|I hope you can all appreciate why this gets an 'ABC' award!!!|
First things first, these were given to me free of charge to review, so as always I like to make that clear right at the offset so you can make your own mind up about how trustworthy this review is. Secondly the reason that these are being released a little after the initial System ∞ launch is that Sarissa Precision decided to add some further supports to the stanchions under their gantries, after some feedback (I'm partly to blame for that - so sorry to those of you who have been eagerly awaiting this stuff). Good to know they listen and respond to customers though. Thirdly, Oh boy is this going to be a big, and I mean BIG review. Rather than review each piece of terrain individually in this range I'm going to review them as a whole 'modular system'. I have no idea how or whether this is going to work or not, within the confines of my normal review structure. However, I feel it's the right approach to take. After all we're talking about a fully modular range of scenery that realistically can't be reviewed as it's constituent parts. That wouldn't be any use to you guys. So if this gets long winded I apologise in advance, but it's for your own good! Just remember you only have to read it, I had to figure it all out and write the damn thing... Oh yeah, and that is yet another Approved by Cats badge!
|That's a lot of stuff!!!|
And here my wonderful idea to review this as an 'entire system' hits it's first snag. I'm not reviewing a single product so can't describe the individual pieces as they are many are varied, and ultimately open ended. Bugger. So I'm going to discuss the product in general terms. All the pieces will be precision laser cut HDF. If you buy one of the actual walkways the construction will be formed of a base piece, which two side stanchions insert into. There will then be a number of stanchion support struts, which were added after initial feedback from yours truly. On top of these stanchions will then fit the walkway pieces. Into this walkway piece(s) will then fit the hand rails. A standard walkway kit will be between roughly 8 to 12 pieces. Corner pieces will be less while the various stair options will be considerably more. It is onto the basic gantry sections that all of the gantry upgrade kits (or bling kits as a friend calls them) are then fitted into place. All in all it fits together exceedingly well, and has been cleverly thought out, with pretty much every possible variant you could want or need in the range.
|That middle stanchion is what caused the delay. Worth it!|
OK wow. Where the hell to start? It's all useful, it's all fully modular and offers an incredible range of options that you can fully control. This review doesn't even include the excellent range of Walled Gantry options as I have yet to see those in the flesh. When they do come out they too will be able to match up and be used interchangeably with all the options within this review. Truly mind boggling and at first very, very daunting. You could arguably make a really impressive board out of the various gantry options alone. there is certainly enough in the range, and you could totally ignore all the really cool building options if you so chose... you won't want too, but you could do it. Certainly those of you out there still playing Necromunda and looking for a fully modular gantry / walkway system should certainly be seriously considering this stuff as it's without a doubt your best option currently available for you.
So what next? I guess it's best just to work from the base options out, as I think that's how you will approach the product yourselves. The 'base' options as I call them are as follows:
- Low Gantry Steps (Leads from ground to first floor buildings and low gantries)
- High Gantry Steps (Leads from ground to second floor buildings and high gantries)
- Link Gantry Steps (Leads from first floor to second floor)
- Low Gantry Short
- Low Gantry Long
- High Gantry Short
- High Gantry Long
- Low Gantry Corner
- High Gantry Corner
With these pieces you can pretty much build whatever the hell you want. Have a shape or structure in mind, then these will be the basic building blocks you'll need. Luckily the way Sarissa Precision has designed the range as separate pieces means you'll only ever have to buy what you actually need.
|Each piece is self contained so you'll be able to re-configure them each game.|
These 'base' options do share some fairly familiar traits though that I can discuss as a 'whole' from the perspective of how they effect the game. The most obvious thing being the support structures under the various base gantry options themselves. Unlike the Micro Art Studio's Walkways, which allow you to pass freely beneath them, the Sarissa Precision base walkways don't. Although you could theoretically shoot through them in a game of Infinity or Necromunda say, your miniatures in a very real sense can not pass underneath them. Now this could be a bonus or a hindrance depending on your point of view. I've had gamers tell me they don't like the Micro Art Walkways because you can pass freely beneath them and as such they don't really 'take up' ground space on the board. To be honest I never really understood this complaint because if you wanted ground coverage you could just throw whatever you wanted underneath them. But if this was a bug bear for you these will solve that. If you put two of the gantry pieces together though there are gaps at the joins between them through which miniatures can pass. They're just not as 'open'
|It's great fun to mess around with set ups!!!|
O there own I've found the gantries to actually provide really interesting gaming options on the table, they certainly work really well with games like Infinity. When they are combined with the various Habitation Pods offered within the System ∞ range, they really excel. Those slightly solid and movement blocking stanchions also play havoc with snipers Lines of Sight to ground level, in a way the Micro Art Walkways just don't. There is nothing worse in a game of Infinity than a sniper with a totally domineering spot on the board. Anything that allows me to play havoc with that or to reduce the impact of height is actually extremely welcome. As such, I quite like the structure of these walkways. At ground level you might be able to get the odd slightly obscured shot through but from height it does become increasingly difficult to get clear shots. So there are ways you can play with this set up. However, if you do really want to be able to have complete access under your walkways Sarissa Precision have thought of that too:
- High Bridge Gantry
- Low Bridge Gantry
These are the same height as their corresponding 'base' options, and are the same length as the Long Gantry pieces. Plus they offer complete and uninterrupted Line of Sight underneath them. As well as access to pass beneath them with miniatures. You could arguably use these to build all of your walkways out if if you so desired. The only missing piece of the jigsaw possibly being two 'short' bridge options, both low and high. Because currently the two bridge options available are only available in 'Long'. But, again it's just more possibilities opened up for you on the tabletop.
