Initial Impressions: Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa

 

In my overview earlier this year looking at Adobe buildings, I briefly talked about Knights of Dice and their MDF buildings. Since then, I’ve picked up the rest of range and I’m now ready to talk about all the various buildings you can purchase from the Tabula Rasa desert range. In this post, I’m going to look over the basics shells, point out some features and then quickly talk about what I intend to next with them.

First up, let’s talk about the common features. All the buildings are designed as shells, only contained key structural features and with none of the detailing many other buildings would have (such as exposed brick textures or doors). The shells are made of MDF and arrive on a sprue ready to be pushed out. They are held in tightly enough so they are not accidentally pushed out during transit. This does require some pushing to get them out but I’ve yet to break a piece while extracting them. In addition, most sprues include a crowbar piece that can be used to help get the pieces ready for use. All the MDF is well cut (needing only a tiny bit of trimming on the connectors) and fit together perfectly during assembly. As always, do a dry fit before gluing together.

In all cases, the buildings have removable roofs and easy access to both floors. All the buildings also have logical access to each room via both internal or external doors, windows or via staircases. I’m not a huge fan of the staircases; assembled by default and they are way too small to fit figures on bases onto the stairs, instead acting more like a ramp. There are alternative ways to assemble them so that they are more usable but by default you won’t be placing figures on them.

Crooked Dice, Spectre, Empress, Eureka

In terms of scaling, the doorways are a tiny bit small for 25mm bases to fit through but perfect for 20mm. Heightwise, figures from Spectre and Empress fit them perfectly, although again I recommend 2mm deep bases rather than the 3mm slotta style bases.


The first two buildings are referred to as Compounds and are the biggest buildings in the range. Both have two floors as well as multiple internal rooms making them a battleground in their own right.

Compound 1 is a huge arrangement, spreading six rooms across two floors. Features of note include a covered exterior area on the ground floor, staircase up to an open roof and two upstairs rooms.

This building is obviously on the more stylish end of the range, perfect for a target building. The ground floor in particular is perfect for some CQB; the wall between the covered area and the rear room is asking for a breaching charge.


Compound 2 is a slightly smaller footprint but equally detailed. Again spread over two floors, this building has three rooms on the ground floor (the long one is split in half) and an upstairs room that leads onto the roof of the long room. The upstairs room is actually a frame that fits inside the outer shell, making it easy to lift out and be used in-game. 

As a note, the metal details are not part of the kit. They are from Empress as part of their builder’s yard. Expect some details on them as the project goes along.

Being a larger building, Compound Two presents some interesting tactical decisions. Multiple rooms will need clearing and the upstairs could be an interesting target location.


The bulk of the range is the small Desert Residences. These buildings have a smaller footprint than the compounds but should still be interesting to play though.

Residence One is a simple two room building but also include a flat outside area with a low wall around it.

Again, the metal details are from Empress.


Residence 2 use the same idea but in a slightly different arrangement to give some variation to your town.


Residence 3 is really cool. It uses the same footprint as Compound 2 but only on one floor. It’s a clever reuse of the same pieces but it works – the slightly larger layout makers the rooms great for scuffle.


The final building is something different. Labelled as a Storage Building, this would be great filled with ammo boxes and fuel cans. The arches are sadly too small for vehicles so it can’t be used as a garage/workshop without modification but there is still plenty of space to fill with things that might go boom.

If the compounds were not tempting enough, then this is perfect for scenario use. Fuel, ammo or a weapon cache, the multiple entrances will making this building an interesting position to take.


So what do I think of these buildings? The first thing I stress is that these things are shells – If you’re a game developer, these things are grey boxes, geometry designed to give you the mechanically feel for a place but not the actual look. They are the perfect starting point to make them feel how you want them while having much of the heavy lifting (such as rooms or multi-storey buildings) already done. You could but them on the table after a spray of paint but they would look a little plain. This lack of detail also means they are slightly cheaper than many other MDF buildings.The quality level is great and they don’t feel too small, even with based figures, that can be an issue with some other MDF set ups.

Once you put some extra bits on them and painted them up, you can get some really cool looking stuff. Spectre have used them on their demo board at Crisis and in the UK (I got to run a game on them at the Spectre Ops day back in July). In fact, Knights of Dice have released a new range using these Tabula Rasa buildings as a base but with some sci-fi elements ready to make your own den of scum and villany.

As a useful starting point, there are plenty of accessory packs as part of the Tabula Rasa range. These add useful elements like antennas and vents, as well as some walkways and ladders to improve access to the buildings.

