By Joseph Forster
I’ve just finished a massive 4Ground terrain project and I’m eager to share it with you! Today we’ll be looking at three large buildings from the 4Ground La Haye Sainte collection. This set of buildings is made to represent a farm in France that was the location for a notable battle in the Napoleonic wars, but the farm itself was built in the 16th century and updated in the 18th and it can easily be used for a battle board in New France in the 18th century. The French -Canadian architecture of the early to mid 18th century was very similar if not quite as grand.
We won’t be looking at it today, but the Cookhouse/Washroom building from this collection was one of the first buildings I acquired for my Blood & Plunder boards. I know these are “Firelock approved” as well because you can see some of them in the Beasts of War/OnTableTop videos!
First, I have to say these, are large and impressive kits. The complexity of these is many times higher than the New France Cabins I recently reviewed and they are considerably more difficult than the Ports of Plunder line (although they don’t require the application of Render Powder so that simplifies them a little). 4Ground rates these a difficulty level 5 but I don’t see similar ratings on the other produts I have on hand so I’m not sure that number is helpful.
The number of pieces and method of construction means these are kits you work on over several days as there are many pieces you have to let dry before you continue with assembly. These are not “one evening projects.”
Lofted Cow Shed
I started with the Lofted Cow Shed, which sounds much smaller and humbler than this building actually feels. This is a large structure! I’ll make some comments on the construction of this building and they will apply to all three as they shared a lot of features.
I used white glue, a knife, a couple rubber bands, and most importantly, clothespins for assembly of these kits. No paint or weathering was needed.
This is a large, open building and was probably the least difficult of the three. Each building has a set of stairs which is a little fiddly to assemble but not hard and everything locks together tightly.
The instructions are only pictorial and have no text. Each part is clearly labeled in the sprues and on the instruction sheet. Just like a LEGO set, you have to be very careful to not leave a piece out as you move through the steps.
Each wall has 3 layers, the interior, the red brick colored middle board which shows through the cracks and gaps, and the thin exterior layer.
The clothespins are essential for letting all these layers dry flat and tight.
When complete both the inside and outside have places where the plaster exterior has chipped off and the bricks are visible underneath.
Each building has a removable roof with an upper story loft which also lifts out.
The upper story is made of one long, open floor with railings on either side.
I found these upper stories to fit pretty tightly and they are difficult to get in and out but it’s very nice to have access to two full stories.
The interior is functional with moving doors and plenty of headroom for models. This building has an open air breezeway on one end with large double doors on one side.
This was the fanciest of the three buildings.
This kit had 29 sheets of mdf /cardboard! It’s massive!
I felt this kit was the most complex of the set with plenty of extra detail. It even had floor joists!
One issue I ran into a couple times building these was warpage. I don’t know if they glue makes the mdf warp or if the wood just a has a little bend in it but sometimes those bends were a big deal! I had to come up with creative ways to clamp things to let them dry in a couple of cases.
Here I used a couple of 4Ground kits piled on top of a pair of needle noise pliers to weight down the wall to meet the floor because the floor itself was slightly curved!
The size of this building is very impressive. Look at that little guy in the doorway. And he’s a French Coureur de Bois, on of the larger models!
Step after step and layer after layer! I didn’t count but I think this kit had around 200 pieces. Some of the pieces were so small too! Those little tiny windows along the top of the exterior wall have tiny window pane shapes to glue in the openings. Those were the most difficult to glue in without destroying the delicate mdf.
It felt like quite the accomplishment when I finished this one up! I believe I put about 5 hours of build time into this model!
And it looks impressive on the table! That’s a 4Ground house with 4Ground barrels and a 4Ground cart and 4Ground trees.
Lofted Corner Stable
I built this last and I forgot to take pictures of the building process but it was a very similar process to the
This one had some unique challenges with stalls and feeding troughs inside and the L shaped roof was a bit of a challenge. But it felt easy after the huge Farmhouse project!
On the Table
These are very impressive on the table. The three buildings together dominated a 6×4′ game mat.
This fit together nicely into a huge terrain feature but one is also plenty for a 3×4 board.
This could easily be a French town in New France, about to be raided by English Raiders out of New England during Queen Anne’s War! These will be great for the factions in Canada in Raise the Black!
Here I set up some English Raiders attacking some Canadian Militia.
The scaling is perfect, neither small or too large. These are the largest buildings I have for my Blood & Plunder boards right now and I’m looking forward to running some games with them on the table.
These are some great buildings! It’s now time for a nitty-gritty pros and cons list
These are obviously beautiful on the table. Lets look at some pros and cons and see if they would be a good purchase for you!
- Very functional. With full access to 2 stories, multiple structure sections and functioning doors, these are built for gaming.
- Beautiful on the table. They are truly striking.
- No render powder. I learned to make friends with the Render Powder, but it is a whole extra layer of effort and mess when making buildings from the Ports of Plunder line. It is nice to have no extra final step once the building is all glued together.
- Great for a theater that doesn’t have any many options. There are more options for pirate towns, docks, and Spanish style buildings but French architecture from the 16-18th century is a little harder to find.
- Great materials and clear instructions. These kits are work to build, but the instructions don’t really leave anything to be desired.
- Detailed. There is a little of detail on these buildings. More than the Ports of Plunder line and I thought they were great! These are nicer, but also considerably more work.
- Prepainted! It’s always awesome to not have to paint something! The colors and textures on these are really great.
- Sturdy. there’s a couple delicate pieces, but overall these are stout and sturdy. I don’t anticipate neededing to repair these down the road.
- Time consuming to build. These are complex kits and while I didn’t keep track, I think I spent at least 2 hours on the simplest and considerably more on the Farmhouse. For going a prepainted product, the still require some real effort.
- Price point. These aren’t cheap. The Lofted Cow Shed is $66 (the best deal in my opinion), the Lofted Corner Stable is $89 and the Farmhouse is $97 right now.. Considering these kits have upwards of 30 sheets of material, these are reasonable prices, but dropping close to $100 on a building that requires a considerable amount of hobby time to finish is worth considering. You can get the entire La Haye Sainte collection for $400 and it includes these 3 buildings plus a larger barn, some ponds, a piggery, a washroom and some walls. I think there’s some savings built into that package but it’s a major purchase!
- Upper story can be difficult to remove. I found the upper floor to be tight in all 3 buildings. I even sanded down the edges to make it easier to take in and out on the Lofted Corner Stables but it still is difficult to get in and out. I’m sure everything is the perfect size, but if the walls have any sort of curve, or the windows protrude a tiny bit on the interior walls, everything binds up and you have stretch the walls very carefully to remove the upper floor. Maybe it was my lack of precision but I was extremely careful on the final building I assembled in an effort to avoid this issue and it still came up.
I’m happy to have these in my terrain collection and I’m looking forward to raiding this prosperous farm! My English Raiders are ready!
If was to pick one for best value I would say the Cow Shed with Archway was the best value but the Farmhouse is certainly my favorite if price isn’t taken into account. It’s such an epic building!
If you’re looking for some good terrain pieces to fill out your Canadian battle boards, these are an amazing choice! They take some effort, but they look great!
Thanks to 4Ground for sending me these review copies.
Firelock currently doesn’t carry this product but you can order them directly from 4Ground Publishing or buy them on eBay, usually at a discount,