Gen Con – Privateer Press Dominates, CMON Releases, MBA, and Brushfire

Gen Con. Indianapolis. Two days into the “Best 4 Days in Gaming” and so far I have to agree with the slogan. This is exactly what I have been dreaming about since I first read about Gen Con in Dragon Magazine back in 1990. The Indianapolis Convention Center is VAST. It is a confusing labyrinth of large halls and I only finished exploring them all at 3:30 on Friday morning.

28mm train on tracks on beautiful table layout from Privateer Press at Gen Con

One of Privateer’s Inspiring Tables

Gamers were up late into the night Wednesday and early into the morning playing in all the public places of the downtown convention center area. Mostly they played board games with some CCG/TCG action, but I did spot a game of Warmachine unfolding in one of the hall spaces. Thursday morning was a different story with dozens of games of Warmachine popping up on some of Privateer Press’s wonderful playing tables. While many sported grass gaming mats, there were at least five or six fully-detailed tables festooned with rivets and steamworks. Friday morning at 2:00 AM the action was still going on. In fact, Privateer Press has the distinction of having the largest miniatures presence here at Gen Con, running 64 tables with 128 players playing at a time. From 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM Friday morning, Hordes and Warmachines players were vying for a spot at the Nationals in the Iron Arena tournament. A similar tournament will run tonight as well.

Gaining early admittance at 9:00 AM on Thursday to the Vendors’ Hall which opened to the public at 10:00, I was surprised to see a line already wrapping around Privateer Press’s booth as Gen Con’s VIGs (Very Important Guests) queued up, PP products in hand. Elsewhere gamers’ interests were harder to measure as the thin crowd trickled this way and that. At 10:00 AM, of course, a flood of gamers rushed in, with Privateer Press selling out of its new 2d6 version of its Iron Kingdoms RPG on Thursday.

Cool Mini or Not

Miniature castle from Cool Mini or Not's miniatures booth

Amazing Wrath of Kings Castle Table from CMON

One place they flocked to was Cool Mini or Not’s impressive 18-booth floor space. CMON is exhibiting two games developed with Sodapop Miniatures, Super Dungeon Explore and Relic Knights. CMON was also showing off some new figures for Dark Age as well as sculpts and demos for Confrontation: Age of Ragnarok amd Wrath of Kings. CMON’s booth space also included a whole host of basing products, tutorial DVDs, and the first three issues of of the miniature gaming magazine “Ravage”.

Zombicide

Cool Mini or Not also had Zombicide, released publicly at Gen Con for $90 after a successful $780,000+ Kickstarter funding run. Looking the plastic miniatures over, they do come pretty close to the resin prototypes I saw back in March at the GAMA Trade Show and with 70 of them, the game packs in a lot of value. Elsewhere in CMON’s stretching booth space Mike McVey was promoting Sedition Wars.

Boxes stacked head high at Cool Mini or Not's Gen Con Booth of Zombicide

Zombicide Making a Killing at the Cool Mini or Not Booth

Four players at Gen Con enjoying the zombie horror board game Zombicide

David Bullard and Friends Enjoying Some Zombicide

Late Thursday night or early Friday morning I encountered some Zombicide fans playing the zombie horror game at a table in a convention hallway. David Bullard of Mount Vernon, Illinois had pledged $100 towards the Zombicide Kickstarter campaign and received the game days before Gen Con. Nevertheless he had already played it four times when I met him, saying that he was “quite pleased” with the game, enjoying both the mechanics and the miniatures. Bullard’s friends were also enthusiastic about Zombicide and its merits, so it would seem that Guillotine Games and CMON have a definite winner.

Miniature Building Authority

Miniature 28mm town with barracks and castle walls at Gen Con from Miniature Building Authority

Miniature Building Authority 25-28mm European City

If you’ve read many of my posts, it should be no surprise that I went to check out Dwarven Forge’s line of prepainted terrain as well as Miniature Building Authority’s prepainted buildings. I had seen several Youtube videos featuring MBA’s whole collection at Gen Con before, but this year, their European 28mm Town seemed to be brimming over with hundreds of miniatures from over a hundred different miniature companies according to Kirk Stevens.

Kirk introduces some of their newer products on camera and sculptor Jim Elmore also talks about MBA’s impressive product line.

On the Lamb: Brushfire Miniatures and Historia Rodentia

I also saw a familiar face in the form of Emily Fontaine from On the Lamb Games. Their line of anthropomorphic Brushfire historical miniatures has been expanding since the GAMA Trade Show. She had several new miniatures to show off along with her concept artist, including figures specifically for Historia Rodentia, the RPG setting published by Mongoose Publishing.

