Initial Impressions: Walled Ambassador’s Residence Set

As a modern wargamer bogged down in endless tiny conflicts in the Middle East, it can occasionally be difficult to find suitable buildings to fight through. Many I’ve covered here, but otherwise, you’re stuck picking up a whole host of generic adobes that don’t quite have the same feeling as the built-up and developed areas of key cities in the MENA region.

One key element of the more well-to-do areas in many of these places are walled compounds, either around public buildings and richer families. Differing from the adobe walls of the rural region (mostly through the visual side), these walls provide a very interesting set of challenges for a wargaming commander, forcing troops into killzones or requiring the use of tactical equipment to cross them.

In partnership with Footsore North America (formerly SASM), Sarissa Precision has released a range inspired certain compounds in Libya. To nitpick, technically the design on the buildings is closer to the CIA annex rather the main Ambassador’s compound immortalised in 13 Hours. However, no matter what the inspiration is, they do provide an easily purchased way to build up your own modern-day compound to storm/defend.


Walls

The key feature of any walled compound is, of course, the walls! Comprised of three pieces of MDF and two slices of greyboard, assembly on these sets are super easy. Wide piece at the base, thin piece at the top, place greyboard on each side. Done in literally 2 minutes. The wall segments are each 8 inches long and you get four of them in the separate packs (although only two of this smaller size are included in the Walled Ambassador’s Residence Set).

The main comment about these walls is the height. These are not minor obstacles, there are taller than a man and would require teamwork to cross. They would definitely do the job for marking out a protected building or just catching the eye when setting the table up.

I could also see them being easily modified with a few additional touches. Treadheadz on facebook has done some breached walls (something I may do with one of my additional sets) but there are plenty of other little tweaks. For example, some razor wire could easily be strung along the top if you really don’t want any visitors.

Posts

Of course, the wall panels above may look sturdy, but without proper support they will fall over to even the most minor explosive or errant arm. for this reason, most of the kits in the range include a common post design. The other elements have a pair of hooks on each side, that in turn slot into the posts for stability. The elements are also designed to match the base of the posts, removing any unwanted gaps in the base.

The vertical component of the post are actually four matching pieces. Two of them have slits cut to take the element hooks, while the other two are bare. The slitted portions have a pin that goes into the base, while their counterparts protrude slightly upwards, slotting into the top portion before being covered by a topping piece. By default, the posts are designed to be assembled as passthrough supports, connecting opposite sides to extend the walls.

However, it is important to note that the base has four slots that the bottom pins can fit into. This means that, if you wanted to add some variation to the look of your compounds, you could assemble the posts to make some right-angled turns or even create a T-shaped arrangement through the use of upright pieces from other posts. This does require a little modification, shaving down the top prong seeing as there is no longer a slot to slide into.

Corners

You could simply assemble the posts detailed above to create the corners of your compound, but the more visually pleasing (and more accurate) version is included in the kit. These curved walls are really clever in terms of construction, letting you have the curved shape, without losing the sturdiness of the rest of the MDF kits.

Rather being entirely MDF, only the core structure (the two end walls, the base and the roof) are made from wood. The actual curve is greyboard, with two interior pieces clamped between two exterior pieces. The design works really well – I’d also add the interior pieces can be put in either way around with no issues (the outer pieces covers any gaps).

Entrance

Of course, every compound needs an entranceway. And with this being a secure compound, it needs the proper place to check over anyone who approaches. The entrance is actually made up of several pieces, all tied together with the same hook and lot posts used in the rest of the system.

The main focus is, of course, the gate. A baseboard with two pillars attached (with slots on both sides for alternative uses), the actual gates themselves can swing freely letting you open and close them as the game requires. They can also be easily removed for storage (or if someone decides to risk ramming them mid-game). The gate style is definitely wrought iron and simple, but you could easily replace them with something different thanks to the ease of removal.

As well as the main gates, there are also two corner pieces. One is a normal corner piece (as detailed above) but the other is an armoured gate house. This has an internal door and an external window beside the gate. Much like the other corner pieces, it’s a similar construction

Now you may notice, I made a bit of a mess with it. I hadn’t realised that the inset piece is supposed to be a locator piece for the roof. I, of course, didn’t realise this until I’d glued it all together and then realised there was no way to access the interior. So I had to take a claw hammer to it to break the super glue before assembling it the correct way around. Luckily my textured spray paint should help to cover up the mistakes.

