Creating the Old World

Creating the Old World

Building the Old World.

As a child I remember looking through the pages of Ratspike by John Blanche and Ian Miller and being in awe of their art style. So when Games Workshop gave me some John Blanche artwork to help me capture the buildings of the Old World I had to pinch myself. If I could tell my 12 year old self I would be embarking on this project I’d probably need a shot of R Whites lemonade to compose myself.

Fantasy Scale.

Man O’ War: Corsair is an immense game, we are creating an entire continent -much of which is yet to be fleshed out in any great detail. So creating an authentic Man O’ War video game was a huge challenge as well as every exciting.

One thing we knew from the start is that we wanted to have some large scale content. Games Workshop literature is full of it, Bretonnian castle artwork in the 4th edition Bretonnian army list would likely tower over the largest buildings in our world. There are lots of great examples in Warhammer battlefield art, which off in the distance stands a castle that would be even more impressive from close up. But there is always a balancing act, we didn’t want everything big, we needed to create smaller buildings to show the scale of the massive structures.

1st Stop the Empire.

The first assets we created were buildings of the Empire. The region of the Empire in Man o’ War: Corsair is Nordland, which is between Erengrad to the east and the wasteland to the west. It has a long proud naval heritage and often uses nautical theme in its banners.

nordland elector country heraldry Nordland_banner Nordland_provincial_banner Nordland

Our initial attempts at creating empire buildings were too rigid and lacked the broken style required. For inspiration we turned to Blood on the Reik and several John Blanche sketches which helped cement in our minds the visual style for Man O War.

Buildings of the Empire are a kind of twisted Tudor style, they feel as though a strong breeze would tear them apart. There is no planning permission so dormers and extensions are just slapped on the side of structures. The house builders of the Empire have also placed lots of hearths in their constructions leaving each building with several chimneys, so when you view an Empire town it has the skyline reminiscent of a haunted Victorian town.


Ports of the Old World

If you want to sail the Great Western Ocean in Man o War and don’t plan on stopping it’s best to give yourself a full day, even if you have the weather gauge and are sailing a High Elf Eagleship. We had a lot of space to fill and assembling the buildings into ports was the first step.

When we first started to place buildings it became obvious they would be lost in the landscape on their own. We didn’t want to create a bunch of individual buildings we needed to imbed each building into the landscape considering how and where they were placed in relation to other buildings. They needed to feel as though they have stood for hundreds of years, covered in grime from the environment and giving shelter to it’s inhabitants from the cold wind of the Sea of Claws.

Hargendorf was the first port assembled. It’s diverse range of building came together to create a large Empire port that we are all very proud of. It feels chaotic and bustling, not a place you would like to live nor even visit in real life – which is just the place the want to visit in a game.

Once we built Hargendorf we turned our attention to the remaining Empire ports, Norden, Neue Emskrank and Dietershafen. Each port was given a different layout and feel with individual skylines to help players identify the port through a spyglass.


We have one Kislevite port in Man O’ War: Corsair and that is Erengrad. Like the Empire before it, we had a wealth of Warhammer art form the table top game and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning that helped us shape the structures of Erengrad. We were also influenced by Stave Churches and medieval Scandinavian architecture. The mighty wooden halls and towers of Erengrad provided a nice contrast from the Empire buildings. The port is vast and spreads out as far as the eye can see across the mouth of the river that leads to the Sea of Claws.


For table top gaming I have an Ostermark (Empire) army but have always toyed with the idea of buying a Bretonnian army, I think mostly because I like the Green Knight model.

Bretonnia has a lot more coastline than the Empire and Kislev and a lot more ports, it is also more rural than the Empire, so we focused on trying to create towns and villages rather than the Empires towns and cities. Bretonnia is an nation on it’s knees (even more so than the besieged empire), it’s populace is poor, living in the shadow of the wealthy ruling class. Many buildings are more like hovels, with thatched roofs.

Bretonnian castles are built to look grand and impressive but when you delve deeper into its construction you can see that it is more for show and crumbling at the core, much like the race itself. The stonework is far larger and lighter in Bretonnia than the Empire, which also gives it a very distinct feel.


The next stage in our development journey was to tackle the remaining ports of Estalia and Tilea. This part of the Great Western Ocean has very little reference material once again and we found ourselves creating things that Warhammer fans have yet to see. For Estalia we focused on a more cubic structure than before with lots of earth tones for the colours and textures. The simple shapes combined with flat and slanted roofs offered a distinct visual style to everything we had done before. The weather in this part of the Old World is hotter and the terrain is browner with less green vegetation.



Although it is just around the corner Tilean style architecture has more elegance about it, it’s typically brighter, taller and sleeker than any other architectural styles in the old world. Tilea has ports such as Miragliano, Tobaro, Luccini and the Pirate Isle Sartosa, which sits just in the Tilean sea.

When assembled into ports Tilean style architecture is my favourite and I think the most distinct style in Man O’ War: Corsair.


For the Emperor!










  1. ArmorDonio 5 years ago

    Awsome! I really like to read and know more about the creating of this game :)

  2. Dreadaxe 5 years ago

    “Bretonnian castle artwork in the 4th edition Bretonnian army list”

    5th edition

    Sartosa and not Saratosa


  3. Alluvian Est-Endrati 5 years ago

    Good stuff. If you like Warhammer Fantasy art, I would also highly recommend the work of Tony Ackland. He did quite a lot of top-notch work for the 1st edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

    • Captain Carroll
      Captain Carroll 5 years ago

      Yes we remember Tony Ackland’s stuff! Great artwork!

Leave a reply to Alluvian Est-Endrati Click here to cancel the reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *