Its still a week, more or less, until the start of the winter campaigning season. The new wood stove is installed and other reno's done but there is still lots of wood to split along with pre-Christmas cleaning and baking and more cups of tea and snacks to be handed in to my wife while she grooms double the usual number of dogs. Then of course ere will be family time and a feast and the like to be enjoyed, but while being busy with these sorts of things during the last 2 months, I have still found a little bit of time for the 5 P's of wargaming. What? oh, well, Planning, Procuring, Painting, Playing and Posting. Its the planning bit that has occupied me most during these weeks.
Faraway & Oberhilse go to war over the new playing field.
I think it was the recent release of the Little Britain's that suddenly brought this to the forefront of my thoughts again but over the last 2 years I have been increasingly aware that the OSW paradigm behind my much of my recent wargame planning bares little relationship to the majority of games that I actually play or to the armies I build. This discrepancy is one of the main factors behind my inability to settle on rules and organization or to send time and effort on figures and terrain for what is supposed to be my area of focus. What I need is to examine the various issues at play over the next few weeks, decide on a new model and come up with a revised, more detailed plan for 2013 with a few (not too many) measurable, achievable goals to get me on track as well as the usual overall framework.
The view from the other side as the new Universal Hearts of Tin gets a mini-test.
The aspect of all this that I am looking at right now concerns unit sizes vs numbers of units and maneuvering room vs looks and rules. For the last 5 years I have been focusing on unit size primarily from the points of view of looks, tradition and rule mechanisms. Since the maximum table size is set, there is a limit to how many figures may be deployed and thus the number of units is inversely proportionate to their size so I occasionally checked relevant historical sources to make sure I could fit the required number of units if choosing a larger size or that if using small units that there would be enough to provide a decent game under the proposed rules. I also kept in mind the narrative advantages of having a small number of identifiable units. Having finally made my choices, last October I played a game with about 3/4 of the maximum number of units that I planned to field. There was no room for maneuver. Maneuvering room has always been more important to me than a dioramic look so I am surprised that I overlooked this aspect or rather that I had pushed it aside and ignored it.
Yawner's Farm, a small battle with wall to wall troops.After playing a larger 1/72nd ACW game with 4 times as many units but more maneuver room as well as playing several games of a Colonial variant of BattleCry with 5 figure units and experimenting with various card table games this fall, I am starting to rethink things. There is good precedent for units of 12 or so figures going back at least as far as Captain Sachs not to mention WRG's 1685-1845 rules and Stuart Asquith's Big Wars. When I throw in things like Morschauser's 4 man Basic Units, DBA and so forth, there is also something to be said for the sort of organization I was proposing for a revival of my 54mm Britain's armies with 6 man units of 40mm figures organized into 18 man brigades or regiments depending on the war being played.
Cobb's Farm. The table felt so much bigger with smaller units (frontage wise).
A Grant scenario played with such a brigade as "unit" would crowd the table every bit as much as Yawner's Farm but it would be more the size of a major Sikh War or Indian Mutiny battle (too big for War of 1812) and would allow me to paint up say 18 infantry regiments in 18 uniforms. The other attractive alternative would be using 12 man units as scenario units. That would mean the same number of units as currently planned but fewer figures, more room for the games and more time available to work on support units and special figures.
After all the years spent trying to decide if 20 men were too few for my 40mm Toy Soldier units, this isn't something to rush into. As you can see in the pictures I have been experimenting with 6 man card table games using the 40's, after all, if these are supposed to be my "main thing" why should they be confined to the main table upstairs if I expect a fair number of downstairs card table games? Of course, once the winter campaign season gets under way, it may turn out that I can get in several games each month upstairs after all which would make it a moot point. Still, the question then arises of what sort of games I could play with 1/2 size units and 1/2 sized movement and ranges on the 5'x6' table. It would be like quadrupling my playing area. The first step will be to try the 12 man units upstairs, grid free but with reduced scale, hopefully between Christmas and New Year's.