The entrance pack also includes an extra-long wall piece to match the gate assemblies size. This means you can easily assemble a square compound, without needing strange sizes of MDF wall. Apart from the size, it’s exactly the same as the normal walls.

Residence

Of course, there is no point in assembling an enclosed compound if there is nothing to enclose. The compound comes the Ambassador’s Residence, a medium-sized open-plan building with plenty of room on the room for a last-ditch defence.

So this was the midpoint of assembly and honestly, it was a pig getting the basic frame together. Things snapped, slots didn’t align and in the end, I swore quite a lot. I assume most of it was down to my own cackhandedness rather a particular design flaw, but be aware when assembling just in case you end up with a few missing elements to the doorways.

On the other hand, I am a big fan of how the edge of the roof is assembled. This is made out of three pieces of MDF per straight section. A central structural piece goes in first, followed by an outer piece (using the extended pegs from the roof) before a final, interior detail piece is added. I really like the effect this has – the roof feels like it has some real depth to it.

In addition to the main building, there is also a small single-room building. As you can see in the picture, it’s designed to be placed on top of the main building, taking the role of some rooftop quarters or interior access. However, I personally think it looks a little cramped, especially once figures, details and scatter are placed on the roof. This shed will definitely end up being used as a separate annex building.

Finally, a few touches I just had to mention. Both roofs have a ventilation unit in place. Although super simple (5 pieces of MDF, 4 of which are the same) I think it really adds to the look of the rooftop. Similarly, there is also a solar panel setup included on the sprues. It’s free-standing, so feel free to place it anywhere.


So that’s all the pieces, what does the compound as a whole look like? Well, here it is, along with a WIP vehicle and civilian to get a sense of the scale.

Assembly of the final compound is super simple. Using the hook and slot system, you just need to clip each piece together until you’ve connected them all up. The slots can be a little tight but I’ve not yet felt like something is about to break while building. There is also a useful amount of flex/give in the pieces once all put together – not enough for players to notice, but still easy to actually get everything apart again at the end of the night.

Overall the basic compound rough fills a two foot square on the board. This size definitely feels a little snug in my opinion, ideal for a single focus building (like a medium-sized house) and maybe. It does not fit anything like the Knights of Dice apartment blocks in its current state but can still fit some of the larger buildings from Sarissa’s other ranges (such as the colonial buildings). With the items included in the box, I’d also say it’s a little on the small side if the compound is the sole extent of the playing area. Without much dead ground to fill with scatter, games will end up being very short or not particularly interesting. This, to me, feels like a compound that plays a part in a larger table, without overstaying it’s welcome – somewhere for the players to be fighting to, from or alongside rather than just through.

Of course, this is just a bundle. You can buy all the various pieces separately – the wall pack, gates and corners all include plenty of posts while more of the residences would let you add additional structures in this style to your game. I have two sets of walls, a set of corners and another entrance gate. By using all of these, I should be able to assemble two of the normal-sized compounds or simply extend one out to a larger size, allowing for fighting actually inside the walls. Expect another article soon, once I’ve assembled all the various bits of MDF lying around my flat and have made some giant compounds.


Final thoughts? I think this is a great kit for anyone looking to play modern wargaming in a more built-up area. Being able to buy a series of walls that can be easily re-arranged and stored is a great time saver. The style of the kit could fit into most places in the modern world, not just in the MENA region. So no matter if you’re assembling a drug lord’s palace in South America or building up an embassy to be defended, I think this is definitely a range worth taking a look at.

Initial Impressions: Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa – Desert Villas

Way back in the November of 2017, I wrote an initial impressions of the Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa range. And approaching two years later… I haven’t advanced very far. However, Knights of Dice has continued to work, producing much more in their ranges. One thing especially interesting for me, however, is the Tabula Rasa villa range. As someone who is starting to really like buildings, you can actually fight through rather than just around, adding some larger multi-room buildings should help to make my games more interesting.

As a rough overall point, all three buildings are wonderful things to assemble. They pop easily from sprue, with very little work needed in terms of clean up. The construction is also nice and easy, in many cases tight enough to dry-fit the entire thing before only adding a little glue to secure them . One comment is that the sprues this time around are definitely on the larger side to support the larger footprint for the buildings, so expect some larger delivery boxes.

I did have a few issues with some missing pieces from the sets. None of these would have stopped construction (a missing step and a barrier) but both could be easily replaced from offcuts. In addition, Knights of Dice support is fantastic so missing pieces will be quickly sent out.

