DIY fort or castle

By Jim Rohrer

Like many other people these days, I have been puttering around at my hobby table. In general, One-Hour Wargames is my guide for gaming. The layouts fit on a small table and the scenery is minimalist. Each item is chosen not for realism, but to represent an object. The footprint of a structure must be small even though it may not be to scale.

One useful structure is a fort. Unfortunately and predictably, forts are expensive. As a ham-fisted hobbyist, I have been reluctant to even try to make my own. However, I recently ran across a blog called ‘54mm or Fight’ and the simple structures pictured there made me realize that a building should be suggestive of the prototype but not attempt to replicate them in miniature.

Searching for images quickly turned up French Foreign Legion forts. My ImaginNation is forested rather than desert, but the design should serve as well. As you can see in the photos below, the fort is just four walls with ramparts and a door.  Each wall is 5.5” by 3.75”. They are made from some scrap cedar boards. The catwalks inside are balsa.

My intention is to use this fort with 54mm figures of the era ranging from the Franco-Prussian War to WWI. However, the fort could be a medieval castle. Just encircle it with a moat. It also would work well with smaller figures. The scale is ambiguous.

As a side issue, I am considering how to model battering down the gate. Placing explosives under cover of darkness is an option. Call that a 100 percent chance of success if undetected, but defenders will be watching for that ploy. Frontal assault with a battering ram would incur high casualties, but I think success would be guaranteed if you are willing to pay the price. If you can drag a field gun to this location, it would do the job. But how close would it have to be to hit the door (a small target)? You cannot waste a lot of time on this because reinforcements may arrive randomly from any direction.




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3 Responses to DIY fort or castle

  1. Nangwaya says:

    Good way of using some leftover wood!

    I have found myself thinking along similar lines in regards to terrain and structures, in that I am not fussy about having everything in the same scale.

    If the piece adequately represents what I want it to be on the tabletop, then it is serving its purpose.

    For example, I primarily play Biblical battles, and I would easily use your fort (minus the flags), for any of my games.

    My armies are 15mm, yet most of my terrain pieces are not to that scale.

    One of the reasons is cost, as it is far cheaper to purchase a 6mm scale castle for example, than purchasing a 15mm version.

    Thank you for posting!

  2. Scott says:

    Nice work Jim. You can build a lot of wargame terrain with “basic” materials like balsa wood and foam core board.

    For my WW1 10mm project, I’ve built trench section from balsa wood and fimo clay. I plan on building my own pillboxes and bunkers. Saw some ideas online on how to build them.

    I have terrible art and modeling skills but have made presentable wargame terrain. I’ve received several compliments at wargame convention on my games.

  3. Jim Rohrer says:

    Nangwaya and Scott,
    I am glad you liked the fort. Reviewing my sets of rules made me realize that battering down the door is not necessary. Attackers can just shoot at defenders, who are behind cover when on the walls. Even artillery need not knock down the door; a hit is a hit even if the door is still up. After all, in Beau Geste, the gate and walls were still standing after all the defenders were dead, if I remember correctly.

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