Category Archives: Ancients

Constructing a Caravanserai

2015-02-10 14.16.20

Constructing a Caravanserai or ‘Serai’

Caravanserais were a common feature of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asian landscape from Medieval through to near modern times. They were more often than not quite simple affairs designed to provide security and refreshment along the many trade routes. They were usually spaced a days travel apart or at major crossroads. If the region was disputed these compounds could take on a more martial role with stronger and higher walls as well as fortified towers and parapets.


This design is for one of the more common examples. This one has been constructed for North West India but with some simple adjustments, mainly to the gateway it could easily be made to represent one of the multitude of other caravanserais in other areas. This basic structure has a basic hollow box square compound with four walls surrounding a courtyard containing the well.


The dimensions have been specified to enable decent space for figures to be placed without significant danger of them falling from the walls.


  • Cutting board or surface
  • Metal straight edge ruler with handle
  • Sharp knife/scalpel (preferably with new blade)
  • Ruler + pencil
  • Set- square
  • PVA wood glue
  • Masking tape
  • Plaster/filler with the means of applying it such as a spatula, paint knife or large brish
  • Sand to mix into plaster
  • 30mm circular tube or compass (or similar) to describe the arches
  • Sewing pins (small heads)


5mm Foam-board

Exterior Walls

  • 2 x 300mm x 100mm
  • 2 x 290mm x 100mm

Interior Walls

  • 2 x 290mm x 70mm
  • 2 x 190mm x 70mm

4 archways should be cut into each of the interior walls where they face into the inner courtyard – except for the wall containing the main gate. These archways will need to be 50mm at their highest and 25mm wide.


  • 2 x 290mm x 50mm
  • 2 x 190mm x 50mm

Courtyard Well

  • 4 x 60mm x 10mm

Baseboard – thin ply

  • 320mm x 320mm

Coloured felt or fine striped material for interior curtains

Mount-board card for constructing main gates 2 x 90mm x 70mm as well as interior doors (2 x 40mm x 25mm) – refer to the sample templates. Alternatively 4Ground do a very useful set of 12 doors.

Mount board or thin balsa for the tiling around the top of the courtyard well (4 * 6mm x 60mm). Lightly score tile impressions into the card using a ball-point pen and ruler.


  1. Glue exterior walls using the set-square to ensure edges are at 90 degrees to each other.
  2. Tip – use masking tape to secure the joins whilst the glue is drying. Joins can be reinforced by bracing them with the small-headed sewing pins through the two pieces of foam board.
  3. Glue in long interior walls and roofs.
  4. Glue short interior walls and roofs.
  5. Attach gateways and interior doorways.
  6. Dress walls with plaster/sand mix.       Apply with reasonable coverage using a spatula or paint knife. Don’t be afraid to create texture by dragging the knife or stippling with a thick brush.
  7. Tip – to achieve a more ‘organic’ and slightly worn appearance use your knife to remove the straight corners and apply slight divots into the corners prior to applying any of the plaster. This removes the rather engineered sharp corners and suggests a more mud/adobe feel once the plaster has been applied.
  8. Gently sand down the walls to remove any excess flaky plaster
  9. Tip – once sanded down apply a watered down PVA covering to the entire model to secure the plaster before any paint is applied. This should protect the model from any rough handling and stop the plaster falling off.
  10. Assemble courtyard well and attach top tiles.
  11. Paint. If PVA has been applied to the entire model earlier then spray paints can be used without damage to the foam core, otherwise apply a simple undercoat. Use of progressive lighter shades either by angled sprays, or dry-brush will finish the main painting required for the walls and walkways. Paint the gateways and doors a dark brown weathered wood effect.
  12. The baseboard should be dressed and painted as appropriate to the region which it is intended for.
  13. Cut and attach the coloured felt to the interior faces of the arches surrounding the inner courtyard.


Use of this model in Wargames

This model was originally constructed to support my interest in the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). Two of the earlier battles involved serais, the Battle of Budli-ke-Serai on 8th June 1857 (the give away is in the name), and the Battle of Najafgarh on 25th August 1857. In both incidents the serais were central to the Mutineers battle plans representing the focus for their defences.


Attachments to come include;

  • Templates for walls, roofs, and well
  • Templates for gates and doors

Photos of finished model

2015-02-10 14.17.33


2015-02-10 14.17.14

2015-02-10 14.16.49

2015-02-10 14.15.29

Hail Caesar Conventions

I enjoy playing the game of Hail Caesar but I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules as I play them are not the same as how others play them.  In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if every different group has their own interpretations and conventions in place and isn’t aware of how they are different to others (or sometimes even the rulebook!).  I have this belief based upon an experience with Black Powder (Hail Caesars parent rules).  I went to a fantastic Napoleonic game last year and it was only about 4 hours in that the four of us in our section of the battle realised that we had been using 4 different sets of rules up to that point.  Fortunately due to the light hearted nature of the event it was of little consequence but amusing all the same.

I believe that this is because the rules are somewhat loose or relaxed in how they are written and really designed for play between ‘like minded individuals’ rather than for tournament play.

In this section I’ll endeavour to capture the various conventions which I’m currently applying, and will add more as and when I remember them, or have to define new ones for unforeseen events.

Base sizes;

Standard Infantry units are 160mm wide, and between 40mm to 80mm deep.  Most of my figures are on 40mm square bases held in unit trays 4 bases wide and 1 to 2 bases deep.  Coming from a WAB background most of my figures were originally based in 4s to a base, but with these rules I have adopted a looser basing set up for medium infantry types which I base 3 to a base.

Standard Cavalry units are around 150 to 160mm wide, and between 50mm to 100mm deep.  As before most of my figures were originally based for WAB so are on 50mm squares with 2 figures to a base.  My units are 3 bases wide and either 1 or 2 bases deep all put onto a unit movement tray.

My Light Chariots are based on 40mm wide by 60mm deep bases and 4 bases wide to a unit.

My skirmishers are usually classified as ‘small’, and on 120mm wide unit trays.  The figures are based on 1p pieces which socket into the unit tray which has an erratic distribution of the holes.

I also have a small tray which looks like a 2 figure skirmish movement tray as it only has 2 small 20mm squares on it.  These trays are for holding the unit status dice and current damage.  The status dice have the different states for the unit (Shaken, Disordered, Shake & Disordered, Close Shields, Open Order, Close Order).  This saves having to have stacks of different chits to search through and I always know that the right counter so long as I have one of these dice.  We designed the images and then sent them through to Warbases in a bulk order.  We had previously done this for Pike and Shotte and found them invaluable so did it for Hail Caesar once we started using the rules. The other hole just holds a standard D6 – usually in a similar colour to the status die and this records the amount of damage the unit has taken.  Since 6 seems to be the standard maximum for units this works OK at the moment, though should we come across units with higher stamina ratings I may have to rethink this bit. 😉

Most of my unit trays are sourced through Blotz under their wargamers accessories section

The dice can be sourced through Warbases the guys there are very helpful and were happy to give guidance.

The Clubs game at Warfare 2015 – Cremona 69AD

Four of us took a large 28mm Hail Caesar game to Warfare at Reading this year.  With over 1500 miniatures on a 12 foot by 6 foot table we had a great time.  Thanks to everyone who came over and said hi.

A lot more photos can be found on the SAD Wargamers website;

and a few more on the Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Facebook page;