Thursday, 2 April 2015

Building in Style: War Mage Games

Creating a cityscape, and loving it
“DAN! What is all this wooden crap, and why does the lounge smell like TCP?!”

These were the cries of my wife the day I received the package from War Mage games. I had ripped open the battered cardboard box like an expectant child at Christmas, and filled the room with the obnoxious scent of burnt MDF. Man, that smell is like catnip to a wargamer.

Anyway, a little explanation first. After my loving reviews (rants really) regarding the 4Ground buildings, a chap at War Mage Games decided to contact us directly to ask if we would be interested in posting a review of his kits. Always in the search for great products to add to our warzones we happily accepted the offer, and now having received the buildings and put my own together, I am happy to be able to review a great product!

Before the review, I will be clear that we were not 'gifted' these products by War Mage, and instead bought them at a discounted rate with our own, hard earned pennies. As such one of the parameters of the deal was that I would post an honest review, no matter how we rated the final product.

I guess it was lucky that I really like it, huh!

To begin with I'll get the bad points out of the way. Although delivery was quick from when the
The left facade piece is
too long
production began, the state of the box in which our kits turned up was, well, shambolic. It was obviously always going to look well travelled (coming all the way from Germany), but the package was delivered with the side edges of the box completely torn apart and bowing out, exposing the kits inside. On top of this the only protective agent to stop the building sprues from knocking about in the box was some scrunched up news paper (who knew German news looked like English news?). Luckily nothing was damaged (to my honest surprise I will add), but it gave me a bad taste in my mouth before I had even looked at the terrain. The good news is that I have been in touch with War Mage though, and told them the above before writing this post. As always they responded very quickly and apologised, saying that they will up the protection of the packages in the future. All it needs is a few layers of bubble wrap and a slightly better box, which are issues easy and cheap enough to solve. The only other issue I had was that four of the pieces supplied were too large for purpose, and they had to be cut down (see embedded photo). Although easily fixed with my weapon of choice, the craft knife, it was still annoying.

That is about it though for the moans, so onto the good stuff. 

Each of the large baggies that the kits are packed in are marked clearly and stapled together to avoid confusion with other purchases (and we may have taken full advantage of the discount offered, so had a fair few packs to sieve through!). Upon removing the sprues from their plastic domiciles about two dozen tiny rectangular and oval shaped blocks literally fell out of the frames, scattering around my coffee table like pieces of shrapnel; I was not expecting this! You see, War Mage laser cut the templates so that no cutting is required on the main building at the consumer end of business. Most of the components are secured on the sprue with masking tape, but still you will have a decent number of little unimportant pieces fall out and leave your table looking like a tiny 10mm lumber yard. Although this was a little irritating at first, as unexpected things normally are, I soon got used to it and saw the ease of having it done this way.

After wading through the rectangular wooden mess to get to sprue again, I noticed something a little unusual again; the thickness of the wood. I'm not sure precisely how thick it is, maybe 4mm, but it is a chunky slab of MDF which oozes of survivability. On a side note, the pieces are a little sticky. Yeh, that's weird right? Apparently it is something to do with the cutting process, although it had me concerned to begin with. We all know how crazy those sexy Germans are... After removing the tape and letting the pieces literally fall out of the sprue, I piled everything up and went against every grain of man in me; I grabbed the instructions. Now, these could have been a little more thorough. It wasn't so much that they were bad, but they weren't 100% clear on certain areas and the pictures were a little small too. I actually glued the wrong base section to my main wall section, highlighting either the fact that the instructions were a little vague, or that I'm an idiot. Or a mixture of the two. Either way, they weren't bad, but could just be improved by the smallest of margins.

When I first looked at the size of the designs and windows I thought that it looked a little too large for the setting, although when fully complete it all gained a little perspective and is sized nicely.

Construction of the building, after the window nightmare of 4Ground, was a breeze. The big thick pieces meant I wasn't afraid of breaking anything with my giant ham hands, and everything went together really smoothly. The build time in total for the basic building (all four sections) was probably 2.5 hours, tops, although a better terrain maker or someone used to the product could probably half that.
All in all the buildings look great and were easy to make; two essential ingredients in the recipe of terrain. There are three different type of distinct look to choose from, and I am pretty sure the choices are available on every item. They are: Art-Deco, Art-Nouveau, and Sci-fi. I assumed (correctly) that a couple of the others would go for the Sci-Fi look, so I opted for the Art Deco style in the three building and ruin large building set.

There are also a few additional extras which can be purchased up to add depth and character to a building. You have the option to have a 'cardboard upgrade', which is a thing MDF sprue of extra features to make your building a little more 3D and extenuate some of the etched designs in the wood. I took this option myself and would strongly recommend going for it. These little add ons just finish the piece of for me. Next is the mirrored cardboard, which in truth seems expensive for what it is; reflective cardboard. If you have a local hobby store you can probably pick something similar up for a little cheaper. Lastly some buildings have the option to be engraved with whatever you want, which is awesome! I've not seen this facility on any of their rivals kits which makes this unique. I have gone for 'Cosmic Resources' for my in-progress industrial board, but you could have anything from apartment block names (for instance, Totally Ghetto Court) to sexy space shops (for instance, Interstellar Spanking LTD).

Extra doors, which slot into windows allowing each section to be used as
a separate building. German design at its finest. 

All in I'm very happy with my new building. The large kit I have either makes a huge, tall tower or several smaller ones (you are supplied with extra doors which can be placed on or off other buildings, which is a nice touch) and was only £20. The extra bits brought this up a little (I think to arouns the £23-£24 mark), but all in the value is good and competitive. It is worth noting there is also a delivery charge which isn't small, so depending on your area (i.e. England, US, etc...) you may want to look into ordering all the units you will want for the future at once to save some pennies.

To have a look yourself, check out War Mage Games.

So there you go, a mostly positive review from me, Grumplestiltskin. And about a building kit no less! If you have any experience on other kits that I should have a look at, let me know!