Thursday, May 29, 2014

Big Battles for Small Tables.

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.  
 V Army Corps, with 24-figure tactical units representing Divisions.
At 1:200 scale, this Army Corps comprises 90 figures including
Marshal Ney and his ADC - 18,000 troops and 32 guns.
(Infantry Front Rank (I think) and artillery and Corps Command
 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).
Army corps with 24-figure infantry tactical units representing
brigades.  Two brigades made up a Division. At a figure scale of 1:100,  each model gun with 4 of
a crew represents 16 guns.  This Army corps would have an
overall strength of 16,400. (All figures Minifigs).
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.
 Even were we so to do, what form should a Divisional Square take: two 12-figure squares, as above; or a single 24-figure square as below?  More than likely the practicalities of game mechanics will decide.
 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...

Army Men Portee

 Thanks to several readers suggestions about ways to developing my Army Men artillery, I feel I am making some progress towards organizing, clothing (painting) and equipping my Army Men armies.  Latest in the programme has been these anti-tank gun portees, the pride (or one of the prides) of the Army of Kiivar.
 I did toy - toy, forsooth! - with the idea of prettying up the portees (and other trucks of the type) by adding a proper chassis and floors to the cab.  However, I'll probably leave them as they are - toy trucks - though I am very tempted to 'glaze' the cab windows and windscreen with a gloss black, dark blue or dark green card.
 The lead pictures show the 2-gun platoon in its usual mode: mounted up, and ready to fire from the vehicles. Though vulnerable to incoming, they do have the ability to bug out if things get too warm.  The yellow/light blue/yellow Kiivar flag tab on the uniform sleeves have come out rather poorly (a brush a whole deal duffer than I thought, but poor choice of colours as well).  That will have to be fixed. I might change the green trousers too to a shade more distinctive from the grey jackets.  A bit of outlining and wash to pick out the detail won't go amiss neither.

 Below are pics of the guns in dismounted mode.

 Of course, the guns ought to have wheels associated with them on some way, but the reason for the portees instead of tows was the lack of wheels - not to mention damage to the lug-axles upon which the wheels turned.

 And, finally, Gun A1, crew and portee mount shown separately.  Thanks to Stan Walker for his suggestion - I think it will work quite well.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


No: this is not your standard 'Battle for the crossroads' scenario, but it might lead to that.  Rather, I have been feeling lately that I have reached a bit of a crossroads in my war gaming.
Table and troops laid out, but not yet deployed for battle,
preparatory to the Battle of Hedbangen, a vital riven and sea
port of the Principality of Ursaminor.  The article has yet to be
completed and posted.

The observant reader may have noticed a lack of activity on this blog lately.  In fact I have a posting that has been in the draft stage now for the best part of three weeks, the battle fought, the pictures posted and the narrative begun.  It was intended to be the generating circumstance of a large scale war within the Wholly Romantic Empire: The War of the Imperial Succession.  As is usual with such things, the trigger that fired diplomatic discourse into a shooting war happened on the fringes of the Imperium, of which more perhaps a little later.
Tempted by Tim Gow's 'Little Cold Wars' project, I thought I
had after all found a use for some very small (about 30-35mm) Army Men and
Armour.  But where am I to take this?  Probably a lot of the Army Men
 equipments can be used for this as well ... But maybe it ought to wait.
The fact is that changing circumstances have forced me to reconsider where I want to take my war gaming.  It is all not helped by my beginning four new projects in the last - well not much more than three years, really - and was as like to begin a fifth - something akin to Tim Gow's Little Cold Wars project.  I had forgotten over the years one of the major reason (aside from a vague sense of distaste that events in the Ukraine and elsewhere are beginning to revive) for my avoiding post WW2 moderns was the sheer complication of the equipments required.
Raesharn anti-tank guns with plastic disk wheels that were obtained
from the Wargames factory sprues of my War of the Spanish Succession figures
 But I have also had to reconcile myself to the fact that I am unlikely ever to achieve my long term ideal of an 8-foot by 6-foot table for my war games.  It will be my heavy 6x4 board, or a couple of smaller boards roughly 4 foot square, or maybe the back (or front) lawn.  The consequences there are likely to be that my Horse and Musket armies will have to undergo one or both of:
[a] Reorganization;
[b] Philosophical review.
Kiivar anti-tank gun portees.  The dudes standing directly behind the guns
have had the centre of their stands cut away
the better to accommodate the trail.
 I have gone in for 36-figure units in my 18th Century armies, which are not a comfortable 'fit' on a 6x4 table.  Sure, I have posted several battles now - especially the early Ulrichstein Revolt battles - on this table.  But the larger final actions look place on a table twice as large.   Meanwhile, my 24-figure Napoleonic infantry units I can see representing battalions, regiments, brigades or Divisions, depending on the scale of action I want.  I certainly won't be the first ever to field an Army Corps of 72 infantry, 12 cavalry and a gun!
Towed anti-tank guns of Kiivar.  
 That will lead, of course, to a whole new rule set to accommodate the change.  I daresay Snappy Nappy would fill the bill; and I do have, I discover a photocopy of a modified version of one of Paddy Griffith's rule sets that was the basis for a long series of historical refights in Christchurch during the early 1990s.  At that, Colin Foster's Vive l'Empereur rule set, with some tweaks, sounds like a viable option.  Or I could simply work up my own simple, Old School, system.
Army Men accessories -  weapons emplacements, sandbags,
and a whole swodge of barbed wire entanglements.  I was very tempted to
glue the last two and three deep onto single stands, but then realised
that one per stand still permitted varying depths of entanglement
according to circumstances...
Something to think about over the winter months by the nice, warm fire... Meanwhile, the pictures show a little bit of recent progress on the Army Men front, the Raesharn anti-tank guns, and the Kiivar portees coming together.  For the latter, will I glue gun and crew to the vehicle, or perhaps glue gun and crew to a stand that will fit into the flat bed of the truck portee, or leave it all loose?  The flexibility offered by the last option does have its down side...

Acknowledgements, rather belated ones:
My thanks and welcome to Phil of Sound Officers Call blogspot.  Follower number 104.