Sunday, 18 March 2018

Size Matters

28mm Austrian Army

I painted my last model soldier before we left the UK to move to Spain in 2006.   At that time we had a complete collection of Napoleonic armies in 6mm, 18mm and 28mm.  

We also had scenery, in particular buildings and trees, in each scale. Though it was far from comprehensive.   However there was sufficient to clutter the wargames table in any of the three scales.

This was the result of 40 years of collecting and painting figures.   Both the 28mm and 18mm had been completely replaced more than once, as new figures became available.  

It was our intention to design a campaign which would allow us to use all three scales and all of the scenery more or less in rotation.   Our current 1813 campaign does so by having five campaign areas each with a major French and allied army.

I wanted to use the 28mm to fight single corps battles, 18mm for two or three corps battles and 6mm for larger battles.   In theory this worked fine.  In practice less so.

The major problem was to design a wargames table that would be suitable for all three scales.   After much thought I realised that this could only be achieved by having a flat play table and three sets of buildings, roads, rivers and trees one set in each scale.
18mm Austrian Army

I designed the campaign to provide interesting battles to wargame.   And to make the transfer from map to table easy the map had to show the exact terrain.   This was achieved by using scenery squares showing roads, rivers and hills.  The buildings and trees were free standing.

However unless I produced three sets of scenery squares the rivers and roads would be greatly out of scale.   I compromised by making them slightly too small for 28mm and slightly too large for 18mm.   They were completely unsuitable for 6mm

All was well when I was refinish the campaign and wargames table.   We played games with all three scales.  28mm and 18mm were reserved for the 1813 campaign, and worked quite well.  

We used the 6mm to game “one off battles”, particularly the larger historical ones such as Waterloo and Leipzig.   However we quickly lost patience with the tiny figures.   To fit the campaign orders of battle and our home brew wargame rules, all three scales had to be based the same.   This worked well for 28mm, less well for 18mm and not at all well for 6mm.   There were massed of tiny bases which were difficult to handle and almost impossible to identify.   Eventually we stopped using the 6mm.

Our experience with 18mm was similar.   Again must smaller than the 28mm, and more likely to fall over on hills.   Being so small they were also difficult to handle and identify.   Eventually we also stopped using them and relied on the 28mm figures

So now I have a large collection of 18mm and 6mm which have not been used for about 8 years.   I could try to sell them, but really don’t want to face the hassle.  And they are all based for rules which no one else would use.

The summer is a quiet time for us here in Spain, because it too hot to do any hill walking.   Consequently it is a good time for me to take on a new project.   I am trying to convince myself that finding a way to use my neglected 6mm and 18mm figures might be a worthwhile summer project.


Arthur Harman said...

How about using your 6mm troops to create attractive division/corps counters for The Generalship Game from Paddy Griffith's Napoleonic Wargaming For Fun (Ward Lock, 1980; but republished in John Curry's History of Wargaming Project), or as force counters for a Napoleonic - or South American Wars of Liberation - version of RISK?

Or even use them instead of poker chips and resolve battles by playing hands on individual objectives: 'I'll see your Imperial Guard with my Foot Guards and raise you the 52nd Light Infantry!'

Ross Mac said...

Ah the curse of liking new figures! Eventually, either one ends up with more than one needs or else one has to forego the pleasure of adding.

If you are going to use the different scales for different sorts of games, would it be possible to write a different set of rules for each and if you don't wish to rebase, you could group a number of bases on to a larger, easier to henadle base representing a higher level of unit?

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Arthur

Your mention of Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming For Fun brought back happy memories. I had a copy of the original and used many of his suggested rules for different size games.

The problem is that I am tied into a comprehensive campaign system and supporting “house” rules.

I could always set up one of your suggested options as a break from the campaign series of wargames.

Over the past 10 years or so all of my wargames have derived from the campaign, and we have no doubt become too set in our ways.



thistlebarrow said...

Hi Ross

I found that the rules worked ok with all three scales, I just used mm instead of inch for the smaller figures.
The problem was transferring from the campaign to the table. Each map square holds a maximum of one corps. This allows a maximum of three corps side by side on the table and one in reserve.

When I use the smaller figures there is much more space for them to manoeuvre, but I am still restricted to the same deployment

What I would really like is to use more map squares with the smaller figures. Rather than transfer a square of 9 map squares, I would like to transfer a square of 18 map squares. This would allow me to game much more dispersed wargames. The problem is the prepainted scenery squares I use to make up the wargames table.

Any other solution would mean too much extra work, and probably redesigning the whole campaign concept. It is tempting as a summer project, but I am not at all sure that it would ever work, and the resulting compromise would result in a less enjoyable game.



James Fisher said...

'One day', I'd like to fight an action at three scales 'simultaneously', or more likely 'in parallel': grand-tactical movement at 2 mm, the majority at our main scale of 1/72nd and some larger scale figures (or perhaps merely scaled-up units at 1/72nd) for a few detailed sections of the action (attack on a town, for instance).
This, of course, will require three playing areas is the problem that you want to avoid, so my comment is not much help to you(!), except that I'd be saying "New project, why not?!"

thistlebarrow said...

Hi James

Thanks for your comment

Interesting idea to fight one battle using three scales at the same time. No reason why it should not work, though it would take a long time to game and you would need three permanent tables. It would be possible to use one table, but it would be even more work. When the 2mm battle reached a stage where you wanted to fight one section in a larger scale you could photograph the table, set up the battle and replace the 2mm when the larger battle is resolved. The larger battles would only be sections of the 2mm battle so you would not have to record and reset the larger battles.

The more I think about it the more I think it could be done. Better if you did it as a campaign. The 2mm would replace the campaign map movement and be used for strategic movement and to fight major battles. 18mm could be used to fight corps battles and 28mm skirmish type actions.

It would not at all suit what I am doing. The scenery and the table would be a major problem for me. But if you were to design a small campaign around the concept I am sure that it could work. You would however need a lot of scenery in the three scales and also a table where all three scales could be fought.

Let me know if you every do it, I would be interested to see how it works out.