Posts Tagged Review

Woods and hills and ruins, oh my!

My second shipment of Battlefield in a Box scenery has arrived, courtesy of those splendid chaps at Firestorm Games.

Once again I am really pleased with the quality of what I’ve received. The terrain is good and sturdy and the pre-painting is done well. The little bags of flock and static grass included in the packs are a nice touch, but I’m actually thinking that a better idea might be to use the pot of unused modeling snow I have on my gaming shelf and doing a winter table.

Despite what I posted in my previous review, the BiaB pine wood sets are available once again. I ordered a large woods and a small woods. The main difference between them being the size of the trees. Both come with two area bases that will neatly define the woods for the purpose of ‘area terrain’ style rules, upon which you can place the model trees. I quite like the contrast between the stately tall trees of the large set and the smaller clustered trees of the small set. I think a good effect could be acheived my mixing the two sizes on a single base. The advantage of having removable trees makes it easier to place large monsters such as a Carnifex in the woods while still knowing that the area terrain rules will have them covered.

I’m particularly happy with the extra large rocky hill. Despite the name it’s not too huge and is a nice sturdy hill that no one will have problems balancing models on. A nice bonus is that this hill could very, very easily be used as an island in games of Dystopian Wars. Indeed, the bases from the wood sets could also be used as low lying sandbars. (Actually, thinking about it, the rocky outcrops I blogged about last time could be used as asteroids in Firestorm Armada.)

The Crumbling Remnants set is a nice ruin in the same style as the Broken Facade I reviewed last time. It’s nice having these more interesting ruins though in the longer term I think a few more conventional ruins would be good to add to the mix.

I’m really pleased with my scenery collection to date. I might add a few more pieces, in particular an extra hill or two but I think I have enough to have a fairly good game of 40k or similar on a standard size table.

Once I have bought my table I will post some pictures of everything set up.

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Heavy Metal Wars

As regular readers of my geeky musings will know, I recently got interested in Warmachine by Privateer Press. Following my intro game (written about here) I ordered the Two Player Starter Box via the nice chaps at Firestorm Games. Following a one week delay to the release date. I finally received my box early last week.

My Two Player Starter Box!

Although I’ve been looking at Warmachine stuff for a few months now, this is my first ever purchase. So this is very much a newcomer’s perspective.

The first thing I noticed was how small the box was. It was perhaps a third of the size of the similarly priced Games Workshop starter sets. But I had certainly not been short changed. The box contains two small forces, for Khador and the Protectorate of Menoth, as well as a ‘travel sized’ rulebook, introduction guide, quick start rules, unit stat cards, a card ruler, and a mini-issue of No Quarter magazine.

The Models

The Books

The only thing the box really lacks is a set of weapon effect templates. This is probably my biggest quibble about the contents as I know some of the models in the box have weapons that use the templates.

The Other Bits

The mini-issue of No Quarter is a nice touch offering a bit more insight into the world of the Iron Kingdoms and including a brief Khador vs Trollbloods battle report. The introduction guide give a brief but useful overview of the Warmachine factions (and an even briefer rundown of the factions from Hordes) as well as a more detailed look at the factions in the box, including a look at the specific models included.

In total the box contains two warcasters, four heavy warjacks, one light warjack and ten heavy infantry models. Not a bad haul, especially one you realise The models are actually resin rather than plastic as I initially thought.

Menoth Force

Part of the reason the box was so small was that the miniatures don’t come on sprues the way those in GW starter boxes do. All the parts are clipped out and bagged up nicely into the respective sets so nothing gets lost. That said, a lot of the parts – most especially weapons like axes, maces and polearms – in my set were slightly warped. I’m not sure if this happened during casting or this was the result of loose parts being crammed into a box. Still a bit annoying however it happened.

Vanquisher Warjack

The biggest challenge with this box was assembling the models. Initially I had problems because I tried to use poly cement as I had not realised the models were actually resin rather than plastic – though in my own defence this is not really made clear anywhere. Even when I switched to superglue though it was slow, frustrating going. The time involved in having to hold pieces together while the superglue set was a a bit frustrating. It wasn’t helped by a lot of the joints between parts not fitting as well as I would have liked. I recommend to anyone assembling the contents of this box to have some podcasts lined up or to stick the extended cut of your favourite film on the DVD.

Kreoss and Sorcha

Of course, the figures you get in this box are not specially designed for the starter box the way the miniatures in the Assault on Black Reach or Isle of Blood boxes are. So on one level it’s nice that you are getting the ‘real’ miniatures and will not have to worry about integrating starter models into an army. But the advantage of of the models in the GW sets is that you can clip them out and click them together in a relatively short amount of time and get on with playing your first game. There is going to be a significantly bigger lead in time needed to build these models.

Khador Force

On the other hand, the miniatures in the starter box set do represent legitimate, table-ready armies (20 points for Khador, 21 for Menoth). Given that 25 points is a very popular game size, players starting with the forces in this box only have to beg, steal or borrow four or five more points worth of models – for example a unit of six Khador Winter Guard Riflemen – to be playing games at a reasonable size. There certainly is not the same pressure to get out buying extra toys straight away.

Juggernaut Warjack

The fact that Warmachine requires a relatively small number of models somewhat mitigates the frustration involved in assembling them. Certainly I will never have to assemble that many multi-part resin models all at once ever again.