Above you can see the rough scale of the doors and windows. You can also see the details – these buildings are really just shells, lacking in pretty much all detail except structural elements such as interior walls and staircases. This is not a negative, it’s just pointing out the feature of this range.

Most importantly, stairs! In the original review, I picked out the almost smooth stairs a major negative. Well, it seems that KoD heard all about it and decided to tweak them to make them look a little more playable. I think the compromise makes them playable while not ruining the look.

Pictured here on the left is Compound 1 from the original release next to the villas. As you can see, the new buildings are on a larger footprint, with much larger second floors and often access to the rooftops. They feel a lot more like some of the hard work is done to make them into interesting games.


Villa 1

The first building up is a two-storey structure with access to the roof. This building looks like some town centre building, with a covered outdoor walkway and flat roof above. The interior is split into several rooms, two on each floor.

The pack also includes a removable ladder, ideal for quickly accessing the roof. You can also see just how many firing positions this building has, perfect for defending and a nightmare to assault.

Broken down you can see just how much floor space is available. Although only two rooms per floor, there is plenty of space to move through, with plenty of choke points to fight through. Additionally, I like the stairs having a little cover when you climb them.


Villa 2

Villa 2 is a bit more modern, offer a two-storey building with balcony and roof access, ideal for sunbathing, filming enemy forces or siting a heavy weapon.

Interesting to note, this building only has two ground floor doors on this side which could be an interesting tactical challenge. This building also supports the ladder from building 1, if you want to vary it up.

Broken down, you can see this building is mostly larger rooms, with the upstairs being only one interior room before leading outside.


Villa 3

Villa 3 is a bit of strange one. Apart from the very different style and fancy steps, this feels like a building from the original releases. However, with the sloping roof and elevated window, it is pretty distinctive on the tabletop.

Looking at the rear, you can see the side entrance. This passes under the stairs, which I should warn you includes a perfect hidey hole for ambushing assaulters.

Broken out, both floors only have a single large room. It’s also interesting to note that both floors have blind spots the other floor manages to expose – something to think about then placing them.


Villa 4

Finally, VIlla 4. This one looks and feels like a very modern building, a gently sloping roof combined with an exterior balcony

The backside shows the entrance locations and the multiple windows, as well as a better shot of the gently sloping roof angle. As you can see, there are plenty of firing points on this side, making assaulting it a genuine challenge.

This is probably the busiest of the four buildings, with a total of 5 rooms and a balcony. It also provides multiple entry points. on the two floors (ignoring the action movie technique of setting up a ladder onto the balcony itself. The two smaller rooms at the back of the house will be pretty interesting to take control of, especially without grenades.


Conclusion

So what do I think of them? Well, I love seeing the improvement to design these buildings show – they feel like Knights of Dice have learned from the original release and these now feel more like real buildings. As I keep banging on about, having buildings you can actually CQB through, rather than just treating as “occupied” or “unoccupied”, really lifts games from just simple skirmishes to feeling much more interesting.

At the same time, these are Tabula Rasa buildings. If you want something you buy, spray paint and then put on the table then I don’t think these are necessarily the best idea. They would be fine but they are really asking to have all the little detailing work, to give them that extra touch. But that said, I think these are the perfect starting point to just go wild with it.

Now, time to go get some more air con units and and bits of plasticard…

Impressions: Black Site Studios – War Zone Arabia

As a man with a sizeable collection of unpainted MDF, making it tabletop ready requires a big chunk of time and special techniques to get it ready for the tabletop. Between getting the right texture on and making sure the Agrax is deployed enough without bankrupting you, it does all build up. So the idea of purchasing pre-painted MDF can be pretty attractive.

There are a few companies doing it but the selection for gaming in the Middle East or North Africa is pretty limited. Luckily, Black Site Studios in the US have kicked off their War Zone Arabia range, bringing a load of buildings to fit the Middle Eastern zone. Spectre Miniatures were offering a pre-order on their products in the UK for a limited time and I just had to pick up a trio to try out.

First of all, let’s talk the basics. All the buildings arrive in a mixture of MDF and greyboard, laser-cut into pieces and ready to be popped from the sprue. Most of the building Sprue removed was relatively easy, although I did find a good few cases where some clean-up had to be done after removing from the sprue. Overall the kits all feel very nicely designed and well manufactured.

