Friday, 16 September 2016

Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse Terrain part 1

As soon as I saw the notice that Battle Systems were planning to launch an Urban Apocalypse Terrain set project on Kickstarter last year I knew I had to back it. Of all of the Kickstarter projects I have backed, this was the one that excited me the most. As each new stretch goal and add-on was announced I knew that a) I wanted it, and b) this was going to cost me a fortune. In short, I wanted everything that Battle Systems produced for this project. At first, it was just the city scenery, but one pack would never satisfy my needs. So I ended up ordering four full sets. It was cheaper buying four together than four sets separately. This was enough to cover an area 4 feet square. Then the Shanty Town sets were announced and I saw even more possibilities. I ordered two full Shanty Town sets. Those six sets cost me £390. Ouch, I hear you say. But it got worse... or better depending upon your point of view. Just as the project was drawing to a close, Battle Systems added suburban houses and of course, I wanted them. Combined with other add-ons like the fire station, police station, art deco buildings, diner/casino and loads of other scenery items I ended up ordering over £700 worth of goods. A lot of money? Hell yes, indeed! But, first of all, I could afford it and second of all, this was something I REALLY, REALLY wanted. I could see my gaming hobby being transformed by these amazing sets.
Building card terrain and buildings is something I have always been interested in. Indeed it first started in the late 1970's when I began scratch-building 54mm scale Wild West buildings. I learned a lot from making them and that experience stood me in good stead when it came to making 28mm scale buildings and scenery for my zombie apocalypse games. I began making 28mm buildings in the early 2000's and started off by making contemporary buildings and scenery produced by World Work Games. I then moved on to the catalogue of card models from Stoelzel's Structures. I made loads of card buildings for my zombie apocalypse games but in recent years I have slowed down considerably. These new sets by Battle Systems were like a breath of fresh air to me. They had everything I loved about card terrain - interior details, detachable floors and roofs, made of thick card for strength and durability, incredibly detailed textures and of course, furniture and other scenery items to help bring a gaming board to life. Plus, these had the added bonus of being quick to assemble with no gluing required (although I do glue small items like furniture and street items). And when you've finished your game you can un-clip them and store everything away flat. Absolutely perfect!
Shown in the photo above is one of the boxes that the Urban Apocalypse Terrain sets came in. The Shanty Town sets have a different cover, which I'll show when I review them.
Inside the box are some of the items you get with this set. Shown here are the floors, roofs, ruined walls and hidden under those walls are the rooftop railings. I'm using the boxes to store all of my large flat items.
In this box are all of the undamaged walls from this set. This box, like the one above, contains the pieces from four boxed sets. It includes three types of exterior walls. All of the interior walls are identically coloured. The doors that come with the walls are kept in a separate box, which I haven't shown.
This plastic compartment box of mine (I have loads of these, which I buy online from Amazon UK, and they are very versatile) contains all of the grey plastic pegs (shown in the top two rows) used to clip the parts together. You will need a lot of them and although you get enough in each boxed set to make all of the contents of that box I ordered some extras just to be on the safe side, in case I ever make a massive town set. The other two rows contain counters to show the placement of stairs, manhole covers, lots of signs, computer monitors, wooden pallets and an assortment of scatter items.
 So, let me show you what I came up with for my very first build. First of all, this set up uses one of the gaming mats, which I must say are superb. The colours on them are so rich and vibrant but more importantly, very realistic. The mats are made of some kind of strong plastic that can be folded up after use but still retains its shape when laid out flat. I love them!
Here is a different wide angle shot. Note, that with these sets, you need not be limited by the space you have on your gaming table. One obvious solution if your strapped for space is to build upwards. I have tried to show this by showing what a five-storey apartment can look like. Oh, and how cool are those fire escapes? I have placed my 28mm scale figure of Vampifan in all of these photos to give you a sense of scale. That apartment is 600mm wide (approximately two feet).
From the front, the apartment looks like one big building but it is actually made up of three separate buildings. To be fair, by placing internal walls with doors there is nothing stopping you from making it one big building or even numerous smaller buildings all combined into one block.
Here is a closer view of Vampifan on the roof of the fifth storey. In case you're wondering, it took me just under three hours to build this cityscape.
 Here we have an overhead view of this set-up.
