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Introduction <> Stand-Alone Pieces 

Stand-Alone Pieces: Imperial Fort 
This piece debuted in Battle #14 (The Need for Speed) of the Blood Deserts of Auros IX Campaign. As you can see from the photos on this page, it’s basically a medieval castle built from what appears to be Legos. Well, actually they’re called Castlemaster Building Blocks: in effect, they’re big Legos specifically for building castles. There were 250 pieces (of various shapes and sizes) to a box and I found two boxes (at $10 each) in a toy store outlet. 

I sketched out the fort’s design on paper and then built the basic structure. The piece turned out to be 20" wide, 12" long, and 13" at the highest points. The castle is an oval with one large entrance. It has a front battlement and two side towers topped with battlements. The walls themselves do not have spaces for miniatures to stand: even with 250 pieces, I didn’t have enough to make walls wide enough to hold figures, and even if I had, the inner courtyard would have been severely cramped. 

While the blocks were big and a nice shade of gray, they did not fit together very well, coming apart very easily (no wonder these things were discounted). To give the piece more stability, I used a thick piece of lumber for a base. Then I used two-part epoxy to cement the bricks together. Some of the epoxy oozed out onto the walls, so I went back and sanded/picked off the blobs of epoxy once they had dried. 

For a long time—a couple years, in fact—I let the castle sit in the state you see below, half-finished. Finally, I got off my dupa and vowed to finish it. When I got it out of its place in the garage, I was horrified to discover that wasps had built several mud nests on it—not even finished, and already it had been infiltrated by Tyranid-like attackers!

Fort--work in progress
Above: Imperial Fort under construction. 
That's a Space Marine Predator tank parked in front

Inner Keep
As I got back to work on the fortress, I realized that basically, it was just a shell of a building: it certainly didn’t look like much of anything besides some walls. I mitigated this problem by building out the back wall into sort of a keep, or bunker section. This also allowed me to build a parapet where figures could stand and protect the rear of the fortress. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many blocks left to build the keep, so it’s rather small—if I could do it over again, I’d find some way to build out the keep more.

Rear viewCourtyard and keep
Above: Two views of the Inner Keep, really nothing more than a wall
(click on the thumbnails for close-up photos)

I added a bulkhead door (a Necromunda piece that I had in my bitz box) and two cavalry bases (with the middle part cut out) to serve as windows/gun slits. I topped the keep’s parapet with some hatches from Rhino models to allow egress. Hopefully, these additions disguise the fact that the keep is a bit confined….

Towers and Battlements
I added windows to the two main towers so that the player using the fortress could imagine that they had figures inside, shooting out. Some of the windows faced the inside of the fortress so that defenders could fire on attackers that managed to breach the gate. 

Tower battlementTower doorTower battlement
Left and right: Towers. Center: Tower door (click on the thumbnails for close-up photos)

I added a Necromunda bulkhead door to the bottom of each tower and stuck a number of doodads and gizmos—antennae, sensors, etc.—to the tops for decoration. In reality, all this delicate and essential electronic equipment wouldn’t be perched out there in the open, ready to be shot off at the beginning of a battle, but I think the fortress looks more sci-fi (and definitely more cool) with them there. 

GizmoHeavy bolter turretantennae
Left and right: Doodads and antennae atop the towers. Center: Heavy bolter 
(click on the thumbnails for close-up photos)

Again, just for decoration, I mounted a pair of heavy bolters (left over from a Land Raider kit) on the front battlement. These could be treated as sentry guns from Codex: Cityfight, I suppose. I also added some more blocks at the back of each battlement to protect troops from shots from the rear. This cuts down on the number of figures one can put up there, but provides them with 4+ cover saves. 

Front battlementDouble eagleFlag
Left: Front battlement Center: Double eagle symbol Right: Flag atop tower
(click on the thumbnails for close-up photos)

To clearly mark this as an Imperial fort, I used a Dremel to shave off the back of an Imperial Eagle belt buckle that I had won several years ago during a Games Workshop “pub quiz.” I mounted the buckle on a strip from an old computer, spraypainted it black, then drybrushed it with Boltgun Metal. There’s also a plastic flag (from a bag of plastic “army men”) that I painted Goblin Green and to which I applied an old transfer from a vehicle kit.

