Initial Impressions: Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa – Desert Villas

Way back in the November of 2017, I wrote an initial impressions of the Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa range. And approaching two years later… I haven’t advanced very far. However, Knights of Dice has continued to work, producing much more in their ranges. One thing especially interesting for me, however, is the Tabula Rasa villa range. As someone who is starting to really like buildings, you can actually fight through rather than just around, adding some larger multi-room buildings should help to make my games more interesting.

As a rough overall point, all three buildings are wonderful things to assemble. They pop easily from sprue, with very little work needed in terms of clean up. The construction is also nice and easy, in many cases tight enough to dry-fit the entire thing before only adding a little glue to secure them . One comment is that the sprues this time around are definitely on the larger side to support the larger footprint for the buildings, so expect some larger delivery boxes.

I did have a few issues with some missing pieces from the sets. None of these would have stopped construction (a missing step and a barrier) but both could be easily replaced from offcuts. In addition, Knights of Dice support is fantastic so missing pieces will be quickly sent out.

Above you can see the rough scale of the doors and windows. You can also see the details – these buildings are really just shells, lacking in pretty much all detail except structural elements such as interior walls and staircases. This is not a negative, it’s just pointing out the feature of this range.

Most importantly, stairs! In the original review, I picked out the almost smooth stairs a major negative. Well, it seems that KoD heard all about it and decided to tweak them to make them look a little more playable. I think the compromise makes them playable while not ruining the look.

Pictured here on the left is Compound 1 from the original release next to the villas. As you can see, the new buildings are on a larger footprint, with much larger second floors and often access to the rooftops. They feel a lot more like some of the hard work is done to make them into interesting games.


Villa 1

The first building up is a two-storey structure with access to the roof. This building looks like some town centre building, with a covered outdoor walkway and flat roof above. The interior is split into several rooms, two on each floor.

The pack also includes a removable ladder, ideal for quickly accessing the roof. You can also see just how many firing positions this building has, perfect for defending and a nightmare to assault.

Broken down you can see just how much floor space is available. Although only two rooms per floor, there is plenty of space to move through, with plenty of choke points to fight through. Additionally, I like the stairs having a little cover when you climb them.


Villa 2

Villa 2 is a bit more modern, offer a two-storey building with balcony and roof access, ideal for sunbathing, filming enemy forces or siting a heavy weapon.

Interesting to note, this building only has two ground floor doors on this side which could be an interesting tactical challenge. This building also supports the ladder from building 1, if you want to vary it up.

Broken down, you can see this building is mostly larger rooms, with the upstairs being only one interior room before leading outside.


Villa 3

Villa 3 is a bit of strange one. Apart from the very different style and fancy steps, this feels like a building from the original releases. However, with the sloping roof and elevated window, it is pretty distinctive on the tabletop.

Looking at the rear, you can see the side entrance. This passes under the stairs, which I should warn you includes a perfect hidey hole for ambushing assaulters.

Broken out, both floors only have a single large room. It’s also interesting to note that both floors have blind spots the other floor manages to expose – something to think about then placing them.


Villa 4

Finally, VIlla 4. This one looks and feels like a very modern building, a gently sloping roof combined with an exterior balcony

The backside shows the entrance locations and the multiple windows, as well as a better shot of the gently sloping roof angle. As you can see, there are plenty of firing points on this side, making assaulting it a genuine challenge.

This is probably the busiest of the four buildings, with a total of 5 rooms and a balcony. It also provides multiple entry points. on the two floors (ignoring the action movie technique of setting up a ladder onto the balcony itself. The two smaller rooms at the back of the house will be pretty interesting to take control of, especially without grenades.


Conclusion

So what do I think of them? Well, I love seeing the improvement to design these buildings show – they feel like Knights of Dice have learned from the original release and these now feel more like real buildings. As I keep banging on about, having buildings you can actually CQB through, rather than just treating as “occupied” or “unoccupied”, really lifts games from just simple skirmishes to feeling much more interesting.

At the same time, these are Tabula Rasa buildings. If you want something you buy, spray paint and then put on the table then I don’t think these are necessarily the best idea. They would be fine but they are really asking to have all the little detailing work, to give them that extra touch. But that said, I think these are the perfect starting point to just go wild with it.

Now, time to go get some more air con units and and bits of plasticard…

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: Scatter Terrain Part 2

In my previous Scatter Terrain post, I looked at everything resin. Now however, we move onto the world of MDF. Some of these may hit the boundary of what you class as scatter terrain but are included anyway.

Knights of Dice Cell Towers

Made of lots of little parts, these towers once built are perfect for making a building into a command post or data centre. Instructions are provided on the Knights of Dice store.

Knights of Dice Crates

Some of the cleverest design for building crates, these are made of flat sided 3D shapes with an detail layer sat on top. Perfect for filling warehouses or loading onto vehicles. Instructions can be found on their site.

Knights of Dice Pallets

Found everywhere, these are my favourite pallets. As well as the cool loader, the five pallets just look perfect and can be assembled super quickly. The instructions for both the pallets and the loader can be found on their website.

Sarissa Precision Market Stall

Easily assembled, this pack contains three stalls and six tables. The stalls are simple to build and can be easily tweaked by adding a cover to the top rail. However, the stars of the show are the tiny tables. They can be glued down but a better idea is to leave them free to move, perfect for your troops to flip when the bullets start flying.

TTCombat Site Fencing

Perfect for setting up obstacles and marking out the exterior of a facility, this site fencing is really great. The packet contains a load of sections (10 in total) and plenty of parts to link them together. The total length is quite long making the set a great deal.

TTCombat Intermodal Containers

You always need more containers. These are assembled from seven pieces and include opening doors. Each pack contains three making them a fantastic deal.

TTCombat Security Office

When building your industrial site, you’ll need somewhere for your guard to sit out of the rain and to check car entering the site. The office has one interior room and also includes two stop barriers. Simple to build and great looking on the board.

 

TTCombat Builders Office

Somewhere else for the guards to hide from the rain, this little office is simple but effective. I really like it as kit. In addition, you can place it inside a large warehouse to add some more detail.


As you might expect, my scatter terrain collection will continue to grow. Expect more parts coming soon!