Instructions are available from the Black Site Studios website and are simple and easy to assemble. As with all MDF buildings, I really recommend dry-fitting everything, making sure they fit properly before applying the glue. There were some really snug fits, especially with the interior and exterior walls being separate pieces and needing to fit together. In a few cases, a little bit of percussive construction assistance was used just to make it all fit. However, aside from one piece seeming to need to be reversed, everything fitted together well, with tools only needed for a little bit of clean up. On the other hand, I need to stress that you should definitely read the instructions – I ended up skipping the outer decorative pieces when assembling the largest building and ended up unable to assemble them as intended (as you can see in the picture at the top).

For all the positives I do have to give a warning about the staircases. They are a monster to assemble, requiring the lining up of several steps and their locator pins between two outer pieces. I assembled three sets in the course of these buildings and each one was incredibly annoying. Additionally, the steps seem to be designed for figures mounted to penny bases, with incredibly small gaps between them. For everyone else, you either let the figures slip and slide or else just make sure people stand at the top and bottom of the staircases.


The first building I constructed is the Abboud Trading Company. The smallest of the buildings available, the building is a perfect store for your MENA street. With a roll-up door over a wide entrance, it’s easy to picture it being rolled up as the day starts, various goods waiting inside to be bought and sold. Alternatively, this may be where the HVT goes to ground, operators moving up to breach through the door and drag them out.

Around the back, you can see an additional entry, making the building perfect to fight through and presenting a challenge when defending. Additionally, the low walls on the partially assembled roof leads to some interesting fighting positions.

As you can see inside, there is a serving counter between the main door and the roll-up access. There is enough space to roll in a vehicle, letting you use this as a handy garage to hide key objectives in. Additionally, there is plenty of space inside for players to move around and actually fight, even on standard-sized 25mm bases. This is a common theme across all the buildings I noticed.


The next set is Turhan Imports. A single large room with staircase access to the roof, this building actually works really great when sat next to the trading company or assembled into a small compound. A big feature of this building is the cracked plaster on the other walls, the cream coloured greyboard placed over pale MDF brickwork. I think it works really well, especially from tabletop height.

At the rear, you can see one of those dammed staircases I mentioned further up. As you can see in the breakdown below, this piece is separate, letting you replace it with a ladder if you want to adjust the look. One thing I will mention is the piece of plaster you can see on the staircase. These pieces were not on the instructions, perfect for making each building look different. I think this is especially important if you were running multiple buildings on the same board.

Broken apart, you can see the building is a single large room. One trend through all of these is that the buildings ask for plenty of interior elements, a scattering of tables, sofas and chairs ready to be flipped for cover when people breach and clear.


Finally, lets take a look at the Temara Safehouse. And Oh Boy.

This building is huge. Like, seriously huge. With a footprint of over 1′ x 1′, you could very easily use this building as a game board all by itself. With multiple entry points, access to both floors and interior rooms, this is an assaulter’s nightmare.

As you can see on the other side, there are plenty of access and firing points to utilise. You can also see some of the incredibly nice detail work that is a stand out element of these kits. From the windows to the guard rail around the roof, these buildings definitely feel the part while also definitely being different from the rough adobes that are the go-to for the Middle East.

Now, this really is the money shot. By taking the building apart you can see just how much space for activities there are inside. Three rooms on the ground floor with two more above gives you plenty of spaces to sweep and clear. In addition, you can see the first floor has two staircases to allow access. Overall, this is one hell of an addition to any terrain range.


Overall, I am very impressed with the Black Site Studios buildings. Ignoring the fact the design of these constructions filled my brain with thoughts of Insurgency Sandstorm’s urban conflict zones, there are plenty of really nicely designed bits to them. Each building feels evocative, both fitting the range but also feeling something unique. I’m also a fan of them being very playable – opening doors, sensible access to all the rooms and space to move through, rather than just cramming figures in. The variety through the three buildings is also pretty spectacular – I’d love to see where else this range could go.

Am I going to throw all my unpainted buildings aware and swear only to buy prepainted? Honestly, no. I think these do an excellent job of letting you get past the painting stage and ready for the table, but I think I’ll be going back and painting these. It really comes down to two things – texture and me being a cack-handed fool. Spray-on texture just makes the MDF pop while a good paint job helps to cover up places where I made a mistake during assembly or let the glue on fingertips attach themselves to the greyboard. However, if this doesn’t interest you (or you can assemble them without being a moron) then I think these buildings are a fantastic purchase.

