For some reason I got it in my mind recently to spend some money on the scenery that GW has been putting out recently. I'm a HUGE fan of the Moonscape and a firm believer that every single 40k player should own at least one set. (I have two!) The Planetscape-specific version fell a little flat due to the weird decision to use vac-forming instead of injection molding like the Moonscape, but the original is still available and awesome.
So, thanks to a gift certificate to The War Store, I got my hands on The Temple of Skulls. It is really, really cool.
It is marketed as a Fantasy Battle terrain piece, which doesn't make much sense to me. Yes, it has more skulls and less guns, but it is pretty impractical in a game of Fantasy Battle. Only skirmishers, monsters, and individual characters have any chance of making it onto the thing without falling over. The slope on the side is very steep.
It comes in a large box around the size of a starter army set. The base is one single piece and it comes with a great "skull and column" sprue for the three upright skulls and the two columns. I've painted mine in a rough limestone style that I can't keep myself from using. (I think I'll be painting the opposite side of my three 2'x4' table toppers in a similar fashion so they all match.)
The most impressive thing about the Temple is how sturdy it is. Years ago this would have been so flimsy that you wouldn't have been able to put a dragon or Land Raider on the top of it without risking permanent damage. Now, you could safely stand on it. See the following picture of the underside.
It obviously was made as a proof of concept for the design process which made the Realm of Battle boards a possibility. I'm fairly certain if the RoB had kept its rumored $200 price point that a great many more would have sold. If I could have received the internet's normal discount I'm pretty sure that I would have one by now. Having two would have made my in-house Apocalypse game setup much easier, but there's no way I'm dropping that much on it.
I was so pleased with the Temple of Skulls that I picked up the Arcane Ruins set as well. This is another set that will be very difficult to use in a game of Fantasy Battle, in which case it will probably just be impassible to any ranked unit. See below for the 'assembled' version.
Of course, it is a ruin by name and looks even better knocked over.
I've been planning to make a skull-themed table for a while, inspired by the recent battlefields featured in a few recent White Dwarf reports. The Isle of Blood was particularly nasty looking. One of the great and unmentioned things about the Arcane Ruins is that it comes with way more skulls than you could ever use on the piece itself. Below is what I had left over, perfect to be used on my project to tie everything together. That's a lot of skulls!
Even more delighted, I decided to spring for the Urban Barricades set. As you can see below, you get six barricades in the set. I have the unfortunately-discontinued Sandbags set which came pre-painted (looks like a single coat and drybrush) and flocked. I think it is some sort of light resin. This set is also resin, but unpainted. It has a much higher level of detail, though, including a crashed Space Marine bike. Unlike pretty much everything else mentioned in this review, these really need painted before use, especially the one with the bike. There are a wide variety of textures and they don't look very good in the default grey resin.
I painted the bike in a non-descript color, added some metallics and rust here and there, and now they look great.
So, to cut to the rankings: (With a Moonscape at a 10/10.)
- Temple of Skulls: 8. Less useful as a Fantasy Battle terrain piece, but very, very sturdy and nicely detailed.
- Arcane Ruins: 7. Not as nicely detailed as the Temple, but the abundance of extra skull bits helps a lot.
- Urban Barricades: 7. Nice off-the-shelf, impressive if painted.
For the money, the Moonscape is still the best bet. Every player needs a set, and the price is low enough that everyone should have one. If you are thinking about a second Bastion, I'd recommend the Temple of Skulls instead. It might make a good, albeit small Landing Platform (if protected by chaos magics, that is).
Next time, notes about joining in the Biggest Apocalypse Game in the World!