Finally, here is a shot showing the main street from closer to ground level. You get two types of awnings for your buildings - wide (shown to the right) and narrow (shown to the left) in red or blue. I haven't made much in the way of street furniture or interior furniture but I have made some. In the foreground you can see a dumpster. The lid comes off but if you prefer you can glue it in place. I have glued the sides of it but left the lid detachable. I wonder if the BS-Mart sign stands for Bryan Scott's Mart? Probably not, but it's nice to think so.
Let us have a closer look at the three buildings starting with the ruined store. Actually, the lowest two floors are intact but the top floor has suffered major damage. This explains why this city set is called Urban Apocalypse Terrain. It is specifically designed for a post-apocalypse setting. You don't have to make every building a ruin. Check out the supermarket shown in greater detail below.
Here, Vampifan has dropped down a level. I have added a few internal walls to these buildings but I have not added any back walls. Normally, I would include back walls. They are useful for photography purposes if they'd be seen in a photo but for gaming purposes they can be left off to make it easier to place figures inside. Of course, all of the floors and roofs are detachable. They are just lightly clipped in place, making it easier to remove a floor or roof to gain access to the interior.
This is the two-storey supermarket. The walls are meant to represent glass and metal. They do work but I am used to making all of my windows for my card buildings out of transparent plastic. Given the restraints of the designs I know this would not be a feasible option. Still, I do miss my transparent windows, but hey, this only a very minor complaint, so it's no big deal. The billboard on the roof is one of two designs you can use, but I guess you could always use your own poster, suitably cut to size to use instead. It's something I'm planning on doing. In the centre of the roof is an air-conditioning unit.
Here I show the ground floor of the supermarket with the upper floor removed. Note the door to the small room Vampifan is in comes with a small stand. It is up to you whether you want your doors open or closed. This one is partially open. The double doors at the front of the store are closed.  Once I start work on making my furniture items these buildings will really come to life.
Vampifan has moved across the road to the large apartment building. The Stop barrier is one of the few street furniture items I have made. One thing to point out about it is that I painted the edges of it. This is very important. Trust me on this ! You can use felt-tip pens if you want. I have a thick black magic marker that I use on the edges of any items that are black, like the fire escapes. The beauty of edging is that it brings an item to life and makes it look like it should and not an obvious cardboard cut-out with jarring light grey edges. I prefer edging with paints because I can get a much closer match to the surrounding colours but my god, it is slow and tedious work. Still, just look at that Stop sign and appreciate how realistic it looks.
Vampifan is now moving up the fire escapes. I have to admit, these are one of my favourite building accessory items. They really bring this building to life. Plus, just imagine the fun you can have on them in a game. So many possibilities!
Moving inside, Vampifan wonders what happened to all of the furniture and all of the people? Is he the "Last Man on Earth"? And where's that mournful wailing sound coming from?
This is just meant as a small insight into what can be done with a few of these boxed sets. There were far more walls and floors that I didn't use than those I did use. Plus you can combine these sets with any of the other sets in this range. I have just concentrated on a few pieces from one of the Urban Apocalypse sets. Still to come will be reviews of the Shanty Town sets, the fire station, police station, art deco mansion, suburban houses and lots more, including mixing and matching sets.
My god, I am in gaming heaven! My mind is filled with ideas of what I can do with these sets in future games. Yes, I will be starting up a new All Things Zombie campaign, starring Vampifan once again, but most likely with new supporting characters. But probably before then, I will begin my long awaited (well, for me anyway) Judge Dredd Miniatures Game campaign. I have played many games of Judge Dredd using various rules sets including a couple I designed myself. But they all used flat 2-D maps for gaming on. It was always a dream of mine to play Judge Dredd using 3D terrain. Now that dream can come true. Recently, Mega City one suffered catastrophic damage, so much of it lies in ruins. This makes these sets ideal for gaming in the "Big Meg". Even better, Battle Systems recently announced that their next Kickstarter project will be sci-fi terrain. It's due to start later this year. Oh joy! By combining the urban terrain sets with the sci-fi terrain sets I can make a superb looking Mega city One. I can't wait.
But, just think of what else you can do with these sets. Just off the top of my head I'm thinking Heroclix and/or Horrorclix, World War 2 city fighting, pulp fiction, 7TV2e style games, cyberpunk gaming, like Shadowrun, for example. So many choices, so many ideas. You'll be seeing a lot more of these sets on both this blog and on my Vampifan blog, particularly in upcoming batreps.
Good news for those of you who missed out on the Kickstarter project, Battle Systems now have all of the Urban Apocalypse Terrain sets up for sale on their webstore. here's the link to it - http://shop.battlesystems.co.uk/urban-apocalypse-terrain-8-c.asp

