Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Go Deep or Go wide?

There was never really a serious chance that I would revert to a permanent table large enough to make the room awkward for day to day purposes but having set it up triggered some interesting reactions and presents a choice that needs serious thought before I act.

Once I had the extension propped up in place to make a 5'x6' table, I placed some troops on it and started trying to picturing  a bigger game. Would it look better with bigger units or more of them?  Its only 50% more area but that was my first instinct, more figures! It didn't take long to remember that I'm still in the mood to try to finish a few smaller projects and master the art of smaller games, even with big figures.

So, what exactly do I want to do with the extra square footage?

For starters my existing Not Quite Seven Years War forces could use the extra width to give room for an infantry line with cavalry wings.  Oddly enough my smallest figures, the 1/72nd ACW, can also use the extra width  should I deploy full armies.

Other than that the main use would be for scenarios that would benefit from manouver room without resorting to off table reserves and flank marches or for games such as ambushes of a convoy with the short sides being the entry and exit points. I turned my attention back to how I could add the extra bit which is a light, 1/4", composite board with wood veneer. It'll need a frame like the main table and either a hinge or else some sort of support.

However, when I remade the 4'x5' tabletop last winter I included a way to slide inserts into the end to support an extension on the end to make a 4'x6' or 4'x7' table. It looked very wide and narrow when I tried it and it wouldn't add any depth to scenarios, reinforcements would have to stay off table and ranges remain short, but the battlelines, or the trip for a convoy, could be even longer or the flanks be even more in the air. It would also make the transition from small table to large fairly painless and remove the urge to fiddle with ranges, movement rates and unit sizes. As a bonus it would only take 1 saw cut, everything else is done. It would also be a matter of seconds to install or remove the extension. Its j6st not a shape I'm used to.

I'm going to have to do some trials before I decide.


  1. Dear Ross,
    Don't fiddle - PLAY!! Put the table out and try an experiment, a small game played twice on both sizes of table. Will the increased size materially affect the proceedings? Will you be able to do, or even tempted to employ, a tactic unavailable if you use the smaller table? And what better excuse to play a couple of games?

  2. Ross - you seem to be re-visiting the same connundrem each season- I wouldn't worry so much about an extra foot or two to change from small to big or big to a small table...try and put the debate aside and select your 1/72nd ACW and have a go at the larger table - then start deciding, if it's going to be a permanent table or not...If I lived closer I could easily come over and give you a hand at playing several games- in different scales - and then mull over the table size decision. Best Wishes. KEV.

    1. Kev, I do revisit things when curcumstances change. In this case it was finding the missing board. There is no room for a permanent table but once I have time I will test my options for an expansion. Maybe next month or August.

  3. If I could only choose one, I would go for wide rather than deep as it gives more scope for different things to be happening at the same time on the same table. So out on the left flank there may be a micro battle going on for a farm and side A may be doing well, while further to the right, side A is having a right old struggle against those pesky Highlanders etc.

    1. Norm that was my conclusion after contemplating the pros and cons last night.

  4. Hi Ross,
    I must be missing something (not unusual)... if you add a 2 x 5 extension onto a 4 x 5 table, don't you get a 6 x 5 table?
    That seems better than 4 x 6 or 4 x 7; it adds some depth and provides more overall area. In fact, it is the size I have settled on now that I can no longer deploy the 6 x 7.5 table (actually, 3 folding tables, now 2).

    If you ever need more flank room, you could try lining up corner to opposite corner instead of edge to opposite edge. On a 6 x 5 table the distance between opposite corners is just over 7.8'; on a 4 x 5 it's just over 6.4'. This could also work well for convoy and ambush situations, moving from corner to corner to cause a longer journey and provide more potential ambush sites and more time for potential reinforcements for either side.

    1. John, yes 5x6, my table was 5x7 before I took the extension off last year. The other bit lost a foot along the way. I kept typing 5x7 out of habit/forgetfulness. It is larger than the 4x7 but 30sq feet vs 28 so not by much. Oddy enough the diagonal on the 4x7 is a inch or so longer than the one on the 5x6. The problem with the diagonal is that there is no useful room on the flanks on the foot of road near each corner so the gsin is less useful than say a loop in the middle.

      There are 2 big advantages to the 4x7 over 5x6. One is that I can barely reach past the middle across the width of the 5x6 and the room becomes to congest to easily move around it unless one long end is up against the wall. Past experience means constantly walking all the way around and back several times per turn getting exercise but slowing the game and not terribly relaxing when tired. The other it only allows to to extend the front by 1 foot (2 units) vs 2ft (4 -5 units). The added depth means the 2nd line or reserve doesn't have to be on the edge or off table but that doesn't change the game much.

      The 5x6 would ge good for small skirmish games I think and probably for WWII which is less linear.

  5. All good points, Ross, especially the reach factor, which was quite a problem with the 6 x 7.5 table.
    Yes, the entry from corners suffers from lack of room to maneuver initially. For set-piece linear battle-lines that are already in position or close to it, it would work, or if you were sure there would be no engagements near the entry corners.
    I'm sure your loop reference is to the road configuration for convoy/ambush actions, but it occurs to me I haven't seen a looping battle-line used much that I recall, just refused at one end. I suppose it would depend on the terrain layout, entry of forces, or both (as in one force enters on 3 sides). It sounds interesting, though, hint, hint. Perhaps a force of mainly light infantry could defend a salient of rugged terrain seeking to prevent the enemy capturing a vital supply base or bridge or moving off the defenders edge.

    The pic looks like the extension is gridded, too. I assume you would use the larger table for gridded games as well, true?
    Thanks and regards,