Continuing our series on terrain and items for RPG experiences, today we are looking at the brand new 4D Settings Encampment set from WizKids. The set includes 35 pre-painted items of scatter terrain, aiming to bring encampment locations to life. With a campfire, tents, stools and even a pot of stew, Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder players will soon be able to hunker down in the wilderness. With 3D items around the player miniatures, the aim of the set is to bring the theater of the mind out onto the table. However, will players get a lot of use from the set? Let’s find out!
So adventures are traversing the wilderness or woods between cities and they need to set up camp. Some of the time they’ll be fine and the night will pass before venturing on. This won’t always be the case though. Setting up the location with the Encampment set dungeon masters (DMs) will be readily able to spring a chance encounter on the players, whom may be eager to defend the tents, an NPC (non-player character) they are travelling with or are perhaps just looking to survive.
The theming of the items in the set may be an encampment, yet a lot of the items can be commonly used regardless of the environment. While a horse is less likely to be found in a dungeon, the bedrolls, barrels and even the lean-tos could all be found there. These items could easily build out and furbish a hidden goblin cave or a safehouse for a local gang. Other items can easily be used in a tavern or townhouse scenario, such as the chests, lanterns and the stacked chopped wood pile.
Being an encampment the fire pit is a great piece to centralise the set. It isn’t the only item of the set to utilize a slightly translucent plastic, as the lanterns also use it to great effect, but it is ideal for the flames. Being the item to set up the tents, lean-tos and benches around it does make this single small item stand out. Wizkids could have gone one step higher and used an LED light to give it a flickering flame look, as seen in the Pathfinder Thieves Guild set. As a focal point it could have just elevated the set slightly. Things lighting up or moving aren’t necessary to make this a great set, it would however have been that extra flair on top to make it an incredible set.
Some thought has gone into the set and how pieces work together, to help create a more fleshed out and believable location. The fire pit fits underneath the roasting spit, the bedrolls fit under the lean-tos or inside the tents and the barrels can fit on the back of the cart. The scatter terrain pieces don’t need to be used in this way, though it helps to make a scene feel more complete. That being said, some of the items will be used less than others, with it harder to fit a stump with an axe or a hitch post into any interior location. The two loot piles do look almost too perfectly square in shape, though this does allow them to easily align with a 1 inch grid system – be that drawn on a paper map or the floors of 3D terrain.
The big draw of the 4D Settings Encampment set is that it comes entirely pre-painted. Across the set it is a solid paint job, allowing items to be easily determined from across the table, regardless of the item size. From the texturing on the tents to the gemstones picked out on one of the treasure piles, the little details of the items shine through in glorious painted detail. Even the underside of items have the same texturing and painting quality. This allows the items to be used knocked over or propped up against things.
Another recent scatter terrain pack, the WarLock Tiles Dungeon Dressing set, also included barrels and a rectangular table. Those included in the 4D Settings Encampment set are slightly smaller in comparison. This isn’t to the extent that they look disproportionate. Like in real life, not every table and barrel is going to be the same height and width. If anything having more of the same items that have slight variations helps add that realistic visual variety into scenes. Plus, it also means that Wizkids hasn’t just reused the exact same sculpts for multiple sets.
Four stools and a bench are included, a good number for a small encampment, for around the aforementioned rectangular table or the campfire. The number of stools to table ratio is far more logical than the otherwise fantastic Pathfinder Thieves Guild set, where two chairs were matched alongside two tables. As for the couple of barrels, one is full to the brim with arrows, which cannot be removed. The other is an open barrel with a bundle of spears ready to be used in the barrel or free to be laid down elsewhere.
Unlike other sets, the two treasure chests are always open. It makes them visually different from chests that are permanently closed, though it isn’t as useful as those that open and close. The chests aren’t identical, with one featuring an iron metal trim and the other sporting a copper trim. To sit inside the treasure chests are treasure blocks, that would look odd if utilized outside of the chests. These fit almost too snuggly into the chests, being rather hard to remove. If you don’t have nails, or something to hand, once put in it can be frustrating to get them back out.
A Horse and hound, of no relation to the paper from Notting Hill, are the two non-terrain models included. Out of the two, the horse makes sense. Without it the hitching post would look a little redundant. Conversely, while a nice inclusion, a dog isn’t something that instantly comes to mind when thinking about an encampment. Still, both animals can be used to cause a sneak issue for players sneaking up on an encampment. Still, with a challenge rating of 1/8 and 1/4, for the dog and horse respectively, they aren’t going to test a party of adventurers. If used as a guard dog the dog miniature could be used in a few low level encounters with thugs perhaps or roaming the halls of a rich noble’s mansion. Truly though they are more there to add some life to the camp scene.
As with many of these sets, some of the items are easy to get in and out of the packaging and others you need to force out. The packaging works well for storing the items, keeping them very much protected. The pieces are relatively robust though, and don’t need all that much protection. Therefore, storing the items without the plastic trays results in the set taking up a lot less space – something that DMs with lots of 3D scatter terrain will see as a valuable resource. With the amount of times that some of the items will hit the table, storing the likes of the barrels, stools and wood piles with commonly used items makes sense. With the rest stored separately for when a full encampment is needed.
Each campaign will be different but in most Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder campaigns a party of adventurers will stumble upon an encampment. Be it by chance, seeing a random encounter ensue, or one that the adventurers have setup to hunker down for the night, the 4D Settings Encampment set is ideal for bringing the location to life. Being pre-painted means that the items are instantly ready to use. Some of the items such as the tents will, most probably, only be used in specific scenarios. From the barrels to the campfire and even the cart, there are plenty of scatter terrain items in the 4D Settings Encampment set that can constantly be used to add extra lifelike details to locations. With that amount of potential usage it is easy to recommend the set to any and all RPG players.
(Editor’s Note: The 4D Settings Encampment set was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The set is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)