One of the vexing things in assembling war games battlefields is the matter of buildings - farms, chateaux, hamlets, villages and towns - summed up by that favourite of all war games acronyms, BUA (Built Up Areas). It is difficult to find an ideal that reasonably approximates the scale of the figures, with the minimum of ground profile. And how ought one to treat BUAs anyway?
The leading picture in Ross Mac's recent posting (Battle Game of the Month) is of a gridded war game dating back to the 1960s. In it I recognised several buildings of the type featured in the first two pictures of article. I bought these so long ago - thirty years or more - that I have no recollection who the makers are. Printed on light card stock, they are very easily assembled. They probably ought to be mounted on some sort of base, for the sake of solidity, as they aren't what you would call robust. Approximately 'to scale' with 15mm figures, they don't look so out of place with the 20+mm plastic Prussians, or the 25mm Hinchliffe cuirassiers in the photo. Even the large buildings seen in the leading picture have a fairly small 'footprint'.
I have otherwise experimented with home made buildings. The above walled farmhouse was carved from a foam rubber block. Not a total success, I've not had the heart to deep six it, though it rarely features in my battles.
These have been more successful, but were intended to be large buildings - country houses, taverns. or public buildings. Two we made using 'brick paper' obtainable at hobby shops, from which tunnel facings are made. They seemed to me quite suitable for this purpose. Only the ground floor of the right hand building of the trio used this material. The rest was made from cereal packet. The black timbering was fiddly to say the least!
The two to the right were an experiment that wasn't quite the success hoped for. They were intended to represent small built up areas upon which troop stands could be placed on the clear bit to represent garrisons. I have an idea I intended to enclose the space with walls or fences. The addition of the figures in the picture below give an idea of the scale. Memory tells me they were based on an idea from other local war gamers, who used them for Volley and Bayonet games (and these featured some very remarkable and extremely well made examples of war games architecture).
The above farm buildings were picked up cheaply at a bring and buy. I have a second stables building like that above - very versatile piece. The cobblestones we simply some plastic packing for chocolates or biscuits or something such. A grey drybrushing overall yielded the cobblestone effect. I have found that a BUA profile ('footprint') useful in many respects for defining its limits, and whether a garrison can or not claim its cover. If the buildings are mounted on top, then the profile defines the town. But one can alternatively place buildings around it, but in contact, leaving a cobbled or paved town square. This method gives you a larger town area if you want it, and still retaining the 'well defined' effect that is desirable for the smooth running of the action.
The buildings in the pictures above and below were made from downloadable files and printed. My experience with these indicate that it were preferable to print them on a heavier stock than your normal printing paper. Alternatively paste them onto heavier card before assembly, if not before cutting out. As you can see, the towers are good and tall, but have a very small ground profile.
The following are ceramic buildings bought at $2 the time four or five years ago. Although they do 'go' with the other buildings, and there is the small matter of the thick bases to get past, yet they seem to me to evoke a sense of middle-European alpine villages.
The following two pictures are from the Usborne series, which I cannot recommend too highly. They are from the Make This Medieval Town and Make This Mediaeval Port. There is also a Make this Medieval Village title. They come in book form, printed on thinnish card stock, and you get a big variety of buildings. Excellent resource for war gamers!
As you can see from the pictures several of these are very small buildings. The picture below features some of the larger houses, taverns and what have you placed in contact with a rectangular 'paved' area, upon which a building has been centrally placed. The effect is to suggest quite a sizeable settlement - a town withal - the integrity of which is easily maintained during the accidents and vicissitudes of war games action.
One of the conventions I used to adopt in my war games, is that individual buildings represented the internal arrangement of the built up area. As buildings could be entered only through doors, and yet each building represented several, this approach had the effect of suggesting the alleyways and back streets that characterised any particular town. It tended to make street fighting and interesting and hazardous business. I've tended to depart from this approach, lately, with my larger scale battles.
The above pictures show the smaller buildings around a paved village square, and with 20mm plastic figures indicating scale.
The above rubber peasant hovels have been a very versatile pair, having the virtue of near-indestructibility. I added the colouring, painting and dry-brushing the thatch, and using felt-tip spirit pens for the rest. They came with rude rubber stone walls and a haystack that is now looking rather the worse for wear.