Saturday 9 May 2020

Small Company Saturdays: Battle Systems

One of my Not-Salute purchases was a couple of sheets of terrain from Battle Systems. They make card stock terrain that's pretty affordable. Now I've got it assembled, I thought I'd show it off and also give a small review.

I'm going to split the review into three parts. First, I'll show you the assembled kits and comment on them generally. Then, show you some photos with some miniatures and how they suit most games. Finally, I'll add a few comments on how they might work in a game of Infinity, which is particularly picky when it comes to terrain.

General Kit Review

I bought two kits. The first was the Industrial Turbine set.  It consists of a big industrial turbine, unsurprisingly, but also includes a nice bit of duct work that can attach to another building. This does highlight the first problem with these kits, which is that they work on the assumption that you're intending to have a full set of them, rather than integrate them into an existing terrain set up.

The other premise you're working with is that they're intended to be able to pack away flat again afterwards. This does mean that they slot together in some incredibly clever ways. If (like me) you're not intending to take them apart afterwards, it means that gluing them together is a pretty easy proposition, but you are left with some obvious "this is a kit" protrusions where the kit fits together.

The second kit I got was the Shipping Container set. Here you get a shipping container, a dumpster, three crates, four wooden pallets and a hatch. The crates and the shipping container all have a somewhat terrifying part to their assembly if you're gluing them because the bottom of them just fits edge on against the sides, meaning you've got to get it flat, and any glue creeping out the sides will end up sticking them to your work bench and then ripping the printed outer layer off. Ask me how I know that. (Fortunately it was on the shipping crate, and a gentle application of the nearest brown contrast paint just made it look like particularly deep rust. Also, it's on the bottom.)

All the kits try, where possible, to come with two designs that can be assembled either way out. You can have a clean or a rusty industrial turbine, and your shipping container can either be blue or rusty white.  Even the hatch has an open and shut side. This isn't possible with some of the kits, like the dumpster, due to how they assemble, but it does mean that you could buy duplicates of the kit and have a good variation across them.

Using the kits in games

They're fine.

I should probably add more detail than that.

The card stock they're made from is pretty thick, so in practical terms, it will actually stay where you put it. You don't want to be jogging your table particularly hard, but they'll not escape from where you put them if there's a strong breeze. Even when the printed side is facing the table, it's matte enough that it doesn't slip about. You might have a problem if you have a particularly glossy mouse mat material style gaming mat, but I didn't have one to compare to.

I put a few Infinity figures next to them and they didn't look particularly out of place. The shipping container definitely gives the impression that you'd need to duck to get into it, but that's not completely implausible. They'd certainly be usable on a battlefield without looking wrong. I'd certainly recommend them more strongly to someone playing in 25mm or 28mm than Malifaux, Infinity or modern 40K where the models tend towards being a little taller (especially the newer models).

So the scale is OK. They advertise as suited for 28mm - 35mm, but I'd put them as more suited for 25mm - 32mm, though I  do wonder if I'm just used to oversized scenery. Here's the shipping container placed next to two other manufacturer's shipping containers - on the left Reaper Bones, and in the middle is by Right Arm Labs. The Battle Systems container just seems a little small compared to them.

Infinity Play Considerations

So, turbine first. Placing a S2 silhouette next to it, it looks like it can provide full cover in a pinch, though you'd want to be careful about shots from elevations or being outflanked.

There is a silhouette marker behind this turbine. Full cover confirmed!

 As you can see, there's not much elevation needed before a firefight breaks out. Using this sort of sized terrain in large amounts may result in a more open table than intended.

The "shipping container is a little too small" hypothesis bears out when we put a size 2 silhouette marker next to it. It's just a little too small to definitively break line of sight. I'd not recommend using this on an Infinity board, especially for a tournament or club board where lots of people are going to play on it.

Here you can see the problem. The S2 marker just peaks out over the top of the container. It's going to lead to nothing but ongoing marginal line of sight calls when used.

As there isn't a 3mm square visible, but it's taller than the obstacle, I believe it allows you to vault onto it without a movement penalty, but someone can't target you while you're behind it. There's a weird potential loophole that argues you can then shoot out from it as your line of sight doesn't require you to have a 3mm square visible to see out. This is the sort of terrain where you'd want to make sure you talked it over with your opponent and got a clear agreement as to how you were playing it before you started. For the sake of a shipping container, I'd personally just leave it on the shelf and pick a different, slightly taller one!

In summary

Battle Systems provides good quality, clever, quite pretty card stock terrain at a pretty good price. They're a little generous on their scale recommendations and I'd gently steer people towards using slightly smaller scales with their stuff. I would broadly avoid buying their terrain for Infinity tables as some of them have size challenges with the Infinity silhouette system that means they don't quite provide as much full cover as you'd expect, and could possibly lead to some line of sight arguments.

Don't take my cautions too negatively, though. Infinity is a weird child with terrain at the best of times. If you're playing anything casually and want quick terrain that saves you a paint job, definitely pick this up.

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