Now someone stop me before I buy all the compound walls I can cover myself in…

Project: B-Town – Part 1: More Impressions and Project Begins

It’s time for a new project! With the completion of Operation Dragon’s Hoard, my scenery projects have run dry (and less full of downed planes and dust). However, that doesn’t mean my terrain collection is all good to go. Since I started wargaming, I’ve slowly been collecting more and more MDF, all ready for a day when I run a full size game set in a city (as planned for a future part of the CGS series).

As you can see by my picture of shame taken in March, there is a lot of MDF to paint. And what’s worse, it’s all assembled (due to me mainly wanting to write about it) so painting is going to be interesting. To help with that, I’m organising it into a new project. Nicknamed “B-Town” the aim here is to assemble, modify and paint all my MDF to make it suitable for a modern day urban area somewhere in Bazistan/Aden. The target is to use this process to learn modification techniques to turn simple MDF into more detailed structures, learn painting techniques to get the terrain painted quickly and effectively and work on assembling the required scatter terrain to really make the scene look more realistic and interesting to play over.

This project is going to take a while and I’m sure I’m going to find ways to keep adding to it but for now lets start by taking a look at a few new purchases.


In my initial look at the Sarissa’s North Africa/Colonial Range, I focused on the big boys – multi-storey and street filling structures that are specific to range. However, there were also a few smaller buildings that Sarissa offer that I hadn’t picked up in the initial order. After having built the others I realised that maybe I should pick some up to use as prototypes for painting – after all, I’d rather ruin at £10 building than one of the larger ones.

As before, both kits arrived in the usual Sarissa packaging. It was interesting to see that the small building was only on A5 MDF rather than the cut used for all the others. Quality was high as ever and assembly matched pretty closely to the kits covered in part 1.


Small House

The first building in this set is the smallest building in the range. It’s also super simple – two doors, five windows and a lift on/off roof.

The rear view shows more of the access points as well as some of the laser cut details

With the roof removed, you can see the interior. It’s a simple single room with two entrance ways. I had an issue where one of the greyboard panels where it seemed reversed but managed to fix it by trimming out the


House – Two Storey

Building 2 occupies a similar footprint but extends it with another floor, including a balcony.

As you can see from the rear there is an additional door onto the ground floor. It’s interesting to see that there are no side windows on the ground floor, making it easy to outflank but limiting entry.

Like other buildings in the range, the interior are empty cells. An interesting note is that due to the same plug system used for the room, the ground floor could be replaced with the one storey house or the two storey could be converted into a single – with two doorways, it’s perfect for a security office in a compound.


Picking up these two buildings, really started to let me see some of the possibilities you can get with this range. Although the large buildings are very impressive, multiple small ones will help to quickly make any neighbourhood large, especially as they could be used in a modular fashion to make a wide variety of different buildings. I’m not going to rush to pick up more but it’s something to think about for the future.


Of course, I can’t leave you with just a simple impressions piece. In between my time at work, I managed to get some paint onto buildings. As planned, I’m starting with the smallest Colonial building to work out my method.

Due to the fact I’m working with buildings that are already assembled in this project, I can’t start from a sensible place like base-coating on the sprue. Instead, I’m having to mask areas I’m not wanting to cover in textured spray, such as doors and windows.

So here is my process for the first building. It’s not 100% finished – I’m still debating adding window glass on the inside.

  1. Assemble
  2. Mask off windows and doors
  3. Textured spray with roof on
  4. Remove masking pieces and roof
  5. Spray Black Undercoat
  6. Spray Grey Undercoat
  7. Spray White
  8. Dusting of Tan spray on the lower edges
  9. Paint doors with a dilute blue to bring out the lasercut detail
  10. Nuln Oil wash for vertical surface, Agrax Earthshade for the flat surfaces
  11. Roughly paint/drybrush white
  12. Apply scrunched poster, hit with a Nuln oil wash

For a first attempt I’m reasonably happy. There are a couple of things I’m going to tweak. First of all, I don’t think I need to spray black AND grey. The grey is pretty dark and it covers the main role of the black (covering up the black and white of the textured spray/giving the same “dark up” feel that my figures have). The poster is something else – I think I over handled it causing it to tear and smudge. A layer of wash was needed to stop is standing out too much but I used a dirty brush. Next time, clean between uses.

