ran into my second problem.  Make sure you shake the bottle of scenic cement thoroughly before using, and I do mean thoroughly.  I thought I had done this, but half way through covering the first layer of green flock in a sealing coat of cement a blob got clogged in the nozzle turning the fine mist into messy jet.  Needless to say, the flock did not stay where it was supposed to and a bit of a mess ensued.

Anyway, once this obstacle had been overcome, it was quite fun adding all the different shades and clump foliage pieces to create an effect as realistic as you want to achieve. A quick bit of paint on the hardboard to create the lapping ocean and the island was complete.

All in all the kits were great, and aside from the piece of hardboard and some polystyrene, provided all the materials you needed.  Plenty of them too, I only used barely a third of the bag of Hydrocal so there was easily enough to build another 4 moulds worth and only a fraction of the flocks included in the Landscaping kit.  The box says enough to do a 2’x2’ section and this would most definitely be the case.  The mould from the Rock face kit can be used repeatedly too so is actually a sound investment.

Just watch out for odd stumbling block that I ran into – or better yet, simply watch the videos on the website.

Warmill Scenery – A Review

For those who’ve never heard of Warmill, they’re a company based not far from me in sunny Bournemouth. The founders met at University on a design course and found they shared a passion for wargaming as well as design.

The idea behind Warmill is quite simple. Affordable, 28mm, gaming standard wargaming scenery. The scenery in question is laser cut multipart MDF kits. Warmill already offer a wide range of kits with more on the way including barricades, webway gates and Utility Pods and it’s all pretty cool looking stuff.

I got my hands on the FoodBooth 9000 and the Portable Utility Pod. The packs themselves are nicely presented and even came with some fluff about the scenery itself which was cool and gives a suggestion of where Ed & Harry plan on taking Warmill in the long-term.

Once you crack the seal you’re presented with some very neatly cut sprues of MDF with all the bits and bobs to make your little slice of science fiction landscape. You also get some instructions and you’ll need em because there are a lot of components, especially in the Utility Pod. The only problem is that although the parts are lettered by group in the instructions, they’re not on the sprues. Or anywhere else. It’s not really an issue with the FoodBooth as the sprues aren’t very cluttered and has relatively few small parts, it’s a bloody nightmare with the Utility Pod on the other hand and I did struggle to discern off cuts with bits I actually needed.

You’ve got to be careful getting the bits you need from the sprues as it won’t take much to break them, but in recognition of that the chaps at Warmill will replace any component that breaks whilst your punching it out, which is pretty decent of them. It does all come away quite cleanly providing you’re respectful of the material you’re working with. And it will need a little filing. The other thing is that the kits need gluing. This may seem pretty bloody obvious but my first impression was that it would all just press together. The precisions of the engineering is excellent  This means PVA glue so it’s not a quick build which isn’t the end of the world unless you want it for a game that day, then you’re stuffed.

The look of the kits is ace. I love the Utility Pod and how effortlessly it fits with other parts of the range and the character of the FoodBoth is what attracted me to Warmill in the first place. I do think that the technology lends itself to certain styles over others. I definitely think that more industrial looking designs work better over more organic looking structures.

The Warmill range is great and off to a strong start. I’m totally sold on the barricade systems and the Utility Pods. Certain details will look, inevitably, as flat as the MDF it’s made from and there’s no escaping that but you’re buying simple, gaming standard terrain. At the end of the day it’s laser cut wood. This isn’t a criticism as for laser cut wood it looks the tits, especially once it’s got some paint on it. It is a little on the expensive side – £23.99 for the booth – but it’s solidly built and light weight.

And I suppose that’s their unique selling point. Gaming standard terrain that’s easy to build, easy to paint and won’t take much to store. The instructions could be a little clearer and I think it would have a wider appeal if it was a little cheaper as being in the GW price range for simpler kits is a tough sell. But generally it looks ace, it goes together well and if you have a box of the stuff you won’t get a hernia.

Deathknell Watch Scenery

That’s right ladies and germs, another fecking massive tower from the Games Workshop to make games of Warhammer even more difficult to play than before. The Deathknell Watch kit is available to advance order.

The fluff from the Games Workshop website goes a little (exactly) like this:

Beyond the outskirts of Altdorf, high upon the Howling Hills, sits the lonely tower of Deathknell Watch. Legend tells that this skull-wrought tower has stood for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years, casting its grim shadow across travellers braving the dangerous passage of the Altdorf-Harstadt road. The architects of these sinister towers built them over arcane Wyrding Wells, using them to imbue the tower with potent magical defences. They are now maintained by the College of Engineers and garrisoned by sharp-eyed sentries during the day. No one wants to stay there at night though – it’s not because it’s haunted, it’s just very windy up there on top of the Howling Hills (not to mention pretty noisy). At 11 inches high, this mighty three-story edifice is capped with crenellated battlements and a distinctive bronze skeleton signalling device.

At £20 for a 43 part piece of scenery it’s actually pretty fantastic value. But if you didn’t like Skullvane Manse you’re probably not going to like this either as it’s essentially a condensed kit with all those stupid skull shaped rocks done away with. But as something cool on the board for Warhammer or Mordheim it’s not bad and far more practical than some other terrain pieces. But all it points towards is the Games Workshop wanting us to play bigger games on bigger boards…take that how you will.