A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Just Another Half Fort, Please...

When I first started fiddling around with sieges - maybe 6 years ago now - I bought myself half a fort. Having studied my Chris Duffy book, I decided that half a fort on one edge of a table gave a useful "slice" of a full siege ("slice" as in "pizza"), and I have used this set up from time to time since then.

I am still short of some decent-looking siege trenches, but I know what sort of cross-section of hardwood mouldings will give me something useable, so it's just a matter of getting around to that bit. The fort itself has always been a work in progress anyway (a "works in progress", perhaps?). The hardware I invested in was the 15mm scale "Vauban Pack" offered by Terrain Warehouse (circa 2009), and it came pre-painted to a decent standard. TW offered a limited range of pieces, but the general format looked more useful than some of the alternatives (someone makes a square fort, for example), and the configuration is hexagonal, which sits rather nicely with my hex-gridded table, apart from anything else.

The TW products did not include gatehouses, or damaged sections, or very much in the way of flexibility, and the glacis sections as manufactured forced you into a limited number of shapes and patterns, but it seemed good for cutting my teeth on. I intended to get more pieces as time and funds permitted, to give a larger installation, and to adapt items from other makers and scratch build to add sophistication (or "fiddly bits" to use Vauban's own technical term).

I kept meaning to get around to this. At one point, around 2011, I read that Terrain Warehouse were offering the rights and moulds for their scenery range for sale, and I was panicked into getting in touch, but I let things slide again and the fort remained a half-fort.

The sections I have are:

4 straight wall sections (each 100mm long, to give an idea of proportions)
3 bastions
2 ravelins
plus sufficient glacis sections to match all of these

The illustration at the top shows this lot laid out.

Well, the latest news is that I am now in touch with the guys who bought the Vauban Fort rights from the previous guys who bought them from Terrain Warehouse. The pieces are not currently in production, but it seems likely that if I specify exactly what I want they should be able to make the sections. Whether they will paint and flock them for me I do not know yet (though I'm confident that I could handle that bit myself). I don't want to say too much about who and where and what until things are more definite, but it looks promising.

So if I could get pieces and glacis bits to give me a full circular fort that would be very nice. This, in turn, would involve me in hunting out and modifying and scratch-building the required Fiddly Bits to keep Vauban happy, allow the townspeople to get in and out and model some particular fortress or other. Since these pieces are required mostly for a Peninsular setting, I am also keen to be able to blend the Vauban pieces in with older, medieval or renaissance fortifications to produce the sort of scruffy hybrid which was the normal installation in Spain. Imagine me cutting and flocking glacis sections, covered up to my elbows in glue and green fluff, happy as a pig in wassname.

I'm currently working out what bits I need to get this started, and I'll send some drawings to these mysterious new owners. I reckon another 2 wall sections, 3 bastions and 2 ravelins, plus glacis to fit, will give me a full fort, and I might get some extra bits for the odd outwork if I can see how to do that. I've also checked out the available gates and drawbridges and suchlike from Magister Militum - all very interesting. As and when I make some progress I'll publish an update on how it's going.

Picture of my fort in action, taken by Clive (The Old Metal Detector) during a
play-test in Summer 2010, with additional buildings by JR, Hovels and others,
plus the odd chair (photo used without permission - thanks, Clive)


  1. That's a nice bit of kit!! I wouldn't mind one of these myself??

  2. What a glorious bit of tabletop kit! And in 15mm, a complete pizza is manageable, I would think. I have a number of bits of star fort in 28mm, and I could never imagine them being part of a complete fort - unless I laid it out on the garage floor. Thinking about it, the 28mm fort pieces came from North Berwick, can't remember the name of the company.

  3. Yes! While it's getting a bit ahead of things for myself, I have pondered how I might one day handle part of a siege. Your approach and set-up seem to be just the ticket. Very nice.

    Best Regards,


    1. Hi Stokes - thanks for your interest - bear in mind that I make a point of using 15mm scale scenery with 20/25mm figures. The vertical mismatch is acceptable, and it helps a great deal with the footprint issues. If my vertical scale is approx 1 inch = 6 feet and my horizontal scale is 1 inch = 20 yards and the figures:men ratio is 33:1 then anything that gets the size of the scenery components down a bit is a help! I worked out that these 15mm Terrain Warehouse pieces give a distance of about 5 inches between bastion faces, or about 100 yards on the ground scale across a stretch of wall, which works out OK with the musket ranges of the day. It's all a compromise, but I think that using "undersized" pieces works out better in this context. It's not so easy to say "this group of buildings colectively represents a fortified area" when siege batteries are firing at particular points on the wall! I am afraid I always come down to the same story, but I used to be vaguely concerned to see beautiful 25mm scale models of La Haye Sainte on famous Old School models of Waterloo, the vegetable garden of which would comfortably house the entire Old Guard Division. Naturally if anyone had mentioned this anomaly they would have been despised off the planet, but the fact remains that it was daft anyway, however fabulous it looked.

      Anyway - that's my take on it!

  4. This is the sort of thing I've been hankering after getting for well over 30 years now. It will probably be another 30 years before i get one!

    1. If this goes OK I'll put out details of who the potential new supplier is - not wishing to appear dramatic here, but clearly there is no point if they can't make them. I've had emails from about 5 people who are interested in doing something with this, so I promise to publish details if it works.

  5. Interestingly mixing bits made by different companies and painted by different hands might just help to suggest that "scruffy hybrid" look, esp if some medieval bits were incorporated. At any rate looks good so far and is a worthy endeavor.

  6. Great stuff - a gate would be the icing on the cake I think