Review: Cities of Death III

Cities of Death Basilica Overhead Since writing the first post about Cities of Death I have started work on the large Basilica Administratum and so far I have to say that as an edifice it is outstanding but as a model kit it’s fairly average. The Basilica isn’t completed as I still need to add the details (lights and ladders) but I need to finish the Sanctum Imperialis to the same level so that I don’t leave myself short of floors, balustrades etc.

The building looks very impressive and although it hasn’t been based it is every bit as sturdy as I expected. It isn’t as well balanced as I would like and will need to be based to ensure we don’t have any unfortunate table topples. Even at this gray plastic stage the building looks good and adds a nice terrain piece to my table. I actually intend to use this for Necromunda rather than 40k and it looks excellent from a gaming point of view.

Cities of Death Basilica Front Putting the building together was reasonably quick and easy. Every piece required some clean-up to remove the flash from around the wall edge and also the interior window edges but no better or worse than any regular GW plastic kit. Even though the amount of flash wasn’t particularly bad the process was tiresome as I had 20 wall pieces plus floors plus extras plus eight wall supports (which drew blood twice and once disappeared up under a fingernail – BE WARNED)!

The instructions indicate that it’s possible to remove the doors and have them either opening or an empty doorway but I’ve had a devil of a job with that. The first one I removed using a Stanley knife and it took almost as long to do one door as it did to clean up the entire rest of the building. After that I tried a dremel but to get a blade thin enough to fit in the space meant it was not very sturdy (I broke three) and even with the machine set to its lowest speed it melted the door rather than cutting it resulting in a mess of melted plastic. As a last resort I am going to try and lay my hands on a modeling hacksaw and see if that works but it certainly wasn’t as easy as the diagram made out!

Apart from the door the construction was painless and it seems the secret to the buildings is definitely the floor sections, as without them it would be near impossible to get nice straight walls. Once I had the wall sections in place and the glue had got tacky (obviously polystyrene cement is the way to go despite GW ridiculous indication to use superglue)?! I glued on the floor pieces and it locked everything in place. Once I had the ground floor completed it was remarkably easy to just add on each further layer.

Whilst on first glance it appears that the pieces don’t have any type of locking mechanism there are in fact little tabs on one side of each wall section and these make it reasonably easy to line the pieces up neatly. This is particularly true when forming the corners which will almost form a perfect 90 just from the little tabs. Similar to this the details and floors all have tabs or indents designed to fit together snuggly. Whilst it’s not a clip together project they definitely do provide useful guidance, just make sure you don’t clip/file them off.

The most challenging part of the entire project was the balcony and at this point GW seems to have stopped trying. It was an absolute bastard to get to fit. The balustrades didn’t sit square on the balcony floor, the supports didn’t square with the walls or the floor. Then the floor was too wide to fit properly between the vertical columns on the walls so I had to file off the studs/rivets on the walls and then the supports didn’t hold firm to the walls and the balcony floor didn’t remotely meet with any part of the wall! What a fiasco! Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend building a balcony although it is probably the coolest building feature and is pretty much essential for gaming.

So at the completion of the Basilica I feel the building is a success but the product itself is seriously mediocre. It does result in a good looking building but GW seems to have tried to add extra features (balcony, removable doors) which they haven’t got right. Although arguably they are advanced features and perhaps I’m just not that advanced?!

Previous CoD post: CoD II Manufactorum.

Review: Cities of Death

I’ve recently had a copy of Cities of Death fall in my lap and foolishly mentioned to Stu that a review for his blog might be a good idea… so, here I am.

Cities of Death is the latest release for Warhammer 40K. It replaces the old City Fight supplement and along with the new scenarios and special rules GW have also released a selection of very nice buildings. They have a definite “Games Workshop” feel to them and completely embrace the gothic sci-fi style of 40K, unfortunately this means they probably won’t gel very well with most existing urban/industrial/sci-fi terrain. On the plus side I love 40k gothic so find the designs very appealing.

As with all things GW the cost is steep and the box I am reviewing was $130nz. It includes 1 large and 1 standard building, some accessories and the rule book. However if the thought of shelling out $130 on buildings makes you queasy GW are selling the individual buildings at a more respectable $45nz each. This compares very favourably with the price of their existing terrain pieces which are terribly average. In addition to this they are doing a number of accessories including razor wire, barricades and a battle mat which represent differing value for money but it’s nice to see a complete range available.

The rule book is up to GW’s normal high quality, lots of pretty pictures, excellent fluff and gorgeous illustrations. Along with the main book GW includes a brief folded instruction booklet showing various design ideas.

