18 January 2011

A Review of WorldWorks Games' Watchtower

Let me start out by saying I love modeling. I've been painting miniature for 22 years; I've built my own wargames terrain and I own lots of HirstArts molds. I've even scratchbuilt a few buildings, using balsa wood, foam board, and cereal box board. I also own about a dozen Miniature Building Authority pieces.

However, since the birth of my son I haven't had nearly as much time to do all the cool stuff I've wanted to do. So, I've needed to make sacrifices. Miniatures aren't necessarily painted to the absolute best of my ability, and I've even recently purchased some closeout Rackham Wolfen as proxies for my Korbolas faction for Warlord. My GenCon fund is not building up as quickly as it did before my son was born, either, so the prospect of major terrain purchases grows dim.

Thus, when I heard about some new card terrain from WorldWorks Games, I was intrigued. They marketed it for Wyrd Miniatures' game Malifaux, but while I liked the idea of semi-modular card terrain, I didn't like how it looked on the table. But, I kept my eyes open for improvements. And so I kept visiting their website, looking at their products, and saying "Hmmm . . . you know maybe this could work . . . ."

In addition to WorldWorks, I've been looking at Fat Dragon Games, too. These two companies seem to be the leaders in this niche, and I like the looks of both their products. Fat Dragon seems "cleaner," and they claim their print-outs don't use as much ink as other companies'. Fair enough, and I'm sure I'll end up getting some stuff from them, too. But, I digress.

I purchased the Watchtower as a test piece. At $8, it's not going to break my budget, and I figured it wouldn't cost that much to print out. Indeed, at my local UPS Store, total cost was just under $10 including tax. One downside of pdf terrain is that it eats up printer ink, and since I have an HP printer with only two cartridges, that means I'd be spending at least that much money if I printed them off myself.

As a side note, I downloaded a couple free buildings in order to practice my cutting skills and make sure this was something I wanted to do before I got too far into it. The buildings don't have interiors, so they are of limited use during gaming, but they'll still be used. After all, not every building needs to be open for models to enter.

What you need:
A sharp hobby knife. I used my x-acto. And trust me, you don't want a cheap imitation.
Metal ruler (you want something with perfectly straight sides).
Cutting mat (I already had this due to my other hobby projects).
Black marker (for edging the model).
Glue. Water in your basic Elmer's will cause the paper to warp. So, either use that PVA glue sparingly, or get a glue with a low water content. I used Aleen's Quick Dry Tacky Glue.

What I downloaded: A zip file containing pdfs of the images and instructions, and a
file containing wallpapers of the watchtower. Cost: $8

Printing: After looking at the files, I realized that the floor tiles are duplicated. This allows for one image to have a 1" grid, while the other image is gridless. This shows the age of the model, as more modern pdfs have layers that can add or subtract those grids. I had thought that I could swap out the base level for a mid-level should I ever get a castle set, but the base has printed areas for the supports, which means I'd have to put more work into my kitbash than I want to right now. I copied the files onto a flash drive, duplicating the necessary walls and roof pages. WorldWorks prints on each page how many copies you need. For the three level tower with roof, 18 pages are required. It would have been nice if they posted that in their description. Sixteen pages are required if you don't print out the roof. With my 18 pdf files in hand, I walked into the UPS Store with my own cardstock, and walked out with well-printed plans. Cost: $9.50

Once I got home, I realized that the printouts were considerably darker than what is shown on my computer screen.

As I started putting the base together, I learned that edging has a bit more technique than what the forums lead you to believe. If you score your lines slightly deeper, it creates a valley that the marker can't get to. Gluing is also an acquired skill. Fiddly bits are a pain. This model is definitely an "intermediate" piece. The battlements gave me all sorts of trouble, and I ended up being about 1/16th of an inch off on one corner. Dangit. The 3-d battlements are cool, but there's gotta be an easier way of putting them together.

The floor support pieces gave me some trouble. There are enough for three levels, which is great, except there are only two levels that are needed. So, I wasted time cutting and gluing fiddly bits that aren't needed.

The support pieces that are glued to the top level also didn't line up correctly. Each is about 1/16th of an inch or so offset, so I had to break out some black paint and cover up the white edges.

The roof piece could have used better instructions, as well. You are instructed to glue a piece underneath the pointed roof, but there are no pictures that show the process.

Overall, I am fairly happy with the model. I spent the better part of four evenings putting it together, and I learned a lot about cardstock modeling. I can definitely see where I rushed the job, and there's definite problems with cardstock modeling if you go on to the next step before the glue is dry! I'm anxious to start another project, although I'm leaning towards something from Fat Dragon, as the models there are supposed to be geared towards the beginning modeler. I think WorldWorks are a bit more advanced. Not that that's bad, but it I can see it being frustrating for someone new to the hobby to get in over his head quickly.

Pictures will be posted later. Right now, I think it's time for novice cardstock modelers to go to bed!