Turf Fortress Camp scratch-built by Barry Scarlett

Creating DBA Camp Elements

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The DBA rules require that each army include an encampment (unless the army has two or more warwagons), which is deployed on good going on the player's base (or waterway/beach) edge.

The DBA 2.2 rules specify that the camp must be sized to "fit into a rectangle the length plus width of which totals no more than 4 element base widths"   This is smaller than provided for in the DBA 2.0 rules, which allowed for 6 base widths of length plus width.  Most gamers continue to use their larger DBA 2.0 camps, which can be made legal for tournament play by overlapping the Board edge so that only 4 element base widths (e.g. 160mm at 15mm scale) are actually physically on the game board during play.

As a practical matter, a camp can be as small as necessary to contain the required defender or camp follower element (e.g. 40mm x 20/30/40mm), which also makes it that much more difficult for an attacker to come into contact with.

It is assumed that a camp is garrisoned by camp followers (CF) unless a player specifies otherwise.  Camp followers can be modeled in the camp scenic, or room can be left to place a base of camp followers on the camp (which allows their removal if destroyed).  Or the figures can be omitted altogether, since it is easy enough to keep track of whether or not the camp followers have been put to the sword during the course of a game.

For many Fanatici, designing and scratch-building a camp can be as much or more fun than collecting and painting the army it accompanies.  Some camps are marvels of scenic detail worthy of museum display.   Other gamers focus more on the gaming, and use very simple, generic camps.  In a pinch, you can also use just a simple square of cloth or an extra base or piece of wood cut to the appropriate size.

For inspiration, the DBA rule book gives a number of examples of camps, including a simple earthwork or pallisade, a wagon laager, a hill fort, a brush boma, medieval tents, Mongol yurts, and a square of kneeling camels.  Collected here are a number of other suggestions for DBA camps, including techniques for scratch-building tents, use of specialty figures, optional Paper Camps and links to other resources:

Eric Lindberg: My 15mm Later Imperial German army left me with a bunch of spare command and artillery crew figures, which I made into a council of war. These figures are all variously standing around looking buff, pointing into the distance, or barking orders. By arranging them in a loose circle, they seemed to be having an animated discussion. Some scraps of basswood and some leftover model railroad junk provided a table for them to be gathered around (with the Landsknechts' contract laid out on it), some crates and barrels for them to use as impromptu chairs, and a golden retriever hiding under the table. The result is wonderfully busy, though there isn't any room for DBA camp followers.

Nick Meredith: My favourite is one I produced in 25mm for my Selucids under DBA. It was before camp sizes were defined in the rules - so I produced a model about 10 inches x 8 inches. It makes the little DBM elements look silly - but I had fun making it.

I also have a Neo-Elamite DBM army.....At the Louvre in Paris (the main source of information for this army) I found an Assyrian carving which clearly showed 2 Elamite style Kallapani Chariots propped against each other by their draw bar, while some soldiers sheltered between them to cook and eat. Now there's an ideal scene - easily modelled and I know that it's authentic. One base like that is all that is needed when added to a few generic bases to make a full camp.

I would suggest looking at the DBM rules for baggage and following them. Lots of DBA players make the switch into DBM later - and a few useful baggage elements are a good start. My advice would be to make a few generic pieces of baggage, plus one or two which are specific to the army. As an example a flock of sheep or goats can be used with virtually any army of any period. A Medieval tent is much more restricted. [Editor's note: In the De Bellis Multitudinus rules, in lieu of camps, each general has a 40mm square stand of baggage, which serves a similar function.]

Ken Blackley: For my Teutonic Order I use a "camp" that really isn't. I bought a wizard fantasy figure who's an evil-looking guy in robes being carried in a sedan chair that's been lugged by a pair of slaves. I then surrounded them with a bunch of dismounted brethern in plate armor with their arms folded in prayer. It looks great! And it definitely captues the Evil of the [Tuetonic] order that's been so much the topic of debate lately .