Cities of Death Sprue The real guts of CoD is of course the buildings and the first thing I noticed when unpacking the box was just how heavy the sprues are. They will definitely create a solid piece of terrain and once glued together with polystyrene cement should last the rigours of gaming well. An advantage of the weight is that if you (like me) tend not to base your buildings and be a tad clumsy they should survive the odd bump without sending your carefully painted figures crashing to the tabletop.

Cities of Death Sprue I do feel there are a couple of weaknesses to the design though. The first is a plethora of skulls. Every piece from the Basilica set is festooned with skulls, I’m not sure of the fluff behind the Basilica Administratum but it looks like it should be a mausoleum or Cult of Death headquarters! This problem is further compounded by the lack of variety in the individual wall pieces. There are only 3 styles of wall section that make up each set and to my eye creates rather repetitive looking buildings. They definitely would have benefited from another solid wall section. The Manufactorum doesn’t suffer from this problem as they have a number of filters, icons and pipes which add more variety, unfortunately the set I have doesn’t come with one of these buildings.

Cities of Death Sprue So far I haven’t put anything together but my first impression is good but not great and whilst not quite overpriced Games Workshop has (unsurprisingly) charged the very most they could for these buildings and still manage to sell them. Hopefully I’ll find time to put together the buildings and accessories over the weekend and will report back on how that goes next week.

Barbed Wire

For many years I’ve wanted barbed wire and recently Games Workshop released a reasonably priced product. Although it must be said I got horribly ripped off by a local store selling the barbed wire at $25 when it has a RRP of $18! I mentioned I had bought some barbed wire on the forum and it was suggested the purchase was misguided as it’s easy to create at home. So having just bought some I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at some home made miniature barbed wire.

Homemade Barbwire I had a quick trip around the interweb for some instructions / inspiration and fortunately had everything necessary to get started. It took me about 15 minutes to create a 20cm strip of barbed wire and it wouldn’t be much harder to do longer lengths. As a first attempt I think it came out quite well the only thing really wrong is that the individual barbs are a tad long for 28mm and far to long for 15mm. Also a lighter gauge of wire would help with scale.

Barbwire 01.jpg As a comparison I have included a picture of the GW product. Personally I think my wire is actually better. GW’s product doesn’t look that good up close, resembling nothing more than a wire spring, but as always when viewed in action on the tabletop it should look fine. I also intend to use it in 15mm terrain so the slightly odd construction should be less signifcant.

The Verdict? Another $25 needlessly thrown into the bottomless war gaming pit that is Games Workshop. This was my first attempt at barbed wire and most definitely a trial run so a little more practice will improve the overall look. I tend to be a lazy gamer and will spend $25 to save myself an hour of work but I can honestly say that the barbed wire was so quick and easy enough that I will never buy any again!

The Madness Unleashed!

Well after a moment of either sheer madness (risking his perfectly good reputation) or inspired genius (getting us poor saps to do the work) Mr Tabletop-Terrain himself has allowed a few of his fellow gamers/modelers/painters in Auckland to make contributions to this blog.

Chaos Lord In the hope of getting the first ride on his coat-tails I thought I’d sneak in and submit a post. I started war gaming life as an unashamed Games Workshop fanboy and until 6 months ago I supported GW unquestioningly in the madness of price hikes and rules revisions.

Fortunately I’ve finally realised I don’t want or need another Warhammer Fantasy rule set and for me much of their great reputation was built on those wonderful Specialist Games of days gone by. Although even Necromunda has taken a beating in recent ‘living rulebook’ revisions. So disillusioned with GW, I have started to look further afield for my war games fix!

Kv-1e Currently my main focus is Flames of War and I have almost completed a US Infantry Company. It was mostly painted during the Midwinter Modeling Madness competition Stu talked about a few months ago. I was the main instigator and one of three competitors in this aborted army collection challenge.

I’m also on the cusp of collecting a Soviet Tank Battalion and recently completed my first Soviet tank which came up nicely – I know the writing looks a bit like “No Sex” but honestly its supposed to say “Victory”!

Chaos Statue 02 I’m not the terrain master that Stu is and tend to fall more into the campaign / organiser / rules lawyer area of the hobby.

However the growth of our little gaming group has definitely expanded my interest in other aspects of the war gaming. I’ve even come up with a few terrain pieces worthy of display. I’m still developing my terrain and painting skills so hopefully in future posts I’ll be able to offer a few tips for those of us out there with moderate skills and no patience!