As noted in our mid-year roundup article, I’ve been having a lot of fun playing Battletech recently. I got hooked on it when I tried out the old video game, which sent me spiraling down the rabbit hole. Since then, I’ve grabbed a ton of Inner Sphere mechs, and have often played games of both Classic Battletech and Alpha Strike when I’m looking for a quicker game. My kids, who are too young to play, have actually been demanding to try, so I even came up with basic rules that my five year olds can handle that I’ve called My ‘lil Battletech (spoiler alert, they love it).
So long intro aside, this is Level Up My Game where we are talking about ways to bling out your favorite games, so I better get to it. And today, we are looking at the Hextech Terrain from Gale Force 9. These were created through a partnership with Thunderhead Studios, which sells 3D printer files of compatible terrain. As life has been quite busy lately, I’ve never had time to create my own terrain (despite owning a 3D printer). So when I noticed pre-painted, great-looking terrain from Gale Force 9, I immediately asked for some samples to check out (which they were kind enough to provide).
Wave 1 of Hextech is all about creating an urban environment for your battles. Dubbed Trinity City, it comes with two each of: Corporate Offices, Condos, Police Precincts, University buildings, and Estates. It also comes with one Justice Tower. The models have a future/sci-fi spin to them, which works for Battletech games. Now, I do have to admit that I kind of wish they had gone for a less stylized vibe that could allow these buildings to be used in some modern-day skirmish games, but that’s a minor gripe.
However, other game systems aside, these are clearly made for Battletech. Each piece has a separate hex base that fits perfectly on the Battletech hex maps. And if you aren’t using maps (say for playing Alpha Strike), you can leave the bases in the box and each building has a felted bottom. The buildings are all are made out of resin and have a really nice weight to them.
What’s even better is that they not only have a flat top but are built on the 1″ high scale of Battleteche’s ruleset, so you can easily check heights for jumping. I really love the flat tops though, as it allows my mechs with jump jets to easily have a place where they can land stably and rain down fire. Often terrain will have uneven tops making its use as a platform dubious at best.
In addition to Trinity City, Gale Force 9 also sent over their Wave 2 line which includes Atlean Stepps and Highways. The Stepps are a group (four in the set) of cliff/mesas that you can use for either a desert landscape or even to mix with the buildings to give your urban environment some variety. The Stepps smartly have a grid on top, so while the bases aren’t hexes, they still seamlessly fit in with any battle maps.
For the roads, those obviously work really well with the buildings. They also have hexes on top, so it’s simple to check measurements. Yet you can easily ignore the hexes if you are playing with rulers. The pack comes with a nice variety of pieces, giving you plenty of options for your urban combat zone. I will say that the road pieces feel a tad flimsier than the rugged buildings, so be careful with those. If not stored properly, or you bend them, I could see them breaking. So far I haven’t had any issues, but it’s something to be mindful of.
If you play Battletech, or even a similar scale skirmish game, this terrain is absolutely fantastic. Honestly, I’m probably all-in on any future Hextech products as the experience of using these has been amazing. They are easy to use, thoughtfully created with the rules in mind, and I can’t tell you how glad I was that they are prepainted. The only quality-of-life upgrade I’d wish for would be some kind of tongue and groove system for the bases to allow the buildings to more securely slot into them. That, and maybe a custom storage solution. Right now I just have them all in a big storage tub.
If you want to pick up a set, you can head over to the Gale Force 9 website. The pieces range from $30-$40 a box, which isn’t too bad for pre-painted terrain of this size. In the past I’ve looked for options and, for the most part, in this price range you are getting grey plastic terrain. If you are in the market for some pre-painted skirmish terrain, Hextech has made a convert out of me.