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985 hits since 2 Mar 2017
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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 4:53 p.m. PST

I hope to finish these buildings tonight. So i thought I'd lay them out and see how they look. I want to make a bases (or bases) for villages so i can drop the base and buildings and the scenics are done: side gardens, hedges, roads, etc.

This layout would have a road from left to right, with an intersection and a road headed off the top of the picture.

What do you think? Are the houses too close together? Is there enough room for gardens etc.? I'm nervous it;s too cramped?


Legion 402 Mar 2017 4:58 p.m. PST

Looks good to me !

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 4:59 p.m. PST

Looks nice, and there is no One Right Way. Spacing and roads vary in real life. I'm a little surprised to see what looks like a sort of residential island in your intersection. Mostly I'd expect a public space of some sort. But again, reality varies.

And I may be misreading you, but my advice would be to base them in a way which would let you rearrange them or use a a portion of them without rebasing later.

But this is fine. You've put some thought and a lot of work into them.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 5:29 p.m. PST

Here is the full idea:

Label each building with a number. Then make a base with "blank areas" marked with the corresponding numbers. So the houses can be removed. But then do all the scenery work: hedges, grass, roads, etc. so the whole village is one base piece plus the houses.

If it works out I want to do a second village with a stream running through it.

I'll probably put a church in the middle, but I need to buy one first!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 5:44 p.m. PST

Hmm. Very good ideas, the lot of them.

Mako11 Inactive Member02 Mar 2017 5:46 p.m. PST

Looks okay to me.

Unsure about the spacing issue, once gardens, etc., are added.

I recommend doing a paper, or cardboard mockup, just to see what you think, since I imagine that will help identify a lot of issues before you proceed in earnest.

I agree, the four little buildings in the center look a little odd. Perhaps add a couple more to stretch that section out, and make it look more like a residential block.

Might help to lengthen your town "board" a bit more, so it's a little more rectangular, if you decide to do that.

I've been toying with this too, for 1/144th scale, and am thinking about going with the 1.5:1, or 2:1 length ratio for my little village/town. Might even go as far as a two-section village, for a 2.5:1, or 3:1 ratio too, e.g. two separate base sections that can be used alone, or together, as desired.

I'm thinking about creating just the base, with roads, sidewalks (if any), foundations, grass areas, etc., etc., but keeping the buildings off the board, to make transport and storage easier. I'll probably number the undersides of the buildings, and just put them in place, as needed, for maximum flexibility, as mentioned above.

I've seen that done in various Youtube videos, and I think that is a winner.

That way, I can use them for several different village layout schemes, or individually, as desired.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 5:54 p.m. PST

As noted, there is no "right" way. That said, from my experiences traveling and staying in the French countryside, as well as reading from first-hand accounts and examining pics from both the 1940 and 1944 campaigns …

I like the idea of numbering the buildings and their "lots" on the village base. This also gives you the opportunity to make two or three different bases in time, so that even with only 1 set of buildings you are not always fighting over/in/around the same village.

The comment about the "public space" in the center bears consideration. From my observation, almost any time two roads meet there will be a small village. Each and every one makes a valid wargaming objective.

The next step up is most often a "market town". That means a market place -- an open public space, a plaza, in the center. In my experience it was usually square in shape. "La Place", the town square, is a reality, a prominent reality, in French village life.

Also common in pre-modern French (and other European) villages are public fountains. We lose sight in modern times that before modern plumbing, villagers needed a place to go to gather water. So European villages and towns usually had public fountains every two or three blocks. If your village/town is large enough to have a public park (not just a town square), it is also likely to have a fountain and a statue or obelisk or other memorial to saints or heroes.

Larger towns often did have islands of residences surrounded by roads. In France I see far fewer round-abouts than in the UK. Far more often in France I found angular islands. Less efficient from a traffic flow, but then traffic flow was not a dominant issue in most pre-modern French villages. The big traffic circles really only appear in the larger cities (at least to my observation).

I'll probably put a church in the middle, but I need to buy one first!

Yes. Many first hand accounts by American soldiers identify the issue, and I myself observed it before reading it stated … every village in France has a church. You look out across the horizon, and for all the trees and hedges and variations in elevation, you can spot where the villages are located by the church spires. They are a characteristic aspect of the French horizon.

When you add a church, also provide a churchyard. That means gravestones and crypts. Again, a fact of life in rural France. And something you can fight over/through.

Just some thoughts …

(aka: Mk 1)

Baranovich02 Mar 2017 5:58 p.m. PST

That looks just about right to me! As had been well articulated, there really is no right or wrong way. If you look at photographs of historical cities, going across the centuries, you will find a virtually endless arrangement of layouts for villages and towns. Even when you think that something doesn't look quite right when you lay it out, sure enough you'll find a village someplace somewhere that has its building laid out in exactly the same quirky manner!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Mar 2017 8:23 p.m. PST

Okay I made a tweak. Pulled out the central houses and thinned it a tad. The center will be green space for an common, a church or a fountain, which will be separate pieces like the houses. Now I just need to decide what to make the base out of.


