Thursday, February 12, 2009

Citadel Realm of Battle- Finished!

Here's some shots of my finished Citadel Realm of Battle, modular table. If you recall the announcement of this late last summer created quite a bit of controversy as it's news went from excitement to disdain to outrage over the inept marketing and pricing of this item by GW.
All of various forum monkeys out there throwing crap at the walls over this thing is what inspired my first blog rant , you'll also might note along the way I claimed I could finish this thing in 6 hours...well I was smoking something on that one. (which I will explain in a moment)

Now that I have done one, I could probably do another in 6 hours IF I stuck to the GW example and just flocked the whole thing. That's not my style, So I felt compelled to stay up into the wee hours of the night painting and then painstakingly drybrushing the thing. Start to finish time on this all the way thru is about 20 hours...that doesn't include the carpentry to build the table base its sitting on..I will add some nice side rails to keep the pieces tight and keep dice from rolling off but I've had some warping issues with my lumber delaying that, but it will get done soon.

Hobbywise- I washed it down with soap and water, primed it black, sprayed with an airbrush the brown paint that comes with the scenery kit, then went to work on two layers of drybrushing (ochre, then graveyard earth)...then painted all the little details (skulls and skull pits drybrushed the rocks (codex grey, fortress grey) , Finally I flocked it using GW scorched grass mixed with two different woodland scenics flocks (burnt grass and havest gold). the married flocks created two nice different tones of Scorched Grass that compliment the badlands theme I was going for. As you can imagine it took some time...I only worked on it 2 hours or so at time so about 10 days in January start to finish. (oh I also sprayed it down with a full can of matte, this is necessary to protect it during play) I still probably put even more detail time into to come, but that's a luxury..its playable now.

I assume the big question is after owning it couple months and spending alot of time on it -what do I think about it? Initially I was a big supporter of the product but was of course put off by the price like everyone else (which didn't keep me from buying it). In the end- my enthusiasum has dimmed a bit while I surely will enjoy this table. It wont be my main table, (that'd be my plain 4x8 that I can set up my horde of individual terrain on.) but the RoB is certainly great for a change of scenery or numerous unique will also be great for the variety of different games I play, covering up the skull pits with other pieces of terrain is easy to and with its modularity a huge combination of looks can be had easily. For me it's great..I even got a huge price break because I got $125.00 worth of free product the day I bought it at my local shop so my net cost on the thing with the scenery kit and tax was "only" (cough cough)

I do have several issues with this thou and while the pros are pretty obvious...well made, rock solid, modular..(I'm told they are releasing at least 1 expansion tile for it ( a River). Its definitely got some cons. One...the clip together system for this, is a joke. it doesn't stay clipped, you need two people to clip it together, and even clipped together its nowhere near as tight as its needs to be to minimize the unholy freaking ugly SEAMS. The seams really irk me and while I am going to do some more painting myself to try to minimize them myself and they are less noticeable if you model it the "GW Way". If you want to use it painted or partially flocked you are looking at some serious seemage distracting you from the overall look. While the seams are definitely visible in some of the ads. If you notice in many of GW shots released in White Dwarf they either photoshopped the seams out or glued the table together as a set piece and covered up the seams. You can minimize them by fitting them tight with an outside frame, (like I plan to do.) but unfortunately as a "stock" product its never going to look as good as it could the way the current clip system works.

The next problem I have is once you get it all built and looking pretty its really not that Portable. If I was packing this thing up and taking somewhere in the carry-bag they would be scratched to hell and destroyed in no time. not to mention you be surpised how much weight the paint and flock add to it...the thing is heavy. While I have no problem with it, (I'm 6'5" 280lbs) what about the normal sized person or worse the kids dragging it along behind them in the bag as the flock they put on it the day before grinds itself off as its stuffed in the bag.?

I guess that's my biggest problem with it, Its that the RoB is not what really what its claims to be Its not "really" the portable game solution for the average gamer with out alot of space..can it be that? sure, but its a royal pain in're not going to want to take it apart and set it up on your kitchen table trying to clip it together to play your game then pack it all up and stick it back in the closet. I'm sure some uber motivated folks will, but I just don't see it happening for the average person. - its way easier to just go down to the store and wait for a table, or just play on the kitchen table using the GW grass matt (now that was a smart product)

Marketing pushed this as "now every gamer has the option to get their own table", "no more waiting for table space..just buy this set it at home and go!" well the reality is it more complicated than it. It's unwieldly, expensive and takes considerable hobby experience to get to look good enough to justify the price. It's really geared toward people like me, who are hardcore hobbyists who want it as a set piece and have multiple tables, and there aren't enough people like me to keep an expensive product like this around for that long.