Bob Beattie: Camps are fun to make. You can be very creative. For my Romans I have a palisade made from sticks, with a ramp inside for the camp followers to stand on. Bill Greenwald from the Boston area made some interesting camps which he sold. For Vikings he had a piece of wood with some water area and beach area and two ships attached. He made medieval tents with string around the camp area with banners attached, for nomadic armies, he had two wagons with teams formed into a laager. He sold sheets of cut out Roman, medieval and Yurt tents.

The one problem I have found with camps (this is especially true for those of us with Dunn-Laps disease -- our bellies done lap over the table edge) is that you are always bumping the camp and pushing it around as you lean over the table. I like to set up the camp at the start of a game, and then replace it with a equal size rectangle of brown cloth to mark the spot. If action comes that way, then put the camp back down on the cloth.

I have seen some camps for 15mm figures, done in a smaller scale -- 6mm or 2mm. This way you can make a much "bigger" camp to fit into the same area. Rows of tents, or a full size fort, or a complete barbarian encampment, with animals, tents, and non-combatants.

Chris Brantley: Here are my DBA camps to date:

  • Early Imperial Romans -- a row of three Roman tents. Looking ahead, I plan to use POTN's Roman engineers in a camp depicting the raising of a log pallisade.

  • Viking -- a simple bivauoc with hobbled pack horses and plundered lifestock (cattle, sheep, goats, & pig). I feel that a camp full of plunder is certainly appropriate for Vikings. More recently, I've modeled a beached Viking longship (from the Essex Dark Ages 15mm boat series).

  • Pre-Feudal Scots -- simple ox cart guarded by two grey haired veterans.

  • Early Burgundians -- a two-horse wagon, with a peasant bowman and jester-like halbardier standing in the bed of the wagon as if making a last ditch stand.

  • Sub-Roman Brits  -- a scratch-built turf fort.

  • Caledonians/Picts -- a scratch-built pallisade comprised of toothpics and a crannog (lake dwelling).

  • Teutonic Orders  -- a two story log tower with arrow slits modeled on the fortress in the Society of Ancient's Wargamer's Guide to the Baltic Crusades booklet.

  • Hittites -- a corner of a city wall on a stand decorated with a palm tree.

My camps vary in size, although most are 80/90mm by 60mm.

Charles Kirke: Here's a simple, quick, and cheap idea for creating a pallisaded camp.

Cut a base out of cardboard of whatever dimensions you want. Mix flock, sand, and wood glue into a putty-like consistency. While it is still malleable, lay it on with a spatula until you are satisfied that it creates the impression of a bank around the edge of the camp.

Before it dries completely, stick the ends of cocktail sticks into the bank to represent sharpened stakes, sticking out towards the enemy. It looks better, if you have the time, if you "sharpen" them with a craft knife so that they look a bit like miniature pencils (ie cocktail sticks can look too smooth). Let it dry.

Varnish, or cover with Klear. This gives a uniform surface to paint. When it is dry, paint, but leave the ends of the stakes unpainted, thus giving the "new-pealed" look to the ends of the stakes.

Texture by painting some or all of it it with wood glue, diluted a little with water, and then dipping it into a container of flock. Leave to dry overnight and then blow off the surplus flock.

Stan Olson: Here's some ideas for making/constructing DBA Camps for some Asian armies in 15mm scale. Locally there are some Chinese gift shops. These carry very small clay figures, buildings and boats sold at these shops. Check your own China Town strip malls. Buildings include chinese suburban gated walls, pagodas, gazebo's, and Asian Bridges. Figures include lounging females with fans. Boats include small sanpans. These are small enough to put a couple on your DBA Camp-base, and still have space for a defender element. These would be useful for Burmese and Chinese or Tibetan armies. The figures are pretty close to 15mm scale but bring along a real 15mm figure to compare before buying. They are made of clay, so paint them, up.

