A look at Tablescapes Dungeons by Secret Weapon
With 9 days to go this Tablescapes Dungeons article is geared toward those on the fence about whether or not to back this particular project.
This is the 2nd Tablescapes kickstarter by Secret Weapon and is a partnership with Reaper Miniatures and Dark Art Miniatures.
In a very smart move this modular terrain set is compatible with other company’s products, like Dwarven Forge and Fat Dragon. Dwarven Forge is a very well known company whose product is extremely detailed and durable.
The biggest difference between the general dimensions of these tiles between companies is that the Tablescapes have shorter walls. Personally I like this a great deal as it can make reaching into the constructed space a little easier.
When I first saw this kickstarter I thought about the caverns set Dwarven Forge did previously and was concerned that this was a retread of the same idea. After looking at caverns again I realized that this is not the case at all. This set provides a good mix of natural terrain with thematically appropriate architectural elements and minecart tracks, making this a set unto itself.
The designs of the individual elements are quite eclectic, combining different elements that keep the pieces from becoming stale. Different textures of stone, wood, and steel work well together to create this abandoned mine set. They also provide multiple things to paint and plenty of opportunities for different color choices.
With so many terrain campaigns offering an upcharge for painted versions I expected the same here, but there is no option for this. Overall this is a very wise choice as it reduces fulfillment times. Even with the drybrush techniques employed by the Dwarven Forge painters, which look good, a lot of time would need to be added for painting.
They offset this slightly by providing a paitning guide by Mathieu Fontain, linked here because the link on the kickstarter page is understated and easy to miss. The guide is pretty good, but some of the steps are airbrushed. It is possible to get similar results through traditional painting, it’ll just take longer.
One item of concern is that these tiles are produced by a PVC derivative, meaning that they are probably related to Reaper’s Bonesium. It is stated that these tiles will be grey, but I do not know if this means a different formulation of Bonesium or if it was just colored differently.
The Bones material is extremely durable and holds great detail, but it also is susceptible to warping. It can be moved back into position, but takes some patience and care. It is also a light material. In a direct comparison I believe that the Dwarven Forge tiles will be heavier, but I don’t know how much heavier. My concern here is that these tiles would be lighter and therefore easier to move out of position with casual contact. However, without samples to play with there’s no way to know for certain.
The $75 price tag for this set of tiles is very good. It’s an excellent value per piece. Here it’s less than $1 per piece, while others range between $2 – $3 per piece.
The level of detail is comparable, but in a direct comparison I feel that Dwarven Forge has an edge here, but not by much. While Dwarven Forge’s caverns had more natural details, here they have been exchanged for architectural elements that move out of a fully natural cave into a man-influenced environment.
Reaper’s expertise can be felt throughout this entire kickstarter, and that’s a great thing. The stretch goal tracker and addons feel very similar to Reaper’s other very successful kickstarters. The pricing of the Bones miniature addons seems to be the same value as their Bones kickstarters, which is very nice. They have been arranged into some thematic groups for an abandoned mine and allow backers to custom build a set in preparation for running scenarios for their gaming groups.
The paint sets are also appropriate for this tile set and contain paints from both Reaper’s line as well as Secret Weapon’s. I do find it a little funny that the painting guide used colors outside the ones sold here, but I also find it to be refreshing that this campaign wasn’t locked down so hard that the painter had to use the colors available for sale.
On its face this is a very high-value kickstarter. The tiles are priced much better than competing kickstarters and contain enough unique elements that this doesn’t feel like a retread of existing products. There are plenty of nice optional purchases to tempt more money from backers. If you’re on the fence I would suggest you jump in. This is a smart kickstarter to back.