I also have to mention that at the Chicago GT last year they previewed the RoB in a new product slide show at the of the day, claiming that eventually everytable at the GT's would be one of these!..In retrospect that claim is so warped I have to mention it, one, while it's cross configurable the huge hills are way too limiting terrain wise for anything resembling a tournament with all its uber anal meta-game terrain parsing. secondly, what GT's???. while there are now two this year..Baltimore and Vegas...when they announced the 2009 circuit there where ZERO. big change from just a few months earlier.

In conclusion, I love my Realm of Battle and will get lots of use out of it but its product for diehards only, you know the kind of people that buy two Baneblades, even thou they rarely if ever play Apocalypse and yet go into the store and a red shirt asks them if they want to "smell" the next one they're still thinking of buying. Or if you've got 13 unfinished armies that your working up to 3K and are still wandering around the shop pondering what army to start up next? If that's you and you got the dough,want to put the time into making it look good and have a place to put it where you can leave it set up..then this is the product for you.!!
I still think you'll want another table as committing to this as your only table will leave you lacking if you are a serious 40K or WFB player. If you're looking for a portable easy gaming solution, buy the GW grass mat, throw it on the kitchen table with a couple modular hills and a bag of the wire trees and you'll be good to go for a fraction of the price.

(14 more photo's in the Realm of Battle Gallery)


jabberjabber said...

Hi John - thanks for your thorough and honest appraisal of the realm of battle board. The issues with the seams are good to know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. I also just recently finished a RoB board - haven't had a chance to put pics on my blog.

I agree on the portabiliy piece. I'm nervous about putting it back into the carrying case as I think I might mess up the finish. I also wanted to put some static grass on it but I was afraid that it would just collapse the static grass too.

ThirdxParty said...

I'm going to chime in with a slightly different perspective based upon the few years I worked at GW.

Most kids that would come in would have all of their models thrown into tackle or tool boxes - even when fully painted. There was more than one dad that built 4'x4' modular tables with their own method of carrying that were all gnarly looking when unpacked and assembled - much like their models. 12 year olds are primarily interested in playing - not the aesthetics.

What I'm getting at, is that this product has a two fold purpose. For afficionados like ourselves, this is most certainly an advanced hobby product and we're not going to want to chip and scrape our beautiful work. We're going to put hours into making it look awesome.

But for the 12 year olds who may never paint and flock it - and if they do or their dad does it - its never going to look like how it would if you or I did it... Its a pretty cool product. I know if they had it when I worked for the company in the late 90's kids and parents would have ate it up.

Pull it out of the package, throw some paint on it and its guaranteed to look better than a dining room table - even when its all chipped up, and that's really its primary purpose.

Milton said...

Thanks for the post, very nice article.
I have not bought this yet, and all the negatives you stated also do not apply to me (i.e. I play only in my game room, and I play on a custom table with a lip so I can wedge the "seams" out). My main question is really:

Does it provide the variety over the long haul? (even with the reconfigurable sections?) (I game in a variety of scale and or period, and storage is an issue so that if this can not be setup as my main table then it's not really an option...)

Milton said...

oh yeah and did you find any good discounter on the net who carries this yet?

Peter said...

I've got to agree with you, the hills it came with sould be modular or just include a pack of them in with the board, the skulls are weird and I'd always cover them up. I think yours looks better than 'The gw way' even with the extra work. great job

John@Plastic Legions said...

Milton- I can see this working for a variety of games especially at skirmish 28-25mm I think if it was "your only table" you'd feel somewhat limited by the configuration of any game that uses large blocks of troops, especially historicals which tends to have more models than say warhammer. At Smaller scales Historically I think it be fine if you make or buy some additional terrain to cover up the Skull filled pits. The large hill it can make in the center would be great for all kinds of scenarios and it also configures into a nice pass configuration (as I have it laid out) -I guess it just depends on what you play how much mileage you'd get out of multiple configurations..for me I play Warhammer Fantasy %80 of the time then other games from that perspective its not flexible enough to be my only table.