The big thing is I’m going to take a bit more time on future spraying. I painted up these relatively quickly (probably 1.5 evenings) which meant I didn’t leave the spray paint long enough to settle. This lead to some odd textures and cracking you can see if you look closely. If anyone asks, it’s just the plaster cracking. Another tweak will be to change the final finish colour – looking at buildings in Yemen (the geographical area of Bazistan) and there is a nice mixture of colours from white to shades of brown. Due to the fact the buildings share many of the same features, a colour tweak will make the city look a bit more varied.


What’s next?

The next part of the project is going to work on the other colonial buildings so I can have a core set of buildings painted up. However, I need to look into some detailing parts to help them look more modern such as air conditioning units, metal bars around the windows, wiring and aerials. I already have a few but I want to expand my options and see what is out there. Having now started this project, I’m really looking forward to getting a board covered in painted up buildings.

Spectre Jersey Barriers

If there is one thing any gamer knows, every battlefield should be littered a number of chest high walls perfect for hiding behind and funnelling enemies into killzones.. While thinking about balancing out my demo game and looking through my list of unassembled projects, I realised that I could kill two birds with one stone by building some more cover points for the insurgents. Time to assemble some Jersey Barriers.

The starting point was Spectre’s Barricades Alfa. I bought this pack ages ago when they were first released and really liked them (as you can see in my original scatter post) but never got round to painting them. Part of this was working out the best way to use them. I could leave them loose for the most flexibility but it would put them at risk of being constantly knocked around by stray arms and vehicles. The other option, slightly more limiting but likely to look better, was to put them into groups. This was the option I went for.

The first step was assembling the bases. I went for some straight-ish elements that look like emplacements without being too rigid. Like most of my demo board terrain, these were made out plasticard with filler laid over the top to form a surface. The ground was them covered in PVA and dipped into sand to add some texture. After that, they were sprayed in various colours. Black basecoat, then grey to give the concrete colour. Finally, I sprayed the ground colour used for my boards, aiming to hit mostly the ground elements and only a small dusting on the concrete (to show the sand resting in the gaps). Nuln oil on the grey was then used to darken it down and bring out the cracks sculpted into the surface. The final element? The traditional Iraqi sand drybrush.

After all that, here is the final project. The texture generated from the sand and a spray can drying issue has helped to catch the drybrush and make the dusty look I have on most of my terrain.

And here is the reverse view. As you can see, there is a really nice level of detail. I’m tempted to add a little extra to the barricades by painting on graffiti and other messages from the locals.


There we go, some new jersey barriers for my troops to use as cover/learn to vault over. I’ll be putting them into action this weekend at Hammerhead, giving the Insurgents some firing positions for their RPGs while also making the new partially constructed buildings feel more like a construction site rather than just in the middle of nowhere. I’m now looking at my other scatter terrain and thinking about the best way to use all of these small items.

(This wasn’t the post I had planned. However, I had a few issues this week which didn’t combine with Hammerhead prep very well and so I had to prioritise. I hope you enjoyed it!)

Final reminder – I’ll be at Hammerhead tomorrow running Operation Dragon’s Hoard. Look for the board with the crashed C130 in The Gamer’s Lounge!

Initial Impressions: Sarissa Precision North Africa / Colonial

When most people look for terrain to fill their MENA board, the first thought goes to the classic adobes. Although these mud brick buildings (and their variations) are found throughout the region, there are all sorts of other buildings suitable for the tabletop. For a while, Sarissa Precision have had a range of colonial buildings designed for North Africa in WW2 available in 20mm scale. A year or so later, and with much rejoicing, the entire collection has been released for 28mm. As someone looking for some grander buildings to represent the more urban areas of Bazistan, I just had to pick some up. I ended up going with some of the larger buildings, perfect for building some traditional streets. This is going to be an initial impressions (unpainted and missing some of the detailing greyboard) as I haven’t chosen the modifications I want to do to “Modernise” them.

As with all Sarissa Products, the building is a combination of thick MDF for the structure and greyboard for additional details. A common element of these buildings is use of large greyboard panels for the doors and window; these sit on the inside of the building to help increase the sense of depth. Additionally, greyboard window shutters are included and can be glued in either the open or shut position. The MDF is well cut and comes out the sprue with no tearing or damage. Although I always recommend a dry run when building MDF, all of these kits went together with ease.

To improve gameplay, all the buildings have removable roofs secured by MDF tags at either side. The roofs also provide some cover, although it’s only half height in the corners and the front feature. Multi-storey setups have the same combination of locating lugs allowing for quick removal and access to different levels. One comment for these buildings is that there are no interior staircases modelled in order to maximise space on the inside to place figures so moving between floors may require some abstraction.

