Monday, November 11, 2013

A Change in the weather, a change in the sea

"There'll be some changes made"

Ever since we bought this old farmhouse as a final home a few years ago, I've been struggling to find a paradigm for my gaming that would suit my current situation. Originally I was picturing games along the lines of the following picture from early 2010: 48 sq feet of table space with plenty of troops and lots of room to maneuver. 

Actually, part of me might have been secretly picturing something like this Hawks game at Cold Wars 2009 with 120 sq ft packed with over 1,000 figures, but realistically this was a club event at a convention not a home game.
Not Quite Lobositz at Cold Wars 2009.

The truth is my table has been shrinking  and the armies have not been growing as quickly as envisaged despite having the metal, the molds and, in theory at least, the time to have built them. There has also been little resemblance to the ideal "lots of room to maneuver" wargame I had envisaged. Instead the larger games tended to be wall to wall, no room to maneuver, games like this game from April

The "inspired by" Quatre Bras game from April.

When all has been said and done, I've found the smaller games such as this ambush of a train easier to set up and as much or more fun to play and I would rather paint a wide variety of figures and play a wide variety of games than paint a lot of the same thing and play the same period over and over. 

The upstairs table, along with supporting storage for figures and terrain,  has effectively monopolized my hobby room, making it so crowded that it has been hard to use the room effectively for anything else, including painting or reading on the 300 or more days per year that I was not setting up, playing, re-playing or taking down the various games. When I look at the games played upstairs, 3/4 of them could have been easily adapted to a 1/2 sized table, (roughly 3'x4' actually) either by compression (reducing unit footprint, ranges and movement) or by only including the parts of the table actually used.  The remaining games could then have been played on a temporary table as special events.  In return I would get a more functional hobby room with room for a daybed or similar so that we could again accommodate an overnight guest.

Obviously, the smaller table isn't compatible with large forces of 40mm figures and I'm not ready to drop down entirely to 1/72nd, let alone 10mm. This means either more skirmish-y games with small units of single figures and lots of figures hanging out for months waiting for their chance on the big table,  or going back to slightly smaller units and squeezing more figures onto a smaller footprint and cutting ranges and movements (or both as it happens). Now, that doesn't require the use of a grid or going back to multi-figure bases but I find that both of these help me to move from the dioramic look of the traditional "lots of figures on a big table wargame" to a practical compact game.   

Work and planning is in progress so..... Stay Tuned!


  1. "I've found the smaller games such as this ambush of a train easier to set up and as much or more fun to play and I would rather paint a wide variety of figures and play a wide variety of games than paint a lot of the same thing and play the same period over and over."
    I hear you on this! I haven't done much in the way of games involving figures for quite a while. But my thinking has been evolving in similar directions to yours, I think, and for many of the same reasons you mention. I will stay tuned!

    1. I'm pretty excited at some of the prospects to be honest.

  2. Ross,

    Obviously you need to do what is right for your collection and needs . . . but as a viewer of the game photos you post, I very much prefer those without a grid. Visually the grid really gets in the way of my enjoyment of the evolving diorama of the battles. It also seems to limit the "angles" which units move and engage in.

    Again, we are talking about what YOU want for your games (not what I prefer). You should do whatever YOU want . . . I'm just expressing my voyeuristic preference. I really like your more open (i.e., non-gridded) tabletop "look".

    -- Jeff

    1. The grid isn't essential and not all the games will be gridded but the reduction in size is necessary and I'm afraid that much of the diorama look will have to go with it. Hopefully the games will eventually look good once I get caught up with the changes esp wrt to terrain.

  3. Smaller games with their conveniences suits me well. Many houses ago I had a dedicated room and very big table.That was great then.Now I certainly don't miss the table.It would be hand at times (to avoid impact on family and visitors) to have a wee dedicated space but I get by fine.The challenge of maximum fun ,gaming potentiality and tactical aspects in a weeish spac eis stimulating I think...

