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.

Copplestone Castings Pulp Figures vs Artizan Design Germans

Ah I love getting interesting stuff in the mailbox, it makes every week feel like Christmas! This weekend the figures I ordered recently from Copplestone Castings arrived. The order also took a little less than a week to get here from the UK which is superb! It must just be the aeroplanes flying out of New Zealand that are slow.

Copplestone Castings Pulp Figures I’ve heard good things about Copplestone from various places on the internet, so I wasn’t overly concerned about the quality of figure I’d receive. What primarily concerned me was how well the Copplestone Castings figures would mix with the Artizan Designs Germans I already have in the garage. I know at least one of our gentle readers expressed a similar interest, so in these photos we have a based and primed Artizan Designs German DAK sentry on the left (or sinister if you prefer) compared with the shortest figure from each of the three sets I ordered from Copplestone on the right.

The first photo compares a gentleman from the Copplestone ‘High Adventure‘ ‘American Adventurers‘ pack. You can see that the two figures mix perfectly well. In fact they even seem to have similar facial expressions. Comparing manufacturers it seems that Artizan Design’s figures generally have slightly more ‘crisp’ details. Possibly because they focus more on the historic wargaming market and are concerned about capturing the uniform details of the mid-twentieth century soldier. Copplestone’s figures still have plenty of detail on them but I notice it’s sculpted more ‘broadly’, for example compare the jacket pockets on the above figures.

Copplestone Castings Pulp Figures This second photo shows a rather rotund, bespectacled figure from the ‘High Adventure’ ‘Armed Archaeologist‘ pack. Even though he’s shorter and fatter than the German soldier the two still look fine together, also remember I’ve photographed the shortest figure from each Copplestone pack. In fact that particular Archaeologist seems to have a bit of a German look to him as well – possibly it’s the moustache and goatee.

Copplestone get points for the way they shipped their figures too by the way. Each of the packs arrived in a snappy little black textured cardboard box, the kind normally used for jewellery I believe. Indeed opening them I was half expecting to find some Victorian Egyptiana in there – a dusty scarab broach perhaps. I suspect Copplestone pack all their figures this way but it seems particularly suitable for the ‘High Adventure’ line!

Copplestone Castings Pulp Figures Ah yes, I’ve left the ladies to last. As adventuresses each of the four figures in the Copplestone ‘Female Archaeologists‘ pack are tall and slim which suits their active characters. They’re all well sculpted and all look lady like, thankfully only the figure in the pith helmet has an open collar with plunging cleavage.

The lady in the jodphurs drawing her pistol does have a rather well rounded posterior which does look a little odd on the metal figure but probably won’t be noticeable once painted. I imagine she’s most likely to get painted first too…err not because of her behind but because of the four female figures she’s the most American looking. She reminds me of the Rachel Weisz character in ‘The Mummy‘ actually (yes, although she was playing a British character) and will serve as an excellent foil to the familiar looking bullwhip carrying figure from the ‘Armed Archaeologist’ pack.

In closing I’ll just add that Copplestone Castings figures were all well cast, with almost no flash on them and all have minimal mold lines. I could happily order from Copplestone again, so they too go into the blogroll.

Review: Crescent Root Studios 15mm Middle East Buildings

Crescent Root Studio 15mm North African Buildings A couple of weeks ago I ordered $50us worth of 15mm North African buildings from ‘Crescent Root Studios‘ and they just arrived this morning.

I have to say I am a completely happy customer! The buildings look fantastic and Mark Neimeyer from Crescent Root Studios was very helpful and friendly, indulging me with both a custom order (I wanted just the buildings, not the bases) and working out shipping costs all the way to my home in New Zealand.

I will definitely be keeping an eye on CRS for any future product and see they also have a line of 25-28mm Fantasy buildings. I notice they’ve also recently added 15mm European buildings too.

Crescent Root Studio 15mm North African Buildings My $50us gave me one of each of Mark’s 15mm NA buildings with a few extra copies of the smaller buildings. All of the buildings are well detailed with doorways, windows, trap doors, stairways and cracks and exposed brick work.

They’re cast from a robust resin product by the feel of it and I think they’ll hold up to painting and gaming well. I also noticed no issues like bubbles etc. in the casting at all. They’re reasonably light as I suspect they’re cast over a foam filler so they may move during gameplay unless based on something heavier like MDF. I will probably base them anyway as I’d like to add extra detail like boxes, etc.

All of the buildings in these photos are unpainted and straight from their well packed box. The buildings come in three sizes:

Large

Crescent Root Studio 15mm North African Buildings The large buildings will hold at least one large Flames of War infantry base on their rooftops, probably two for the left and right buildings.

Of the three the right building is probably the most versatile with it’s large square roof and staircase. The central building is a very characterful split level and the left building will be great for blocking LOS, even from elevated opponents.

Medium

Crescent Root Studio 15mm North African Buildings The medium buildings are all good for hiding infantry behind and placing observers on.

A staircase is nice but all the buildings without staircases actually have subtle trapdoors sculpted into the roofs. They’re hard to see in the photos, although you can just make one out slightly off-centre of the right building’s square roof. A bit of careful painting will make them more obvious.

Most of the medium buildings also stack onto the large buildings too which is nice for some extra variety.

Small

Crescent Root Studio 15mm North African Buildings The small buildings are all for extra detail. You can stack them, or rest them next to a larger building as an extension.

Many of the Crescent Root building sets also come with those flat side pieces. They work really well to convert a house style building into a more market or shop feeling building. I don’t quite know why that is…possibly the arched doorways and tiled roofs? But combine a few with the normal buildings and you end up with a very nice ‘town square’ or ‘market’ feel. I’m debating whether to fix these to buildings before I paint everything, or keeping them separate for variety. Hmmmm or perhaps I should just order more buildings!

In conclusion these buildings are exactly what I was after, they’re very nicely sculpted and well cast, their scale is perfect for 15mm and Crescent Root Studios were a absolute pleasure to deal with. So if you’re after reasonably priced 15mm, 20mm or 28mm scale terrain I say definitely check them out.