Additionally, the range includes damaged versions of all the buildings. I haven’t picked any of them up yet but from looking at them they have done a nice job keeping them as terrain obstacles while still making them look like they had been part of an engagement.

With the basics covered, lets take a look at the specific examples.

Large Single Storey Building

The first building is a large single storey build. It’s comprised of three units, each with a different layout of windows and doors.

The rear view shows off the different arrangement of windows and doors. The end pieces also have extra detail, such as cracks in the coating of the wall or an additional window.

With the roof removed, you can see there is plenty of interior space for figures or obstacles for when you’re fighting from room to room.

Large Two Storey Building

Building two uses the same basic layout as the first building but adds an additional floor. It also changes some of the design, squaring off the windows above the doors on this compared to the first building.

The back still has plenty of windows meaning it’s got plenty of place for figures to shoot out of. Both end pieces also have windows in them for all round viewing angles.

Another addition is the two balconeys on the first floor. If you’re wanting to have figures on 25mm bases standing on them, you will need to open the doors behind them as otherwise they won’t fit.

Souk Building – Single Storey

The next two buildings are labelled up as part of the Souk, ready to form the local marketplace or bazaar for spy related shenanigans. The common feature is arched and covered area, a perfect place to add some small market stalls or to get out of the sun. For the single storey building, it’s very similar to the Large Single Storey building but with a much larger footprint.

Anyone looking at the this picture and comparing to the images on the store may have noticed something strange here. For the first time I received a miscut piece from Sarissa – the two long walls of the building were cut with the same end connectors rather than the different one needed to fit into the middle of the side walls. What this does mean is that I’ve managed to get a different layout than most with only some smaller gaps needed to fill. Sarissa provided some great customer support, another positive for them.

The addition of the covered front area adds some more room for gameplay around the buildings as well as a much larger roof element. Aside from that, the interior is similar to the one storey building shown above.

Souk Building – Two Storey

To go with the one storey building, there is also a two storey option for players needing some more vertical space. As you can see, the expanded foot print of the arched area helps to give the upper floors proper balconies with plenty of space for heavier weapon teams. One of the balconies seems to be lacking door access so expect troops diving through windows.

The back of the building is similar to the two storey building above, once again with all round line of sight through the windows.

With access to the balconies, this building could be quite a difficult one to assault and I can see lots of fighting from room to room. The balconies add some options for out flanking enemies in other parts of the upstairs.

Administration Building / Hotel

The last building is designed to be a centrepiece, the local hotel or a government building. It has a certain amount of finery not seen on the other buildings with arches and decorative elements. It also has a balcony perfect for local leaders or agitators to speak from. The roof also passes the Little Bird test so your D-Boys can deploy straight into cover.

The rear shows off another access door, as well as more as the decorative aspect of the building.

As you can see in the picture, the interior is entirely open with no interior walls. It would have been nice for some interior details on this building but I can see the point of leaving it open if you’re playing certain squad based games. With the sheer number of windows, putting full squads into the building will make it a pretty hard nut to crack.

One interesting point about the construction of this building is that it’s actually made up with more greyboard than the other buildings. This is the MDF frame which provides the top layer and most of the structure. There are then two layers of greyboard to give a greater level of depth than is seen elsewhere which will look rather special.


So what are my opinions on this range? Well it’s the usual high level of Sarissa quality combined with a style of building that I haven’t seen a huge amount of. With only a few buildings, the entire tone changes from a board mainly covered in adobes. For anyone wanting a more urban battlefield, I really recommend these.

Additionally, this style is quite common across previously colonial regions and as such could be used for anything from the Middle East to the Caribbean. These buildings could also be a great starting point for more modern buildings if you don’t mind trimming details down or cutting holes. I’m really looking forward to getting my sleeves rolled up and making them look more modern.

Impressions: 4Ground Pylon

Sometimes, you buy some practical MDF buildings that are used every game. Things like adobes or french farmhouses or other staples whose presence is almost mandated on every game board. However, once in a while you spot something while surfing the web that cries out as something a little special. True, it may not get used quite as much as the old stand bys. But when it does come out, it’s going to draw eyes to the table. 4Ground’s Pylon is one such item – by literally towering over the table.