    1. I think its been harder to let go of the idea of the Big Game than it has been to let go of the games themselves.

  4. Ross Mac,

    These are the conundrums that so many of us have to face at some point (or points!) in our wargaming lives. I think that we all secretly hanker for the large, sweeping games that use large numbers of individual figures ... but practicality does not allow it to happen that often.

    In my cae I have two identical wargames tables (both bought from IKEA) that have folding tops. Extended they are 6' x 4' ... which is just about the largest size I could get into my toy/wargames room. In normal use they are 4' x 3' ... and I can fit a MEMOIR '44/BATTLE CRY-sized playing surface made up from Hexon II hexes on to that.

    The latter serves my purposes well, and over the years I have tended to design my games to fit my table. The result is that I have been able to fight quite a few solo wargames ... more than I would have managed on a larger table!

    The single figure bases vs. multi-figure base conundrum are also one that I have been wrestling with ... and I have yet to find a solution! For small scale games single figure bases make life so easy in many ways … but I also want to fight the occasional large Megablitz-type battles, and for those I need multi-figure bases. I don’t want to have duplicate collections, and I am thinking of having the bulk of my 15mm collections on single figure bases and most of my 20mm collections on multi-figure bases. Not a perfect solution to the problem, but one that makes sense.

    All the best,


  5. Hi Ross,
    Scaling down sucks, but when there is no alternative, you might as well make sure you enjoy it.
    I am giving up minis altogether, for a while at least, and going back to board wargames. Not just Memoir 44 and Battle Cry, but also Conflict of Heroes series, Panzer Grenadier Series, and probably some operational or strategic game to serve as a campaign/battle generator. I am already in the process of selling my 15mm fantasy figures on ebay, and the 20mm WWII will start going up soon -- as well as some excess board wargames.
    I would really like to find a tactical 7YW or ACW game that could be used to replicate table top teasers, but I am not interested in 40-page rule sets anymore (no ASL for me, thanks). I was wondering if you or any of your readers knew of such a game/series?

    BTW, I found that if you have three standard 72" x 30" folding tables, you can set up 2 to get a 5' x 6' layout, or all three to get a 6' x 7.5' layout -- 45 square feet is not too bad. And you can store 1 or 2 of them when not in use; I had 2 under my bed for quite a while.
    Good luck with your down-sizing, and Regards.

    1. In my case its a matter of choice - best use of limited resources, rather than strict necessity but it is hard to find oneself forced by circumstances.

      My friend Ron and I have had good luck using the Battlecry and an adapted C&C game for tabaletop teasers. We've been using his Hexon terrain with 25mm figures (12 man units for 7yw) but the original map and figures would work as well. The left/center/right thing didn't work well with some teasers so me use Brigadiers Left & Right and General Center, give them a command radius of 3 (4 for the General) and count those as moving sectors. Adapt the map and forces to reflect the teaser and off you go.


  6. Dear Ross,

    Life has a way of intruding on our hobby doing. The single most important thing is whether or not all of this makes you happy with what you are doing. A huge table is not necessary to have a wonderful, entertaining game fuilled with challenges and laughs.

    I do agree with Jeff in that a grid does detract from the visual impact of the game but - and this is most important - if the grid allows you to play the types of games you enjoy then that is terrific.

    By the way, I played in that game way back in 2009 and I am sitting off camera to the fellow on the right hand side of the photo. It was a great game and thoroughly enjoyable but was obviously something big that would only be put on when you had lots of help and space.

    A/K/A The Celtic Curmudgeon

    1. Jerry, I remember, as I recall you had a hand in the decisive action of the day in the center when a spoiling attack by the North Polemberg Dragoons threw the Coalition infantry into disorder allowing the Alliance infantry to rout them.

      As far as the table goes, I'm actually excited at the freedom that the limitations will give me to catch up with multiple small things without worrying about an "over due" big one.