Monday, 22 July 2013

Review: Tabletop World Cottage & Townhouse

Some of you may be familiar with Tabletop World, but for those of you who aren’t: they’re two dudes based in Croatia who make ridiculously detailed 28mm fantasy terrain. Behold:

Le Townhouse

Le Cottage

Pretty, no? Here’s the other facings of the buildings:

Since these were resin pieces, I was braced for Forgeworld levels of assembly, that is to say sturm, drang, and much gnashing of teeth in pursuit of beauty. Imagine my surprise, then, when it turned out that these buildings require no assembly whatsoever. They come in two parts, building and roof.

See? It just lifts off.

The only ‘assembly’ I did was just the usual resin preparation, i.e. washing the components to get any releasing agents off the mould, and filling a couple of bubbles with green stuff.

You may also be wondering what the point of having a lift-off roof might be. That, milord, would be a fully sculpted interior. Ahhhh yeahhh.

Since these buildings will almost always get used for wargaming rather than roleplaying, I haven’t yet bothered to paint the interiors, but hopefully you can see the wood grain in the photo below. If you check out the photos on their site, there’s plenty of good photos showing the interior detail.

It's not an unpainted interior, it's a black-painted
performance space optimised for a troupe of
avante-garde Old World thespians.

Build quality
The casting was extremely high quality, with only a couple of very small bubbles on each piece.

Since they’re big, one-piece castings, they’re also a lot more robust than a lot of resin kits, although I’d still be scared of treating them roughly – plastic scenery can take much more wear and tear in gaming club environments, but for home gaming I can’t see this being a problem.

It’s also worth mentioning that, from a layman’s perspective, Tabletop World’s casting techniques seem to break physics. How they can cast buckets, sacks et cetera onto the base and still be able to peel the moulds off the resin without breaking it I have no idea. This is probably less remarkable to someone in the know, but to me it’s delicious resiny witchcraft.

Ease of painting
There was one challenging aspect to painting these kits: the detail is so sharp, and so deep, that primer spray really struggled to get into the recesses. A lot of the time saved by not having to stick anything together was offset by spending a lot of time with some black paint, a brush, and 4,289,195 crevices.

Once everything was appropriately black, though, the painting was pretty quick; the well-defined textures make drybrushing easy.

The buildings are 28mm, but as we all know, scales can vary from company to company. For size comparison purposes, here’s a photo of a Games Workshop Empire Swordsman next to ‘em:

Bear in mind I’ve deliberately chosen a model standing upright (this guy’s a Greatsword kitbash). In the flesh, he looks to be more-or-less exactly as tall as the doors.

It’s fair to say that Tabletop World aren’t selling cheap; at roughly £30 after VAT, the cottage costs almost twice as much as GW’s £18 chapel. Bear in mind that, since the product is coming from Croatia, you can also expect some meaty delivery charges and wait of about three weeks after you order, although TW have said on their Facebook page that they’re planning on getting distributors to make the shipping process more practical.

Obviously, I felt the price they were asking was fair, or I wouldn’t have bought the kits. The build quality is incredible, they’re extremely easy to use, and satisfying to paint. They’ve just brought out another kit – the Merchant’s Shop – and I will be buying the hell out of it as soon as I’ve scraped enough shiny pennies together.

If there’s anything I’ve not covered here, feel free to drop a question in the comments, and I’ll happily elaborate!

EDIT: You can now see the finished interiors in this post.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Saving Blind Alfred

It was one of the hottest, sunniest, most beautiful days of the year. One can’t take these things for granted in Britain. The problem? Four of my oldest friends were converging on my little house for the weekend to play some wargames, and wargaming isn’t a famously outdoorsy pursuit. The solution?

Take the table outside and play on the patio.

We even made an awning/parasol by stringing some bedsheets off the clothesline, although gravity and our drive-by workmanship meant that it didn’t last. Sunburn and sheer relentless heat eventually forced us back inside, but the important thing was that we had very civilised fun.

And which scenario should we choose to play in this glorious sunshine but something set in the dead of night, of course. I shall describe it here in the hopes that it might provide some inspiration for anyone looking to do something outside your standard garden-variety Warhammer battle.

It’s pretty much impossible to tell what’s going on in the photo above, so let me provide some context.

In Bad Day on the Old Forest Road, a previously unknown and thoroughly vicious tribe of goblins known as the ‘Bittermoons’ claimed dominion over a chunk of Northwestern Hochland, and proceeded to beat the snot out of the first proper army sent in to clear them out. I blame the massive spider. Anyway, during my humiliating defeat, the Powderkegs broke from combat, and Blind Alfred the standard bearer was taken captive. Sad face.

Captain Brandt, being rather attached to the old codger, asked for volunteers to assist in a (rather optimistic) rescue. This rather swiftly got the approval of Count Ludenhof, who liked the morale boost that would come from an officer being seen to risk his neck for a few common soldiers. As such, he asked Dwalin to send Cedric Sneakfoot to ensure the mission’s success.

