Sunday, 25 November 2018

The 2" (50mm) Grid.

As mentioned in my previous Blog I have opted for the 2 inch ( 50mm ) square.
My 40mm square bases or "Stands"are cut to fit within that space. There are a few reasons for this. In the first instance,it was about formations.

A Stand is a unit in its own right. It can represent an individual Company, Battalion or
Brigade. By not having bigger formations of Stands, there is no reason for loads of rules on formation changes.

Not having a specific ratio scale i.e., one Stand equals 100 men allows you to fit the Army to the board rather than building an Army and  finding that the figure collection you have worked hard in building cannot operate in the the space that you have to battle in.

I have a system whereby each base has a number. This is an indicator of training,  armament and function. It is also very helpful in assessing the size of an army.
For  example, say I  wanted to represent a Roman Republican army of 20,000 men.

This army had specific troop types which should be represented. If we use 1 point for every 1000 men, we would need 20 points. Two thirds of the heavy  infantry had swords, javelins, large shields and helmets so these would be 3points for each Stand. The remaining heavy  infantry would be the Veterans. These men could afford the best armour and their main weapon was the spear. They were held in reserve and had an elite status , therefore these would be 4 points for one Stand.
 The army would also have light infantry maybe with just javelins and a shield. There would two Stands of these at 1 point each. Next ,the cavalry. Now, the Roman cavalry were well equipped but not exceptional and only present in small numbers so we have two Stands at 2 points each. Finally the man himself. The General. Again, not being anything special his Stand is 1 point.

Altogether we have nine Stands  representing 20,000 men. If you decide that hey, I can get more Stands on one side of the board , then use a scale of 1 point equals 500 men. This would give you a 40pt Army.

The number of figures on each Stand is immaterial. The figures are there as a visual reminder of what each Stand represents. It is the number assigned to the Stand that is important as this number is added to the Firing and Combat die rolls.

The same criteria applies to ground scales. By trying to scale the ground movement to that of real army manouvres, two opposing sides would clash almost immediately  with no chance of flanking moves etc.

The word here is; compromise.
I started out by deciding that hand thrown weapons would be as far as the adjacent square. Next, smoothbore muskets would be two squares. Smoothbore artillery would at least be able to fire twice as far so the range for these weapons would be four squares. That would be easy to remember.

The movement rules were a a bit of a fudge.  I spent considerable  time working  out movement rates and then scaled them down. This was again a compromise between marching across a parade ground in good weather on the one hand as opposed to slogging across a muddy field in damp clothes trying to maintain formation while being deafened by gunfire,blinded by smoke, trying to hear orders and I suspect in a number of cases poohing and peeing at the same time. 

Frederick the 2nd knew when his men were getting ready for a battle. When he halted a Marching column he turned around to see 50,000 men relieving themselves at the sides of the road!!.

Again, I came up with 2 squares movement for all Infantry and 4 squares for cavalry. The cavalry had its own set of problems. Again, theoretical movement on the Parade ground is fine. Once on campaign things can go wrong pretty quickly. Horses can go lame. If not fed enough they loose condition. Saddle sores, loss of strength to carry weight. Exhaustion, battle wounds, badly shod ,mud and pot holes. These are just some of the problems besetting a Cavalry General.

In the 18th century the Spanish General Count Gages reckoned each Battalion of Infantry at 350 effectives out of a paper strength of 750 men. The same attritional numbers applied to the cavalry. Very often, on campaign ( and virtually any era ) at least half a cavalry regiment found themselves as dismounted  infantry because of the lack of remounts.
So, when doing your research or when focusing on your favourite army always round down on numbers. Also, see if the main army used any Allies. Inclusion of these makes an Army more interesting.

For my own armies I have found that 40 points worth of Stands ( 1point = 500 actual combatants) will give you about an hour,s  worth of gaming, on a 3 foot by 2 foot table. Also creating such a force won't stretch your patience and your pocket in creating your forces. More about that next time.

At the top of this page is an 18th century army of 40 points. ( MINIATURE FIGURINES)
Below, a 40 point Late Roman Imperial Army ( HAT INDUSTRIES WITH SOME NEWLINE DESIGNS ARCHERS)

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

What's my Grid

 What size of grid to use?. At the heart of this question are two other considerations. The size of the figures and the formations you wish to create or have already created.

Let's take a 24 figure formation in 28mm. They would be on 4 bases each of 6 figures. Each base would be 60mm wide by 40mm deep. To accomodate this fomation in Line means your grid square would have to be 240mm (9 and a half inches) wide. Six of these formations will just about fit onto a table 144cm long (57 inches).

If you put each group of four bases into a 2x2 formation you can get 4 formations into one gridsquare. This also allows room within each gridsquare for formation changes,Generals, artillery and small pieces of scenery.

