Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review: Coaching Inn from Tabletop World

On November 15th Tabletop World released their new Coaching Inn. I immediately ordered the building and it arrived just yesterday. Let's take a look at it!

I have been a fan of Tabletop World's buildings since I first saw their products at CoolMiniOrNot. So I made an interview with them in 2009 and placed my first order one year later (had to save for it for some time). Then their first range of buildings went out of production and their style somewhat changed to a more fantasy look. Now Tabletop World released their new Coaching Inn and I absolutely loved the look. I currently have a strong piratey focus in my gaming and I find the inn fits that perfectly (reminds me of CT-Scenery's pirate houses).

At 98€ (excluding VAT!) the Coaching Inn is amongst the most expensive buildings for 28mm scale so I figured a more in-depth review of the item would be helpful for other gamers.

The Coaching Inn from Tabletop World


The Kit / Contents

The main building consists of three pieces. Additionally, there are two chimneys and a fence piece for the balcony.

The contents of the Coaching Inn kit


Tabletop World's buildings are super easy to assemble. Actually, there is no assembly required: You just put the pieces together and remove them when you want to access the inside. The only other company I know of that produces buildings with a similarly clever layout that requires no glue is GrandManner.

Size


According to Tabletop World their new Coaching Inn "is by far the biggest, most detailed and complex model we did so far". However, I would like to challenge that claim: One of their first buildings was the huge Ruined Coaching Inn. Unfortunately this building is now out of production - just like the equally impressive Guard Tower. In fact, to me it seems that the early buildings from Tabletop World were bigger overall, something like a heroic 28mm or 30mm scale, while their current buildings are more like 25mm to 28mm.

Here is a comparison with their Ruined Coaching Inn:

The new Coaching Inn next to the old Ruined Coaching Inn
The new Coaching Inn next to the old Ruined Coaching Inn

As someone who owns their huge Ruined Coaching Inn I expected the new inn to be bigger. But I have to admit that I am notorious for being disappointed when I first see the size of tabletop buildings. But even compared to their "normal" older buildings, e.g. the old Blacksmith's Forge or the first version of the Merchant House, the new inn is somewhat small.

The Coaching Inn next to the old Blacksmith's Forge

The Coaching Inn next to the first version of the Merchant's House

As you can see, the ground level used to be higher in their old houses, best visible at the doors. For these photos I am using a 25mm highwayman from Outpost Wargames Services, a 30mm pirate from Black Scorpion (of Redbeard's Crew) and a 28mm merchant from Lead Adventure.


The inn's ground floor is a bit low even for 25mm figures

The ground floor of the Merchant's House is much higher and
works even for Black Scorpion's large figures

To give a better impression of the Coaching Inn's size I took a few comparison shots with buildings from other manufacturers.

Comparison with the Farm House from GrandManner

Comparison with the Tavern from Stronghold Terrain

Comparison with the DIMA Coaching Inn - my first building that - to me - still sets
the standards for tabletop buildings

Style & Detail

What I immediately liked about the coaching inn is the L-shape and the angles. The house looks really interesting and has a certain "special" look to it. However, this comes at the cost of realism: Tabletop World's buildings are clearly fantasy houses. Fortunately they are not covered with silly skulls or other nonsense details like Games Workshop's scenery, which would completely disqualify them for historical use.
A common grief that some people have with wargames buildings is the exaggerated detail. Tabletop World's first buildings were made using balsa wood and/or coffee stirring sticks as you can clearly tell from the modest wood grain on the houses' wood bars and roofs. On their new buildings the woodwork seems to be sculpted with modelling putty: The wood grain is very deep and overexaggerated. Whether you like this or not is a personal preference. Personally, I find many of the figures I use to have a somewhat comic style regarding their proportions and as long as I don't have perfectly sculpted Tom Meier figures with super realistic paint jobs I find it suitable to have buildings that "work" rather than ones that look like true buildings, shrunk to 28mm scale.

Another very common problem with tabletop buildings is the position of the chimney. On this piece it is okay I guess. I have seen pieces where the chimney pops out of the roof directly above where there is a window on the floor below. On the inn it is okay, I guess. The chimney's would not really work if they were to continue through the floors down to the ground floor but they are positioned well enough to not feel obviously wrong.

What I like best about the inn is the backside with its huge round entrance. This looks very unusual and interesting. Another huge plus is the balcony because of its gameplay value: You can place a shooter to fire from there. Only I would have preferred the balcony to to be made of wood bars rather than stonework.

The balcony is big enough to place a figure

Interior

Removable roofs and accessible interior is important especially to skirmish gamers. Like all of Tabletop World's recent buildings this one, too, has a fully modelled inside.

The figures shown in the photos stand on 25mm round bases (from Fenris Games).




On the upper floor only the small room is accessible. As a downside there is no space intended for stairs on the ground floor. So some people may want to add a trap door to the upper floor piece and maybe a ladder to get there.




