I had been wanting to build a really good set of terrain to fill a table and that could be used for multiple games - including Warhammer, Bolt Action, Black Powder, Dungeons & Dragons and Frostgrave - so I wanted it to have some kind of a fantasy feel, but also work for the historical games. I wanted it to be versatile so that I could change the layout easily, and so it could work for both the larger wargames and smaller skirmishes. It really needed the ability to act as a line of sight blocker and obstacle for a larger wargame, while providing opportunity for individual models to get in and hide or climb up to vantage points. Luckily, I found The Ruined Hamlet, a really good and affordable option!
The Ruined Hamlet set from Warlord Games looked perfect. It is primarily designed for Bolt Action (so a World War II setting), but as they say on the packaging, it works for older historical settings too. And the rough stone would look perfect in a fantasy setting.
I wanted to make the ruins look interesting and distinct and, although it looks fairly uniform on the box, the fact that the whole set is plastic and comes in individual pieces meant I knew that with a little bit of work, I could chop and change it into all sorts of buildings. There are three farmhouses in this set. They also used to sell them individually. I think in the end I got about 8 of the individual houses (after buying one or two initially to test them out). The key was going to be making an interesting set of ruins that didn't look like 8 of the same house.
I didn't add any additional kits to the ruins - they're so versatile that I didn't have to. The only additional materials I put on the structures were some cut up lollipop sticks and balsa wood that I used to bulk out some of the rafters, create walkways between raised platforms, and cover some of the holes in the walls.
My main focus was on playability - I wanted the option for players to cross over between higher platforms to gain good vantage points to attack those below, and wanted to fill some of the holes in the walls so that they could properly hide. From a narrative point of view, I figured that these ruins had been fought over for some time, so whoever had been occupying them had been fortifying their position. Doing this still made them work really well for mass battle wargames.
I use 3mm HDF for basing terrain pieces like this one in The Ruined Hamlet. I like having a solid base, because it means I can plonk it on the table and it's easy to see the outline of it, plus it keeps the whole thing together and strong. I positioned the pieces on the wood, drew the rough outlines, then cut them out with a jigsaw and fret saw, which maximises the use of the HDF. I use two-part epoxy (araldite) to fix pieces like this onto the bases, so they are very solid - I think terrain needs to be nice and strong for gaming with.
After that, the bases were covered in sand, grit and small stones, stuck with watered-down PVA glue. Going up the walls of the ruins a little bit in places really makes them blend in and seem like they've been losing little bits of rubble over time, which I think adds to the effect.
I started off by undercoating my Ruined Hamlet set with black spray paint, then grey over the top of that. Laying the pieces out on a 3x3 table with some other premade pieces, and a couple of more fantastical work-in-progress pieces of terrain (some of the pieces ended up with my set of Fantasy Temples) looked really good, covering the area completely. This would make an excellent table for Frostgrave with a little bit of scatter terrain, with lots of winding streets, alleyways to hide in and vantage points to climb to.
I wanted to keep the painting process fairly simple and quick. I've got a lot of things in my pile of unpainted miniatures so I didn't want to take too long over these ruined buildings. I also think that the terrain is a really important part of a game, but it is primarily the backdrop for the miniatures - if the terrain is more detailed and colourful than the models, it can detract from them. The strong detail on these kits make painting them a real easy job as there is a lot of relief, making them the ideal candidates for heavy washes and dry brushing. I simply painted the patches of plaster with GW Karak Stone, as it gave a good contrast to the underlying grey stones. I didn't want to mess about with different coloured bricks so just left them all as the grey undercoat.
All the wood was painted with dark browns, with some heavy dry brushing of lighter brown on them. Then that was it for blocking in the simple colours, just three elements really. I left the ground as grey as well - I've been doing that with a lot of models recently, it looks like a sort of rocky wasteland or urban rubble, which looks great with some static grass or tufts added on. In this case, I would imagine the ground to be covered in grey dust and rubble from all the destroyed buildings.
I used Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade for washing. This is a brownish colour, so adds a really natural depth and contrast to the models. I've been using the water-based dropper bottles of these quickshades for years, but recently tried using the oil-based cans when painting scenery - much more cost effective for a large volume of shade.
I find that the quickshade needs a bit of thinning with white spirit to flow smoothly (use an old knackered brush for this!). The detail on these stone walls is so well defined that the shade easily goes into all the crevices and really makes the piece look good. I found that there wasn't even any need to go back and drybrush or highlight afterwards - just the wash itself was enough. The only issue with the quickshade is that it dries glossy, but not to worry, as soon as you spray it with a matt varnish it looks great! The drying time isn't the best either, however it isn't a massive issue.
Applying the static grass was the final step before spraying with matt varnish. I used a Flockbox for this - a static grass applicator that uses an electrical charge to cause the static grass to stand up in the glue when it's passed through a metal sieve (or can cause the grass to jump up from the plat and onto the miniature). For convenience on smaller miniatures, I tend to use pre-made grass tufts - it's much quicker and easier. But the Flockbox is great for making larger patches of grass, really showing nature gradually reclaiming this ruined town. I was also able to combine a couple of different colours of static grass together to add some variation.
I certainly could have gone further with the detailing for my Ruined Hamlet project - added some small bushes, vegetation growing out of the walls, highlighting the details a bit more, adding some additional colours to the stonework... but this was intended to be a relatively quick and dirty project, to get a good result on the tabletop without taking forever to complete. It took long enough as there was a big hiatus between construction and painting due to other projects and real life distracting me from it!
Overall, I'm very pleased with the finished result, as it looks effective and achieved my objective of not taking too much time. It was also very cost effective and made great use of a single plastic kit.
I think this shows the versatility of these ruined farmhouses from Warlord, as, with a little bit of cutting and ingenuity, I've ended up with a wide array of terrain to fight over that looks like it all fits together but is varied and visually interesting. Plus, the hard plastic is extremely robust and will stand up to having models placed all over it, something that some other materials struggle with. I've used this terrain in a few games prior to it being complete, and it works really well from a gameplay perspective. Now it will also look good whilst we're playing!
The Ruined Hamlet is a great terrain kit with a lot of versatility to it if you are willing to chop it up and experiment with different ways to put it together. The simple addition of a few pieces of balsa or lollipop stick helps transform the kit into an exciting setting for a skirmish game. Aesthetically, it looks great and the detail takes paint very well. These ruined farmhouses fit in perfectly in a variety of historical and fantasy settings and are well worth buying to accompany a number of mass battle or skirmish miniature games.