Khador Shocktrooper

Of the models in the box, my favourites are the Khador Man O War Shocktroopers. Nice chunky models with a decent amount of detail and relatively easy to assemble. The hardest to build was probably the Repenter light warjack, but by least favourite overall are probably the Menoth Cinerator heavy infantry. Though that is just a matter of personal taste rather than anything inherently wrong with the models, though they are the least poseable of the models included.

Whether this set is a good investment is a bit of a subjective question. If you are interested in collecting Khador and/or Menoth it’s a steal. Even if you only really want one of the factions you do quite well even before you factor in the possibility of selling or swapping the stuff you don’t want. Plus you can delay selling off the unwanted stuff until you have had a few practice games that will help you get your brain round the rules. You might even convert a friend to the game and sell your spare stuff to them. If you’re not interested in Menoth or Khador you might be better off steering clear of this set. The small rulebook is handy, but the standard Warmachine Mk II rulebook isn’t exactly huge (It’s maybe a quarter of the size of the Warhammer rulebook) so if you buy the paperback version it should prove fairly portable. Players starting with the standard rulebook and a battle box might not get quite as good a deal. But there’s no point getting a good deal on something you don’t really want.

Overall, I’m fairly happy with the contents of the box, though I feel slightly disappointed by the number of warped models in my copy. I was also extremely frustrated by assembly of the models, which is galling in a starter box which is supposed to help people ease into a hobby. I look forward to being able to have a few practice games with the set. Maybe I can even convince @CaitoGalenus to give it a go in the name of game related blogging.

My feeling so far though, is that while Warmachine is a good game with a cool setting, I’ve not yet been impressed enough for it to be anywhere near overtaking Firestorm Armada or Dystopian Wars and becoming my ‘main’ game for now. We shall see how I feel after a few games.

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Battlefield in a Box

It’s been a long time since I’ve had my own gaming table. Back in the day I used scenery cobbled together from polystyrene tiles and miscellaneous junk, with a few cardboard buildings mixed in.

As I get more into gaming again (following a few years of hovering on the periphery), I’m starting to think about getting a table to play on again. The basic table can be sourced from B&Q (other hardware stores are available) like the old one was. But there are a wide range of model scenery providers available these days.

My eye was caught by the Battlefield in a Box range produced by Gale Force Nine. They produce a range of resin scenery that, crucially, comes pre assembled and pre painted. Which is a boon to us gamers who barely have time to paint our actual models.

BiaB produce specialised scenery for Flames of War the 15mm WW2 game. But the also produce a range of generic scenery for 28mm games. The generic scenery is what I’m interested in. It’s generic nature will make it suitable for playing 40k or Warmachine, and some of it could be easily re-purposed for use in Dystopian Wars (using hills as islands for example).

A week or so ago I ordered the BiaB Rocky Outcrop set through those nice chaps at Firestorm Games. The box arrived last Monday. I chose this set because it looked like a good, but relatively inexpensive set I could use to gauge the quality of the products.

I was cautiously optimistic about what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised by what I received. For a start there were more pieces in the set than I expected, all of a different size and shape. Enough to be able to put quite a large and diverse boulder field down on the tabletop. The pieces were well packaged in sturdy polystyrene, ideal for storage.

Assault Marine amongst Rocky Outcrops

Most importantly, the quality was really good. The pieces were cast in resin, giving them a nice feeling of solidity, and meaning they are unlikely to be displaced by over enthusiastic dice throws. The paint job on them was also pretty good, certainly good enough for the table top but with no danger of overshadowing your own painted models.

Rocks

Spurred by this positive experience I went on to invest in some of the BiaB ruined buildings (thanks to an unexpected surplus in my toy budget). I went for the Small Ruin, Medium Ruin, Gallery of Valour and Broken Fa├žade sets. After I got over my surprise at the size of the box the delivery came in, I eagerly unpacked the new stuff.

Gallery of Valour

The ruins are also pretty cool, they are also nice and sturdy and well painted and it’s nice to be able to put down a variety of ruined shapes to give a better impression of a whole settlement that is now in ruins. That said, each box only contains one or two pieces and it would be necessary to invest in quite a few to get a really well covered table.

Broken Facade

I’m quite happy with my purchases. And hope to be able to use them in a real game before too long. They’re not the cheapest terrain option out there but, the extra pound or so to get something that is already painted, and done so to a good standard, is well worth it if you are pushed for time or prefer to concentrate in your army. That said, you will have to make a substantial outlay for enough stuff to cover a table. Storage might also be an issue. Each set comes well packed in polystyrene, but storing them in their boxes might mean you run out of space pretty quickly, while storing therm unboxed could lead to chips or breakages.

Medium Corner Ruins

One word of caution though. Several pieces from the range (such as the Rocky Hill sets) are currently unavailable through most channels and others such as the Pine Forest and Rocky Outcrops are currently difficult to get hold of. Anyone looking to furnish their table through BiaB should think about whether they want to wait until the sets that will allow a pine scattered rocky landscape are available again or instead go for the Palm Tree, Oasis and Desert Hill sets instead. Your choice of game/army/preferred scenario might help you make that decision.

Small Corner Ruins

Hope this review is useful to you. I’ll post more as I add to the collection.

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