Cedric scopes out the Bittermoon encampment

With the help of Amelia, Fabian, and Stefan Rainer – a captain of Nordland whose arrival in Hochland seemed to put Amelia on edge – Oskar managed to sneak into the Bittermoons’ camp. Jeff acted as GM and set up a full six-foot table for us to sneak through, ensuring that roving patrols and sentries made life somewhat fraught. Mostly we avoided sentries so as not to risk raising the alarm, but at various points the heroes set ambushes for any patrols that were just impossible to avoid.

The heroes wait for the moment to stab a passing patrol in its collective back.

Jeff maintained a properly goblin-y atmosphere; the campfires all used the animosity rules, and several of them occasionally broke out in punch-ups over servings of mushroom soup and ratbitz. Likewise, the sentries suffered from Goblin Quality (TM), in that they’d roll a scatter dice and a D6 each turn to determine where they were looking during the rescuers’ turn. If their dice rolled a 1, there was a 50/50 chance – on a subsequent roll of 1-3, they’d fall asleep. On a 4-6, they’d think they heard something coming from whatever direction they were now looking in, and would call a false alarm. This was amusing when the sentries had all the patrols running over to check out some empty woodland, but it was totally hilarious (and/or terrifying) when a goblin accidentally pointed at the copse in which all the heroes were standing and sounded the alarm.

Once it became clear they'd been spotted, Amelia was quick to do really terminal
things to Joodi, the Bittermoon shaman, thus ending the ritual and heralding
the start of two rather frantic turns.

Having gone ‘loud,’ Amelia cast the boosted version of Soulblight, reducing the effectiveness of the rabble of goblins running towards the rescue party as they sprang from cover to grab the prisoners. The area effect was somewhat charmingly represented by the shadow of Tom’s umbrella:

Consequently, the two captains sent the goblins packing, and the prisoners were saved. Like all well-run stealth scenarios, it was tense as hell, and just as amusing when the sneaky part went unexpectedly to pot. Thanks Jeff!

Over the rest of the weekend, we played a fair few campaign games (if you’re new here, and don’t know what the campaign is but enjoy narrative-type stuff, HERE is a good starting place). The resulting campaign updates, in brief, are as follows:

- The de Crécys have been hiding in Hovelhof after Amelia did a number on Phillippe. That said, they didn’t want these new goblins to destroy their crop of perfectly drinkable humans. Etienne and Mallick  went south thinking ‘pff, goblins, how hard can this be?’ which is, of course, exactly what I thought until I fought Raggatt Neckchoppa for the first time. They lost almost as hard as I did.

- Next up on the Goblin chopping block were the Hochlanders, coming back for a second try. This time, the Empire secured a thoroughly phyyric victory in which only five models – Erhard and four of the Silver Drakes – saw off half the goblin army single-handed.

- We also fought our first subterranean battle, ramming together enough rock scenery to make a tunnel in which the Stormbournes fought to shore up one of the underground approaches to Karak Hoch. Turns out the goblin shaman living under Karak Hoch has become so desperate to shift the Stormbournes that he’s resorted to bad, bad magic. Jeff had this to say about the scenario:

Jeff says: Well, well, by far the most curious part - story wise - was what the hell the possessed/mutant/vampiric Goblin creature Hafnir fought. The challenge combat was ace, one of those where we were both using the dice rolls to tell a story. Wound up with a mutant creature hanging from Hafnir's shield and the big man, hauling him off and smashing him down onto a table of shields raised by his men before finally, desperately, decapitating the creature. More scenearios will be needed before I find out what the hell the Blue Moons are doing underneath MY mountain! 

- Back down south, Raggatt got overconfident, and decided to expand his already substantial territory. He marched on the ruins of Garssen, not realising that it had been fortified by reinforcements from Middenland. Turns out, massive spiders aren’t cannon-retardant. Heh, heh.

As of now, then, here’s the updated campaign map. Note the increasing numbers of re-inhabited Empire towns. Hochland may yet endure!

Finally, props to Mike and his camera skills, without which this post would be significantly less visually appealing.


Monday, 8 July 2013

Those Magnificent Green Men in their Flying Machine...

They go up, diddy up up, they go splat, spl-a-at...

I don't often share Work In Progress stuff but this has turned out great so I couldn't wait! I wanted to add a Doom Diver to the growing Gobbo horde but... I kinda like the current one but it is a whole hell of a lot of money for what it is. I set my brain to musing. Then I saw one of those clown cannons on the telly and everything swam into place. A quick search on ebay gave me some classic doom diver crew members (the one with furled wings is in the post). Add in a looted Empire mortar and some converted crew and the Doom Diver Mortar is born!

This surly fellow is the loader/primer for the mortar. The mushroom stoppered jug contains the fine ground powder needed to fill the touchhole. The big ol' scoop is a powder measure for the main charge but I doubt that goblins figured out precision measurements and just ladel it in "to taste".

Some of the componants are a little wonky as I've left the mortar in unglued sub assemblies. The firin' goblin is another easy conversion adding the slow match from the empire gunner to the end of the spear he comes with.

Thats all folks, just a quickee, but a nifty one!