Inspired Tabletops Made Easy: Eldritch Ruins Review

Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of the Splintermind Podcast. Today I’ll be discussing the Eldritch Ruins set of terrain by Games Workshop and how it instantly transformed my narrative campaign from generic to inspired.

The Review

So let me start off by discussing the kit itself. Now when it was initially unveiled by GW back during the waning days of 7th edition I personally was thrilled. After being teased since time immemorial by the amazing Eldar terrain featured in White Dwarf and the Codices all the way back to 2nd edition, I couldn’t have been more stoked to get my hands on the set.

Then I saw that it came in an expensive boxed set full of terrain I wasn’t as keen on and I walked away. Turns out that was a mistake, which I’ll get to later.

Flash forward a year and suddenly the individual bits from the Deathworld boxed set were being parsed out and sold individually, coinciding perfectly with a narrative campaign I’d just begun. So at only $34.00 from Frontline Gaming’s web-store I had to have it.

As Lawrence from Tabletop Tactics would say: I made the right life choice. There isn’t a single photo that really conveys how awesome this set looks on the tabletop. First off, each piece is HUGE. As you can see in the photo below it towers over this Wraithblade who I’ve uplifted on a piece of cork. Each piece is about half the height of a Wraithknight and the foliage extends the silhouette even further.

When I realized how big each piece of terrain was, it was at this point where I regretted not picking up the Deathworld mega-boxed set. For whatever reason the White Dwarf photos and box art just did not convey the presence each piece has on the board. I instantly realized the Deathworld set was a Xenos wilderness equivalent to the amazing Sector Imperial boxed set which is an absolute steal. The larger Deathworld set will provide you a tables worth of terrain, of unique alien plant life that is really tall and gives you a ton of coverage on the board. Missed opportunity on my part, but I was still thrilled I picked up the Eldritch Ruins set to set the stage for further expansion down the road.

The detail is on the sculpt is amazing. Unlike the Wall of Martyrs where there is a distorted effect in the sculpt where all the bits, barrels, crates and dead bodies all sort of merge together at a certain point, the sculpt is crisp with deep etching and details all the way through.

Speaking of details, like all the GW kits, this thing is super detailed. While you can paint it up quick and dirty just to get it on the table, you can also take your time and have a great eye-catching centerpiece for any board. One thing I hate is having to go back and re-detail terrain later, so I went for the all out approach and did my best to hit every detail.

The only thing that can be a little off putting is the heavy mold lines and the damage done where it has been clipped off the sprue back at the point of manufacturing. I’ve dealt with some nasty mold lines and casting issues before so I was a little disconcerted when I took it out of the box, but after I trimmed the mold lines my reservations disappeared as the piece look flawless.

Also I noticed a lot of criticism leveled at the piece when it was first revealed, much of it pertaining to the lack of grace or flow in the sculpt. It certainly is not a smooth flowing Webway Gate like we’ve all been dying to get into our collections over the years. However thats not what its trying to be. To me these pieces are meant to represent the shattered remnants of an Eldar shrine. I can easily imagine such pieces present at the heart of an Eldar Aspect shrine.

Furthermore the bizarre vegetation really helps tie into a wilderness themed board, making it easily incorporated into just about everyone’s terrain collection which was a huge incentive for me. More on this soon.

The pieces are also somewhat modular so you can swap the carnivorous plant-maw and the leafy tree branches like I did. I prefer this set-up as I felt the plant-maw sort of dominated the Seer Shrine a bit too much, and this piece in particular was meant to be the centerpiece of the Act I of the campaign I was running.

So after assembly and the like, I painted it up and got it down on my table to see how well it’d tie in and I couldn’t have been happier. It has a huge presence on the board, ties in well with the most common terrain but adds a distinct Xenos flair to the board. All in all a great kit at a super affordable price, especially through Frontline Gaming.

Forging the Narrative: Made Easy

Who amongst us doesn’t like to forge a rock hard narrative? I’m sure there is a Wraithbone joke somewhere in there, but I’m gonna keep it clean. Kidding aside, my mean impetus for getting this set was to feature the Seer Shrine ruins as the central objective in a campaign I was running.

I love campaign play, but so often I’ve seen all my hard work derailed by one single problem. Complexity. When running a campaign, people want to customize the rules, the missions, the story, victory parameters and so often I see it leading to people just wanting to play standard Matched Play games because they don’t want to get bogged down by a lot of rules.

However, something that also quickly becomes complicated is creating boards that are truly evocative and represent well the overall narrative you are trying to tell. When I first started putting together the campaign I quickly realized I didn’t have an objective suitable for an entire war. My trusty Eldar themed objectives -while nice- just weren’t up to the task. This kit instantly solved that problem.

How it solved that problem is worth examining. First off the kit is meant to be blended into a pre-existing board. Eldar terrain made by other 3rd party companies while nice are huge sets that are meant to create an entirely Eldar themed board. This kit is more subtle and opens itself up to a variety of tabletop setups. I can easily imagine this working on a swamp, jungle or even desert oasis table in addition to the wilderness setup I employed. Also the battle damage, the deeply sculpted recesses make it quick and easy to paint. You don’t need your airbrush and you don’t need to sit there and edge highlight all day and night. Its dry brush heaven.