For a long time, I didn’t know what I was going to do for a gate. I considered simply leaving the gate off, but while that might provide a better view of the courtyard, it certainly wouldn’t do for gaming. An invisible “force field” gate might be characteristic of an Eldar or Tau fortress, but I didn’t think it would be appropriate for an Imperial castle. 

While rummaging around in my bitz box, I found some pieces of wood, wrapped in foam rubber, that my pal Patrick Eibel may have snagged from some office furniture. I don’t know what they were originally used for, but once they were superglued to the fortress, spraypainted black, and drybrushed with Boltgun Metal, they made passable gates. 

Gatepower generatorHatch
Left: Gate. Center: Power generators and speaker Right: Hatch atop front battlement
(click on the thumbnails for close-up photos)

Odds and Ends and Bric-a-Brac
I work in an old, very large building, and it has pipes running here and there and has all kinds of…stuff…scattered around in out-of-the-way places. So, too, with my fortress. I used tubing to make conduits running along the walls and floors. My kids are fond of this German chocolate with little toys inside it, so I glued together several of the plastic containers the toys came in, stacked them up, and called them power generators. I added some crates and other odds and ends and mounted a speaker-looking thing on an interior wall. The speaker-thing used to be part of a set of headphones before our new puppy got her mouth on it….

One problem I had with the fortress was that it looked…well, like it was made out of Legos. The walls were too smooth and you could easily read the little Castlemaster logo stamped into the top of each brick. A little textured paint would fix that, however. 

I primed the fortress walls with some Painter’s Touch gray hobby paint (by Rust-oleum) that I picked up at the local hardware store (LHS). A good-sized can didn’t cost much more than a couple paint pots from Games Workshop (make you wonder, doesn’t it?). 

After brushing on the gray, my initial thought was to mix some sand with the gray paint and go over it again a few more times with a brush. But I’m a lazy git, so I went back to the LHS and found two cans of American Accents Stone Creations paint, also by Rust-oleum. 

Stone Creations comes as an aerosol spray that, when it dries, resembles stonework. You can get it in a variety of styles and colors, but I went for the basic gray. Mine cost about $8 a can. The paint covers rather thinly, though, so it took five coats before I was happy with it. Still, five coats of spray paint is a lot easier to apply than two coats with a brush, and now the castle had a nice texture. An unexpected bonus was that all those coats of paint helped hold the Castlemaster blocks together. Keembobo!*

*keembobo (pronounced “keem” like “keen”, “bo” like “dough”, “bo” like “dough”, with the accent on the first syllable). Interjection. Informal.—Used to express great happiness. The first syllable may be extended (“keeeeeeeeeem”) to convey extreme happiness.

I sprayed some Stone Creations on the wooden base and painted over it with black (again, from the LHS) to represent asphalt. I imagined that when the Imperial Powers-That-Be built this fortress, they leveled out and paved over whatever patch of ground the fortress would stand on. No, I’m afraid the Imperium is not an eco-friendly regime…. 

Above: The Imperial Fortress—not artwork, but good enough

So there is the fortress. I could have put on some Fighting Tiger insignias and dedicated it to my Space Marines, but I think it works better as a “generic” Imperial fortress. Now it can be used in just about any game—even in games without Imperial forces (such as between my Dark Eldar and Pat’s Orks). 

As with all the other terrain I build, this isn’t meant to be Golden Demon-quality: I leave that sort of stuff to real artists. No, this fortress was meant to be easy to assemble, easy to paint, inexpensive (I spent perhaps $40 to make it), and durable. The fortress has certain flaws here and there (some of which are noticeable in the photos), but by and large, I think it looks okay. My kids helped me with some of it, and it certainly was fun to paint and put together.

Introduction <> Stand-Alone Pieces

Related Pages
Battle #14 of the Blood Deserts of Auros IX Campaign

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© Copyright Kenton Kilgore, February 2004


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle