My Favorite BUAs

The DBx family of rules and various other ancient/medieval rules allow players to position “Built Up Areas” on their game tables with various implications for battle.  BUAs in game terms are meant to represent anything from fenced or walled fields around crofts and villages to fortified encampments, hill-forts, castles, towns and even walled cities.  They hinder movement and provide various advantages to defenders.

I was never a big fan of the DBA-style BUAs…especially as the mandatory terrain type for Arable armies. But I loved building them and thought they looked great on the table-top. As Fanaticus Imperator, I maintained an eye-candy gallery of great BUAs created and submitted by the Fanatici.  Here I’m pleased to include my top ten personal all-time favorites (to date). The order is roughly chronological and does not imply a ranking or preference.

  1. Walled Middle-Eastern City (By David Kuijt).  Scratchbuilt using 1/285 middle eastern buildings from a forgotten source (J.R. Miniatures?).  It worked for both the ancient and medieval periods.

2.  Smarkand (Chris Brantley). knock-off version of David’s city..done with the same 1/285 scale buildings but executed specifically with the Central Asian city of Samarkand in mind.  The walls were foamcore and sprayed with texture paint.


3.  Aztec Template (David Kuijt).  David K. is an amazing scratch-builder.  I can’t begin to tell you how elaborate this Aztec temple is.  Constructed of layers of Sintra (PVC) board painstakingly measured and cut out in David’s shop, it includes hand carved Quetzalcoatl serpent heads that he had cast in medal, and color images that he researched, printed out and applied on both exterior AND interior surfaces of the temple.  It was so impressive that the Sintra company contacted him to build a larger scale version they could use in their exhibit at trade shows.


4.  The Acropolis (Phil Barker).   What better BUA for Phil Barker’s Greek  Hoplites than an actual Acropolis.  Scratchbuilt I believe using ancient Greek buildings from the Rod Langton Miniatures range.


5.  Pharos, the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Paul Hannah).  Words almost fail me on this one.  Created by Paul to go with his Ptolemaic Egyptians, I believe it even had a working LED light to complete the lighthouse effect.


6.  Pictish Broch (Barry Scarlett, aka “LewChips”).  The first of two BUA-favs created by Barry on this list.  Here he is experimenting with a multi-purpose terrain piece.  The two halves can be used separately as a Pictish camp.  Put together, they create a small fortified BUA.

7.  Constantinopolis (Chris Brantley).  I did this piece for a Fall of Rome campaign game at Historicon, and it served as an objective for the Goths, Vandals, and German armies flooding over the Roman frontiers.  Painted all white because I ran out of time.  Walls and buildings are all balsa wood, including the rough carved hippodrome.  The nice battlements on the walls are made with dental molding trim for doll houses.  I did a similar piece to represent Mediolanum (Milan), the then capitol of the western half of the Empire.

8.  Motte and Bailey Castle (Barry Scarlett, aka “LewChips”).  Another of Barry’s two in one scratch-built terrain pieces.  In this case, the Motte can be removed and used as a DBA camp.  Or together, the two pieces represent a BUA.  Motte and Bailey castles are one of my favorite scratch-built terrain subjects, although they are very difficult to represent effectively while remaining with DBA’s BUA size limits.  Barry did an amazing job keeping it small while still looking historical.

9.  Village (Timurilank).  One of the more prolific Fanatici, Timurilank constantly tinkers with historical periods, rules, campaign systems, and terrain and I’ve always been fascinated to follow his updates posted on the Storm Within the Empire blogspot. One day, he blew me away by turning a pile of scrap pink insulation foam blocks and shapes…


into this compelling European town through application of an amazing paint job.


10.  Castle (Timurilank).   Perhaps inspired by the Village result, Timurilank subsequently turned his attention to a slightly more ambitious project, which involved turning pink insulation blocks into a fully detailed castle suitable for the later medieval through modern periods.  The next three images reflect different stages of the project.


Here you can see the basic square shapes selected to comprise the castle.


After adding roofs and sizing the pieces, he began experimenting with different layouts, all the way making sure to keep the castle’s footprint to a legal BUA size.


Above you see the amazing detailing he and doors, stairs, crenelations, stones and textures.

Alas..I never saw the final result, but even in this incomplete stage, it easily rounds out my list of ten favorite BUAs.



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