TGN Reviews: TableScapes Tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures
Secret Weapon Miniatures is well-known for their bases, bits, and washes and pigments. But they want to help you with every aspect of your game’s aesthetics, including the surface you’re playing on. That’s where their line of Tablescape Tiles comes in. Originally funded through Kickstarter, the tiles are now available in their webshop.
Mr. Justin over at SWM sent me four tiles from their first production run to check out.
So get yourself prepped for another TGN Review. This time it’s Tablescapes Terrain Tiles from Secret Weapon Miniatures.
A major draw of miniatures games is the look of the miniatures themselves. People want to have good-looking models on their table when they play. Lots of time and effort is put into modelling and painting miniatures to make them look as close to lifelike as possible. But what about the gaming table, itself? They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same can be said for a gaming table looking like a recreation of a battle. It’s only going to be as good as its worst element. If you really want to make your games look like actual battles, having just an unfinished, plain table with some mismatched terrain on it won’t work. But creating an entire table from scratch can be incredibly time consuming and the results may not be what you’d hoped for in the beginning. That’s where Secret Weapon Miniatures comes in with their Tablescapes Tiles. They are a line of plastic terrain tiles that lock together to create a cohesive playing surface for your miniatures games.
The tiles measure a square foot and are made of dense, hard, rigid, grey plastic. It’s not flimsy at all. They are very resistant to being bent or twisted. In fact, looking at the underside of a tile, you can see where rings and ridges have been added in to make sure the pieces don’t warp or bend. I’d bet you could stand on these things and they wouldn’t bend that much. Obviously, the tiles don’t need to be able to support one’s full weight. But you shouldn’t be worried about snapping a tile if you lean on it while reaching across the table to move a miniature. The tiles are kept from moving around via connector pieces that look like little crossed or bent wrenches. The X and V pieces connect underneath the tiles, so they’re not seen when the table is fully set up.
The tiles come pre-formed with certain terrain elements already on them. They are made to come in matching sets, with several tiles representing the same sort of overall scene. The first five that have been released are Urban Streets (damaged and undamaged), Forgotten City, Rolling Hills, and Scrapyard. The terrain that’s part of the tile is literally that, part of the tile. Obviously, with such integration, there won’t be any sliding or twisting of those terrain pieces. However, the tiles, themselves, don’t have enough terrain on them to really say that all you would need are the tiles. They’re just a foundation. Also, each tile has varying degrees of terrain. For example, one Scrapyard tile would probably be considered entirely clear, while another has a pre-made defensive dugout on it.
For adding extra terrain, Secret Weapon has created terrain pieces that specifically match their tiles. For example, they make a Scrapyard Barricade terrain piece that matches elements in the Scrapyard Tiles. Going even a step further, they have bases that work with the various tiles, too. So you can have the Scrapyard Battlefield Tablescapes tiles, supplemented with Scrapyard Battlefield scatter terrain, and your army all based on Scrapyard Battlefield bases. Talk about obtaining a cohesive look between table and miniatures.
There are a few things that might make Tablescapes tiles not right for you. While the tiles are modular due to the wrench connector pieces, they’re not the easiest to transport (particularly if they’re painted). Being a square foot, they would take up a lot of room in any sort of transport device you wanted to use. And you’d need foam or something like it to protect your surface from being scratched while moving it. Even if you assemble the tiles and don’t plan to move them around, you’ll want to seal them very well because, of course, you’re going to have miniatures moving across them all the time. Also, if you’re playing a game that doesn’t allow for “any time” measuring, the connection joints between tiles could be a bit of a give-away for distances, as the lines could be used to help more accurately guess distances to models.
The tiles are sold in sets of 24, which costs $250 in the Secret Weapon Miniatures shop. So each tile comes out to about $10 apiece. While that’s a pretty good cost per-tile, considering the amount of plastic in them, it’s still a fairly substantial investment for your gaming surface. Casual gamers probably won’t want to spend that type of cash. However, getting just a couple tiles, you could make a very nice army display board for your figures. That would be easier on the pocket book, and a great way to show off your force (especially if you get those matching bases and a piece or two of matching scatter terrain to go on there as well). At the moment, the tiles can’t be purchased as singles, but hopefully they will eventually.
If you’re the type of gamer who really wants to make every battle look like a diorama in action, Tablescapes may just be for you. They look a lot better than simply stapling down felt or flocking some wooden sheets. They have terrain details already embedded in the tile, which goes a long way to adding to the aesthetic of minis gaming. If you don’t mind the cost and have a good solution for transporting them, you should check them out.