Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Cobblestone Streets & Stonework by Vampisol

Recently, while browsing a railway modeling forum I discovered a German terrain supplies manufacturer: Vampisol. The site is in German only so I'll try my best to provide translations in the following to help any interested non-German to find their way around there.

In the "Spur 0" range (see: O Scale) there are two sections with great products for 28mm wargamers: "Kopfsteinpflaster" (cobblestones) and "Mauerplatten" (stonework). Let's look at the cobblestones first:

Cobblestone Streets

"Segmentbogenpflasterplatte" (V3050),
cobblestone street with segmental arch pattern
"Anschlußstück, Kreuzungsbauteil Segmentbogenpflaster" (V3054),
connection/crossing piece for the segmental arch streets

There are two types of cobblestone patterns available:
  • Segmental arch pattern (depicted above)
  • Stretcher bond pattern (see below) [Wikipedia]
For both patterns there are supplemental products available such as kerbs ("Randsteine"), the segmental arch connection piece and a sidewalk.

"Pflasterplatte Großformat Reihenverband" (V3056),
stretcher bond cobblestone street (two pieces shown)

The segmental arch cobbles pieces measure 124mm x 131mm and cost €4,50.
The stretcher bond pieces measure 124mm x 70mm and cost €3,00 a piece.

There is a super useful street planner PDF file available that allows you to get a proper impression of the cobblestone pieces' sizes. This was very helpful and I wish every terrain manufacturer would offer similar guides for their products. Very good service indeed!


The other cool section - "Mauerplatten" - consists of three types of stonework, each 118mm x 158mm board is €4,00. I ordered the "Bruchstein" (quarrystone, V3001):

"Bruchstein" (V3001), quarrystone wall

Comparison shot with a Black Scorpion pirate
and a fishwife by Warlord Games

The three available designs are: Ashlar, flagstone and the already mentioned quarrystone.

From left to right: "Bruchstein" (quarrystone), "Werkstein" (ashlar), "Haustein" (flagstone)

All mentioned Vampisol products are made from dental plaster. The stonework boards are available in either white or grey colour. A little word of caution: The cobblestone and stonework pieces are 2mm thin and some of them arrived broken from shipping. This is no big deal though because the breaking edges of the plaster are "clean" and are not visible when putting the pieces together. Also, there's always a small bag of plaster included to fill gaps with when assembling and "building" the final layout.

Verdict: Highly recommended! I have been looking for nice cobblestone and/or flagstone boards to pave my city with for quite a long time. So far I have only found Stronghold Terrain's cobblestone streets and Tabletop World's Town Square to be of acceptable quality. While the Stronghold streets are very nice in detail they are somewhat narrow. The Vampisol street tiles are designed to be extended in both length and width, so they are perfectly suited to build larger places such as market squares. In fact, I'm looking forward to using all three manufacturers' products for my board.

Update (July 17th): The new Vampisol website is up so the links are now fixed. Also, to see the finished cobblestones, check out Part 3 of the Gierburg dock section.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

WIP: Water boarding

A little work-in-progress of my water board section for both pirate action and the port of Gierburg...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gierburg Peasants

A new faction has arrived in Gierburg: the Agitator and his mob of angry peasants, painted by Simon Bradley.

The warband consists of three packs from Warlord Games' Pike & Shotte range:

With the focus on a raging mob rather than a militia I switched some of the models' original weapons with torches and pitchforks from Warlord's Short Weapons Pack (WGP-ARM-04) and Long Weapons Pack (WGP-ARM-03). Like all Gierburg models they stand on Fenris Games bases (25mm round DS Innsmouth Cobblestones, see here).

Simon really did an absolutely stunning job on these. Check out his blog posts and the gallery on his website Stone Cold Lead for more photos (and better ones than these too!).

The agitator is speaking to the masses.

In the upcoming series of mini artciles called A Guide to the City we will shed some light on the peasants as well as on other characters and factions of Gierburg.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gone Fronting

A review of Stronghold Terrain's medieval/fantasy townhouse fronts, enriched with some mild eye candy and finished off with a plea for using fronts and facades in your tabletop games.

At the 2012 Tactica convention I bought a set of townhouse fronts from Stronghold Terrain for my Gierburg gaming board. Soon after I completed the collection with the other two remaining pieces from the range: the Tavern front and the Warehouse front. Unfortunately though, all three products are currently OOP and no longer available from the Stronghold webshop. For kicks and nostalgia, you can see the products below as they were originally shown on the Stronghold Terrain website.

The Townhouse fronts, Tavern front and Warehouse front set as they were depicted at Stronghold Terrain's webshop

As you can see on the photos these models are not just facades like e.g. those from Geboom's wonderful Amsterdam project. The fronts are ca. 3,5 cm deep (or "thick") and are equally nicely detailed on the sides as they are on the fronts. This means that they are more like "half" houses, or Third of a House. But let's look at them in detail...

