In recent times, I have decided once and for all to renounce all hope and expectation of obtaining an 8ft x 6ft - or maybe a 9ft x 5ft table tennis table - for my war games. It just ain't gonna happen. There's just no space for one. I will have, then, to content myself with my 6ft x 4ft table, and other, smaller, possibilities, or, if I want big: it will have to be the front or back lawn.
The consequences have to do with the size of units I favour: 24 figure infantry for Napoleonics; 27 figures for American Civil War infantry; 36-figures for mid- eighteenth century and Marlburian. The last of these will be on 20mm bases as well. Cavalry units are smaller, roughly half the numbers, except for my Marlburian, where the Horse units comprise 24 figures. Neither is that great a 'fit' with a small table, unless the battles themselves are very small.
Beginning with the Napoleonics, methought to bring in alternative organizations, such that a battalion might become a brigade, or even a Division. Some weeks ago I posted a play test exploring combats between brigade/Divisional columns against line. In it I posted a possible Army Corps formation in which each of my 24-figure infantry units constituted a brigade, of which two made up a Division. The Corps comprised 3 infantry divisions, a 12-figure cavalry brigade, and one or two guns (picture below).
But before developing a rule set for this organization, I have decided to go for an even larger scale battles, with each figure representing 200, and each gun or vehicle representing 30-32. In the lead picture, the centre Division (XVI Division) is shown deployed in two lines with voltigeurs thrown forward in skirmish order. The question remains whether a rule set at this sort of scale ought to include this level of detail. Many would argue not, but I have a feeling the option at least ought to be available.
|Close up of XVI Division deployed: successive lines, and skirmishers ahead.|
Further to this philosophical question: do we want infantry faced with cavalry attack to be seen in square or not? My preference, broadly speaking, is that such formations be shown explicitly, but I can understand (at least at some level) the contrary view.
Below are depictions of the two options of a French Division being menaced by Austrian Horse (Cuirassiers and Dragoons) approaching in some kind of column formation. More than likely the formation of choice of cavalry will be in successive lines of 6 figures - i.e. a block of 2 ranks of 6 figures apiece. Something additional to think about.
At this kind of scale, and taking the frontage of a 600-man battalion in a line of 3 ranks as being very roughly 120 yards (perhaps a little more), it would appear that 1cm on the table should represent perhaps 30 yards (or paces or meters, take your pick) on the ground. Possibly it should be more, but let's run with this c1:2700 ground scale. My 6'x4' table-top, then represents a battlefield 3 miles broad by 2 deep.
At this sort of scale, effective musketry ranges would be roughly up to 5cm (150 yards). It would appear that Paddy Griffith's method of enacting all musketry and close combats with this 5cm separation between opposing forces might well become the combat system of choice ...
Before concluding, it seems to me a time scale has to be looked into. What does a bound represent, and how many represents the hours of daylight? At this juncture, I incline to a bound of one hour, with a 'day' comprising as follows:
May 21-July 20: 1 morning half-light, 16 full day, 1 evening half-light, 6 full darkness
July 21-August 20: 1 morning half-light, 14 full day, 1 evening half-light, 8 full darkness
August 21-October 20: 1 morning half-light, 12 full day, 1 evening half-light, 10 full darkness
October 21-November 20: 1 morning half-light, 10 full day, 1 evening half-light, 12 full darkness
November 21-January 20: 1 morning half-light, 8 full day, 1 evening half-light, 14 full darkness.
Do I want to go into this detail? For campaign work, more than likely. For pick-up battles, probably not.
Note that at this point so far we are looking at army composition, and ground, figure and time scales, and the choice what to depict. This is before we even begin a substantive rule set.
To be continued...