|'The standard rail' option - Low Short Gantry|
|'Low Enclosed Gantry Rail' option.|
Yes the modernist solution, create more options. First up are the 'Low Enclosed Gantry Signage Rails Accessory Kit'. These are exactly what they sound like, low level hand rails that are solid with no gaps. No need to house rule the hand rails if you want them to give cover anymore, just use these instead. Absolutely no ambiguity as to how they will function in the game. Perfect. But why stop there? Want your gantries to be just ways of moving safely from one place to another without fear of being lit up like a Christmas tree? Or perhaps you just want to stop them being such a horrid vantage point for snipers or TO infiltrators with Missile Launchers (you know who I mean!!!)? Well if either of those two statements appeal to you there are either the 'High Enclosed Gantry Signage Rails' or the 'High Enclosed Gantry Signage Rails No Gaps'. It's all there for you, hell if you really want to have every option available to you there's even the 'High Enclosed Gantry Tech Rails', which offer you the height of the previous two options but with the added bonus of 'windows' to shoot out of.
|Undoubtedly my favourite add-on. Love it!|
Now most sane people would stop there. But clearly the chaps at Sarissa Precision are utterly mad, or were just drunk when they were doing their brain storming session and didn't know when to stop. Because there are a few more things you can add onto your gantries. There is the 'Gantry Rail Lighting', which if I'm honest I've found purely cosmetic, and are really only there to make things look pretty. You could argue they might effect Lines of Sight but really you'd be stretching the truth. They don't really impact on how a board plays and certainly haven't done so when I've used them. They do though add a nice bit of atmosphere. The last option though is utterly brilliant, and totally worth having in the arsenal of board options for my money. Those are the short and long 'Gantry Canopy' options. I actually pointed out in my review of the System ∞ Street Canopy just how useful having roofs can actually be. It's no different for the Gantry Canopies. They do a fantastic job of breaking up Lines of Sight and disrupting some of the dominance snipers can have in games like Infinity with broad fields of vision. They also look pretty darn good on the board. So there we have, the last part of the initial release for the System ∞ range. We can finally start building the tables we always wanted to. I hope you're all as excited about that as I am!
Character 9 out of 10
As a whole I really like the stripped down functional industrial look of these. While the Micro Art stuff looks every inch of it a part of a modern cosmopolitan city, the Sarissa Precision stuff looks very much like it belongs in some industrial zone. A factory or a warehouse, or some temporary settlement on some God foresaken rock, Hadley's Hope anybody? It looks purely functional as a design brief and that means it's not treading the same worn path that Micro Art has travelled down. So us gamers do at least have an aesthetic choice now, and I like the Industrial look. I'll talk briefly about each piece individually and how they look:
Well this is the backbone of the system and the steel support structure look of the stanchions beneath the walkways and steps does have a really nice functional feel to it. These aren't fancy pieces of urban design, they're utilitarian, functional looking constructions. They are clearly there to do a specific job and not look pretty while doing it. Even the cut out circles in the steps and the walkways aren't subtle. But that's kind of the entire point of this range, it's not subtle. The hand rails again aren't the most detailed or subtle pieces of design you are even likely to see. But they do their job. All in all I think these walkways really do fit in quite well with the visual style of Sarissa Precisions System ∞ Habitation Pods from the rest of the range. Anything more delicate or dainty looking would just look so weird next to their functional, almost Stalinist Pods. It's certainly got a more 'temporary' feel to it than other ranges, and I like that.
The bridge Gantry options aren't exactly too different in style from the base options that you get. Obviously the really major difference is the void that exists beneath the walkway itself. As always though the bridge gantries lack of embellishment actually lends them a sort of blunt charm, in my opinion. These bridges look like they were designed by engineers to do a job and they wear that fact very proudly on their functional sleeves too. It's also nice that the bridge walkways actually 'show off' the cross stanchion supports that Sarissa Precision have added to their Gantry sets after feedback from gamers. It does give the Bridge gantries more of a 3D feel to them over the 'base' options. I could see myself using these a lot. Perhaps even just using these bridge sections in certain area's over some of the System ∞ Silo's lying down.