Photos taken after building due to failure to plan ahead

This is my first 4Ground kit so I wasn’t 100% on what to expect. It’s a mixture of MDF and greyboard. Both come pre-painted on the sprue, with only minimal cleanup needed (including a bead of paint on the back of the greyboard where it had pooled). Unlike some kits, this one comes with an indepth doubled sided instruction sheet, making it very easy to assembly. In total, it took me about an hour and a half (with breaks for glue to dry) which was pretty impressive. I only had two slight annoyances. The first is having to bend the greyboard around the edges, which lead to multiple cuts going slightly awry. The other are the wire coils – they are only held on by three little bits of glue. Luckily the pack comes with a few spare ones just in case accidents happen.

The fact it’s pre-painted is especially cool, meaning that for once I might actually get an MDF monstrosity on the table relatively quickly (unlike the various warehouses I have lying around). The paint job is good enough to get it on the board, but I’m sure many wargamers will want to spruce it up a little bit – I’m thinking of hitting it with a light drybrush to make it a little more sandy.

One quick note before photos – this is the first item which actually shows off how slanted the floor in my flat so any thing not looking flat is probably more due to the board board not being entirely horizontal.

Now it’s finished I can’t get over just how tall it is. It’s very different from someone saying “oh it’s 540mm tall” and actually seeing it assembled. It’s pictured here next to a few small items and it entirely dwarfs the Supreme Littleness buildings.

To help make the pylon more than just something to fill up space, it has an inspection platform part of the way up the tower. This can be access by a ladder, which can be removed from it’s holding slot to extend to the floor. It’s safe to assume these guys will be getting the max possible elevation bonus.

Finally, one last shot to show how even the base is pretty massive. Seriously, it dominates this 2′ x 2′ board. This is one item you definitely will not be buying multiples of, unless you happen to have a truly titanic board.

At the moment, I haven’t glued the two main sections of the pylon together so I can actually easily store the thing. HOWEVER, I recommend drilling some pin holes to add some extra structure to the join. Otherwise, the top part WILL fall off when knocked and it WILL break some of the black elements off. Trust me on this.

I can’t say that everyone should buy one of these things. If you play on a tiny board, it might be a little much. But, if you want to make a desert board look a bit more populated or increase the verticality of you board, I can recommend the pylon. It’s a reasonable price for a lot of MDF and the fact it’s pre-painted shouldn’t worry people too much. That said, it’s really up for you to decide if you want to spend this much on something that won’t get used that often. You can find it on the 4Ground store here.

Supreme Littleness Designs – Tower Block: Details

This is a supplement post to the main impressions piece for Supreme Littleness Designs showing off the buildings under construction. This is designed to illustrate the process without filling the main article with lots of similar pictures.

The main article is at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2kE

 Building 1

I’m not sure if this is the final design for sprue but here is an example of the cutting. As you can see, nice and cleanly cut. The pieces separated from the sprue without any tearing.

While putting the buildings together, the rule of thumb was to assemble each floor and then attach to the framework. This is the ground floor.

First floor provides a slim side room and corridor next to the large main room.

The top floor is split partially by the stair case

As you can see here, the staircase are made out of two structural pieces which plug into the baseboard and a set of flat MDF pieces that form the steps. This set connects into a landing piece that rests on the half height wall you can see here.

The two full size end pieces for Building 1 are actually different. There is a minor difference in the depths of the notches the two sides. The instructions will show this in more detail but this was the major mistake I made during assembly.

And there is the final version all assembled!

Building 2

As you can see, building 2 is much simpler with only two floors to assemble. The staircase complicates things but assembling it using the same basic idea worked out. The downstairs piece of interior cladding has fractionally longer tabs due to the deeper baseboard so don’t get it mixed up.

At this point I assembled the framework due to the top floor resting on it. After filling in the top floor, the roof was then added.

Finally, the building in situ next to it’s big brother.

Building 3

Building 3 has a lot of pieces to take a look at but most of it is due to the staircases.

Here is another shot in process.

The stairwell is finally assembled.

Painting

Painting these buildings up was super simple. Textured spray paint, metal paint over the struts and then various sprays and drybrushing to make it look dusty.

Now, I say super simple except for this textured spray. The end result is great but the methodology was a fucking pain. I ended up buying three cans of this stuff and all of it gummed up after a couple of minutes of spraying, no matter how much it was shaken. Even cleaning the can with iso and messing with the can only gained a little more use out of it. Luckily, B&Q accepted me returning the cans I grabbed from them. I am never going to buy this brand again, so I’m on the lookout for a new concrete effect.

The main article is at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2kE