On the House: Jon Harrington Builds a Roman Taverna

Hi, I’m Paul, and welcome to Sculpting, Painting and Gaming.

One of the most impressive features of Gangs of Rome is its environment. Many are the beautiful buildings on show on the Gangs of Rome Facebook group, demos, and tournaments such as our recent Governance of Derventio event at Derby’s Boards and Swords. With luminaries like Dicky Boy, Boycie MacReady, Pete Barfield, George Aisling and Chantal Spaull sharing pictures of their beautifully painted and converted buildings, it’s easy to find inspiration when preparing and painting your own Rome.

Today we bring you another source of inspiration. Himself inspired by Dicky and Pete, Jon Harrington has created this beautiful tavern; I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you.



Over the past few months there have been some beautiful Roman taverns on the Gangs of Rome Facebook page, with the Pomegranate by Dicky Boyd and Pete Barfield’s Domus Sobrietaris to name but two.


Salve traveller, welcome to the Albus Olor, how may I help you? Some wine, perhaps? Women? Gambling? No? Then perhaps something else? Oh, you need a meeting place? Well, we have just the location upstairs. Monday it’s the People’s Front of Judea; Tuesday the Judean People’s Front; Wednesday is free because the Popular Front of Judea meet over there in the corner. Yes just him. Thursday is the Mithraics. It’s always a difficult clean up after that lot, but Friday’s are free.”

My own GoR table needed an extra building so here’s my take on the tavern theme, the Albus Olor (White Swan) known locally as the Sordidum Anas (The Mucky Duck) due to its run-down appearance and less than salubrious patrons.

The base building is a Sarissa Precision Middle Rank Shop, and I picked up a couple of pieces from the excellent Iron Gate Scenery range to give my tavern some character. I planned to have a bar / storage area on the ground floor with access to a meeting hall upstairs.



I built the kit as per the instructions, but modified the internal dividers to open out the space as this is meant to be one large building rather than four smaller shops.


To give the ground floor a rough stone effect I used a sample of wallpaper cut and glued into place. These samples are freely available in DIY stores and provide a great source of internal or external basing. I’ve used them previously for rocky paths and cobbled streets. In the picture below I’ve also laid out the accessories to make sure everything fits, including the ladder to access the upper floor.

Speaking of the upper floor, I decided to add rustic wooden flooring over the flat MDF. I used coffee stirrers cut to different lengths and glued into place. This is a great way to create this type of floor and is really quick.

The roof was the next challenge, Sarissa kits provide a nice pattern scored into the greyboard, but I wanted something a little more ‘3D’. Using thick cartridge paper, I cut both flat and ridge tiles (and my finger, but we’ll gloss over that) and fixed them to the roof. I used PVA for this, starting at the bottom row and working up to the ridge. I quickly changed to superglue as opposed to PVA to keep the ridge tiles angled correctly as the PVA either didn’t keep them in place or made the edges curl.




I use tester pots for painting buildings because it’s a lot cheaper than using acrylics and there is a great range of colours. The tavern has ‘Tuscan Red’ with ‘Aromatic’ highlights for the lower floor and the opposite on the upper floor with ‘Harvest Field’ for the interior walls.


The only problem I find using such paints is thinning them down to give a smoother finish. This ends up with a much more translucent colour and using multiple coats still doesn’t solve the problem. In the end I opted to stay with the unthinned paint; this created a hand-painted look to the walls which I could weather in later. The roof was airbrushed with a light brown, concentrating the spray in random patches rather than a flat colour. I also ran a dark brown wash over the floorboards to make then look worn in.


The Accessories

Iron Gate Scenery produces an excellent bar accessories kit which includes a bar, benches, shelving and plenty of amphorae.


I also added a water fountain to go inside because, quite frankly, I liked the look of it. I then scratch built a wooden serving platform for the upper floor with coffee stirrers over a card frame. All these extras were primed with a rattle can grey primer then painted using regular acrylics.


Finishing the Tavern

As this is a lower class establishment I used a brown wash over the interior walls that picked up the hand painted look nicely. The same colour wash was used over the stone floor then I used an airbrush to add some grime to the corners, lower parts of the walls and round the windows. Finally I added a logo and name to the side of the tavern and the Albus Olor is open for business!





Vale, traveller. I hope you enjoyed your stay. Don’t listen to the stories about this place; we are always open for businessEm dash: —nefarious or otherwiseEm dash: —but, to be fair, mostly nefarious. Oh, and a word to the wise: I’d watch that purse of yours on the way out”



About Jon Harrington

An on / off wargamer and painter for over 30 years, Jon Harrington is enjoying his latest return to the hobby. He is keen to stop buying more miniatures than he paints (failing) and not to buy any more game systems (also failing).




Written by chief writer Adam L. Dobbyns with Andy Hobday, and based on a concept by Darren Evans, Gangs of Rome is an innovative skirmish game set in the bloody and violent streets of Rome.

As the ambitious head of a wealthy family, you have your eyes set on the Senate. Can you use your gang of street fighters to grab, grow and exercise your influence on the city and seize a place in the senate?

Recruit. Dominate. Ascend.

This is Gangs of Rome, an innovative 28mm Skirmish game for the sharp of mind and bold of action.

Welcome to Rome, Dominus.



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About the Author

Paul L. Mathews
A born-again wargamer since 2015, Paul L. Mathews is now the editor at War Banner. He is also the head honcho at his own freelance enterprise, Tabletop Creative. A dull boy, Paul's interests include editing and staying up past his bedtime

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