If you’re interested in them, where is it best to pick them up? For most people, and if you want the latest stuff, you’ll want to grab them directly from Knights of Dice via their online store. In fact, the website says if you are in the area (Victoria in Australia), feel free to drop in for a visit. Being Australian based, this can lead to some long delivery times and expensive postage. Luckily, Shiny Games in the UK also stocks them (with only a slight delay between release on the KoD site and being in the UK). I have bought a fair amount of stuff from them and they are a fantastic shop. Great pricing, prompt delivery and even have a loyalty scheme ready to knock some money off your orders.


I now have these boxes, it’s time to make them look pretty. This article officially kicks Project Compound, which will take these buildings and make them look ready for battle. The idea is to make them look like an urban area somewhere in Bazistan in the early days of a conflict. Some limited damage but not completely wiped out. As well as the texturing and painting needed, I also want to add some more walls and street furniture. I’m going to update the blog with a new post once I work out which parts are going where. I still have a few Empress bits to use up (both air conditioning units and TV dishes) so I now need to work out which buildings are getting them.

I’m looking forward to getting these buildings done. This should be a great chance to make some buildings ready to sit on my boards as well as theming them to my theatre of operation – I’ll be going all out with posters and advertising.

If you’re wanting to keep an eye on this project, I recommend following the facebook page where I’ll be putting some WIP photos up.

Impressions: Spectre’s Razor Part 2

Before you read this impression, I really recommend going back and reading the original impressions on the Razor. I only intend to cover the new stuff and most of what I talk about in the previous post covers building the Razor now.

It’s taken a while but the Razor is now available from the Spectre website! Although it’s currently out of stock due to everyone buying them, they are now actually on the site. In addition, there are now crew and stowage available so you can make your vehicle look even more operator. We’re going to take a look through these new arrivals, and then have a quick update on my own Razors.

Razor 2

Building the Razor that arrived in the post was almost exactly the same as in my original post. I had to do a little clean up on the parts (you can still see the flash in the picture above) and I had to fix a cracked mud guard. Apart from that, the various pieces assembled easily. It was helped by the instructions now being online which mostly matched up to my procedures

There were a few things I tweaked but these were mainly due to the other releases that came out the same day. Primarily, I left off the seats, roll cage, steering wheel and GPMG. The other thing I left off is what sits in front of the passenger to make it match up with my pre-built one. I think it’s a handle (something to hold onto as the driver guns it) but I think the original part went missing somewhere between the Salute showfloor and my flat.

Razor Stowage

Image from Spectre Miniatures as someone forgot to snap photos when the models turned up

The first new addition is the Razor Stowage pack. The pack contains three items (two jerry cans in storage racks and a spare tire on frame). Both objects come with mounting brackets designed for specific places; the spare tire clips onto the top of the roll cage while the storage racks slot into the slits on either side of the cargo frame. However, you can easily trim them down if you want to place them somewhere else, such as cutting the supports off the racks so they can be placed on the rear gate of the cargo bed.

As for the looks, it really makes the Razor look a lot more suited for the off-road life and less civilian. The design features of the elements (in order to help place the items) is really smart and helps a lot with placement without giving a hard and fast “ITEMS MUST BE PLACED IN THIS LOCATION”.

Razor Crew

The other major addition is the crew. Unlike the technicals, the Razor is open to the elements and so really requires crew figures for use on the tabletop (it’s a bit strange rolling an empty buggy around the world). The two crew packs give you four figures in total; Alfa with the front crew (Driver and Gunner) and Bravo with the two guys sat in the cargo bed. Splitting the crew into two packs let you easily pick the crew you want, especially if you want to fill the rear cargo section with some form of cargo without having spare figures left over. The figures have the same shapes on the bottom of them that match up with the seats so that the crew fit in the correct place. The crew designs fit with the rest of the Spectre range, looking closest to the Task Force Operators or Rangers collections.

Now, the crew do come moulded into the seats and this was a minor annoyance as someone who built up their vehicle before they were available. However, after having seen the final product, there is no way I’d have wanted the figures separately as you would not have been able to get the same level of posing as these guys have. It’s cool how the crew members actually feel part of the vehicle (such as the driver with one foot on the outside of the buggy) rather than just resting on top of it. Also the guys in the back do not look massively

Fitting the steering is a pain in the neck and the getting the GPMG into location required some careful balancing of three separate pieces. But overall, these guys are a must buy if you have a Razor that you intend to have rolling round the battlefield

My Razors

So that’s cool for everyone else but what am I doing with mine?

So first thing – I made my first Razor before the crew were available and so it’s fitted with the seats. This means that without serious surgery (not something I want to try on resin) I can’t mount crew on it. But this gave me a plan. Razor 1 would become the dismounted version, ready for use as an objective or when the team dismounts. Razor 2, the brand new one, would get the crew figures. I would then make sure both had the same arrangement of gear and spare tires and paint them up in the same way.

