Saturday 27 July 2013

Cheap Cardboard Wargames Terrain for 10mm & 15mm Modern/Sci Fi - Dropzone Commander

I'm always on the lookout for cheap, easy terrain.  I've had mostly-good experience with Terraclips (though it is a pain in the neck to assemble) so when I saw that Hawk Wargames put out a 6x4 "table" worth of cardboard cityscape for their 10mm game, Dropzone Commander, I couldn't resist.

 Rather thin cardboard... but a decent amount of it...
The Shiny
I was a bit disappointed on unboxing. A bunch of card sheets, stuffed rather loosely in the box. The card was rather thin, and I was a little disappointed by the contents. It was just so... flimsy and cardboardy....    But then I spread it out and realised there was rather a lot of it....

The Base
The base tiles were double sided offering a huge range of customisation options. However the thin card was very noticeable here - you don't want to set up your table in an area with a draught. The thin edges also curled up a bit annoyingly and never properly "met" together leaving gaps. 

I realized how many ground tiles there were when I didn't have a game table big enough to accommodate them all.... The thin card stood out most here.
It comes ready to fold so putting the buildings together was a cinch - it took about 20 minutes. 
I decided to glue the edges so that added about another 40 minutes of fiddling.  Overall, assembly was easy and quick.  I dislike having to assemble and "prep" models and buildings so thumbs up  from me. As a bonus - no painting required!

 The buildings brought the table to life... This is the point where I started to grin, and my wife made impressed noises and went to fetch her camera
I wondered how it would go with my 15mm collection - so here are some Micropanzer SAS and GZG UNSC troops for scale. Vehicles are all GZG.

A UNSC Patrol advances along the street. The 15mm troops look fine with the 10mm buildings.

A low angle shot. The 15mm stuff still scales well.

Micropanzer SAS advance along a road.

The rear of the SAS column; note scale of building windows etc compared to 15mm

Low angle shots help you appreciate just how big the 6x4 worth of ground squares is....

In short, I thought it scaled very well with 15mm and I'm definitely using this terrain for Tomorrow's War or sci fi Warmachine Gruntz games in 15mm. 

OK, what's the good and bad?
(+) easy to assemble - a 20-60 minute job depending on your level of effort
(+) huge amount of terrain
(+) extremely cheap - complete table with skyscrapers for the price of 2 resin buildings
(+) quality art and colour
(+) wide range of building types
(+) wide range of ground tiles (double sided)
(+) useful with the common 15mm sci fi/modern as well as 10mm games such as Dropzone Commander, Battletech, Heavy Gear, and Firestorm:Invasion etc
(+) looks fine for modern gaming (such as 15mm zombies) as well as sci fi
(+) my wife thought it was "really cool" and well worth the $$$

(-) thin card, especially noticeable on the base (ground) tiles, which can curl up edges/be bumped
(-) buildings easily bumped (or blown) around
(-) storage is a pain. Yes, you could re-flatten them but they're not particularly suited for it

Recommended: Yes.  I'd buy more, but the one box has more buildings than I'd ever need anyways. A steal at $44. I'd pay $100 for the same terrain in thicker cardboard, though. Heck, even thicker cardboard for the base tiles. If Hawk Wargames ever produces another set, I'll snap them up in a flash.

PS: I also compared the DzC terrain to 6mm miniatures here.  


  1. Thanks for the heads-up about these buildings. I've been wondering if they could be used successfully with 15mm scale minis!

    1. Well I'd say a big yes. In skirmish games where you can go into buildings, scale needs to be pretty spot on. But for anything else, smaller terrain usually works. Railroad scale stuff such as H0 and N scale are also very usable for 15mm.

  2. I'm sold, looks great with your 15s!

    1. It has inspired me to look at N and H0 railroad stuff for the 15s, but man any railroad stuff is pricey! Some were $12 for a single cardboard building....

  3. The buildings look great! Dean

  4. I've actually decided to "allow" myself another 15mm or 10mm army.
    Lots of 15s ofc, but the Spartan Games 10mm looks nice and cheap compared to the official Dropzone minis and I love the DP9 Heavy Gear rules.... but just can't stomach the prices.... decisions decisions

  5. Very impressive. I do struggle with cardboard terrain mind you, reminds me of the old 2nd 40k ruins. Once set up the overall effect is cool. A tad cheaper than the DZC resin terrain huh? Haha

    1. Lol, you refer to their resin stuff?

      One of each (16 total) would set you back $1150.62. Eye watering to say the least.

      If you're willing to print it off yourself it's free - but I reckon I'd spend more than $40 on toner and card, never mind the handy pre-folded bits and the hours of fiddly cutting out...

  6. Thanks so much for posting these great pics. Really useful to see with 15mm figures. Looks like a good fit for urban battles.

    1. I'm actually getting some 15mm zombies so I can get use out of it in a modern context. So not only sci fi - but also the zombie apocalypse of 2013...

  7. The buildings can also be downloaded for free from the Hawk Wargames website. There is a link to downloadable buildings at the bottom of the Scenery tab page. Unfortunately I don't think the tiles are available.

  8. The thin card can also be overlaid over a heavier core, like pasticard, mdf, or similar weighty material.

    1. If you don't mind the "shiny"effect you can overlay clear plastic to pin everything down as well...