Friday, November 9, 2018

Spanish Fort by Slug Industries

The Spanish Fort by Slug Industries is a terrain piece modeled after the actual Fort Matanzas and successfully funded via a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. In this article I take a closer look at the model and present my painted version as well as some gaming ideas for the fort.




Ever since his first pirate-related kickstarter campaign I am in frequent contact with Philip Page, the creator of the Spanish fort kickstarter campaign. When he sent me the first photos of his fort I was immediately sold on the idea of a 28mm scale version of Fort Matanzas. Usually, when you think of forts and pirates you think of a gigantic Vauban fort that would fill an entire game board on its own (like this beauty). Fort Matanzas is a relatively small fort that is very well suited to be used in 28mm scale games. Therefore, it was a no-brainer for me to back the project when the kickstarter launched. In addition to the fort itself, there was a battery piece which was also part of the campaign and which I also included in my pledge. More on the battery in a future blog post.

The contents of my kickstarter reward: the battery (top left), several parts of the fort
and the tyburn tree from a stretch goal (bottom right)


Quality and details

Philip has compiled an interesting documentation of the building process. He wrote that he was limited in space because of the size of his vacuum chamber. Indeed, I found that the fort was a tad bit too small. On the other hand, the upside to this is that the casts are very good: there are no air bubbles or other defects that could result from the casting process.

When compared to Tabletop World's products (of similar size, of course) you notice that the fort is quite heavy, mostly because of the heavy base piece. I think it is still lighter than GrandManner's products though.

After assembling the different parts and glueing everything into place there were still a couple of gaps that had to be filled. I used sculpting putty for that.

The gap between the turret and the wall had to be filled with putty

A section of the decorative half rod broke off during transportation
and I added putty to somewhat cover the area


There is a planking piece for the guns to stand on. I decided not to glue it on the base. It fits nicely and doesn't move around so I maintain the flexibility of being able to take it out (although I can't see why I would want to).

Finally, one thing I had a quarrel with was the lack of texture on the stones. They look very flat on the master model and you can clearly identify the sheets of styrene that the model was build from. A rougher surface would look much nicer and more believable and give the model more "depth". Had I created the fort, I would have either used styrodur that can be textured easily, or - since I am super lazy - something like the textured plaster wall pieces from Vampisol that I used for my Port of Gierburg gaming board section. Nevertheless, I decided that I would have to make up for it by painting the fort nicely.


Painting the fort

Mixing paint for the filling
with beige, brown and grey
I basically used my standard technique for painting stonework on the fort. The only notable exception was that I painted the filling different this time. Since I am running low on the MIG pigments Concrete and Dry Mud (and I believe they have been relabelled or are not available any longer) I created a mix of beige, brown and grey that I used instead. On a model of this size I would have had to spend quite a large amount of the pigments so it is probably better to use cheaper paint anyways.

The model painted up very nicely. I always enjoy painting buildings like this as they allow you to play and experiment with colours. The inside of the fort e.g. is very forgiving as you can try a variety of tones, paint them over and over until you're happy with the result.

I am also quite pleased with the overall appearance of the stonework. The fort fits very nicely with my other buildings. It is always interesting to see how similar paint jobs can tie different building styles together and create a unified image.

The inside of fort's ground floor

A look into the first floor of the fort


Accessories

Aside from the fort alone, I assembled, created and painted a couple of additional components that truly bring the fort to life.

Ladders

Three ladders came with the fort as laser-cut MDF kits. I am usually not a fan of MDF products. For simple ladders, however, it works well enough.

The ladders for the fort (top) and the battery (bottom)

The fort's ladders, assembled and painted


Flag, flagpole and fitting

In my opinion, having a huge flag waving from the top of the fort is a must. I decided to build a small fitting for flags in the same manner as I did for my British Cutter. This allows me to reuse flagpoles on my ships and on the fort.

Parts for making quick and simple flagpoles: long toothpicks and
wooden beads for the top

Two flagpoles and the fitting assembled and ready for paint

The finished Spanish flag and flagpole

The Spanish flag raised on the fort's roof


Trap doors

The last enhancement I came up with was painting up two trapdoors from Ziterdes/Thomarillion that I had lying around for a while. The idea is to provide another entrance to the fort during games.

Trapdoors from Ziterdes/Thomarillion

A trapdoor placed in the corner of the ground floor inside the fort


Other accessories and future plans

The cannons that can be seen in the photos were taken from my brigantine which I rarely use. I find that Thomarillion's ship cannon looks like a suitable stationary cannon because of the narrow carriage so I will get some more of them for the fort and the battery.

At first I was considering building a big stairway as can be seen on contemporary photos of the fort. It would provide some more space for figure placement and thus increase playability. However, Phil explained that this stairway is a modern addition so I decided not to build it. After all, the idea was to hide in the fort and pull up the ladder if enemies should invade the fort. A convenient stairway to the first floor is not exactly helpful there.

After having painted the fort, I realised that there were no doors. For some reason I hadn't noticed it before. I absolutely plan on building two small doors for the fort some time soon.


Verdict and gameplay

The Spanish Fort is a very nice terrain piece that adds a ton of gameplay to our pirate games. In a recent gaming session it has already more than proven itself. My first idea when I saw the fort was to use it for a Prison Break scenario. We had played this scenario before but for lack of a proper building we had used a normal house that represented the barracks. With the new fort we had a great game where the attacker used grappling hooks to enter the fort and free the captive while the defender fought off the intruders and tried to secretly take the captive away.

The trapdoors worked extremely well during the games we had. We defined a 30" x 5" section beside the main game board that represented an underground tunnel. One end lead into the fort, the other end into one of the buildings on the table. This secret entrance to the fort was determined at random before the game and only the fort's defender knew where it was. The attackers would have to break into the houses and search them to find out where the entrance is. This worked so well that we decided to reuse the system for all town-based games and I have added the creation of a suitable tunnel piece to my to-do list.

While I was building the flagpoles and fitting I came up with another scenario: Hoist the Flag. Two (or more) crews attack the fort which is defended by neutral guards. The first crew to raise their flag from the top of the fort wins the game.

We also used the fort in a sea battle along with the battery. More on that in my upcoming post about the battery piece.

All in all, I am super happy with the Spanish Fort. It has already sparked quite a number of gaming ideas that provided lots of fun and I look forward to playing many more games with it.


Gallery

Finally, photos of the painted fort in all its glory.

The Spanish Fort, fully assembled and painted

The Spanish Fort, occupied by a pirate crew


Here are some more photos from a recent game session:


City guards protecting the fort




Coming next: The battery


5 comments:

  1. Thanks for featuring this! I've wanting to do a WSS/Queen Anne's War project around Saint Augustine and I've been looking for terrain for it. This is perfect!

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  2. Thanks for review and great paintjob, much appreciated and I'm very happy that you like it and it plays well.

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  3. Excellent review. Looks very nice with all the finishing touches.

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  4. Thanks for the nice comments, guys!
    @Andrew: Happy to hear that you found this useful.

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