Mako11 Inactive Member02 Mar 2017 8:40 p.m. PST

I'm considering 1.5mm – 2mm thick styrene for a base.

christot02 Mar 2017 9:50 p.m. PST

French villages are less likely to have a green space in the middle. Not something they did much. They WOULD almost certainly have a wwI war memorial somewhere. Personally I like your first version or the church idea, but it all looks good!

UshCha03 Mar 2017 2:59 a.m. PST

Its personal preference. I would close it up a LOT. Taticaly a vilage can add a lot to a game. If its dense enough, long range weapons cannot reach the interior buldings without coming into the built up area. Makes for more complex and interesting games. Also troops in upper stories can then have issues trying to shoor down into a street.

Just looked at google Normandy


This village is about 1 to 2km so not far off the ground scale size of yours I guess. Houses are generally 1 vehicel appart excepting roads. Much of the UK os similar.

Inevitably any simulation has compromises, you need to bear in mind what they are. Some folk make more or less compromises as they swing between the balance of art vs game. There is no "best way".

laretenue03 Mar 2017 5:53 a.m. PST

Your houses look great. When you first showed them on-line, I commented on the size discrepancy. Your point job has pulled them all together.

As others have said, villages generally spring up at road junctions, and as the settlement grows the main intersection usually remains at the centre.

I see a lot of French villages, in Normandy more than any other region. As in England, the parish church is almost always at the heart of the community, on or next to the central road junction. There is no tradition as in England of a village green. Instead expect to find a square, often with the road running around it, and a memorial, fountain, or whatever in the middle. Generally gravel, and very little grass. It might be ringed by small trees. This square is very often named 'Place de la Republique/Paix/Constitution' or perhaps after a local bigwig. The most conspicuous building, perhaps more modern than the church, will be the Mairie – the mayor's centre of administration. Depending on wealth and self-importance, this might be a neoclassical building or just look residential (in my little village it is a converted watermill). Near to this you might also expect to find a school.

If the village is large enough to have any businesses, you'd expect to see a cafe/bar around the square. Avoid making this look garish, particularly in the 1940s. Other small shops could include a bakery, butchers and other grocers or hardware shop – doubtless all a bit sad and rundown given the privations of the period. If the village is lucky enough to have a petrol station (with repair workshop for those local tractors) put this on the edge along a main road.

Forgive me if this obvious to everyone already.

laretenue03 Mar 2017 6:00 a.m. PST

And another thing: the front garden is less a feature of France, and too many can make a terrain look like an English suburb. Modest houses often have doorsteps right on the pavement (which can be quite narrow). A garden separating the front door from public space is therefore a bit of a statement, and a wall and/or railings/hedge will generally screen the house from view. Grander period houses may have a courtyard in front of the house, again enclosed by a full-height wall or outbuildings and a gate. Outside villages or on their edges there are also many fine stone farms built in this way.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Mar 2017 6:28 a.m. PST

Thanks all.

Yup, no front gardens for me. All the pictures show houses right on the street and, having traveled Europe quite a bit, that seems to be the norm, with front garden/yard being a very modern thing.

This village may have a business or two. One of the houses is really a garage and will be a petrol/garage. I think I'll have an inn, and maybe a bakery, but that will be it. My intention is for this to represent a small area, perhaps better called a hamlet.

laretenue03 Mar 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

If you are putting in a church, avoid (once again) the grassy English churchyard. French churchyards are gravel, with almost no space between the stone slabs that cover each burial. Generally crosses of stone or iron.

But many (maybe even most) churches have no churchyard, and the street or hard standing surrounds the building. Instead a walled cemetery, as described above, stands at the edge of the community.

Wayside crosses or shrines or not unusual, but the official memorial needs to be secular. Statues of WWI 'poilus' are very common, and I think that stone ones were less likely than bronze to be appropriated for other uses during the Second World War.

You don't mention your ground scale, but as regards size: my own little village is grouped around an asymmetrical crossroads, and the whole 'bourg' (church, mairie, school, former bar, and scattered houses and peripheral farms, stretches 300-500m around the key intersection. One km away is a hamlet of half-a-dozen houses and a chapel, again on minor crossroads. The next proper village, about one km NW, is really just a string of buildings on either side of the main road between Avranches and St-Lo.

If you're modelling this same part of the world, remember that apple/pear orchards are very much part of the landscape, and can be found around villages and sometimes in intervals within them.

But beware: houseproud gamers (like railway modellers) often go overboard with fussy picturesque details like gaudy shutters, windowboxes, etc. This is a rather camp ideal fantasy, not a real landscape. One functional element close to most villages is a water tower (Google 'chateau d'eau' for ideas). Add one to make your terrain look really French. Arty observers tended to like them too …

laretenue03 Mar 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

Sorry: 'Arty' as in Artillery, not poncey artsy-tartsy …

Andy ONeill03 Mar 2017 8:33 a.m. PST

I would think a church and bakery de rigeur.
The first set up with buildings in the center looks a bit odd to me.

