04 July 2017
Is the Western-themed set worth a Fistful of Dollars?
The right choice of scenery and terrain can transform a tabletop into a living, breathing world for miniatures games. Yet, it can also be a nuisance to transport to your local club or conventions – as well as pushing up the price of the already potentially costly hobby.
Red Beam Designs has been striking a fair balance between price, quality and convenience with its Battle Vault line of MDF scenery kits, the latest of which heads to the American Wild West – but would be just as welcome in 32 to 35mm sci-fi and fantasy western settings such as Malifaux.
The main set comprises seven buildings that can be assembled without glue due to the use of the firm’s nifty T-peg system. The pegs and holes make for a less atmospheric or neat finish on the outside of the constructions (pedants or those looking to paint will want to sand the edges for a tighter fit), but hold together well and can be collapsed or built in a matter of minutes. The sheet of instructions included with the set is laughably poor, consisting of little more than photos, but it’s still no real hardship to work out how everything goes together after a tiny bit of trial and error.
There’s a wonderful variety of thematic dressing included in the bundle, from the buildings in various heights and shapes to the cacti, trees, fences, coffins, rail tracks and boxes to add smaller touches to the environment – you will need a dab of glue for some of the smaller pieces.
Some of the buildings are unavoidably missing detail due to their need to be collapsible – for example, there’s a saloon balcony that consists of little more than a flat shelf – but the details that are included are otherwise well executed, from the laser-etched signs and window frames to the 3D cogs in the side of the clock tower. More than enough to conjure up the setting, even without painting.
There’s a separate Dimension West storage box available for £15 that is similarly made of 3mm MDF and requires gluing together. With a laser-etched logo on the lid, it’s a nice touch for fans, but the added bulk and weight seems unnecessary given you can transport most of the flattened terrain in more efficient ways, such as a satchel.
Overall, the kit is an effective and relatively cost-friendly way of bringing a Wild West setting to life. The T-peg system works well for those looking to carry their terrain around and the variety and general quality of the pieces included makes it a no-brainer if you want to get everything you need in a single, easy package.
Manufacturer: Red Beam Designs
Price: £75 (main set), £15 (storage box)
This review originally appeared in the June/July 2017 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here – or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.