April 8, 2015 by crew
I’m here to introduce you to TTCombat Terrain. Laser cut MDF terrain isn’t for everyone. Some people simply hate the material but for most I suspect terrain comes down to time, quality or cost. For some, cost and time are the most important factors and in that regard it is hard to trump some good quality – and free – card stock terrain. For others, time and quality are all that matter and there are some nice pre-painted buildings in resin or plastic that are ready to use as soon as you take them out of the box.
Then there are those with the skill, the material and perhaps most importantly, the time, to make their own quality terrain. It is hard to compete with the satisfaction of building something that is truly bespoke.
It is in the middle of that time/quality/cost triangle that you will find MDF terrain and let me tell you – I love this stuff. Factoring in versatility, detail, robustness, size, price and build time it is a combination that is pretty hard to beat and the growing shanty town that is (was) my office is testament to that fact.
Give it a few more months and the lack of real estate will force my collection precariously upwards with buildings and shipping containers stacked atop each other and wobbling like a Jenga game that is one move away from disaster. As I write this article, death by doll house is now a very real possibility.
Although 4Ground are arguably the best in the business with their growing range of highly detailed and pre-coloured kit the price – while fair – prohibits me from filling a table with their products. The competition: Sarissa, Warsenal, Warmill, Micro Arts et al. are all good alternatives and each have found their place within that triangle, but I doubt many people have heard of TTCombat yet.
Cornish Exports: Clotted Cream & Laser Defence Platforms
Spawned from several modest Kickstarter projects during early 2014, TTCombat is a range of wallet friendly laser cut MDF terrain from the people behind “The Troll Trader”, a company better known as a retailer and distributor here in the UK.
Their earliest products were aimed squarely at the Wild West market and ticked a lot of the Malifaux and Wild West Exodus boxes and while they have expanded to produce terrain suitable for other genres, the Western aesthetic is still strongly represented in their line of products. In keeping with that theme, let’s address the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of TTCombat.
In reverse order…
TTCombat don’t give away free shelving units with each purchase. You are going to have to find your own way to store all of their kits once assembled!
Even if we ignore the fact that the kits are not pre-coloured (rare for laser cut terrain outside of 4Ground) there are a few points that are worth mentioning upfront.
First of all, TTCombat kits only come in one thickness of MDF – 3mm. This means the designs can look a little chunky and while there is a moderate amount of etched detail (single sided), there isn’t a lot of relief. Typically, only things that really stand proud of a flat surface such as a pillar or heavy door/window will warrant a detail piece that can be stuck on. Personally I like to have this extra space to customise the buildings but I can’t assume that is true for everyone. Secondly, none of the kits that I have purchased thus far come with assembly instructions.
Most of the time this isn’t an issue because of the point I already raised; the thickness of the MDF means that you are rarely left with small fiddly bits that you can’t identify and most pieces are structural, or form accessories such as crates and tables. This isn’t true of all of their offerings, however, and there are some kits such as the Laser Defence Platform which will soon have you frantically trying to unstick twenty minutes worth of work because you just realised where you went wrong. Where possible I have been documenting those builds in my blog so that you can learn from my mistakes.
Finally, I have encountered several build issues which I suspect are the result of mistakes in the design process – a tab that doesn’t line up with a slot, or a slot that appears to serve no purpose. None of these are deal breakers and most are so minor that they only require a few seconds to correct, but they are there. That said, when you consider the complexity of their newer terrain pieces, TTCombat are clearly learning fast so I can’t hold a few teething problems against them.
As Stalin was supposedly fond of saying, “Quantity has a quality all its own” and I think it is easy to appreciate that when you play a skirmish game such as Infinity where terrain density needs to be high, or when you run a club with half dozen tables that need to be filled. The TTCombat kits are easy to build, too, with even the largest of the buildings only taking about 30 minutes to assemble (…or less! You don’t have to sand down every corner and burr like I do!).
For example, the Stagecoach from 4Ground is awesome and it’s a great finishing touch to an area of the table. By comparison, the carriage from TTCombat is “only” great from a design point of view – not as fancy as the 4Ground alternative, mostly because of the thickness of the material – but it is also a third of the cost.
One stage coach on a table is great but three is awesome, making a great point of interest when arranged in a circle. Alternatively they can make your small town feel lived in if you distribute them across the table. Of course, twenty small pieces of scatter isn’t much better than three big pieces and this is another reason why I love the TTCombat range – it’s not just about the price. The buildings are quite substantial and have a very good footprint on the tabletop, with interior access so that the space taken up by the building isn’t simply lost.
Let’s take a look at some of my favourite examples…
A two storey structure with a door at the front and back. The interior has removable stairs that lead up to the first floor as well as some furniture, including a bed, table and chairs. Perfect for urban Malifaux, Iron Kingdoms or Warhammer Fantasy environments.
One of the few buildings I don’t own yet (it was next on my list until the Warehouse kits came out – see below) but it is hard to argue with the footprint or detail. Two floors, multiple exits and this is one of those rare lodgings that has more than one room to rent to weary travellers. Style wise, it has more of an old west feel but because of the height it should look good alongside the stone and timber townhouses in an urban setting. Alternatively, this is perfect for Wild West Exodus or one of Malifaux’s many townships out in the Badlands or the Northern Hills.
On it’s own, the warehouse is a useful and versatile structure that can be used in just about any game although it’s hard to imagine many warehouses would be this small in the 20th century. Fortunately, TTCombat also have a…
If the size was the only limiting factor for the warehouse, the extension kit blows that problem away. You can chain them together easily, extending a single warehouse in either or both directions or – with a little creativity – joining two warehouses together with pieces from this kit. Batman will be pleased!
Not Just the Old West
Sci-Fi is the next best supported theme, with plenty of buildings, walkways, defence platforms and containers for Infinity, as well as a Train and objective room suitable for ITS 2014. If the ITS 2015 scenarios call for specific terrain features, I have a sneaking suspicion we will see TTCombat versions soon after!
There are also steampunk trains and carriages, a castle (technically you could argue it’s more of a fort) as well as a selection of scatter terrain covering most genres so your miniatures will never be short of chest high walls to duck behind!
Where to Get Them?
Hopefully you will have seen a few terrain pieces you would like to add to your collection and if you are new to laser cut MDF terrain you could do worse than pick up one of their smaller £6 kits to see if the material works for you. The TTCombat range of products are available directly from The Troll Trader. A few of the products are on their web site but only their eBay Store seems to have the complete line available.
Update: I have just received my latest order of TTCombat terrain and they are now shipping with instructions. So that’s one less reason not to pick up some of their kits! In addition, their new website will have all of their TTCombat range available to purchase directly from their site.
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"...as I write this article, death by doll house is now a very real possibility."
"Alternatively, this is perfect for Wild West Exodus or one of Malifaux’s many townships out in the Badlands or the Northern Hills"