Bryan ©2016

24 comments:

  1. NO excuses now Bryan hehe, you have literally everything most gamers could only dream of in their wildest dreams.. now show us LOTS AND LOS OF GAMES BEING PLAYED USING It all Woohooooo!!!!!! It looks staggering, and you`ve bought utterly everything you could possibly want. I`m thinking you can even play all the zombicide scenarios on this now. But my ears pricked up at the mention of you re-starting your ATZ campaigns again. GOOD!!!!

    I bet you are lost in all this, like a child let loose on a big toy shop a week before Christmas.

    I`m in awe at all you have. Me personally, I am in love with the single Dungeon tiles set, and all the expansions for it, but this urban set looks to be even better made, am I right?

    Lots and lots of battle reports next please yaaaaay!!!!

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    1. Absolutely right, Tarot. No excuses now. There is just so much I wish to do with these sets. You can certainly play Zombicide with these sets an how cool would that look? I remember when I first introduced Steve to Zombicide, he told me he'd love to play the game with 3D scenery. At the time I thought it was doable but not without considerable problems. Now, however, I no longer think it's doable - I KNOW it's doable!

      Yes, I do feel like a child at Christmas who has just received everything he asked Santa for and got it all!

      Of the three sets that Battle Systems make (Dungeon terrain, sci-fi terrain and urban apocalypse terrain) I definitely think this is the best. I am not that keen on the big triangular bases for the walls of the dungeon and sci-fi terrain sets. I think that the designers must have learnt a lot from doing the urban apocalypse terrain because from the preview photos of the upcoming sci-fi terrain the biggest change I noticed was that the walls are a similar design to those used in these contemporary sets. This is a move I heartily approve of and so makes the upcoming set such a must have for me. I would not be surprised if they redesign the dungeon terrain at a later date.

      You want lots and lots of batreps, huh? That will definitely happen, I assure you. I' am so looking forward to getting started on playing with these sets.

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  2. Absolutely fooooo*ing amazing!!!!

    Wow, this is a gamers paradise.... a dream. Sooooo many possibilities for you. Enjoy it, play hard, play lots, and play to WIN hehehe.

    You need a Vampifan Judge miniatures now who “IS the Law”

    This staggering collection will take dome assembling, what will you do, take it apart between games, or keep it assembled in chunks?

    Nice review, and nice pics of it all.

    Really sweeeeet :)

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    1. Many thanks, Steve. This is my idea of gaming heaven and I couldn't be happier.

      Regarding my own Judge figure, not only do I have a suitable figure for my alter ego, I also have Judge figures for you, Hil, Tarot, Andy, Simon, Jez, Roger and Clint. You'll all be appearing in my new campaign. We're all off to Mega City One... and soon!

      The whole idea of the Battle Systems terrain is to build it, use it then disassemble it and put it away. I'm not so sure about that. I have left these three buildings shown here intact and I must admit I am loathe to take them apart. There are arguments for and against leaving buildings intact. On the downside is the amount of space needed to store them. I am really undecided on what to do for the best at the moment.

