I paint a lot of figures, mostly 28mm, for gaming. However, men alone aren't enough for a wargame; we need terrain as well. Every so often, I realise that I can't play a scenario that I would like because I don't have the right setting. So it was with SAGA, when I realised that at least 1 of the standard scenarios in the basic rulebook requires buildings.
Many people use MDF kits of timber-framed Dark Age buildings for their games of SAGA. Theses are widely available from various manufacturers. However, my Dark Age warbands are based in Scotland and although timber or wattle-and-daub structures would certainly have existed in parts, the more remote corners of the land might well have had differently-constructed buildings instead.
The Raw Materials
I discovered that Scheltrum Miniatures produced resin models of stone dwellings that would be very appropriate for far-flung communities of Picts or similar Celtic groups. Low (wind-proof!), stone buildings with turf roofs are especially likely in areas with limited access to wood, such as the Hebridean Isles or some parts of the north of Scotland. Having decided that I wanted these, I bought a few small dwellings. That was at Claymore 2012, so almost 3 years ago (ouch!).
I realised afterwards that I also wanted some walls from Scheltrum to go with them, to place the buildings in a more interesting context. The walls were purchased separately, probably at another show a year or 2 later (I cannot remember for sure). And so it remained for a long while...
Planning the Village
Finally, earlier this month, I decided to act and build my village. After all the procrastination, it didn't take much effort at all when I finally got down to it!
Firstly, I found some large pieces of scrap paper and drew out rough plans of how the building and wall pieces would be placed. This achieved several things: it showed me what size of bases would be required and it ensured that I made best use of the pieces available.
Next, I cut out bases from 3mm MDF and transferred the plans roughly onto these. I left a margin of about 1" around the edges of each base and beveled the cut edges (my jigsaw can make cuts at up to about 45 degrees off vertical, which is very useful for this type of job).
The obvious next step was to glue on the buildings and the walls. This revealed a problem, though: the wall pieces didn't join cleanly to each other and certainly didn't join to the buildings. There were huge, unsightly gaps everywhere!
Mind the Gap!
OK, not to worry. I rolled blobs of Milliput into rough balls and then pushed these into all the gaps, trying to match the existing layers of stones in the walls.
The joints between the baseboards and the resin pieces still looked a bit abrupt, so I used some filler to blend these together a bit. I also added a few lumps and bumps to the enclosures, to try to avoid them looking as smooth as billiards tables!
After adding a few patches of sand and grit (again, to break up any large, blank patches), I undercoated the models with my usual Halford's grey car primer.
Note that as an afterthought I added some "gates" to the 2 larger enclosures. These were simply pieces of Renedra's wattle fence, cut to fit.
To start the painting, I gave all the stonework a black wash, followed by a heavy drybrush of "lichen grey".
The dirt was undercoated with chocolate brown, then highlighted with a couple of lighter shades of tan.
To finish, 2 separate types of flock and static grass were applied, with special attention given to the bottom of the walls and other nooks and crevices. The few details (gates, doorways, the guy ropes over the roof of the largest house) were painted separately and then the models were sealed with varnish. Done!
These pieces were surprisingly quick to build, mainly due to the relatively small number of colours and details on them. They'll be very useful for outlying communities in games of SAGA, I think. And it's such a relief to have completed this project - finally!