Miniature Building Authority Tudor Inn and New Double Townhouse

The two newest Miniature Building Authority buildings that I have added to my collection are the Tudor Inn and the New Double Townhouse. Like all Miniature Building Authority European series buildings they are pre-painted on the outside, feature removable roofs, have open window areas for true Line of Sight, and feature wooden inserts for wargaming action on multiple stories.

The Miniature Building Authority Tudor Inn

Red tiled roofs on miniature houses in a city market scene from Miniature Building AuthorityThe Tudor Inn has a hefty list price of $119.95. For that you get a three story inn with a double-wide front entrance and a rear scullery exit. The Tudor Inn’s paint scheme is quite stark and austere, only black and white on the sides, with the characteristic MBA red-tiled roofs. The inn would benefit from some drybrushing and/or a wash to help give it some variety. Structurally it is a fairly nice specimen, as it should be for $119.95. The inn has a slight tilt in its second and third floors, but the slant only affects the portion overhanging the street so it will not pose any problem for butting the inn up against other buildings.

The Tudor Inn has a rough footprint of 6.5 inches by 7.5 inches, reaching 8 inches to its third story roof with the chimney pot adding about 2 more inches, for a total height of just under 10 inches. I have complained about the red chimney pots on all of the other MBA buildings, but the Tudor Inn thankfully has grey ones.

The Miniature Building Authority New Double Townhouse

Two miniature buildings as one from Miniature Building Authority with its double townhouseCarrying the idea of adjoining buildings to the next level, Miniature Building Authority has released the New Double Townhouse, which combines two buildings into one resin piece. The two story half has black tiles on its roof and a green door, while its attached companion has red tiles and is only one story, with steps leading up to its door. The New Double Townhouse also offers some nice surprises. The first is that the smaller building has a cut-away floor leading to a recessed cellar or area beneath the floorboards, which is a little under three quarters of an inch deep. I was able to put a Games Workshop Rat Swarm in there, one of the low Pegasus Hobbies crates, and a Hirst Arts crate, as seen in the Youtube video below. There was room for more surprises though. You could have a skeleton down below, a dungeon entrance, sacks of grain or gold, or even dwarves and halflings lying in wait The second, related surprise is the small archway leading out of this recessed area, connecting to the street outside. There is also a wooden barrel with a black pipe to drain off rain water.

The New Double Townhouse is approximately 4 inches deep and 8 inches long, standing about 6.5 inches tall. Overall the sculpted details on its stonework, as well as its paint job point to a promising trend in the newer MBA buildings. It has a list price of $74.95 from Miniature Building Authority.

Miniature Building Authority Small Stucco Townhouse with Dormer and Stone Farm House

The second additions to my Miniature Building Authority collection were the Stone Farm House and the Small Stucco Townhouse with Dormer. Both have the red chimney pots and the green bases that I am not so fond of, as do all of the MBA buildings in the Eurovillage series. Of course, this is more than compensated by the fact that they also come prepainted, have open windows for true line of sight, removable roofs, and and have floor inserts for multiple floors.

The Small Stucco Townhouse with Dormer

The light grey Small Stucco Townhouse with Dormer in the great outdoors.
With the word small in its name, I wasn’t expecting too much, but was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. It seems to have a newer fresher design than a few of the older buildings. The blue door doesn’t look out of place and there’s room in the top for a 3×3 unit on 20mm bases. You could squish more miniatures in certainly.

As I note upon getting my first good look at it in the Youtube video, the paint colors on my Small Stucco Townhouse didn’t match the packaging. Mine is light grey, but the packaging shows a yellow building. The image on miniaturebuildingauthority.com of the building is a mix of the two, appearing a warm light light brown to me, close to Buff or Naples Yellow. When contacted about the building’s true color and the label’s image, Kirk from Miniature Building Authority had this to say: “We are working to get the artwork closer, but at this time it is what it is. So, we apologize if the box art is not the color you want, but we are working to improve this process.”

Stone Farm House

I don’t care for the Stone Farm House’s pale blue shutters and doors, but that’s not the reason I got it. It’s positively huge, especially compared to other MBA buildings. It measures in at 7 inches by 6.25 inches, and is just under 8.5 inches tall, not including its double chimneys. The second floor easily has room for a 8×6 unit of figures on 20mm bases to lie in ambush for an unsuspecting unit passing nearby.

The Stone Farm House though also has a few deficiencies:
Closeup of MBA Stone Farm House showing odd stone pattern and doors .5 inch above ground.

  1. Raised Entrances: The green bases that I don’t care for are usually about 5 millimeters tall. In the case of the Stone Farm House though, there’s about an additional 5 millimeters of a stone ledge that both of its doors rest upon. This creates over half an inch of difference in height to the ground from the door. I will probably add a narrow Hirst Arts floor tile to restore a bit of realism.
  2. Odd Stone Pattern: The pattern on the sides of the building is very odd. To me, they look like crescent fingernail shapes. What sort of stone this represents is beyond me. It’s definitely textured though, but the Stone Farm House doesn’t withstand much close scrutiny.
  3. It’s not Straight:I actually hadn’t noticed its odd pattern or the raised entrances until preparing to review the building, but the fact that mine is a bit crooked, bowing out to the side? That quickly disappointed me. I can still push other MBA buildings up against it, but one side is straighter than the other. This is shown in the Youtube video above.

Final Thoughts

The Miniature Building Authority Stone Farm House and Stucco Town House with Dormer together outdoors.Despite the color issue, the Small Stucco Townhouse with Dormer is a solid offering from Miniature Building Authority and one of their most affordable. While many of their buildings are perfect for fantasy or medieval city settings, despite its name the Townhouse could easily be an outlying building in a village or farm.

The Stone Farm House has been superseded by MBA’s more recent offerings. It does boast an unusually large size, especially for an Miniature Building Authority building, but its flaws in either design or execution set the product back.

Miniature Building Authority Sale

Miniature Building Authority announced today that they are having a Warehouse Clearance Sale. The sale will last from now until February 24. Orders under $200 total have standard shipping charges.

I have been eyeing the three story Tudor Tavern for over a year now. It regularly is $119.95, but on sale, it’s $100.00 even. The Wishing Well for $10 is tempting, because I have a wood or fiberboard one that I’ll be painting and reviewing soon. However the textured base puts me off because I would want to use it in my fantasy city. Another piece that interest me is the Ladd House which I’ve also wanted for over a year, but put off because its odd (and interesting) size will probably not align with my existing MBA buildings. The last one is the New Double Townhouse. I would repaint the green door since it seems out of place. While I don’t care for the color scheme, rows of attached buildings are in short supply from terrain manufacturers.

Miniature Building Authority Buildings

Miniature Building Authority. It’s right there in its name. MBA is certainly positioned as the authority on miniature buildings. I drool over their website and Youtube videos of their terrain at trade shows. The company makes me want to play whatever pulp miniatures game is out there just so I have a reason to buy their “High Adventure” line of buildings. It’s the same for their Middle Eastern style buildings. That and a lot of first person shooters. “Tango down.”

Moving away from questionable lines of thought and sticking to what I do know, I own the Witt House and the Corner House with Turret. They come packaged in their own special styrofoam shells. Both are raised on rectangular bases 5mm from the bottom. This fits with how many gamers model their buildings, but I prefer a flat approach. The footprint on the Turret House is 4 1/8th inches squared. The Witt House is actually 4 5/8th inches by slightly over 4 3/8ths. These buildings really are 25mm scale. If you’re very particular about your scales, it may disturb you to place a Warmachine or WHFB model near them. The base of my Corner House was painted green and I easily went over it with some grey craft paints. You can see the damage or pink gunk my turret came with in the video.

The main advantages of Miniature Building Authority buildings are the open window areas, multiple stories of use, and how the city ones can be lined up next to each other. Unlike most other manufacturers you can actually stick your finger through the “windows” of the MBA buildings. This is great for determining whether a model can really see the assassin waiting on the other side of that wall. I bet there is someone out there who either wants to model closed windows or already has on his MBA buildings, but for me, the true LoS is a great feature. While I will contrast the various fantasy building manufacturers here (wait with bated breath!), Crystal Caste’s buildings aren’t ready-equipped with inserts to make them into true two story structures. MBA buildings are. Miniatures down below? Check. Miniatures on the second floor? Check. Lastly I like how you can create a more European or medieval look with these buildings. Any city that was not bombed out in Europe has buildings that adjoin, whole rows of them. Standalone cottages, houses, towers, and the like simply cannot compare.

If you know MBA, you should already know the downside: the price. $60 for a prepainted house. Yes, it opens, but it’s black on the inside. The exterior paint job is alright, nothing to rave excitedly about. The green base has already been touched upon. The garishly painted (bordering on neon) chimney pot on my Turret House poses a dilemna. How should I repaint it?

Overall Miniature Building Authority buildings do set a certain standard in the prepainted terrain market. I think they are the company to beat with plenty of competitors eager to do so. I would like to eventually get the Ladd House and even the Tudor Tavern. But at $119.95 for the tavern, that might be pretty far away.