Regular readers will remember that on the run up to Salute I came over a little bit mental and decided that I simply had to own this…
It’s the Tech Tunnels range from Ainsty Castings. This particular layout is four-foot by four-foot and will, with all the groovy extras, plus a few others not shown, costs roughly £440.
Now, before you recoil in horror and close your browser window in disgust let’s thinking logically for a moment. That money gets you an entire, self-contained four by four board. Made from resin. Boxed up it weighs a tonne! Let’s look at it another way, the four by four Zone Mortalis board is £350 without anything. Granted it’s not directly comparable because they look and will play dramatically different but you get the idea. It’s not that expensive considering the sheer volume of stuff you get. And because it’s modular you can jiggle around with the layout giving you no shortage of iterations which only increase if you choose to make the board smaller but with more twists and turns. Plus there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from buying the board in stages because we can’t all be utterly bonkers like me.
But on to the kit itself.
Let’s make one thing perfectly, crystal clear: the tech tunnels looks fantastic all laid out on a board. Even unpainted it’s the coolest piece of terrain I will ever own. I love the classic sci-fi styling with a few industrial touches which make it, with the right paint job incredibly flexible. I bought it for a game I’m developing with a couple of The Chaps and it suits perfectly. But the thing that really tickles me is that Andy, from Ainsty, doesn’t like it very much. How high do you standards need to be to not like that?!
But anyway, as I said, the combination of crisp lines and semi-exposed piping means that this set will pretty much fit with any board short of something super industrial or grimy, like, for example, the deep underhive of Necromunda. But then again, you paint it up right and you could probably get away with it.
The casting quality is very good. The set contains something like 28 large corridor sections of one type or another and they were all pretty much flawless. The only thing worth noting is that they don’t all marry up exactly. It’s not a complaint by any means, it’s just something worth noting but it’s much to do with the subtle expansions and contractions that the pieces experience during the casting process. It’s noticeable but it doesn’t really detract from the overall look.
The various wall sections have doors which helps give the board a sense of scale but the nice thing is that because they’re cast into the wall quite thin you can punch them out with no effort at all to have doorways that are either open or at various stages of destruction. If you opt for the latter then just be careful storing them as resin, as we all know, likes to blast itself into oblivion.
The aforementioned overall look is one of tight, close range fighting that is only going to end with bodies littering the floor. The board creates a brilliantly claustrophobic feel. Think the scene in A New Hope when the Storm Troopers storm the Blockade Runner and you’ve got the right idea. Games will become a morass of sneaky feints, cutting through rooms, close range fire fights over barricades, crates and data terminals, all rounded off with daring charges down corridors into the teeth of enemy guns. And it’s going to be fantastic!
Which brings me on to the accessories as without the details the rooms are just big empty spaces. Albeit ones with cool walls. Much like the corridors, are a testament to Ainsty Castings’ quality. Taken, predominantly from the Base Camp range, every item has been given just as much attention to detail as the corridors they’re going to spruce up. The breadth of range means that you can style the rooms of your board towards a specific purpose. It means that on my board I have a billet room, medical bay, security office and systems room. And lots and lots of lovely narrow corridors to fight down. At it all looks so damn good.
As I say, it’s a big lump of up front money, they’re also not going to suit every game. They’re also going to force you to play a specific style of game play but that doesn’t really matter because it’s an indulgence. A piece of something special that every gamer should own in on iteration or other. Not every game will or should be played down narrow corridors but sometimes you just have to play a game that’s going to be knee-deep in guts. And that’s exactly why sets like this exist.