So… it has begun! After waiting a couple of years, with several unexpected delays we have finally begun unpacking our rather extensive (for us anyway) terrain pledge from the Dwarven Forge Wildlands Kickstarter. The decision to spend this much money was partnered with the decision to use this terrain in conjunction with the Hagglethorn Hollow buildings. Since that decision we have added other terrain, including Tabletop World, Games Workshop, Archon Studio and Monster Fight Club.
And how do we feel about Wildands?
We love it!
One problem with Dwarven Forge terrain for us is that the more we get the more we want! But DF is not cheap. It is made of a very durable, rubbery plastic that they call Dwarvenite. It is considerable more durable than HIPs terrain such says Games Workshop or the model railroad terrain commonly used for tabletop wargaming. It does have something of a whimsical aesthetic that may not appeal to more “realism” focused gamers. In part I believe this comes from the difficulty of casting Dwarvenite with particularly sharp, fine details. But Mrs. GG and I are ok with the tradeoff after accidentally breaking terrain pieces in different materials previously.
Not everything we got is made of Dwarvenite. We did get some exclusive resin pieces…
… which we think are awesome! We were surprised how much we really like the “magical” paint scheme, including the shimmering metallics. This terrain works for us as Elven, Celtic, generic Ancient, even Alien settings. But handling it reminds us of the fragile nature of resin compared to Dwarvenite.
Another set non-Dwarvenite terrain items are the terrain mats and trays. The mats are much thinner than we expected., feeling more like PVC than the Neoprene mousepad material we were expecting. The clear plastic foil meant to be used to add “depth” to the liquid mat surfaces in some ways look better than we expected but in other ways look worse. They were poorly packaged for shipment, resulting in creases and wrinkles that are annoying and not easily removed. They can shift around too easily when used on a big space so having a 6×4 ocean table does not work so well for us but we think it will work fine for smaller negative spaces on the table such as ponds and rivers.
One our 2×2 mats appear to have suffered from when the German Customs Office opened our packages for inspection. You can see the roll has been sliced, both the outer wrapping and the first layer of the rolled mat itself. Luckily it was close enough to the edge that we think we can trim it off and only end up with a mat half an inch shorter on one edge.
In addition to the mats we got some water terrain trays. These are Neoprene mousepad material with an inner sheet metal layer. These are great for the magnetic bases of many of the Dwarvenite terrain pieces. We are big fans of the terrain trays and wish we could have afforded their forest, mountain and desert trays as well. We may get some in the future of our budget allows but the current world economic situation is looking increasingly grim.
One of the contentious issues in the Wildlands design compared to their previous Dreadhollow Forest design was the addition of “tear drop inserts” to help add some modular diversity to often repeated tiles. Dwarven Forge explained that the design was not working as planned during the production process but that they felt they had made the best of the situation before production commenced. Many people have been quite vocal on the Dwarven Forge Forum about their dislike of them. Mrs. GG and I decided we needed tonest them in person before deciding.
My very first one looked good to me so I wondered allowed to Mrs. GG, “What are people complain about?” However, my second one illustrated the problem. The insert just did not fit properly. And it was the tile not the insert that was the problem. And the two tiles should have been identical.
There are however plenty of other ways to deal with the tear drop insert holes, such as bushes, trees and rocks.
Speaking of trees… we love the trees. All of them! Yes, some are more whimsical than others. Some give off a real Jim Henson vibe. But we love that. And not just the trees…
… one of the other things we love about Dwarven Forge terrain is their integration of LED lights. The about Glamourleaf has amazing microfiber LEDs that give it an amazing magical or alien aesthetic. We want to get a few more unpainted and come up with cool designs like Swiss Army Mage on the Dwarven Forge Forum has done.
Here is a table we made with just the new Wildands terrain and a 6×4 foot Studio Neoprene mousepad mat…
… as you can see it does not quite fill up the entire table but it is usable.
Then we added our currently painted Dreadhollow Forest pieces…
…. to see just how well they blended….
…. so as you can see it blends well and helps fill up the table. And that is without any Monster Fight Club, Games Workshop or other assorted terrain!
We have had some mixed results with previous Dwarven Forge factory paint work in the past. Sometimes it has been sloppy and I generally like to put my own personal touches on the factory paint work. However, Dwarven Forge simplified the factory paint scheme for Wildlands in order to improve quality control and this had us worried about paint matching.
Looks like we are OK! We love the colors chosen and they seem fairly tidy. Several details have not been picked out by the factory but that is fine because by doing those details differently with my personal touch we can prevent the tiles from looking like identical clones.
I thought I might have a factory painted Dreadhollow Forest tile that I had not personalized but I was wrong. We do have plenty of unpainted tiles still but as you can see our painted Dreadhollow tiles have the more vibrantly colored fallen leaves. I will eventually want to personalize the factory painted Wildlands tiles to match but they already look close. I think I will add some maroon elements to the Wildlands and some purple elements to the Dreadhollow in order to help them match each other. And add some more colorful flowers to the Wildlands tiles. But overall we are really pleased and can feel good about using them right out of the box until I can find time to personalize them.
There are two pieces we are not that keen on the colors of, the lava is a bit too pink for us and the Sporeclaw (a giant exotic plant) just does not look quite right.
I am thinking a wash, dry brushing and then matt varnish for the Sporeclaw. However I am not sure about how to make the lava look better. Suggestion welcome in the comments below!
Mrs. GG has a better imagination for building and has experimented with creating elevation with these Dwarven Forge mountain pieces…
… and I have to admit I love it! I love the aesthetics as well as the tactical challenges it presents for Tabletop Wargame skirmishing gameplay. Some of the more chaotic elements of the build were from the participation of Little GG, who wanted to put his own individual stamp on it. An added advantage of Dwarvenite.
We decided to then see how much more coverage we would have when we finished the unpainted Dreadhollow pieces we bought previously. Yes, yes… I know… I have a lot of work ahead of me. We also wanted to see what kind of valley we could have.
As you can see the table is getting pretty crowded. But you really need more than just enough to fill the table because otherwise you will always be just rearranging the same pieces. Without being able to switch out pieces the set ups may start to look overly similar.
So we then wanted to see how some of our other non-Dwarven Forge trees fit in.
Notice the switch of the summer and autumn foliage on the Monster Fight Club tree. We are happy with both and look forward to getting our Monster Fight Club Icy Wilds Kickstarter pledge soon… hopefully. The large Toyvian tree we bought on Amazon seems to blend in well too, perhaps in part due to my modest paintwork.
Then it was a case of seeing if our Hagglethorn Hollow buildings would fit in….
…. and again we are very happy!
This has been a long road and at times it has been incredibly frustrating wit delay after delay but then the world has been a crazy place the last couple of years. We spent a lot of money on these “toys” but isn’t joyful recreation an important part of dealing with the stressful world we live in? We like the idea of helping to support the artists that created this magical forest. And we will likely be offering more support when Wildlands reaches retail at Dwarven Forge on the 10th of August 2022.
So in summary of our review… we love it!
Dwarven Forge Dwarvenite is robust and will for last years, perhaps generations, of play. The Wildlands items have excellent aesthetics and production value, blending in well with previous Dwarven Forge pieces. No, it has not all been perfect but overall we give it top marks and heartily recommend it to others. We wish it was more affordable, particularly for the export market (like us here in Germany) but we will be sure to enjoy what we have been able to purchase and do not regret the money spent.
We would love to read your thoughts on all this in the comments below!