Sunday, January 13, 2019

Review: Merchant Shop from Tabletop World

The Merchant Shop is the latest addition to Tabletop World's range of medieval/fantasy buildings. In this blog post I take a closer look at the model and explain why I believe that it is their best building yet.

In November last year, Tabletop World (TW) released the Merchant Shop. I own nearly all of the many buildings that were released over the years and I have to say that this one stands out. Literally. TW already said it in their announcement on Facebook:

The Merchant Shop from
Tabletop World
We proudly present you our new Merchant Shop in heroic scale! This is the first in the line of models that will take your gaming experience to the next level! Apart from highest attention to detail we had game-play in mind when creating the model. You can easily use it with miniatures that are in 28-32mm scale. The whole building has plenty of space to move your miniatures around, with several floors connected with stairs. All doors, window shutters and hatches are hinged and fully operational so you can open and close them to your liking.

The Ruined Coaching Inn from
Tabletop World's first line of buildings
Now, actually this is not something totally new for TW. Their first line of buildings were all scaled to 30mm, e.g. their original Medieval Inn, their Blacksmith's Forge and the gigantic Ruined Coaching Inn. (The latter two are still sitting unfinished on my shelf.) All of these buildings are now out of production. Sadly, when TW updated their website they let go off their Archive section where you could see photos of these fine houses.

Since then, TW's products have evolved quite a bit. The production quality got even better (from near perfect to absolutely flawless). The buildings became much more detailed with full interior details, details on all sides (including even the insides of the roofs!) and now assembly and glue needed at all (unless there is a tiny flag post or something).

Another things that changed was the size. The buildings got smaller, in the sense of being scaled more like 25mm. I heavily criticized this in my review of their new Coaching Inn back in 2013. I don't know the reason for this change but I was quite disappointed with it. My assumption would be that they were afraid that no one would buy buildings at the prices that are justified for their elaborate designs with immense detail and at a huge - i.e. appropriate - size. If this is the case, then I guess they were happy with how their last bigger products were received (such as the huge Town Gate and it's accompanying wall sections or the Wizard's Tower) and they were confident that there is a market for big and properly scaled buildings. At 170 EUR it is almost equally expensive as the Wizard's Tower (175 EUR) and much more than the Mansion (118 EUR) or the Noble Townhouse (112 EUR). But boy, is it worth it!

Miniatures standing in front of the Merchant Shop - the size looks just right

The Merchant Shop is truly fully playable. My "definition" of a playable building is pretty easy: I need to be able to place a figure which is based on a 25mm round base inside and around the building. This includes being able to put the roof or individual floor sections back and the figures can remain inside, even if they have a raised arm, lifting a sword into the air.

You can easily place your miniatures inside the Merchant Shop and fight it out in there

Even the attic is large enough to position some marksmen

With buildings of this size you can do realistic chimneys and stairs. Often, a chimney is place somewhere on the roof and when you look at it for too long you realize that it would lead directly behind the window a little further down. You rarely see actual stairs inside the buildings. Instead, upper floors need to accessed through a trapdoor, if there is one at all. There is simply no space for these things. With the Merchant Shop, everything looks right and believable: from the fireplace in the ground floor which leads up all the way to the roof, to proper stairs and rooms with separate walls.

All this space allowed TW to design what I think is the best part of this building. TW rarely create simple houses with four walls and a roof. Their designs are always more interesting with lots of angles and other features. To my mind, the most awesome thing about the Merchant Shop is the balconies. There is a large playable balcony on the first floor and another one on the second floor.

Plenty of space to move around inside the Merchant Shop
A marksman standing on the balcony

I cannot stress enough how highly I value features like these for gameplay. Being able to place your fighters on balconies to shoot from there is really what takes your games to the next level. The ingenious thing about Mordheim is that it is set in a ruined city. Ruined buildings are the way of introducing height to your games. If you play with intact, "closed" buildings you are basically playing  on a two-dimensional surface. Unless you use ruins which can be climbed, you really need buildings that are properly sized to experience the same "3D feel". Normal houses where you can place figures but not really move around simply don't do it.

Lastly, as if all of this wasn't enough already, you can place the shutters and doors into hinges and actually open and close them. You really do get the full dollhouse experience with this building.

Oh, and the fact that the "shop facade" with the built-in stalls and large balcony is super suitable for my Port of Gierburg board certainly adds to my satisfaction with this piece.

I probably won't get around to painting this building for quite a long time as there is so much other stuff in the painting pipeline already. In the meantime, I hope that many Merchant Shops are sold and Tabletop World will release another heroic scale building in November this year.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...