These Gantry lights actually follow the exact same design brief that the Street Lighting do. Which, to be fair isn't exactly a surprise now is it? However, whereas the street lights I quite like aesthetically these I'm still unsure about. The actual lights themselves I still actually quite like when separate from the actual walkways. the problems for me arises when they are attached to the walkways. I think they look too big and clunky on the standard hand rails you get with the base set gantries. But coupled with the more solid side panel options you get they actually look really quite good. However, some of my friends really like them and it's nice to have the option to add these sorts of details to the kits that Sarissa Precision provide. And again they add a further 3D element that makes the 'base' options appear less flat.
|My favourite of the Gantry add on kits. They look good and function well in games!|
I'm not going to be coy about it, I love the gantry canopy options. Strangely despite being even bigger and chunkier than the normal canopy lights, they actually don't look out of place or 'weird' in any way shape or form on the standard rails. Don't ask me why, but it's certainly a visual trick or an optical illusion of some kind. Perhaps somebody smart can tell me why this is the case. I love the cross beam supports that hold the 'V' shaped roof up, and the addition of the street lights is just a really nice touch. They also turn the visual appearance of the gantries from one of industrial factory zone, to a more strangely frontier settler town vibe in my mind. It just looks more 'civic' or homely, and again I couldn't really tell you why I think it does.
Low Enclosed Gantry Rail
I think it's fair to say that for me and my gaming boards it is these 'rail' options that are likely to become the most well used. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly they provide a clearer indication to gamers that they provide cover. Far less ambiguity on the table, which no doubt you'll agree is a good thing. Secondly they actually look really good on top of the pods! True they don't look half bad on the gantries either and add a nice feeling of solidity to them. But, for me it's what they add to the visual look of the pods that I personally really like. Also if you do really like the Gantry Lighting kit then it's with these hand rail options that they look at their best in my opinion.
High Enclosed Gantry Rail
This is just one of those options that you just know Sarissa Precision would have been simply mad not to offer from a gaming point of view. In terms of tabletop functionality they work brilliantly too, they really do. It's just that in effect they really are big vast blank surface area. Now while the more artistic amongst us might be looking at these and thinking what a great place to put graffiti, or maybe even some adverts. Possibly even do some weathering effects. To me I look at these and think "bugger, I've got to make these look good". It would have been nice, in my opinion to see a little bit of laser etched detail... yet I know people who looked at these and saw a blank canvass they could play with and instantly started thinking of how they could personalise them. So I guess like most things where looks are concerned it's a matter of individual taste... unless of course it's Scarlett Johansson, who all sane men know is gorgeous! There is a further option of this variety of rail that doesn't leave a gap at ground level. Well it's nice to have the choice.
High Enclosed Gantry Tech Rail
Now the last of the hand rail options has actually divided opinion amongst my local network of gamers more than anything else in the range. There are two positions on visuals, love and loathe. Plus two positions on game functionality, hate and adore. They're certainly what we'd call a Marmite product here in the UK. I personally really like the look of these. True they look a bit more Mad Max that say Hadleys Hope. So I guess those of you out there playing games like Eden or Dark Age might take a fancy too these. I can see them also as sort of an outpost towns way of building some sort of defences in the Infinity Universe. But I can see why some of my friends don't like them from an aesthetic point of view. But I quite like the 'hatched windows' and laser cut panel looks. I also think there are some interesting things you could do with these on top of the Pods.
So that's a 'brief' (OK so it wasn't that brief) breakdown of all the aesthetic options to the Gantry System. I think there are some really nice pieces in the base range. But it's all the add-on kits that really make it what it is. It's the possibility of personalisation that I think elevates the overall range aesthetically. There's so much you can do with it, and it interacts so well with the various System ∞ Pod options it really does look cool on the board.
Detail 7.5 out of 10
I think it's fair to suggest that the detailing on most of the Sarissa Precision Gantry pieces isn't quite up to the '3D' standards of the Micro Art Walkways. That might need some further explanation, if you haven't seen the Micro Art Walkways. Whereas Micro Arts Walkways layer lots of, in effect flat '2D' panels of HDF together to give a sort of 3D aspect to things. Like their hand rails, Sarissa Precision haven't. Although the stanchion cross beam support they've added underneath the gantries actually really helps stopping them look 'flat'. There is though a clear reason for this decision, and that is that what they have gone for is gaming functionality, rather than design frippery. In short they've left things a bit 'basic' in the detail department so that they can have all these different design elements and add-on's interact with each other. While I appreciate the decision 100%, and think it was the right call from a 'gaming' perspective. I can't honestly say it hasn't affected the detailing on the individual pieces. They're not awful though, they're pleasant enough and with various bits and bobs, like the Canopies and stuff. Start building them up with add-on's and they actually look really, really good. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you the detailing is as good on the individual pieces as the Micro Art Walkways when it's not.
