Building Castle Sachsengang in 15mm

Back in autumn 2021, my wife and I went on a battlefield walk following the French advance into the area east of Lobau island on 5th July 1809 – the preparatory movements for the battle of Wagram.

Our last stop was Schloss Sachsengang, a small little castle that served as the last point of defense for a couple of companies of Austrian Jäger. I always wanted to make a small ladder campaign out of the whole action, but of course I would need the castle to play the final scenario. During the last weeks, I finally built the model!

Castle Sachsengang was built at the beginning of the 12th century. It was placed on a motte surrounded by a moat. The basic layout is polygonal with three towers, of which one is still standing. As was the case with all such structures, it was heavily modified over time. I could not find any images depicting the situation around 1800, so I used written descriptions from participants in the battle as well as photographs of today’s appearance.

Copperplate from 1672 by Georg Matthias Vischer.

The castle proper has large outbuildings to its northern side (which can be seen in the Vischer engraving on the right), which I didn’t include in the model so as to make it more versatile. I will use buildings I already have to depict those.

The castle itself is very small – the courtyard is only about 10m across and the whole structure is no wider than 30m. I still decided to scale it down from the figures scale, that is, not use a scale of 1:100 but one of 1:160 for the layout. In my games, I usually assume that one figure actually represents a couple of guys and reducing the footprint allows me to bring more of the surroundings on the table, making the scenario more interesting.

From Rudolf Büttner: Burgen und Schlösser an der Donau. Wien 1977.

I luckily found a layout plan in a book, so I printed it out in the desired scale and glued it on a sheet of foamboard, which would form the motte. I built the structure out of the sturdy cardboard I have come to love, which is called “Finnpappe” (“finnish cardboard”) in Austria. For the walls, I use 3mm thick sheets, which are astonishingly easy to cut but very sturdy and not prone to warping. It fulfills the same function as foamcore at a tenth of the price. The windows are 3D-printed, the doors are scratch built. The patches of stonework are cut out of a foil I had lying around – they will look like the are behind the plaster when the surface structure is applied.

The first challenge was how to paint the castle. Normally, I finish the whole structure and then just paint it. However, with this, I knew I would not be able to paint the walls and windows of the walls facing the courtyard as the space was too cramped. So I decided to built it in three pieces, paint them separately and then glue them together. Before painting, I coated them with filler to give them a plaster-like structure.

I then assembled the painted pieces and touched up any gaps with filler.

The next challenge was the roof. The polygonal layout makes it rather difficult to calculate the shape of the roof segments, which I usually do. So I just played it by ear and fitted them with a process of measuring and trial and error. I used 1mm thick sheets of the cardboard for this. This was easier than I thought and in the end I think it looks quite ok.

The final challenge was tiling the roof. As I do most of the time, I used tiny rectangles of cardboard and applied them piece for piece. I like the effect it gives more than that of the readily-available roofing material, which is also incredibly expensive. However, roof tiling in this way is a lengthy and mind-numbing process that can’t be done in one go, so it took me a week or so to finish it.

The last and more enjoyable step was modelling the base with the moat. I used 3mm thick plywood for the base, which incidentally led to a couple of funny (in hindsight) moments when I put the whole thing (base with castle glued on) on my commode and realised that the base had warped badly! Panicking, I asked my mates Sigur and Virago what to do and we discussed all kinds of tricks to straighten the plywood. However, when I had organised some screw clamps and proceeded to clamp the structure to my gaming table, I realised that magically, the warping had gone. Turns out the the surface of my commode is uneven…!

Anyway, I built up the outer banks of the moat with foamboard and filler and proceeded to painting the base. Originally, I wanted to use water effect for the moat, but then I thought that it would add height and make it look too flat in relation to the banks, so I just applied several layers of gloss varnish. (Also, I’m a bit afraid of water effects since I had some large cracks in a swamp I made, ruining the whole effect).

So, this is it: Schloss Sachsengang ready for gaming! Apart from the Hanslgrund scenario, I also want to use in for a fictional campaign I’m preparing at the moment. But more on this some other time.

Back to Napoleonics!

A couple of weeks ago I suddenly got bitten by the napoleonics bug again. After a long break of about a year, I’ve rediscovered my interest in the 1809 campaign. There were a couple of lose threads that I left open when I lost interest at the beginning of last year, so I decided to take one or two of them up. I even have some ideas for new things!

The first thread was the 6mm napoleonics project. When I left it, I had home-made rules that worked ok but did not really inspire me. Having recently discovered Drums and Shakos Large Battles (and played a game with my 15mm ACW figures), I wanted to give them a try with the 6mm napoleonics as the rules include modifications for playing them with one base representing a brigade instead of a batallion. I played the game remotely with Stephan in Sweden, but we both came to the conclusion that we didn’t really like the rules. They sound great in theory, but in practice, they offer far less decisions points than one would think. Also, the activation mechanic, which I love in any other Ganesha Games ruleset, makes the game very slow – there are too many units for such a detailed activation sequence.

My next attempt with 6mm will be Sam Mustafa’s Blücher. I probably should have started with this all along, as a lot of people swear by it. Let’s see how I like it.

However, playing Drums and Shakos Large Battles has actually reminded my how much I love the Song of… series of skirmish games, so I convinced Sigur to play a game of Song of Drums and Shakos, the napoleonic skirmish version of the rules. I also wanted to have a reason to play with Sigur’s magnificent collection of 28mm miniatures and buildings! The game was great fun and you can read Sigur’s detailed AAR on his blog:

By then, I was ready for a game of Sharp Practice! When I left off, I was thinking about a small campaign dealing with the fighting in the Traisen Valley. Sigur and I played one game, an AAR of which can be found here:

I had one more scenario for this campaign prepared, namely the skirmish for Mariazell. As all of the Traisen Valley scenarios, it is an asymetrical affair and quite difficult for the Austrians. Playing the French defender, I also had my difficulties, which resulted in a hard-fought battle. In the end, I conceded, as my situation did not look good. More importantly, I had taken an incredible amount of casualties, which, in a campaign context, would probably made me withdraw earlier.

Again, you can find a detailed AAR on Sigur’s blog:

It was a suspenseful game and a good reminder of why Sharp Practice is my favourite game. Now I’m definitely hooked again and want more of it!

One result was that I did some scratch buildings. First, I quickly knocked together an officer’s tent. I deliberately didn’t put any figures on the base so it can be used for all sides.

The second building project is a bit larger and not yet finished. It’s a model of Schloss Sachsengang, which you might remember from a battlefield tour I did some time ago. This will be used in another mini-campaign, based on the events we toured, but also in another, fictional campaign, more of which some other time…

3D-Printing an Austrian Village

For the last three months, I’ve been experimenting with my 6mm napoleonic project. I’ve played a number of games, first with DBN, then with an increasing number of modifications. More on that some other time.

When preparing the terrain, I realised that there were no 6mm buildings that would fit my requirements. As I did a bit of research on rural structures, I wanted my models to conform to the historical types. A couple of years ago, even before I got a 3D printer, I taught myself a bit of CAD, so I decided to try my hand at desigining 3D models. It turned out that it is not too complicated, as 6mm buildings don’t need that many details, and that I even enjoy it.

Austrian Grenzer moving into a village.

As others might be interested in those buildings, I’ve decided to put them up for sale on So, for the princely sum of $4.50, you can purchase a set of stl files for 11 buildings: a large church, modeled after the Aspern church, a small church or chapel, a granary, modeled after the Essling granary, six rural houses, a traditional barn and a windmill. The windmill has no sails, as this would be too fiddly to print at this scale – I recommend using strips of thin cardboard.

The buildings are intended for 2mm to 6mm scales. For my 6mm games, I reduce them to 80% size, as I prefer them to have a smaller footprint. All my test prints have been with a resin printer (Anycubic Photon), I can’t say how they would turn out with a FDM printer, but I guess details will be lost.

They would fit from around 1700 up to 1945 for Austria and Bavaria.

I hope you like them and maybe even consider getting a pack for your own games from here:

1809 Terrain 6 – Town Houses

During the 1809 campaign, there was a lot of fighting in urban areas – Ratisbon, Landshut, Ebelsberg, Groß Enzersdorf, to mention just a few. How did town houses in Bavaria and Austria look at the time?

Historical town centre of Landshut, with buildings going back to the 16th century. Image from wikipedia.

Urban architecture of the time can be divided in several categories: There is religious architecture, which I have already covered elsewhere, there are municipal and administrative buildings and there are the palaces of the nobility. However, the by far largest group is made up by so-called “Bürgerhäuser”, bourgeois or citizen’s houses. This ist not only, even not primarily, an architectural category, but also a legal and social one.

Concerning its legal meaning, for a long time, being the citizen of a town was tied to owning a dwelling space (with local differences on whether this meant owning an actual house, a house floor or being a rightful tenant). Citizenship meant the right to political participation, but also the obligation to pay taxes and to participate in communal duties, such as defending the town in case of war.

Up to the 19th century, the bourgeois house contained, like the farmer’s house, not only living spaces, but also a working spaces and sometimes a shop floor. It was the dwelling place for the house community, which not only meant blood relatives (usually three generations) but included servants and staff.

Gillis van Tilborch: Farmer’s Household (17th century). Image from Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien.

