Pieces of Europe on your table

Pieces of Europe on your table

A Bengaluru company packs history, puzzles, and wargame terrains in these spectacular miniatures

An L-shaped tavern called Crooked Elbow.

It’s easy to mistake these miniatures of medieval European architecture for just decorative pieces. These are, however, gaming terrains.

Think of them as Lego blocks in wood, assembled to play wildly popular role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer on the tabletop. They are modular, so you can add floors to your house and towers to your castle or swap a plain facade with a ruined one to depict a town under siege. And they are functional too — you can open windows and doors or throw arrows and stones at enemies.

Design process

So the fit, versatility, and durability of these pieces become critical to the design process, when compared to 2D or plastic puzzles.

“It has taken us three years to design these terrains,” says Sunil Dev Prasanna of I Built It, claiming they are the only such company in India. A former architect, he started the company in Bengaluru with Zoeya Sinha, a computer engineer.

Six months were spent in finding the right MDF (medium-density fibreboard), which they had to finally import. “When we cut the local MDF with a laser, it would produce smoke and soot. Since we wanted to sell products in the UK and US, we had to meet the international safety norms. Plus, the local MDF didn’t have a uniform thickness, which meant, we could not standardise the laser-cutting time and our models would not be stable,” he explains.

Finding the right paint vendor who could provide the desired colours — slate blacks, wooden browns, stone greys, copper greens, and terracotta reds — took another three months.

After much tinkering with the laser machine, they went from engraving clean edges on walls and roofs to weathered lines, cracks, and grainy texture. “Gamers abroad add dirt and oil stain to these models for a war-torn look and it is laborious,” Sunil explains about why they launched pre-weathered sets.

Additionally, when you want to impress die-hard fans of Dungeons & Dragons, who UK companies like 4Ground and Sarissa Precision already cater to, you can’t go easy on the looks department.

“We studied the architecture of the said era, when toilets in the castle were nothing but a hole in the balcony, which dropped human waste in the moat below. We have retained the design elements and scaled them down by 64 times. Plus, our trebuchet (siege weapon) is modelled on a real one at Stirling Castle, Scotland,” he says. These stories are mentioned in the manual.

Getting these no-glue, no-machine models to assemble and function with ease took its own time. “It took at least 50-75 trials,” Sunil says with a laugh.

The toughest part was, however, to make these sets modular and also ensure they looked unique. “We introduced adapter sets, which lets you install an 80mm x 80mm watchtower on a 100 mm x 100 mm castle without compromising on the designs,” Sunil says on how they overcame the challenge.

It takes 200 to 400 pieces to assemble a house, held together by tiny wooden pegs.

They currently sell 20 sets of manors, towers, castles, and artillery, including accessories like tables, bookshelves, barrels, carts, gallows, and underground burial chambers.

A windmill that can power a blacksmith’s hammer will go on sale next year, also a cemetery and a fighting pit.

Check out the designs on ibuiltit.co

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