Quality 9 out of 10
Right I have had an absolute shed load of this stuff sent through to me. Was any of it damaged? Nope. Did any of it damage while assembling and de-assembling it and then re-assembling it over and over again for this review? Nope. Was it all cut perfectly? Yes it was, and it all goes together really easily. Plus all the various upgrade kits work perfectly together without any hassle at all. It's just a dream to put together and to have hanging around on your gaming board. I am however really glad they included the cross stanchion supports because they just make everything just that little bit more 'rigid' and secure. The fact that each piece of the gantry system is in effect an 'individual' piece od scenery also means re-configuring your board is as simple as just placing the pieces next to each other. No need to clip them together and 'fix' things in place. This means you can really have fun with this stuff without worrying about damaging it while you mess around with configurations. Trust me I've really messed around with the stuff I've got, and subjected it to plenty of punishment and gaming. Nothing damaged or worn. I have no complaints about quality whatsoever, and given the amount of this stuff I actually have now I can't emphasise enough how impressive that actually is.
|'High Enclosed Gantry Rail (no gap)' option|
As I have said in all my other reviews of the System ∞ stuff, it's not really fair for me to give a score for service. This is because I've not really experienced the same sort of service you guys will be getting off of Sarissa Precision. For starters I didn't actually pay for any of this stuff, which is really nice and utterly fab service. Sadly I don't think sarissa Precission are going to be giving this stuff away for free! What I can tell you though is that my stuff came exceedingly well packaged and there was minimal opportunity for any of it to get damaged in transit. Packaged as it was in bubble wrap, inside boxes, inside a box. They clearly take packaging seriously and understand they need to protect their product while it's in transit. Speaking of transit, I'd like to point out yet again that if you place an order of £30's or more they offer free worldwide shipping. Now I don't care who you are or where you live, that's a damn good deal.
Price 8.5 out of 10
Oh boy. This is pretty much just going to be a list of the options and the price you'll pay to get them:
- Low Steps - £5
- Link Steps - £5
- High Steps - £5
- Low Corner (x2 in a set) - £5
- Low Gantry short - £5
- Low Gantry Long - £5
- Low Gantry Bridge - £5
- High Corner (x2 in a set) - £5
- High Gantry Short - £5
- High Gantry Long - £5
- High Gantry Bridge - £5
- Gantry Rail Lighting (x8 in set) - £5
- Gantry Canopy Short (x2 in set) - £5
- Gantry Canopy Long - £5
- Low Enclosed Gantry Rail - £2.50
- High Enclosed Gantry Rail - £2.50
- High Enclosed Gantry Rail (no gap) - £2.50
- High Enclosed Gantry Tech Rail - £2.50
Yep that's right, most of the options are £5, with the hand rails being £2.50. For certain individual pieces that might seem like less of a good deal than other pieces. But what it does do is enable you to price up your desired layout pretty darn easily and decide where to go. It's also worth pointing out that this method does mean there is no wasted pieces. So if you have a complex design in mind this is the system to use in reality if you do want to save money. Sarissa Precision are also offering a deal where by you can purchase 5 of the Gantry sets for the price of 4. Not too bad. Plus there's the free shipping on orders over £30 to consider. I suppose though if you were to ask me the question would I be happy forking out the list prices for this stuff, the answer would be yes. Because on the board it works so well.
|You can mix and match rail options for interesting configurations|
Obviously this is a difficult product to review, as can be witnessed by just how large a review it is! It's not a review for a single stairway, or a specific type of gantry. It's a review of an entire system. A highly versatile and customisable system at that. One that means you only buy what you need or want. It therefore allows us as gamers to create our own designs and layouts. It's fanbloodytastic if you ask me, and it's as an entire range that it gets my 'Approved by Cats' award. On the whole it's a brilliant range of options that gives gamers great scope on the table. For that reason alone it was always going to score quite highly. Don't get me wrong in terms of 'fine details' these aren't as detailed as the walkways from Micro Art, but boy are they way more versatile, and how! Infinity players were asking for a modular scenery range to allow them to in effect build the boards they liked. Having one building otpion and one walkway option got boring, quite frankly very quickly. However, we the addition of the walkways too the rest of the Sarissa Precision System ∞ stuff, we have finally got exactly what we've being asking for. A fully modular, well made, and importantly affordable scenery solution. Hopefully this is the missing piece of the jigsaw for many people out there that will allow them to start playing the game properly now. Peace out!