In German, for most of the time the word “Haus” (house) was used to designate this ensemble, the word “Familie” (family) only being introduced in the second half of the 18th century. The house was seen as a self-sufficient entity: The inhabitants produced goods (or traded them) and they had the right to use communal land to grow foodstuff. As such, the house was the organisational fundament of the economy. It was also the basic cell of society and sovereignty. The paterfamilias or housefather had patriarchal authority over his wife, while the pair of them had parental authority over the children and the servants.

This means that the architecture of the bourgeois houses was determined by its function. Several types can be distinguished. The most basic form is the so-called “Ackerbürgerhaus”, or famer-bourgeois house. This is the dwelling space of landowners who earn their living through farming. Here, the boundaries between rural and urban architecture were blurred. Such types of buildings could also be found in large villages, while small towns were dominated by them. In large towns around 1800, they were mostly confined to the periphery. Their actual shape was determined by the type of agriculture practised. For example, in some regions of Lower Austria, “Weinhauerhäuser” (vintner’s houses) were very common. They often developed out of a “Streckhof“, with working spaces arranged behind the narrow front.

Vintner’s house. Purbach, late 17th century. Image from Paläste und Bürgerhäuser in Österreich.
Ackerbürgerhäuser in a small town (Rust). Image from Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.

Another very common type was the “Handwerkerhaus” (artisan’s house). Its basic shape goes back to the Middle Ages and was internationally astonishingly consistent. The ground floor was made up by a vault, which contained the workspace and shop floor. The top floor contained the living quarters. Sometimes, other rooms were added in the backyard, which were connected with arcades.

Artisan’s house in Vienna. Built in the 17th century, façade modified in the 18th century. Image from Kräftner: Bürgerhäuser.

The “Patrizierhaus” (patrician’s house) was owned by a rich merchant or trader. Large, massive, and often furnished with a decorated façade, they were characterised by a spacious hall at ground level and a cellar, where goods were stored. The top floors contained the representational and living spaces.

Patrician’s house in Bruck an der Mur, late 15th century. Image from Kräftner: Bürgerhäuser.

Lastly, tenement buildings slowly became common, providing space for the many people living in towns. In Vienna, for example, from the 16th century up to the end of the 18th century, the government obliged house-owning citizens to provide living spaces for clerks and servants working at the imperial court (the so-called “Hofquartierpflicht”), which fostered the building of houses for tenants.

All those types have their origin in the Middle Ages. However, as towns are living and changing organisms, buildings were destroyed, newly erected, and modified according to needs and tastes. Therefore, in many towns different types and styles could be found next to each other.

For a long time, houses were built in narrow spaces with the gable end facing towards the street. Façades were irregular and asymmetric, often featuring projecting alcoves. 

Late medieval houses (Mödling). Image from Andraschek-Holzer: Das Bürgerhaus.
Medieval houses with renaissance façades (Krems). Image from Andraschek-Holzer: Das Bürgerhaus.

During the 18th century, however, houses began to be built with the eaves towards the street. They became wider and the façades took on a more regular, symetrical look. In some cases, several old houses were united and fitted with a false façade, often with blind windows, to bring them up to the new style. Baroque façades were decorated with elements made of plaster or stucco, such as cartouches and columns. 

Obernberg am Inn, houses going back to the Middle Ages, with elaborate baroque façade. Image from wikipedia.
Baroque house in St. Pölten. Image from
Late baroque façade on a house from the 16th century (Zwettl). Image from Kräftner: Bürgerhäuser.
Ensemble of houses from the 18th century (Krems). Image from Kräftner: Bürgerhäuser.

In Austria, the 1780s saw the emergence of the so-called “Plattenstil” (panel style), with smooth, regular panels and a bright, single-coloured coat of paint – in Austria, but also in Bavaria often in a yellow ochre called “Schönbrunner Gelb” (or “Barockgelb”).

Viennese house in Plattenstil. Image from wikipedia.
The so-called “Dreimäderlhaus” in Vienna, a typical example of a late-18th-century Austrian bourgeois house. Image from Wien Museum.

While churches and palaces have often been depicted, there is an unfortunate dearth of contemporary visual representations of bourgeois houses. However, surviving examples can still be found in many towns today.


Andraschek-Holzer, Ralph (ed.): Das Bürgerhaus. Wohnen und Arbeiten. St. Pölten: NÖ Landesregierung 2019 (available online)

Kräftner, Johann: Bürgerhäuser. Ensembles, Einzelbauten und Details in Österreich und den angrenzenden Gebieten seiner Nachbarländer. Wien und München: Herold 1984.

Paläste und Bürgerhäuser in Österreich / Noblemen’s and Citizens’ Town-houses in Austria / Hotels Particuliers, Palais et Maisons Bourgeoises en Autriche. Wien: Notring 1970.