Casting Quality

As usual the casting quality is superb. Since the very beginning, when they released their first buildings, the have managed to maintain the highest quality in the industry. The resin is light, doesn't smell; it is sturdy, yet soft enough to not break when lightly hit. There are neither air bubbles nor mold lines so very little clean-up work is required. Excellent!

Verdict

The Coaching Inn is a very nice building. It is not as large at Tabletop World make it seem. Its greatest strength in my eyes is the unusual style with lots of interesting features that sets it apart from the typical tavern type of house. It is in the same price league as GrandManner buildings though I prefer Tabletop World's material a lot. Many players will not spend this much money on terrain - those who do, will receive a high quality building that adds a lot to the gaming table. I hope that Tabletop World will continue and produce more buildings like this: larger, with more storeys and interesting features.

Final note: Christmas Special Offer

Until December 31st Tabletop World is having a special Christmas offer. In addition to the inn I ordered their excellent Supplies and Groceries sets and the sweet well. This qualified for a fee Cottage - how cool is that!

If you are interested in more of their products this is a great time to place an order with the possibility of getting a free Cottage or even Townhouse. Especially considering how their pieces become "out of production" over time.

The free Cottage that came with my order


Update April 6th, 2014: The finished Coaching Inn can now be seen here.

8 comments:

  1. Ho Cianty,
    Like you I love terrain, much more than minis now and I prefer to paint a house than a mini...
    Well, I'm waiting for my order, I ordered the new coaching Inn and the new blacksmith that is fantastic!
    Well, when I saw for the 1st rime the NcInn I was disapointed by the size...
    But the level of castin and details force me to buy 1...
    Now, I think for my project is better to not have a too much huge building...
    To explained you, my projets is to make the city of Bogenhafen in 28mm...
    The table Will be 3m00x3m60...
    This afternoon with my best friend we chek the size of the city with the fortified wall around her... Well, the city is not large like I hope to put large buildings inside. But I can't do a larger city in my house lol
    So with your explainations I can say that the Inn Will be perfect un my city... Not too big ;)
    Many thanks for your blog with your pictures, tutorials on your sea (I Will make my river Bogen like your sea with "water paper"
    Ced

    ReplyDelete
  2. A fantastic model, I look forward to seeing how you paint it.

    Tony

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Cedric,

    I totally understand your point about a bigger size being not even desirable. This is a totally subjective topic and - as I said - I am notorious for wanting BIG buildings. When I posted my thoughts about GrandManner terrain this was the same issue. And as Tony rightly pointed out it is a question of what is your target group: Skirmish gamers? Army gamers? Do you want true scale with one house on the board representing one house in real life? Or is the building just a representation of a "city"? This is up to everyone's personal preferences.

    @Tony: It is a beautiful building. I really want to paint it now but I got a couple of boats just one day earlier, also I am in the middle of painting the Ainsty merchantman and I hate to leave things half painted. Oh well... :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for taking so much time to write down this excellent review. And as you mentioned, it's always a pleasure to see cool Tabletop terrain, even if it's a little bit tiny.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Cianty, it's been a while !
    Thanks for this review, I was thinking about adding the coaching inn to my table, I had their first set of building (forge, merchant house and inn), when I saw your pictures it definitely stops me : the forge seems a lot bigger ! As I am building a small town, with fields, the size difference will be to important. Also, I think I'll buy the cottage, as it will be far from the town, and the difference won't be seen easily.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Lanyssa! Good to "see" you again!
    Yeah, the building is indeed not as big as one might expect. However, I am sorry to read so many comments from people saying "I was going to buy it, but now I won't". While it was obviously my intention to prevent disappointment I do have to say that it is still a very nice high quality building with great detail and a lot of character due to its unique feautures. It may not be the centerpiece of your gaming table but it's a very cool addition. Personally, I don't regret the purchase at all. I just believe that you should be aware of what to expect.

    Maybe when your table consists of larger areas without buildings (the fields) the size difference matters even less because the houses aren't standing next to each other? A Coaching Inn out of the city with fields and forests around would definately work.

    Anyway, hope to see you over at TBMF!
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I want to make a village of 5-8 buildings, and fields around with few cottages.
      As you know, the scale is very important, and as I already bought 3 buildings from their old range (+ Forgeworld buildings, which fit well), I won't buy this one. In a larger city, perhaps the differences don't matter that much, as I can see on your board. But in my opinion, I have to be very cautious for a that small town, because it will be easy to see that the doors aren't at the same level, etc...
      To be clear, if I hadn't any building, I would have bought it without a doubt ! I feel it's a fantastic building !
      Cheers !!! :-)

      Delete
  7. Love the architecture of the new inn but I really don't like the small size. I must say that I think it is a mistake by Tabletop World to make the new building so much smaller. Not a great way to build loyalty for the people who has supported them from the start. I own a couple of the old buildings, the ruined coaching inn for example, and this new building looks tiny next to it.
    Thanks for the great and thorough review, will need to think long and hard before I decide if it is still worth to buy.

    ReplyDelete

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