This did throw up a minor issue. On Razor 1, the GPMG is stowed against the side of the cargo deck (primarily to make sure there isn’t a fragile piece of metal sticking out at a right angle). On Razor 2,this GPMG is now in an active position as the gunner starts hammering away. This leaves a giant empty space on the side of the vehicle where I can’t mount a rack as it wouldn’t match. However, the other release of the week came to the rescue. I stuck a bag over the space on Razor 2 – the thinking is that the team has grabbed their assault pack after dismounting (hence why it’s missing on Razor 1). It’s a cool little thing that no one apart from me will notice.

The next step was painting. Both the vehicles got a black undercoat and then followed by a desert tan spray. I then painted the details. I also painted up the crew using the new multicam pattern separately from the vehicles so the shadows on them would still be black. I then got the joy of assembling them onto a mostly finished buggy. This is a painting method I hate but in this case I think it was the best option.

As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t quite finish them before going to press. However, I should have them done for Monday’s Wargaming Week.

Conclusion Part 2

The Razor is an exciting kit to build and looks great when finished. However, I think the additional packs really make it. The stowage gives them a cooler feel while the crew is basically vital. Total cost for a fully equipped Razor (buggy + both crew packs + razor specific stowage) is around £33 which is quite expensive for such a small vehicle. However, it is packed full of detail and makes a nice centerpiece/tactical option for an elite force of operators.

Looking ahead, I hope we get more stowage and alternative crew poses. The rules page has some interesting points on it (such as a mount for heavy weapons on the roll cage which seems nuts) and even mentions some more variations on the Razor design. As I said in the first impressions piece, the Razor shows off a super exciting and interesting direction of releases that Spectre can go in.

If you are wanting your own Razor and accessories, you can all the bits over at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/vehicles

Impressions: Spectre’s Vehicle Stowage Alfa

Alongside the release of the Razor, Spectre also released a set of vehicle stowage. Designed to let you personalise and add detail to any form of hobby project, the stowage kit comes with a pile of things to weigh down your vehicle of choice. It also hopefully points to future plans from Spectre which are exciting for anyone with a pile of Humvees or objectives that need some extra detail to them.

So for your £7.50, what do you get? According to the site description:

  • 1 each of large, medium and small cooler/storage box
  • 1 x long gun Pelican case.
  • 2 x mid-size Pelican cases.
  • 1  x laptop Pelican case.
  • 2 x ammo boxes
  • 4 x NATO Jerry cans
  • 1 x SatCom Antenna
  • 2 x Sand Boards
  • 2 x Multi-Barrelled Smoke Grenade Dischargers (MBSGD)
  • 1 x AT-4
  • 4 x Light Antitank Weapon (LAW)
  • 4 x packs

The models arrive in a small plastic bag and, apart from a quick trim of some flash, are good to go. Most things are pretty obvious, the only sticking point being the ammo boxes – for a while I couldn’t work out the second one but it’s a smaller one (more designed for grenades) as opposed to the more common design.

For highlights, I really like the AT-4 and the LAW; they are a really simple way of adding some AT firepower to any squad while still looking really cool. The MBSGDs are also really clever with the perfect shape to fit under the bull bars of an SUV. There are also some nice variations in the rucksacks, giving you everything from a daysack up to something bergen sized. Finally, there are the pelican cases – not great for your militia forces but that long gun case might have a nasty surprise in it when on the back of an SF Pickup.

So what did I use them for? Well, the first order of the day was fixing a mistake I made way back in the early days of my collection. I picked up the SAS Recce Patrol support back when the Spectre webstore started (consisting of a LMG gunner and a marksman) and then didn’t use their bergens. This was so the figures could pull double duties with the SAS Low Profile team (the packs themselves ended up in the hands of several British squaddies). Having just stripped the early paint job, now seemed a great time to give them an upgrade.

The LMG gunner took the biggest pack while the marksman  got a smaller pack put a pair of LAWs ready to knock out tanks (and to cover the joins). The packs have two parts of the strap at the top and, although they don’t fit as well as the original, they do look pretty effective. Even better, they work well with the rest of the squad making them look as heavily laden as their buddies.

The other first use is adding some detail to my 2nd Razor. I cover this in the second Razor post but it went into place very easily, requiring almost no clean up while making it look like it latched over the top of the frame.

For the future? Some of the boxes will be going on my existing weapon teams to give them somewhere to store the ammo while others will be saved to really laden down a few upcoming releases. I’m also looking at getting the plasticard out and making some fillers for the truck bed covered in gear – perfect for supply vehicles or objectives.

In the end, I think this stowage pack is one of the best on the market. There are lots of bits you would end up using and its a worthwhile purchase for anyone wanting to add a little extra to their vehicles, soldiers or terrain. When combined with the ammo boxes already out, it will be easy to give everything the right level of clutter.

If you’re wanting some stowage for yourself, you can find it on the Spectre Webstore at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/products/stowage-alfa for £7.50