Friday, August 29, 2014

Maintenance of the Aim

Darn that Grant Senior and his emphasis on scale when designing rules, especially since he was smart enough to bend ground scale and orders of battle when converting historical battles to wargames. Yes I've been confusing myself again over questions of scale and translating real orders of battle and unit organization into game units and scenarios and have been starting to lose sight of my Aim. A serious breach of the Principles of War(gaming).

To avoid serious risk to my sanity and to a set of rules that was working well,  I finished painting my in progress Indian unit and then came back with a clear mind. All better now.

MacDuff's Rifles. Original 40mm sepoys with converted Zinnbrigade officer.
The Scruby redcoats in the back row are for comparison. Based on B&W photos it would be more accurate to have slightly toned down contrast in shades of khaki between uniform, puttees and haversack, and no coloured fringe on the turban but they looked bland so I decided that a bit of heightened contrast and a touch of colour would add interest. 

Organizations varied by year and nation but in 1914 most countries had 4 companies to an infantry battalion and 12 regiments to a Division. The Charge! inspired organization I looked at a week ago fits this nicely and has a comfort feeling. It also matches the Over the Top Command Decision: rules to a Tee if I consider each figure as a Stand not that CD is my style of gaming. So why aren't I there? Well, firstly to do it right I'd have to build armies four times the size of those I intended and I'd have to rewrite my rules completely, which I have found myself unintentionally doing, almost daily.

OK then, why not just stay with the 4 figure units called for in the Square Brigadier? The rules are scaled that one square can comfortably hold a battalion if formed up or with 1/2 deployed in a firing line and 1/2 in reserve while 2 or more battalions can fit in as  a massed column. By 1914 though an extended battalion should be able to hold 2 squares while by the late Boer War up to 1914 the British occasionally extended enough for a battalion to hold 4 squares. At Mons some of the British battalions were holding a front of 5 or 6 squares by posting platoons at crossing points. This would call for either ignoring scale (the traditional and most practical manner) or changing the rules or organization. 

It was during the contemplation of all this that I discovered that I was really enjoying painting up these figures but that a few of each were enough and that the urge was strong to paint a variety of uniforms and troop types. By a sheer coincidence the figures on hand including OOP Scruby 1889 figures nicely organized themselves into 8 figure units including an officer. Just enough to satisfy the itch without becoming tedious and reminiscent of the units in Big Wars which was another attraction. But how to integrate this with the rules, scenario requirements and history?

The first part was easy, amend the rules to use figures rather than units for combat strength and then allow units to be split. The 2nd bit was only a poser because of a desire to maintain rules compatibility with my 1/72 Boer War/9 Years War and Russian Civil War armies. There is another little technical issue I have been shelving, how to base the figures. I was pretty much set on 15mm x 20mm individual  bases, but made of what and should the figure base be disguised to make it look like a toy soldier on a single base or be left like an OSW figure on unflocked base?  While using various figures to test the optics of different options I was reminded of how much I like the temporary 2 figure bases some of my 1812 lads are on. Ahah!  I know I find it amusing sometimes to knock over single toy soldiers for visual effect in pictures but if I consider the figures to be OSW wargame figures which the Scrubies were, having 2 figures per company base.would have a traditional look of a different kind, be easy to handle and would maintain rules compatibility by having 4 bases per unit. As a bonus it provides an easy way to work unit quality back in easily by allowing me to vary hits by stand like I used to do in Hearts of Tin. 

With around 100 figures per wargame army, all buttons are pushed and the addition of 2 or 3 armies per year very feasible. All the plans of the last 20 years coming together in a rush, just not quite the format I envisaged back then when assembling 54mm Volley & Bayonet armies. I need to get back to work on some 1914 British master figures.



  1. Good Morning, Ross!

    The picture of the painted Baluchi unit is terrific. While you may be a bit concerned about color and contrast, there really is little need. The uniforms would have seen much hard use and it is entirely possible that the jackets were made with a slightly different dye than the pants. Same is true - and probably the case - with the puttees and turbans. The fact is that the figures really look good and the next unit might be painted in a similar fashion except for a bit of blue on the turban indicating a different unit. And if eight figures make a battalion, two make a company and one a battalion, you might try magnetic basing if you are really committed to the ideaof multiple figure bases. I know I sound tiresome because I have already made that suggestion but it would give you the ability to play skirmish games with the same figures. Lastly, don't forget that you can also use blue for the trousers to really set off your next batch as being from a different unit.
    Happy Labour Day!

    1. Thanks Jerry. I could have written that better. Yes different dye but also different material and textures. My first stab had more realistic colours and matched the photos fairly well, I went back and redid the details on purpose to make them more attractive. Not worried at all.

      Not really into skirmish games, just trying to get back to the days when I had S.O.P.

      Happy Labour Day yourself. I can smell fall in the air, my favorite season.

  2. There is something to be said for small unit sizes when you enjoy painting a variety of figures; this is espcially true for larger figures

    1. Double the size wouldn't be much more to paint but then the small table will look too densely packed for the period with that many 40's. Compromises & choices!.
      A small number of small units does make the rules side of thing trickier but challenges are good.

  3. I agree with Gonsalvo. That's where my hobby journey has taken me to at this point. The shiny new Indian soldiers look great. Also, I agree with Jerry about not worrying about the colors/contrast.

    1. Most of me agrees that where I am now large figures and small armies are the best answer for me.

      As for the contrast, I just liked the look better than the near monotone version I originally painted up, I figured if he was going to be glossy there should be something more to catch the eye.