Douglas Barker: Another option is to go to the local pet store and buy an aquarium decoration. I got a Norman-type castle for Cdn$10. Also available were Byzantine-style castles and Asian Pagodas. And you don't have to paint them.

Michael Ng: I was kind of working on my most recent acquisition (trimming the few bits of flash there are) when I looked at this 3D puzzle I have on my desk. It's a miniature replica of the Arc de Triumph in France and I thought "Hey, that's about the right size for a DBA camp." It's a little larger than what the book recommends but an element of Psiloi fits in there snugly. I'm not sure if you guys have seen or built any of the 3D puzzle buildings but there's a line of mini puzzles and like I said the Arch is the one I have. I think it would make a rather decent looking camp for Early Imperial Romans (Those Romans and their arches.) and it's a rather cheap and non time consuming camp to build.

Larry Nellinger, Jr.: Here is another quick and easy camp suggestion--cardboard cut and assemble dioramas like the ones made by Usborne. They are technically HO scale but work well wth 15mms. I have a Viking village that comes with a long boat. The boat is supposed to be at port and is only from the waterline up w/sails furled. The boat measures 175mm from stem to stern. Also individual building out the kit woud be usable for Viking/Germanic peoples, particularly the great hall. There are several other companies who make these kits and they are available in most bookstore in the hobby/craft sections. There are also medieval kits that include knights tents.

Bob Beattie: A followup to Larry's idea. I have taken a particular building from these books, e.g., the tents from the Medieval town or village, glued them to a sheet of paper (so they are not in the book) and taken to commercial xerox service and had them blown up about 150% to make them 25mm scale.

David Kuijt In working on my Lithuanian camp (a swamp with decorative Teutonic Knight corpses), I've found a wonderful way to represent water. Hotmelt glue is quite clear; if pressed down under a mylar sheet so the surface is smooth, it makes beautiful water. Better still, it should be possible to have 3-d "deep" ponds, with little stones and weeds in the bottom. I'm going to cut a pond, paint the inside in dark/murky mixed browns, put a couple of catlitter stones in the bottom, then some snippets of several colours of greens and a few tan/yellow threads. Finally, smooge enough hotmelt glue in the hole, pop an oversize lid of mylar on top and quickly press down with some flat surface. When the glue cools (a few seconds at most) trim the mylar to fit the edge of the pool, and presto! Instant pool! Better still, sometimes small bubbles are trapped, making it look even more like water.

David Kuijt: I just came back from a mall-surveying mission, and I popped into a store called the Imaginarium (one of the cool-toy-science type stores, if you're not familiar with it). In this store I found a product called "Expedition" for budding archaeologists. There were three kinds -- underwater, or paleontology, or MAYAN RUINS.

The Mayan Ruins "Expedition" cost $8, and you get a sort-of kit where you "dig out" a Mayan temple, then "reconstruct" it, and finally decorate it a bit, and display it. The Mayan Temple is an absolutely stunning little camp, if you go by what is shown (in several stages of construction) on the box. The final result is about 3" square, which is also a really nice little camp size (80mm square, approximately).

So anyone out there with a Mayan army, check it out. I would have bought it myself for my Aztecs, but I already have two camps for the one army, and I still haven't fought a single battle with the brightly-painted little bloodthirsty dudes, so I thought that having three camps for a single army I hadn't played yet might be overdoing it a trifle.

Martin Schmidt: Ever wonder how to paint a Mongol or steppe nomad yurt for your DBA camp or the gaming table? Here are a couple of real life examples, on display in Xinjiang China.


Creating Medieval Tents

Medieval tents are a colorful addition to any DBA camp element. You can buy precast resin tents from a variety of terrain manufacturers or make your own. For visual inspiration, try Prof. Stephen Bloch collection of Surviving Medieval Pictures of Tents and Pavillions.

John Hills has prepared these paper medieval tents (pavillions) suitable for DBA. Just print (on a color printer), cutout, and join together with tape.

