Friday, June 26, 2015

The Other Half of that Disturbing New Thought.

Yes there were two related but distinct parts to that earlier thought, I just didn't want to confuse things.

Its those damned bases again. After that refreshing, modified Morschauser game, I realized that not only am I tired of my massed single figure experiments, something that was considered pretty well obsolete in many circles by the time I started wargaming in the 70's but which just had to be tried,  but I have discovered that I have been harbouring a nostalgic longing for my 1 stand is a unit V&B days.  This actually fits well with my slow absorption of comments from Jerry and  Norm (see vive-la-difference.html) over letting unit commanders handle the details.

On Monday I set out to play a Square Brigadier game but was interrupted and ended up playing a turn or 2 per day with various experimental versions so no battle report. However, it did give me a chance to think about last year's Nine Year's War games using the then Square Brigadier that worked so well and managed that "don't fret about the internal unit details" thing well while producing good games. For some reason the 4 figure units that filled a square just made it easier because they couldn't do a credible variety of formations any way and the presence or absence of bases was irrelevant. The same was true of the early WW1 games last year. Mounting my 40's on 4x2 man bases to get back to 4 "strength points" sort of did the same thing but the temptation remained to fiddle and fuss about formations and so  on.

Gratuitous picture because  I love it! A Square Brigadier game in progress.
If I was using the 20's as my main thing, this wouldn't be a concern as they and the terrain both fit the 3" squares well meaning there is room for lots of both on the main table. That would be smart but I'm not going there. There seemed to be 2 solutions: use 3" squares with  a unit in each and allow terrain to span multiple squares or allow multiple units in a square, something I've tried a couple of times in a couple of ways but stumbled over trying to keep the units straight and on wording the rules so they could be applied in a consistent manner.

With another fantasy game last weekend using a 1 stand of 40mm troops is a unit but without the grid, I started thinking and experimenting. Would it work? Could it help? What size base would look like a unit and work with my buildings? And my train? (gotta fit the train on the grid and the troops in the train or its a deal breaker!). After much experimentation, a 60x40 stand  will hold 4x40mm infantry inc mg's and look big enough to look like a 'company' to me at least. 4 of these can then make a battalion as envisaged last fall. 60x60 will fit a gun and crew or 3 cavalry. 4 such infantry bases will fill a 6" square or 2 cavalry/artillery which is what I was experimenting with last fall and getting units mixed. That would allow games ranging from a skirmish between a few companies to battles between brigade sized forces with 2 dozen up to 3 dozen.  Excellent!

But can I handle that many? I have been working towards reducing the number of units figuring that it would make the game faster and make each unit more important to the player thus hopefully increasing his engagement with their fate. The Morschauser games with as many as 35 units on a table were faster and more furious with if anything more engagement since no one was ever really safe and generalship seems even more important, reserves must be in the right place at the right time and a player always ready for the unexpected, even without any sort of activation mechanism.

Last weekend's game with units being treated as 4x2 infantry or 3x2 cavalry. (Oberhilse actually being based that way) If you check the hill you can see that 1 cavalry unit was wiped out in its first charge while the 2nd had 1 stand left after pursuit combat. It was about 10 turns with much shooting and a few charges before another unit was lost though!    
 I started to think about old alternatives such as 1 hit per unit but with a disorder result possible and and about those Morchauser games where there is no CC and units die like flies but the games are fast, fun and require generalship to win. I hit the archives so to speak and have spent a lot of time today in 2011 on my blog and on Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame site. My conclusion is Yes! it can work.

Hopefully a rules summary post tomorrow and a game on Sunday.


  1. I've always thought, but haven't done so, that a 5"(W) by 3" (D) base would work well as a single unit base. It's wider than deep, as units on the battlefield should be. And it has the advantage, if you are trying to mock something up for a quick and dirty playtest, or for hidden unit "blinds", of being the same size as 3x5 index cards. I suppose if you did it as 5w by 2.5d, 2 of them would fit into a 6" square nicely with an even "border" around them. Just a thought.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Stu, It sounds like a good idea but gives me a couple of problems.

      I would only be able to use a fit a little over a dozen units including reserves which means going back to a roster or a Very short game and they would crowd the table. Ok for an 18th C brawl but oddly that's the period when units are most linear. By the 1870's a battalion is as deep from skirmish line to reserves as it is wide.

      Such a big unit might look odd in a colonial skirmish as a wagon escort as opposed to doing Ulundi or El Teb.

      More important, they'd never fit in my train!

  2. Ross Mac,

    The work I have been doing on my Waterloo project has been making me think a lot about how I base my figures to represent units. My 25/28mm-scale figures are mounted on 50mm wide bases; 3 infantry on a 25mm deep base and 2 cavalry on a 50mm deep base. As such they fit quite well into my Hexon II hexes.

    It was my intention to use two bases for infantry and cavalry units. Side by side = in line, one behind the other = in column or, in the case of infantry, one behind the other and back to back = in square.

    I have also realised that I could easily use 1 base = 1 unit on a 50mm x 50 mm squared grid to fight really large battles.

    I am now thinking about the rest of the figures in my collection, and whether or not rebase them in a similar fashion. I have yet to make a firm decision ... but I have a feeling that I am going to give up on single figures bases in future.

    I will follow your progress with particular interest as we seem to be heading in the same general direction.

    All the best,


    1. Bob, I considered a similar set up with 2 bases per unit and will probably do that for the musket armed troops for just that reason, to show the formations which are so iconic from the French Revolution to the ACW or later.

      I opted instead for 4 "company" stands for later to show an extended formation (1 unit in a sq), deployed or normal 2 unit in sq), or mass (3 or 4 units in a sq). A battalion in column of companies or a native mass. but with each stand being a unit.

      I'm looking forward to watching the next phase of your Waterloo collection once the French cavslry are all ready.

  3. Basing, in singles or groups.

    A constant challenge.

    Hence my answer to use neodymium magnets and sheet metal bases. All of my minis could be used as singles, or groups.

    I am even experimenting with other rules sets and finding new ways to combine the sheet metal bases to work out with each new set.

    1. Yeah but its still a more efficient movement tray. Can't do the mini diorama thing, one of the things I miss about my old big bases. Besides I'm on a $0.00 budget. Even .05 is too much this year let alone .25 +.

      but thanks for the reminder.

  4. It's funny you should be musing on bases because the other day I looked at a substantial (150 figs) colonial collection I acquired and they are ALL on SiNGLE BASES! Eeep! Oh no, I thought, that won't do. I just have to find the time and figure out a system for rebasing. Almost all of my ACW figures are on 3-4 figure stands for infantry, 2-3 for cavalry. So much cleaner and faster that way.

    1. It was 20 yrs after I started wargaming that I built my first single figure army, 25m Colonials odfy enough. I kept looking at pictures of Peter Gilder's Soudanese and wondering why we were doing single figures.