Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Review: Sarissa Precision Livery Stables

Yeah I know, but it really is that good!!!

I think the first thing I need to hold my hands up and say right here, is that this was a very kind donation to my own scenery cupboard from the lovely chaps at Sarissa Precision. However, I was clearly a confirmed admirer of their own particular brand of wonderful HDF scenery before they gave me any freebies. I've tried to judge this piece as I would judge any other product I've purchased or indeed received for review. I think what follows is my honest judgement about it, and yes I know I've given it one of my coveted 'Approved by Cats' seal of approvals, but honestly hand on heart it deserves it.

Some of the larger components
Product Description

This is another fine piece of HDF scenery from Sarissa Precision and is from their Oldwest range of scenery. When they first started producing their Oldwest scenery, I thought that what was really missing from their range was a Church and a Livery Stables. Well I reviewed the Church last month and a fine piece of scenery it is too, and so now we get the Livery Stables. I have to say It's a very fine piece, and is a little bit more complex in it's construction and composition as a shape than their usual 'box' like construction of their other pieces. As always it is precision laser cut HDF, and the detail is also etched into its surface using those lasers too. As with some of their other bigger pieces the door frames and window frames come detached from the walls so you can paint them separately and attach them at a latter date. The doors also come part cut, and can be punched out and re-arranged to be partly open, closed or whatever. The entire kit is comprised of some 60 pieces, or thereabouts.

The rest of the pieces

Usefulness 9 out of 10

There is no hiding the fact that this is one of Sarissa Precisions more complex shapes to date. Sure you could argue it's a box with a smaller box on top, but that's not quite how it fits together, and it certainly feels very different from the HDF buildings I've used before. Sure the ground floor is the usual square / rectangle shape we're all pretty used to in buildings, but with a key difference. There is a plethora of internal detail that provides good cover, once inside on the ground floor. There are plenty of entrances to the building as well and the windows are carefully spaced and suitably small as to render the building unusable as a 'bunker'. It's a good place to run and hide if out gunned, but it is not a place you'd want to hunker down because you could be easily surrounded and assaulted.

So perhaps making your way up to the first floor, via the ladders provided might be a wise course of action? It might be a sound place to run, but you're not going to be hiding there for long, as it's a narrow space with a set back vantage point that means the shadow of the building itself blocks lines of sight towards the building and means that up close to the building people on the first floor won't be able to see you. The two big loft doors at either end of the building can provide cover if closed or if open leave you even less useful space to hide. The configuration of those doors though is up to you. There is no doubting that as a gaming piece of scenery, this is a significant step up in terms of how it will influence you tactically on the board. No longer is running into a building a clear tactical decision. The Livery Stable could just as likely prove to be your grave, as it might be your saviour.

It also occupies an interesting space on any battlefield. Firstly it has a sizeable foot print, it's not much smaller in that regard than the rather large and splendid Hotel kit from Sarissa Precision. Also like it's slightly larger stablemate (yeah OK I'm sorry that was bad) it can do a damn fine job of breaking your gaming table up and blocking those line of sight. However, unlike the Hotel there is no danger of the Livery Stable becoming a horrid bunker of doom, with inhabitants able to happily cover all approaches and entrances to the building and totally dominating the battlefield. Now the fact the Hotel can end up as a fulcrum for everything that goes on in a game doesn't mean it's a poor piece of scenery or a bad thing, it's just serves a very different function on the table when compared to the Livery Stables. Now I don't know about you lot, but I personally love to have options in my scenery box, ways to mix things up and as such this piece currently stands alone in my Wild West scenery box and for that reason it's priceless as far as I'm concerned.

 Building dry assembled prior to accidentally removing the doors

I'm going to compare and contrast this building with the Infinity Micro Art buildings now. I want to make it 100% clear that I love my Micro Art Infinity Apartments I really do. They totally look the part and do their job really well. I love the fact that you can punch the window shutters out, or leave them in place depending on your own personal whims. However, punching those window shutters out has caused me no end of fecking problems. I've used a surgical quality craft knife to try and trim the anchor points on those Micro Art buildings and still ended up snapping the very fine window bars, even when trying to be as careful as is humanly possible. It's frustrating and I'm not going to lie about it I've wanted to hurl them across the room a number of times because of it. The doors on this Sarissa Precison kit are the complete opposite. As difficult as the Micro Art bits are to remove without damaging things, the Sarissa Precision bits are as hard to keep in place. Now I'd intended to remove them all and glue them at interesting angles, good job really because I accidentally knocked most of them out trying to 'dry assemble' the building before gluing it together. I guess though it's easier to glue them back in place than it is to repair extensive damage caused by pieces refusing to bloody come out!