Also by virtue it being a supplementary piece of terrain, that jives well with other kits, it also doesn’t dominate the narrative. Its an Eldar ruin that can serve as a central objective representing the end game of an entire campaign, or it could be an eye-catching piece designed to hint on the first game of a campaign of Xenos themed mystery and intrigue to come. On top of that, outside of campaign play you can just chuck it onto the board any old time just to make your table look a little more interesting.

So in conclusion this has to be one of the best terrain purchases I’ve made. It adds a ton of versatility to my terrain collection. It transforms the theme of any tabletop just by its mere presence and it takes no time to paint and assemble. Its exactly the kind of easy solution that makes forging the narrative simple and intuitive.

So hope you guys enjoyed the article. I hadn’t seen much said about this set since it was released so I thought I give it a little (ok a lot) of love and encourage people to give it a chance. Let me know your thoughts below and please share any plug-and-play terrain pieces you guys use on your tabletops.

If you guys liked my article and are interested in hearing more Eldar specific content, give our podcast: Splintermind a listen. Its a Dark Eldar centric podcast, but we cover everything Eldar. Craftworlds, Dark Eldar, Harlequins and Corsairs. We get into in-depth tactics, painting and modeling advice, and even interviews with Black Library authors. You can give it a listen by checking out this link.

 

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!

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About Cavalier

Commission Painter for Frontline Gaming + Co-Host of the Splintermind: The Dark Eldar Podcast

10 Responses to “Inspired Tabletops Made Easy: Eldritch Ruins Review”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius March 22, 2018 6:25 pm #

    Great review! I had no idea how big this piece was (never seen it in person) so will certainly be getting one, now. It would go great on some of our mats.

    • Cavalier March 23, 2018 2:26 am #

      Thanks Reece glad you liked it. Yeah I was blown away by the size each ruin when I opened up the box. I was expecting them to be like oversized objective markers, but they are monsters. I think they tried to replicate the size and scope of the Sector Imperialis set.

      Also yeah the “alien ruins” mat would look perfect with this. I really want to scoop one up soon.

  2. WestRider March 22, 2018 9:29 pm #

    I didn’t pick these up when first released because of one of the things you mention: Photos really don’t give a good impression of what they’re actually like, both in terms of form and size. I couldn’t get a good feel for what I’d be buying, and it was too expensive to buy blind.

    Now, I’d really like to, but I can’t justify picking up more Terrain when I’ve already got at least two tables’ worth sitting around that I haven’t finished painting, and don’t really have room for. Having a tiny apartment gets frustrating sometimes.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 22, 2018 11:04 pm #

      Yeah, apartment living can be tough for a gamer. I really enjoy making terrain sets, though, and I’m looking at a few of these on the ancient alien ruins winter mat for my footdar…man, that’d be sharp!

      • Cavalier March 23, 2018 2:32 am #

        Definitley! They’d really play well with the snow effects flock too. There are tons of areas where you could dust them snow. If you painted them darker too, like using Zandri Dust (which they use in the GW tutorial) it’d really show well too. They’d look good in a bat-rep for sure

    • Cavalier March 23, 2018 2:31 am #

      Yeah apartment living can be tough on a wargamer in terms of space. Trust me I’ve been there. While they are big pieces, I’d say they are half the heigh of the GW bastion, so they aren’t too difficult to store. I wouldn’t let that put me off you are a big time Eldar fan, especially since they can make any standard wilderness themed board an Eldar themed board instantly by just plopping one of them on the table

      • WestRider March 25, 2018 1:40 pm #

        I’m not actually a big-time Eldar fan, and there’s a lot more than just the 40K terrain clogging up my apartment 😉 Sort of like how Reece says above, I’m mostly just a terrain junky. I’d really love to be able to get a part time job building terrain for game stores or something.

  3. Smallvictory March 25, 2018 6:37 am #

    This was a really well written article about a piece of terrain, full of beautiful pictures and practical applications for narrative games. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a thing, thank you. I really enjoyed it.

    • Cavalier March 25, 2018 11:02 am #

      Thanks so much man! Dang that is high appraise and I really appreciate it bud. I’ll be writing a weekly articles all of a similar nature so stay tuned and thanks again! 🙂

  4. Doty March 26, 2018 9:44 am #

    Hey, solid hobby articles like this & the editorials are nice additions to the usual stuff I frequent this site for (battle report vids + codex/army & unit reviews.)

    Reecius, I bet some Deathworld terrain would look nice & evocative for the next time you break out your Catachan regiment–BTW “Straken” by Toby Frost is a fun read if you can find the time.

    If you’re looking more content ideas, how about some WH40k & AoS book reviews up on this site? Plz have a separate section at the bottom readers can highlight to read spoilers though.

    Also I liked the “Spray it black” quick hobby article!

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