I am quite happy playing games without a grid but I am also quite happy playing games with a grid and I'll confess that there were moments last week when I was fumbling for a tape or ruler that I found myself thinking of how handy grids were.
Last year I experimented with making hex shaped terrain at home with some limited success but I'll confess that seeing huge stack of hexon terrain that Ron now has and uses to create marvelous rolling hexed country side, I'm not keen on trying to replicate that at home. I have played with a hex cloth over hill shapes but it was always awkward tracking which grid areas were which altitude and eliminating uncertainty is one of the strengths of grids. This is why I began experimenting again with squares, the terrain is much easier to make at home.
The first question was how many squares. The game last weekend saw in excess of 70 "units" on the table. With a goal of 1 unit per square and at least twice as many squares as units, 150 seems like a reasonable minimum. Since most of my based units come in at around 120mm, this seems like a good basis but to give a little wiggle room and since I tend to deal in inches for everything except bases, 5" is the proposed grid size. I was thinking of 6" since this is an even divisor for feet but it occurred to me that many of the Grant teasers, which I find to be an easy (ok lazy) way to come up with a balanced game with an occasional twist, are based on a board with a ratio of 1:1.5 and that as long as I was adding 12" to my table, I might as well as 18" making it 60" x 90" or 12 x 18 or 216 squares.
Rather than just painting the table green and adding gridlines, I am going to try to capture the patchwork look of the farmland around here with rectangles of various shades of green, yellow and brown cut up by paths, streams, ditches etc., all of which will result in hopefully, sufficiently clear "areas'. Hills will be a mix of modular with a mix of single and multiple pieces. It will stretch my graphic ability but should be a fun challenge. It'll also take awhile to even get started beyond planning.
However, when I found myself one night this week playing solitaire on my computer while keeping the pack company it occurred to me that I could just as easily be playing a mini-portable game. During the summer, I just kick the dogs out into the yard to wrestle and run until they are exhausted but in winter between cold rain and snow, they have to spend more time inside and last years puppies have lots of energy to burn so I anticipate lots of "sitting" to be done this winter.It have to be rugged enough to withstand Lila "forgetting" that she's not supposed to jump up on the table not to mention that her prey instinct sets in at the sight of just about anything small enough to fit in her mouth and being a sighthound, she's good at spotting anything from shards of the pen she chewed last night that I missed to presumably small soldiers. (Teenagers!)
Anyway, this got me thinking again about a game that will fit on the card table. To get enough squares for an interesting game I will have to go down to 3" or more likely 2" squares. To leave room for a coffee cup and casualties, it should be smaller than the table and a rectangle will fit the teasers with less work so right now I am considering a 20" x 30" board with 2" squares. Hills are the problem. I dislike having an 1" mesa jutting out of the board so the hills will have to be lower. I can fit a few large figures on a small square but the terrain will be a visual mismatch unless I mount them like game pieces and use a 2d map. The alternative is to make use of smaller figures. 1/72nd plastic was an obvious 1st choice although I still have a few 15's kicking around but I have been looking at Scruby N gauge listings and pondering something late 19th C ish, Heresy!
EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)
"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."
-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013
Friday, November 9, 2012
Gridded Terrain and Winter Games
Born and raised in the suburbs of Montreal, 5 years in the Black Watch of Canada Cadets, 5 years at the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean followed by 4 in the navy. 25 years with CPC in IT simultaneous with 23 years running a boarding kennel. Inherited my love of toy soldiers from my mother's father. Married with a Whippet, 10 Italian Greyhounds and 3 cats. Prematurely retired and enjoying leisure to game, maintaining our 160 yr old farmhouse and just living.