Character 9 out of 10

Look at it! Seriously what's not to love? I think it looks the part, no question about it. With a bit of sand and mud inside and some straw on the floor it'll be a damn fine centerpiece for any Wild West gaming board you'd care to produce. The front facade of the building is in keeping with the rest of their range, in terms of the extended flat billboard signs that were so beloved of frontier period buildings in the USA. The vast stable doors at the front of the building are both imposing but perfectly proportioned. They also provide a great view through the stables when opened. The same is true of the loft doors to the hay loft. They provide a good vantage point, but one that's just as open looking in as it is looking out. The Livery stables looks every inch a functional building, from those large doors to the internal details dividing the stables themselves. It's a working building and it wears that fact on its utilitarian, rugged exterior.

Detail 9 out of 10

Right I need to clear this up because somebody emailed me a while back now, just after the first few Oldwest building reviews from Sarissa Precision. When I talk about detail it is relative, for instance I don't expect a HDF or even plastic piece of scenery to have similar levels of detail as say maybe one of Studio McVeys wonderful resin collectors pieces. I might however, expect to see similar levels of detail on a miniature from Wyrd or Corvus Belli if they hope to get as big a score for detail as many of the Studio McVey pieces rightly scored. So if a piece of scenery scores a 8 it is not the same as a 28mm miniature scoring an 8, if you catch my drift. Hopefully you get where I'm coming from with that and it won't lead to any further confusion.

Building side profile

Right with that out of the way I think it's fair to say that the reason this score isn't a 7.5 or 8 is quite simply due to the internal details of those stables, and indeed the whole shape of the building, with its hay loft. The wood paneling on this building is broader than it is on many of the other Sarissa kits, but seems wholly appropriate for this building. The rugged nature of the doors, the appropriately sized windows for a stables and the barn doors. It just looks 'right' and the vibe of the building is certainly very 'Spaghetti Western' if not necessarily real western, what I'm saying is that it reminds me very much of all those Cowboy films my Grandad used to watch when I was growing up and for that alone it gets a thumbs up from me.

Quality 8 out of 10

If you read my previous reviews of Sarissa Precisions Oldwest range you'll know that I wasn't as sure of their buildings hardy nature as say the Micro Art Buildings. While the HDF used is still the same thickness and isn't quite as thick as the HDF used by Micro Art, there is no question that this building has been 'better' designed than some of their other stuff. Those stable dividers aren't just there to look pretty, or provide cover, they also provide support and guidance for the placing of the first floor, as well as potentially being used to glue to the walls as as well and provide further strength. The first floor itself is held together very well with cross beams, that hold roof supports in place. Then the hay loft roof itself is another very, very sturdy construction. It is designed to all fit together extremely flush, and be a very tight fit. The fact that it is and that it also remains useful as a gaming piece, with exceptionally easy access to the interior components to the building tells me that everything was very precisely cut, and designed. It's a step up in quality of design primarily, but it shows that Sarissa might be starting to hit their stride and that makes me excited about what they might be capable of in the 'future' if they keep on improving at this rate.

Service N/A out of 10

I ought to really give this a 10 out of 10 shouldn't I? But hey I don't think Sarissa are going
to be giving this away free to everyone now are they? So I can't really give this a fair score.

Price 8 out of 10

Now obviously being free is the best kind of price for pretty much anything, but I'm reviewing this as if it had cost me the £35 asking price. Would I be happy with that? Yeah on the whole I would be, it's a big piece of scenery, that has a lot of detail to it. It's also a damn fine piece of kit for gaming on, and it'll certainly spice up my own game of Malifaux. Could it be cheaper? Yeah everything can always be cheaper... unless it's already made in China. However, it's a good price for a solid piece of scenery.

Overall 9 out of 10

So it's a damn fine product and I'm really pleased to have it. Plus if I didn't already have it I almost certainly would be saving up my pennies to own it. My friends approve of it, I approve of it and most importantly my cats approve of it! If you want an interesting piece of Wild West style scenery, that offers interesting tactical options, as well as filling out a large chunk of your gaming board then you really shouldn't look any further. Peace out!


  1. How does this work during games?
    Do the upper pieces lift off in sections, and what if you want to have some dudes in the loft, and some downstairs lurking in the stables?

    This terrain sure looks cool, just curious as to how you manage it during games.

    Hey, if it's got the kitty seal, it's gotta be good, right?

  2. @SinSynn, yep the two top sections lift off very easily and it all fits together flush, no problem. Sure you still get the age old problem of drawing LoS internally within the buildings between floors, but it's not as hard as it is in some buildings I've seen in the past. I'm honestly very impressed with it, and it totally deserves the cats approval.