Geeking Out – Geeky Gifting

Each year, as has vaguely become a tradition, I look out some quirky, geeky gifts for your pet nerd.

So far this year we’ve looked at the fantastic Here’s Negan boardgame from Mantic Games (out this week)! But what if their needs are a little more towards the miniature side of things? It’s always difficult to know what to get for the hobbyist in your life.  However, one of the great truisms of gaming is that you can never have enough scenery. And when you’re stuck trying to figure out what to buy for your friendly festive geek (or yourself!) sometimes more scatter is the answer.

Uncertain Scenery (WEBSITE) is a fairly new player in the crowded MDF market, but what’s interesting about them is that they offer (effectively) complete, modular, multi-level tables. They’ve sufficiently impressed the folk from Mantic that they are now the official producers of licensed terrain for Deadzone and the Warpath Universe. Whilst there is more to come from them, in terms of buildings and accessories, the main focus is their two-tier game tiles.

First, I built one of their 28mm multi-level game tiles.

I cannot stress quite how good this is: these things are simply brilliant. The whole thing took an hour, including drying time. I love the removable floor sections so you can have easy access or indeed damaged sections, whatever you see fit.

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£28 is a pretty decent price point for these (straight or T), £84 for 4 (2 of each) even more so. Because they’re scaled for Deadzone things are marked in neat 3″ cubes but, but not in an intrusive way. And, as a piece, whether on its own or as a part of a full table, obviously it’s great for 40ķ etc. also, or even viable as a Gotham undercity/subway, for instance. It’s rock solid, with a support piece underneath to prevent any bowing, and can withstand an adult standing on it. Seriously, why is more MDF terrain not like this?

Oh, and they do 15mm too.

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There are some great over and under pass tiles as well. These are fully collapsible. No glue required. Ace. I don’t play Gaslands, but I’m assured that they’re spot on for all your post-apoc road war goodness and toy car needs. My kids happily tried to steal them, and let me tell you, this stuff is tough enough to withstand all-out war on Cybertron.

Next, I built the lift/crossroads board. More fiddly, more time consuming, but very impressive and well-designed. Some of the tiny tabs are a bit too snug on the support struts for the columns for my taste, but are easily whittled slightly. I mentioned this to the designer and he agreed that this could be addressed in future versions. Also, though, the instructions are EXCELLENT I still made a mistake with one piece requiring a bit of creative cutting/filling.

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The columns are designed to slide so that you can have a moving lift mechanism (Just to illustrate, you can in fact leave the columns at double height.) Personally, I prefer to leave them in place, though with the upper level unattached. You also get the choice of what to do with the underside of the lift: you can add a 3mm ring that simply braces the whole structure, or a 1.5mm ring with 1.5mm base, so the underside isn’t hollow. Nice to have the choice.

More generally, the fact that so much of it is removable makes a huge difference for gameplay. You can have open, closed, a mix, change for access in game, whatever you want.

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They also interlock really well; the tolerances for the clips are spot on.

Although licenced for Deadzone, it looks great with 40k also, but would make a great Gotham undercity, den of scum and villainy, Hadley’s Hope, steampunk citadel… The list goes on.

“I don’t know what they are either. Let’s just kill them and then shoot each other.”

Another absolute belter of a set from Uncertain. I’ve built a fair bit of MDF my time, from all of the major players, and these are by quite some way among the best kits I’ve ever come across.

It also paints up well, and relatively easily (this was done with 3 cans of very cheap spray – MDF eats paint like no tomorrow, so the cheap the better, really).

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You might notice also the rather snazzy mat that these buildings are on. (WEBSITE) do a range of mats from Kill Team size all the way up to 6×4. This is a 4×4 Quarantine, great for small games of 40k or similar, and a wide variety of urban, space and rural 3×3 (and a lovely range of baby mats too!)

Cost-wise, a 3×3 mat will set you back mat £34/$35.50/E39.90, for example. Squares are just off an inch, which to be honest is mildly annoying (as mentioned, Deadzone works in 3″ squares), though after pointing this out to them they’ve said they’re going to look at amending this.

And of course, some folk have neither time nor patience to build or paint (let’s be honest, that’s quite a lot of us), and for that, Gamemat do prebuilt, pre-painted resin terrain.

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Their newest set, Necropolis, is as the name suggested, post-apocalyptic city in its feel. It obviously would work for Necromunda, Kill Team et al but equally feels suitable for 2000AD, Dr Who, or pretty much any other sci-fi game – indeed it even has that dark future feel that wouldn’t be amiss in parts of Gotham or a Hydra laboratory.

It’s all very modular, clearly designed to be presented and playable in a variety of ways. A single set is enough scatter for most games on a board this size (DZ, KT), maybe not for a full game of 40k, Warpath or Antares, but that’s more dependent on taste. Helpful barricades and obstacles, ladders built into the walls, well thought-out heights, and so on, all contribute to a very user-friendly set.

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Criticisms? Well, though the alien vaults are cool but feel a bit big (I love the removable doors and canopies, regardless). My only real gripe is that the walkways around the walls aren’t perfectly straight but, they’re fine really and perfectly serviceable. Ultimately, £129/$145/E145 for the set, pre-painted and ready to go, is pretty darn impressive. No, not cheap, but by no means extortionate either.

So my advice would get some of outstanding MDF terrain from Uncertain Scenery on that list, mix it up with at least a mat or some accessories from too, and hope you’re on Satan’s good list. Or something like that.

SAMDAVThe Writer of this piece was: Sam Graven
Article Archive: Geeking Out
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