Milton said...

Thanks. I play mostly large-ish mass army games (Napoleonic, colonial, WW2) so I guess this is probably not a good choice then.

They certainly look cool though!

Anonymous said...

Not to derail your comments, but I'm a LOTR player and our games are played on a 4x4 board. So by only using 4 of the 6 tiles, I can make a very unique game field for a variety of different games.

I'm also looking to build a wooden storage "table top" with a lip. For those that have done this, how difficult is it to pull the modular pieces out? I imagine if its so tight that the seams are "hidden" (or at least hidden better) than its got to be difficult to pull the tiles out.

John@Plastic Legions said...

Easiest way would be to run a string underneath the section with the thin tiles that you can pull up to pop the tile out and then press them back down when you re configure, That's what I plan to do, although I could easily enough make one lip removable, string is easier. I agree this table is actually better suited to LotR than 40K or WFB...if only played LotR this table could easily make it as your only table...I will be playing LotR on mine for sure.

Anonymous said...

or just cut out some big holes underneath so u can push the pieces out..

Bill Lim said...

Realm of Battle looks good. The "combo flocking" looks like it turned out really nice. I'll reserve final judgment until I get a solid look at the table in real life.

ZeroTwentythree said...

Did you paint all the sides of the board sections to match the brown on top?

Can't tell from the pics of the seams just show up dark from shadows or from a color difference.

Anonymous said...

My friend got the RoB as well and brought it over one time so we could play on it. I expected the clips to work a lot better than they did. We had the same issues you described.

Even as I read your review I began to wonder what could be done with magnets to fit the modules together? If you glued magnets on you'd certainly have polarity issues with certain builds which would defeat the purpose of the modularity... I must think more about this.


Anonymous said...

Your battleboard looks pretty tops! Nice job.

I've done mine in a black/grey ash wastes style (40K mainly, and it svaes having to flock the darn thing) which hopefully will look good when complete.

The price is eye opening, but once I got the boards and set them up I was actually pleased with what I got. The only thing that irked me was that the tiny clips that hold the boards together, don't. At least not with mine.

I'm hoping that GW release a few more board sections as a river across two sections would be good. I have heard (pinch of salt) that there are plans for a trenchworks pair of sections just for 40K being planned. Hopefully thats true.

Albrek said...

Great review, I was always curious about the RoB. it is a nice looking table though, even with the seems :)

Lost Commander said...

I am one of the so called "dads" that is just buying expensive stuff for my son to play his hobby. (it is my hobby as well)

I ofcourse bought this, main reason laziness but also because we have a space issue and it fits nicely under the corner of the bed.

The Clips issue was at first very frustrating but my 10 year old son is now able to pull this out and setup very fast and the clips fits the first time he tries. it all comes down to some sort of technique.

We have already had some really nice battles and our board is not even painted yet (not decided on the scheme so far, needs to fit both fantasy and 40K)

Hudson said...

My question is if the board hangs slightly off a kitchen table will it be stable enough to use?

John@Plastic Legions said...

@ hudson,

I think up to a less then half of one section (so less than 12 inches)
overhanging would be fine..clipped together it should be fine.

Hudson said...

Alright I may go to the Chicago Battle Bunker and get this. I live in an apartment, and have little space. But want to host fantasy games. Im tired of plywood and hinged boards I build and I want something permanent for the future and I like the 4x4 modular ability also.

I think for someone like me this will pay off seams showing or not. Ill post up on my blog

what I come up with but I dont think I have the time to paint this anytime soon but I do plan on what you did for the most part. Did you prime the whole thing white first?

Fabio Baccini said...

How did you manage the clips system? Any alternative? Thanks

John@Plastic.Legions said...

Hi Fabio

wow havent visted this post in a long time, I wish my RoB still looked that good its beaten pretty good over the last 4 years..

To answer your question, unfortunately NO. nothing that is really portable anyway, what I didnt was build the frame that it sits in tight against the I when I squeeze the RoB in the frame its nice and tight I dont need the clips...not a portable solution really..but it works great at the house


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