Reviewed By Dom Sore
I play a lot of Saga, the Dark Age Skirmish game by Studio Tomahawk and Gripping Beast. I also have a long term goal of refighting the Battle of Brunanburh as it is presented in the Warlord Games Hail Caesar rules. That led me on a hunt for a suitable fort/encampment to use on the battlefield. I did not want a full hill fort, or early castle, so hit upon the Sarissa Precision Dark Ages range, specifically the 28mm Palisade sections. These are great for Saga and Hail Caesar and a number of other rules and periods, a wooden fort is a wooden fort after all!
I ordered one Wooden Palisade stairs (J001), two Wooden Palisade Corners (J002), one Wooden Palisade Gate (J003), three Wooden Palisade ½ Wall Straight (J004) and three Wooden Palisade Wall Straight (J005) – I did not order the Palisade Watch Tower (code J006) and I have no idea why! All put together they cover over two feet long of table space, once assembled, based and painted, more than enough for my needs, although as a gamer I am not sure that “need” is ever satisfied.
The kits are made from laser cut MDF and come with instructions for fitting. They also come with integral bases that are used in putting the pieces together and to provide support. If you get one of the older Stairs kits the instructions are numbered five through seven, this is a simple typo that you can ignore. In the same manner the instructions for the Gate may say they are for a Corner, again simply ignore the typo. All the kits that form the outer walls have bases that are the same width, meaning that as long as you build these correctly they will form a near seamless fit on a flat surface. You will need to add some weight to the base, I am using my normal sand base mix, otherwise they are a touch top heavy. The extra weight aids the stability of the individual pieces on the tabletop.
The Steps kit has the second most total pieces and is the only one you really need to do in two parts. The instructions tell you to let the main assembly dry and then attach the remaining steps. I would encourage you to do so as it is much easier that way. When attaching the rear support the thick edge goes towards the opening at the top of the stairs. Once put together they feel sturdy; although the steps are not wide enough to take any of my based figures they do seem in proportion. Next up I tackled the two corner units. With a total of six pieces they are deceptively simple and effective. The main wall part of the corner has been cut in a way that allows it to be bent into the corner shape using the walkway supports and slots in the base to help you. You will need to provide some force to get the parts in place, just be careful not to exert too much force or you’ll cause the parts to crack rather than bend.
The Full Straights and Half Straights are as you would expect the easiest of the kits to assemble. The Half Straights are simply half-width straights and are assembled in the same way as the Full Straights. Each has five pieces that fit together so well you could almost not glue them together, not that I would recommend that. I do not think I have ever assembled anything as easily as the Straights, they are that simple to do. The Gate is a different beast altogether and needs a lot more planning and work, yet even that is not a lot. First I suggest removing the Z pieces for the small doors and main gates from their respective positions and attaching them to the relevant doors/gates. This makes it easier in the long run to assemble, but I fixed mine to be closed as I could not work out how to hinge them. I think some kind of working hinge for the main gates would have been a real bonus for this kit. After sorting the doors and gates the rest of the construction is easy once you have dry fitted the pieces to see how they interlink.
The pieces are very flat; however that is the same for all MDF buildings. With the modular nature of the pieces you can easily build as big or small a fortification as you want. Some minor errors in the instructions, which have already been corrected on newer produced kits, and the lack of a hinge for the doors are inconveniences. I also think the pieces would benefit from wider bases to make them more stable, as well as some way of “locking” the pieces together when in use would be nice. Overall the kits themselves are simple and easy to build with only a little work needed to make them really useful additions to my Dark Ages scenery. Also the responsive answers of Sarissa to my pestering them via email with questions were superb. All in all the palisades are good kits at a more than reasonable price backed up with good customer service.