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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Making My Smaller Table Bigger on the Inside

Its now official, the new, "permanent", table will be 5ft x4ft. That's not exactly a cardtable or portable board but neither is it a big or even a standard table, closer to a 1/2 size one.

The last few months have largely been about investigating alternate paradigms for my hobby over the next few years.  I want something smaller and more focused. I knew before I started that I could play interesting quick games on a small table but one of the questions was whether or not that was going to be enough it that was my only option. I'm satisfied now it isn't but I'm also quite happy with the smaller  table and the idea of smaller armies than those I envisaged 10 years ago. However, I want an option for longer, more complex  games as well as well as the quick and easy ones.

There are various ways of making a wargame longer and more complex. One is to make the rules more complex thus taking more time and requiring more thought. I'm not keen on detailed, complex rules these days but my current games could stand to regain a little depth. More on that later.

Another way to add complexity is just to make a game bigger. Having more units adds depth and complexity even to very simple rules. The traditional way to make a wargame table feel bigger without changing the rules is to use smaller figures and cut all measurements. Last year I  experimented with using my 1/72 ACW regiments as brigades, it worked but all terrain became merely symbolic.  I would prefer to keep my ACW boys pretty much as they are with 3x6 figure bases representing a regiment of roughly 400 to 500 men using a ground scale of roughly 6 cm=100 m.

My 16 figure 40mm units use pretty much the same scale giving the same sort of game but more visually abstracted so it seems to make sense to just take the abstraction a step farther and go a bit more V&B/Morschauser. If I use 8 figures on a 60mm base to represent a battalion of 600 to 800 men giving a ground scale of roughly  6 cm=200 to 250 m then my battlefield would be roughly 5km x 6km in very round numbers. Lots of room for  a score of regiments to manouvre and big enough to fit a selection of 19th Century battles from various campaigns in  India or Mexico for example.

Now to build the table, adjust the rules, finish rebasmmphhcoughahmming  a couple of units and then try it all out.










11 comments:

  1. Now if I had been given these sorts of math problems in school, I might have done better at it!

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  2. My permanent table is a 6x4, indeed too small for some of the larger-scale games. However, what I learned over the years is that it does not matter much. Initially, when coming from a bigger table, there are some mental conversion hassles, but over time, you adapt your games (both w.r.t. scenario and visuals) to a smaller table. It also helps I write my own rules, and distances (both movement and shooting) are taking the table size into account from the very beginning.

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    1. Thanks Phil, that matches my experience as my available space goes up and down. zi gound tbst the grid helped initially. Adapting moves and shooting to the table size rather having them constant with only tge s ensrikn changing is something that I have just started thinking about this year. I'm glad to hear that it might indeed be the right wsy to go,

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  3. My only advice would be to go 6x4 .. like Phil that's the size I have as well... why 6x4... well in my case I use 2' square terrain tiles... the even numbers make it easier to swap and match these about...

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    1. Thanks Steve, unfortunately I test fitted a 4x6 early in the progress and I was constantly bumping into the corners when trying to squeeze past and it was uncomfortably close to the back of the chair at my computer desk. The room just isn't big enough for everything I have in it.

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    2. I have the same problem with my 6'x4' playing surface, which I can't set up permanently anyway. Its weight (quite a heavy particle board) is somewhat against it as well. The board I have been using is 4' x 4'5", though as it is mounted on the trestles I use for the bigger table, isn't all that much a saving on room. As it is accessible on one end and ona and a half sides, at least it is not difficult to reach all parts of the playing surface.

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  4. Ross Mac,

    It would appear that your recent experiments with different sizes of tabletop and figures basing seems to have paid off. I look forward to seeing our new wargames table finished and in use.

    All the best,

    Bob

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    1. I'm looking forward to that as well Bob. Looks like anotgef delay though, unexpected but welcome company this weekend.

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  5. I had the bumping into corners problem also and fixed it by rounding them off with a saw. That allows me the larger size without the sharp edges
    Good luck
    Simon

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    1. Actually I cut the corners last year when it was 7 ft, before the big retrofit of a work table. What I'm really talking about is a less than 22" gap between games table and back of the desk chair. It can be negotiated but not worth the hassle for solo games, esp when accessing terrain storage in the terrain storage drawers underneath that end of the table.

      Wonder when I got so lazy? Not recently I guess.

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