The Goonhammer Review: Gothic Battlefield in a Box from GaleForce Nine

The terrain covered in this review was provided to us by GaleForce Nine, both for review purposes and to use at the upcoming Horus Heresy Goonhammer Open event in September.

Wargaming, I think we can all agree, is much more interesting and compelling when done on large and impressive tables festooned with gorgeous terrain. Building a whole terrain board is a labour of love, and one which can absorb dozens or hundreds of hours depending to what degree you want to customise the experience. This can be a hugely worthwhile project, but it’s not one everybody has time for or wants to engage in. GaleForce Nine provides a solution: Battlefield in a Box.

The full set of terrain sent for review. Credit: Lupe

This pre-painted terrain series is designed to get you up and running as fast as possible, to get an attractive table of terrain that fits your game ready with as much effort as it takes to unpack some cardboard boxes and bubble wrap. Other companies have attempted this in the past, of course, but the cost/benefit analysis has always been tough – these pre-painted items are often very expensive, and it’s hard to tell before you buy them just how substantial they’ll be. It’s why when I learned about GaleForce Nine’s range I was so excited to have a look in person, because the pricing they set out is remarkably attractive for those on a budget.

The sets sent to me were all from the Gothic Battlefield range, and I received an excellent selection – the vast majority of those available. I was pleased to see that they very much live up to their promise in terms of easy – opening up the boxes and pulling the pieces from the bubble wrap, they are decently pre-painted and of consistent quality.

The table laid out over a 6’x4′ ready for play. You can tell because you can’t see any Alpha Legion on it. Credit: Lupe

There are a few casting errors however, mostly on the bases, which leaves one or two slightly uneven. Unfortunately these pieces are ones with felted bottoms which means accessing those voids to fill them to stabilise the pieces isn’t possible. Around half of the pieces, mostly the larger more solid ones, come with felt on the base to keep them snug on the table and also presumably help prevent damage. However in practice I actually found the quality of the bottoms of the pieces without felt more consistent – I’m not sure if this is because it’s harder for them to detect issues in casting because of the process of applying the felt, or if it’s because they feel they can pass items they otherwise wouldn’t because they get covered up. Regardless, despite this being a little disappointing, it doesn’t actually impact the use of the terrain greatly. The wobble is very slight, and not enough to dislodge models that are on the terrain piece.

The painting is very simple (a black undercoat and then a colour on top, in this case green, with a few areas picked out) but it’s certainly effective and easily enough for a terrain piece. I think looking at examples in the grey I would strongly prefer that – the green of the pieces I was sent doesn’t quite read as green stone, and instead feels a little garish, while the grey looks better. In addition the majority of armies are going to be easier to pick out against the grey making it better for gameplay purposes. I’m told that the colours of the terrain will rotate out regularly, while the sculpts will remain the same, and I’d strongly encourage Gale Force Nine to return to the grey when this run is sold through.

I did perform a drop test on one of the terrain pieces to determine its resilience – one of the big concerns with resin terrain is that if it breaks it’ll shatter into dust or an unfixable number of pieces. I dropped the piece (one of the mid-sized ruins) from waist height onto a hard kitchen floor, to simulate something being knocked from the table (and also for ease of clean up). It did break, but the breaks were clean and not compounded or dusty. The resin cure through seemed very solid and and it most split across glue lines in the piece rather than shattering, and the pieces that did crack and split apart did so cleanly. It took all of three minutes to repair the piece fully with superglue, and I have used it since and my opponent was unable to spot which piece had broken – all in all, this is about as good as you can possibly expect for terrain of this type.

There are a few cool details on some of these pieces that I think is worth mentioning. There is a pool of water on one of the pieces which is done with a murky resin pour and that adds a tremendous about of detail to the table when in place, way more than you’d expect for such a simple effect. The surrounding basing is just generic rough ground and simply painted, but I see this as an advantage, because you could easily repaint these areas, add static grass, etc to match the basing of other items on your table. Finally I was please to note that the pieces were designed so that items from different sets would fit together to create larger areas of terrain in a cohesive fashion – nothing slotting into each other, but rather clearly intended to be placed together in a variety of configurations in order to achieve a particular look.

In terms of gameplay use, the terrain is well designed. The spacing allows for several models to take positions on it, and the dimensions suit gaming in Horus Heresy or Warhammer 40k well. There’s a good mix of line of sight blocking items and difficult terrain in the range.

The vast majority of the pieces in the range range are in the £18-22 ($25-30) range, with the very largest (covering more than a foot of the table in each direction) being up to £36 ($50). Obviously how many pieces you’ll need for a table depends on the game you’re playing. This was intended to to be a table for Horus Heresy, which is a relatively dense 6’x4′ play space, and I found 10 sets enough to populate it and feel like a good amount of terrain – at retail this would have cost us around £250-300 ($400-450). If you supplemented it with homemade hills, stands of trees, etc then you could bring this down significantly – just a couple of these sets will make a great centrepiece to a table.

If you want a table that looks great, is extremely easy to prepare and set up, and which won’t break the bank, I think this is a good choice. I wish it was in a different colour (and hopefully it will be after not too long) and that the casting quality on the bases of some of the larger pieces was more consistent, but overall I would be very happy with this as an investment.

You can order all the items shown here from GaleForce Nine’s online store.