Fred Mills03 Mar 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

Excellent commentary and ideas, especially the idea of numbering buildings while planning. I may try a second variant – creating a ruined structure the same size as the actual one, to give an option for destroyed and un-destroyed buildings.

donlowry03 Mar 2017 9:41 a.m. PST

Shouldn't the houses be more wall-to-wall? I'm no expert on European villages, but that is my general impression.

I agree that the center of town should be a church or fountain or statue (maybe a Napoleonic general on a horse, painted green, as in oxidized bronze).

Tommy2003 Mar 2017 11:39 a.m. PST

Agree with Don. Most of the villages in Normandy that I spent any time in had rows of houses that were adjacent to each other. Looking forward to seeing the completed project!

laretenue03 Mar 2017 12:38 p.m. PST

In a nutshell, the bigger the settlement the more buildings are likely to rub shoulders at its core. This will be more true of the central blocks of a little town like Ste-Mere-Eglise than of my tiny Commune. If you leave the church, mairie and school freestanding, close up the others around the central square and have houses, sheds etc more ragged away from the centre this should give the right effect.

I note what was said above concerning traffic roundabouts. Despite the Etoile in Paris being one of these on the grand scale, the French seem convinced that the roundabout was a British invention which they imported in the 1970s. Since then they have put them everywhere, often in ever more complex variations. Anyway, certainly out of place in the rural 1940s.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2017 2:36 p.m. PST

If we look at the GoogleEarth link UshCha provided, I would offer a few observations.

First, remember in examining this that we are looking at the modern Normandy. We might anticipate some adjustments as we go back in time. The roundabouts are likely to have been post-war additions. So also the complete typical suburban neighborhoods that have individual homes on consistently sized lots with driveways and yards. The large fields across the northern half of the area are also probably post-war, the smaller fields with heavier hedges in the SW of the map being perhaps better models of wartime fields.

The larger town in this view, Creully, is rather larger than what I think we are trying to model. It looks as if there used to be a town square (not square, but angular at least), but it has now been converted to a parking lot. Not too surprising.

Near the area labeled Les Planches, E of Cruelly, on closer zoom we find the hamlet labeled Columbiers-sur-Seulles. This may provide a very useful model for what we are looking to achieve. It is largely a hamlet built around some minor crossroads.

What I would observe:

- There is a very significant village church. But there are at least 4 other churches, in 4 other villages, within a 2km radius. This is what I would expect in the French countryside.

- As laretenue described, the churchyard has grave markers and crypts, but is not a well-kept grass yard.

- I may call this village a crossroads, but note in this village, as the many other hamlets and villages, that "crossroads" does not mean a T or an X. The roads may meet in an asymmetrical Y outside of the hamlet, run as a single main road through the hamlet, have some other road enter and join mid-hamlet, then split again into 2 or 3 roads beyond the hamlet. This again is what I would expect to find in the French countryside.

- There are buildings pressed side-to-side, more like row houses or one long building, even in this small hamlet. But only along the main road in the center of the hamlet. Beyond that the buildings are mostly free standing, even if they do occur in close clusters or front directly onto the street.

- There does not appear to be a green public space or park anywhere in sight in the whole area … except in the riverside campground, which is most certainly a modern addition.

- And there is a river or stream somewhere close by. Always a river or stream.

(aka: Mk 1)

Empires at War Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Mar 2017 3:08 p.m. PST

You can find many then and now pictures of Carentan which i found useful planning my Normandy buildings on this site-


Terraces is the way to go i would suggest with more stand alone buildings on the outer edges.

laretenue04 Mar 2017 2:47 a.m. PST

The Carentan pictures from Empires at W are indeed good, although they show a small town rather than the village I understood EC to be modelling. The only difference for purposes of this thread being that the concentrated core will be rather smaller.

I avoided the word 'terraces' earlier, since to me this calls to mind rows of joined frontages, all built together and uniform in height and style. French villages were not created by developers, but were just built and rebuilt organically. So put some of your houses together, certainly, but vary the shape, the line of the facade and even the orientation of the roof and this should give you a convincing jumble.

UshCha05 Mar 2017 2:38 a.m. PST

It was interesting to nore the new buildings were more widely spaced. The older (proably pre WW") are much closer.

Depending on ground scale a village of the size shown may only be 500mm on one dimention when you account for the older buildings. Also areyou doing it for model railways (Art dominated) of for fighting rhough. They force diffrent comproimises for the optimum solution.

Mako11 Inactive Member05 Mar 2017 4:19 a.m. PST

I'm primarily interested in fighting through, and/or around them, though want to make them visually attractive too, but probably not to the degree that a model railroader would require, since that's probably impractical for gaming.

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