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    2. My advice, keep the buildings (and any other sizable `chunks`) in one piece. I know they are designed to come apart but hear this mate... our mate Dave takes his apart so he can carry it in a box to the club each week. He assembles it in the club the afternoon/evening before, ready for the game the next evening for the club session. He`s done it no more than eight or nine times now, carted it to a friends house, or the club, and already its showing definite signs of degrading and wear and tear. Its simply not that solid Bryan. The other thing too, is that a decent set up can take literally half a day (and that's just using one set)... but leave it pre assembled in big bits, and you can reduce that to no more than an hour.. hour and a half max, IF left pre assembled in chunks: buildings, walls, floor levels etc etc. I know you like assembling terrain but wow there is a limit. Take is all apart and if you fancy a game using it, you will need to think a day ahead before you even get round to the game itself: by which time the enthusiasm actually to play is long gone hahaha.

      I wanna see my judge I wanna see my judge hehe.

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    3. I concur with Stevie on this one. I've played with it enough and see others who have it (and the sci fi Beta Sample one too) say the same thing.

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    4. Oh GOD yes, I make and assemble all ours (they seem to think I have a knack at it lol) and I can assure you, its hell after the excitement of the first few times. You want to play, the enthusiasm is there, but by the time you`ve been at it for several hours, all will to live, let alone play, is way gone.

      We have ours assembled in big pieces now. easier to put together for each new games and, interestingly, still leaves room for plenty of diversity in set up.

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    5. This is all good, sound advice, and I have decided I will leave my buildings intact. I'm even thinking of gluing some of the pegs in place. For example, it would make sense to have each fire escape landing, walls and ladder all glued together.

      Thanks for the input, everyone.

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  3. Christmas has come early in your house. They look very good indeed.

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    1. I'd say Christmas and my birthday have come early, Phil.

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  4. Wow, you're gonna be busy Bryan. Very nice indeed

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    1. Busy, Andy? Man, there aren't enough hours in the day for me to do everything I want to do hobbywise. I'm fortunate enough to have a lot more spare time than most other gamers but even I wish for more time... or the ability to clone myself so I can get twice as much done!

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    2. I hear that mate, loads of thing I WANT to do, but equally loads of things I HAVE to do.....grrrr

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    3. It's all a balancing act, juggling between real life and hobby time and then deciding what needs doing the most. Such is life!

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  5. WELL DONE for getting everything you wanted Bryan. It looks amazing. We only have the Dungeon set and all the expansions for that (well, Tarot does), and it truly is awesome.

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    1. Many thanks, Hil. I can't tell you how much I love these sets. They are simply superb and I couldn't be happier. I am really looking forward to seeing what Tarot does with the dungeon terrain.

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  6. Very impressive set-up, Bryan. I was tempted by these and when Michael posted his review, I did take another look. When they go on general release, I may end up buying a set or at least one or two of the mats, as they are very nice. I shall be poring over the pictures for a while, along with any you post for your batreps.

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    1. I really can't say enough good things about these sets, Jez. They are now on general sale. Check out the link at the end of my review above.

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  7. A veritable tour-de-force of the Battle System's scenery Bryan. I'm delighted you're enjoying it so much, and what a corking posting. Sadly I've yet to put mine together but I'm certainly looking forward to doing so now I've seen your photos. Great work!! And I'm definitely going to enjoy all those BatReps of yours with these buildings as the scenery.

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    1. Many thanks, Simon. I am thrilled with my sets. Putting them together is simple, quick and fun. There is so much you can do with these sets. Once you open your sets you'll be overwhelmed at the possibilities of what you can do with them.
      For me, it'll be reviews of the contents first then lots and lots of batreps.

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  8. you know, I will hold you to that don't you, writes down what he said

    {{".... then lots and lots of batreps"}}

    Witnessed and filed away ^^

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    1. Good man, Steve... and make sure I keep that promise, will you?

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  9. These look great i must admit. Do you take them down again or are you planning on leaving them built?

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    1. Thanks, Simon. Where possible, I plan on leaving them intact.

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