Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Wargames Table

Table at the start of wargame
I have found that size is not in fact everything when it comes to wargaming.   We are fortunate to have had a permanent wargames table for the past 30 years or so.   The first table, which we used until we moved to Spain, was 12x6 foot.  This was the maximum we could fit into the available space.   It was mostly used for our regular wargames group of 4-8 people.   When Jan and I used it on our own we found that it was really too large.   It would take 500-600 figures easily, which was too many for two players.  And we had to move around the table a lot, which did not add to the enjoyment of the game.

When we moved to Spain I decided that 6x6 foot would be the ideal size for the two of us.   We could fight battles with our planned armies of 150-200 figures per side with sufficient space to manoeuvre.  

The hardest problem was whether to have a table with 2x2 foot scenic squares, or a wargame mat.   Our first table had squares, because it was inspired by two visits to Peter Guilder’s Wargame Holiday Centre.  His squares were 3x3 foot, but we decided that 2x2 foot would be much more flexible.

We finally decided on using 2x2 foot squares again.  They do not look as pretty as a wargame mat, but they are much more practical for wargames based on a campaign. 

Each square on our strategic map would be a 6x6 foot wargames table.   Each square on our tactical map would be a 2x2 foot wargame square.   This would allow us to make tactical maps which looked exactly like a series of wargames squares.   If both were numbered it would make transferring from the map to the table easy and quick.

I designed the squares to cover as many options as possible.   I could store 12 squares under the wargames table, plus 9 squares on the table itself.  So the maximum number of scenic squares would be 21.   All squares, except for those with hills, would have different terrain on both sides, either roads, rivers or no terrain.   The final combination of squares was as follows:

7 hills – 3 hills alone, 2 road passing through hill, 2 hill one side of road
7 rivers – 3 with road for bridge, 2 straight river, 2 river bends
11 roads – 5 straight roads, 4 T junction, 2 road bends
9 no terrain

No great planning went into this combination of scenic squares, but they have stood the test of time.   I have not added to or changed any of them, and they have given me a surprising variety of wargame tables over the years.


irishserb said...

This deviates somewhat from the primary subject of the table size itself, but do you not find that sometimes the campaign generates unbalanced battles, where one side has more than the anticipated number of figures or elements? Or is that something that the scope of the rules or of the campaign tends to avoid?

As I write this, it occurs to me that the map scale and designed transfer scale to the table top, might create an upper limit to the number of figures that could end up on the tabletop. Is that possibly the case?

thistlebarrow said...

Hi irishserb

Thanks for your comments.

The maximum number of figures in each army is 128 infantry, 32 cavalry and 4 guns and these fit on the 6x6 foot wargames table comfortably. Only one corps is allowed in each map square, so though it is possible to manoeuvre all four corps for the same battle, it is quite difficult.

The only time that there is a problem is when there are more corps on one side or the other. This would result in an uneven battle, which would be pretty boring to wargame. However there are campaign rules to cover this type of uneven combat. Casualties on each side are decided by a chart and a dice roll. This type of battle is never wargamed.