The Townhouse Fronts

The Townhouse Fronts set is a set of three resin model fronts. Each front consists of three parts: a first floor, a second floor and an attic/roof piece. Plus there's a stonework piece with stairs intended for the front in the middle (see photo above). Roof windows and chimneys are separate. In addition there's a very nice cobblestone pavement base consisting of three bases (one for each house) and two end sections. Here's a photo of the lot:

Contents of the Townhouse fronts boxed set by Stronghold Terrain
The Townhouse fronts set up in one of many possible combinations

What is really cool about this set is its flexibility. With each front comprising of three pieces, all sharing the same width and depth, you can freely arrange them to create your personal favorite setup. In the picture above e.g. you can see a completely different setup than is shown in the studio photos by Stronghold (which is the one I went with myself in the end - for no particular reason though, other than a subliminal wish for conformity on my side, I'm afraid). This means that you can buy two or even three of these sets and mix components to create a long street wih house fronts and each one looks different, yet at the same time they all share a common style so that each combination looks "complete", like it was meant to be. This is pretty damn cool in my eyes.

Townhouse front with half-hipped roof
and bardgeboard
I would like to specifically mention the roof section of the "third" front as this is my favourite one. You don't often see half-hipped roofs on tabletop fantasy buildings, let alone with bargeboards. The result is a complex looking structure with looks detailed and simply beautiful. I find this to be the highlight of this set.

The careful reader might notice some similarity with the Tavern House I finished recently. Indeed, the lower part - the window counter section - is the same. In fact, various parts of these fronts can be found in their complete houses as well. The door of the middle front e.g. is the same as in their Guild House as are the bay windows (of course! I'd do the same). I don't find this to be a problem - to the contrary: it gives the buildings a consistent look. There's still enough going on to give each an individual look. And the paint jobs can also do a lot to set the pieces apart.

Speacking of paint jobs, below you can see all three fronts painted. I tried to give the middle front the effect of color that is peeling off. I don't know about that... it somehow just looks wrong, so I might repaint that part at some point.

As you can see I did not put the cobblestone bases there. I have prepared them, glued them together (without the end pieces though) and now I am waiting for the gaming board itself to take shape because the bases will be part of that.

The Warehouse Front

The Warehouse front is very similar to those from the Townhouse set. It is a three part piece that comes with a nice cobblestone base.

Contents of the Warehouse front boxed set by Stronghold Terrain

If you wanted to mix parts of the Townhouse fronts set then you could easily insert one or two of these for additional variety. Since my Gierburg table will have a huge port section (pirate games!) this model fits in nicely. I could indeed imagine two of these fronts standing right next to each other at the port. Painted slightly different this would look just right.

The painted warehouse front

The Tavern Front

Last but certainly not least we have the Tavern front. This is a more solid piece consisting of a single piece for the main part and a small stonework section with two steps for additional height and detail. A separate chimney and a tavern sign are also included. Again there is a cobblestone base which connects with the others from the range.

Contents of the tavern front boxed set by Stronghold Terrain

The Tavern building
from Stronghold Terrain
This front is very reminiscent of their Tavern building, yet not quite identical. The door, window and basic stonework is the same. But while this one is full of stonework in the ground level, the tavern model has plastering covering the full stonework. The tavern signs are the same though.

I didn't want to use the original tavern sign because it reads "Zum durstigen Mönch" (roughly meaning "The thirsty monk" in German), which I was not so fond of since Gierburg features neither monks nor German language. So I went with the keg symbol sign from the Thomarillion set of Tavern signs. I had used the 'anvil sign' for my Blacksmith's Forge from ForgeWorld (which is now OOP and I sold mine) so now I have the 'knight sign' left, which due to a severe absence of knights in Gierburg will be about as useful as the monk sign.


All products from Stronghold Terrain's fronts range are highly detailed models with a lot of character. Each piece has its unique features while still integrating perfectly into the overall style. Due to the modular nature of the items you can even buy multiple sets and rearrange them differently to get even more fronts. The cobblestone bases are made so that they can be connected freely so you can line up the fronts in whichever way you like.

The casting quality is good. There were minor defects (on a few windows) that could be easily repaired with modelling putty. If you're used to working with resin models (buildings, ships or whatever) then this is common work.

I have to say that before I bought these models I did wonder whether they are worth it. Stronghold themself described them with a display purpose for cabinets. But I am working towards a gaming board! I then realised something. You can either have your gaming board just end, leading into the void. Or you can mark the end of your board with fronts and facades. The latter creates an enormously stronger atmosphere. Not only because the gaming table now it not a mere presentation of buildings on a silver platter, but a live cut-out of a larger world. If you have fronts like these on one side of your streets and full houses on the other (which you'd have anyways), then the streets of your city are fully surrounded by buildings. This is a completely different feeling of delving into your board. It also has some gaming value because now you can set up proper "ends" of your board: A street leading off the table between the fronts. Or, with that amount of doors available, you can assign entrances and exits to the board to certain doors and/or windows. Therefore I believe that finishing off your gaming board with building fronts and facades both adds a lot of depth to your visual experience as well as opening up new possibilities for the gaming side of things.

All five fronts lined up: the Tavern, the Warehouse and the Townhouse set of Three

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