Here are two suggested methods for scratchbuilders:

Dave Matthews: Get some cloth. Mix some white glue and water together (2 parts white glue, 1 part water). Soak the cloth in it, then let it dry over a frame shaped like you want. Then paint it. Or, you can use tissue paper over a frame, and brush a diluted glue over it.

From Martin Costa: I find Sculpie (TM) works great. Shapes like clay, bakes like a poptart. I made a 1/300 scale medieval encampment (about a dozen + tents) in about a half hour while chatting on the phone. Find some at a craft/art store.


Using Specialty Figures

Another way to make a camp element distinctive is through use of specialty figures (e.g. slaves, jesters, priests, hostages, slaves, a harem, animals, weapons-racks, etc.) You will have to search for specialty figures, but they are available from a number of manufacturers including.

Corvus Belli offers a 15mm baggage range with sheep, cows, peasants and an ox cart.

Essex offers an assortment of ancient equipment including slaves (regular, Chinese and Arab), pack animals and camels, mule carts, ox carts, and wagons. In their medieval line, they sell various artillery, serfs with baggage, praying and militant monks, and a carracoccio or 4-wheeled wagon with monks displaying a holy banner on an altar mast. Essex also sells a variety of shields.

Hallmark Miniatures (available from Magister Militum) offers various wagons and unique castings such as gibbets and pillories, including "unfortunate on gallows."

Hovels offers obelisks, sphinx, and pyramids which may be a bit large, but which would definitely add color to an Egyptian army camp.

Irregular Miniatures sells a line of 15mm animals including cattle, sheep, lambs, pigs, goats, and dogs that are well scupted and make excellent additions to a DBA camp or DBM baggage element.

Magister Militum offers the former Chariot ranges of Equipment and Animals, which range from pack camels to Assyrian/Persian siege towers.

MinifigsUSA offers a set of 15mm medieval civilians, including mounted/dismounted versions of a King and Queen, maids, kids, merchants, Old Hag, ladies-in-waiting, farmers using hoes, scythes, carrying sacks, etc.

Museum Miniatures offers ranges of fortifications and camps, boats, equipment and various captives, male or female, clothed or unclothed.  One of my favorite Museum offers are the coracles, complete with rowers.

Old Glory (15s) offers DBx camp sets and captive bags suitable for the ancient, dark ages and medieval periods.

Path o' the North offers a special pack of Gothic civilians.

Peter Pig sells a variety of 15mm specialty packs in their Ancients and Miscellaneous series including peasants throwing rocks, pack camels and handlers, plains buffalo, wolves, and naked women.

Stone Mountain Miniatures also sells 15mm cattle and buffalo figures that can be used in Ancient/Medieval wargaming.

If you know of any interesting 15mm specialty figures that you can recommend, drop me a note at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.


Paper Camps

If you don't mind a two dimensional camp, try Fanaticus' collection of DBA Paper Camps. They are sized to print on an 8&1/2 by 11 inch sheet, drawn in top-down perspective and scaled to 15mm. Just print them out on a color printer on good paper, mount them on thick card or foamcore, cut them out, and play:

  • Camp Sheet #1 (Log stockade, wagon laager, log embrasure, stone tower, spikes, Roman tents, medieval pavillions, and beached longship).
  • Camp Sheet #2 (Castle, crannog, Celtic roundhouse, stone pyramid, fortified manor, horse herd, Greek/Roman villa, wagon laager)

Other Resources

The Fanaticus DBA Camp gallery has hundreds of samples for ideas and inspiration.

Bob Beattie has posted photos with examples of several colorful DBA camps on his Intro to DBA--Camps page.

David Kuijt has posted photos of his camps and baggage.

The Nunawading Wargames Association has published a pictorial essay on Impressive Baggage Camps for DBM that may give you some ideas.


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Last Updated:  1 Feb. 2008

Comments, suggested additions, and/or critiques welcome
Direct them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.