The board would also need depth to allow for longer Cavalry moves. Using a square of 240mm the board would need to be 5 squares deep. 120 cm (4 feet). In total you can comfortably fit 24 formations on one long side of a 144cm(57inches) board.

Using the same formations in 15mm,you can comfortably fit 6 infantry two lines of three figures on a 40mm Frontage by 30mm deep base. Using six formations in line, each square would need to be 16cm (6 and a half inches).The board would need to be 96cm (approximately 38 inches long). 5 squares deep would be 80cm (approximately 32 inches deep.

Bases for 6mm, 10mm and 12mm, would also be 40mm width by 30mm depth, ( possibly shallower), so the same size board would be used as for the 15mm figures. If you use bases with a 30mm width, four of these in line would need a square 12cm (approximately 5 and a half inches). The board would be 72cm (approximately 29 inches long) by 60cm deep ( 24inches)

The point of all this waffle is;  How much space do you have available for a war game?.
My own board is 3feet x 2feet ( approximately 92cm x 61cm) which sits on a fold-up T.v table in one corner of a room and can be packed away when not in use. The board is marked out in two inch (50mm) squares.

My 15mm metal and plastic figures are on "stands" of thick cardboard 40mm x 40mm square. Each base is a unit in its own right.


15mm figures;  my 18th century Line Infantry are 8 figures in two lines of 4. My light  Infantry are four to a Stand. The Cavalry are 4 to a Stand ( I have to zig-zag em' a bit!). The light cavalry are three to a Stand. The guns are singly mounted with two or three gunners.

I still wanted to keep the 40mm Stands for the 20mm plastic I  started collecting. So, it was three Infantry or two Cavalry. I've  made them up into Units of four Stands but I still use them as individual Stands on the table. My Generals are on individual Stands.

I have recently changed my command Stands to 40mm mdf round Stands to make them stand out more. I'll  talk more about the actual mechanics I  use next time.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The Grid in the Wargame

I went back to using a grid when my Wife said that she would like to try a game. A wise man once told me that if your partner is onside with your hobby then you are truly blessed.

The rules that I  wrote were pretty basic so that myself and my Wife did not have to many mechanics to remember. Our first game went really well.

After that first game, I  convinced a few non-wargamers to try out a game. This also went very well. Another time a couple of Fantasy gamers well used to tape measures and encyclopedic rule books. They enjoyed the game and commented that it was a nice chance to play something easy.

I realised that using a Grid is a basic Game mechanic that everyone mentally equates to. Using a Grid greatly reduces the number of rules required for movement, Firing and Combat. This in turn means that a game ceases to be a mental strain on people, not only in trying to explain the mechanics,but also not confusing the hell out of them!!

At the time I  myself didn't know that other Wargamers had also used squares  prior to the rules that I  eventually published.

In America in the1960,s Joe Morshauser came up with a set that never saw the light of day until a few years ago. Charles Sweet is another American Gamer who has recently been more widely known about.

There is also a Gent in Austria  who has been using squares  in his war gaming activities for many years. Prior to my scribblings there was only one commercial company that I was aware of that did ,( and still does) use a Grid in their rule sets.

After I  published, more rule sets have appeared which uses a square as the basic mechanic. Despite this the majority of Wargamers in the hobby do not like the Grid. For those who expend a great deal of time and effort on creating well painted  historically correct figures vehicles and scenery, they say it ruins the aesthetics. For the "win at all cost"Brigade they hate it because it makes it harder to bend the rules.

Myself, I  think maybe the hobby missed a trick here. By introducing the square, the hobby might become more generally acceptable to the public. It would put the emphasis on war GAMING, not WAR gaming.

In my next blog I'll  be writing about the size of Grid I  use.

Monday, 8 October 2018

The Beginning of my Blogging Adventure

Well, here we are. My first venture into the 21st century art of on-line war gaming.

I'm Michael and i've been a wargamer for around 48 years. I have tried numerous systems of play. I have to say that for me personally, using a grid of squares works every time. I also have a slight disability which also reflects on my choice of gaming.

There is also another aspect to this euphemistically known as "Gamesmanship". Have you been in a situation whereby you are watching your opponent measure to move and you just know that they have moved that extra distance to either gain the advantage or to get themselves out of trouble. When questioned about this manoeuvre they either;

A: mumble into their beer mug that there was no difference,

B: point to some obscure rule in the small print that its allowed on any day with an "A" in it.

C: More often ,stomp up and down waving their arms about and shouting a lot whilst the face has turned such a colour as to prompt your Memory on CPR procedure!!

 Well, all these moments have happened, including an episode where I had to stop members of our gathering engaging in activities covered by the Marquis of Queensbury!

My starting point in the hobby was Don Featherstones Battles with Model Soldiers and everything moved on from there. However for all the reasons  stated above, war gaming on a grid is where I'm at.

Hopefully in time, I  will be able to bring you more news of the methods I  use and how I employ them and also some decent pics once I have a firmer grasp on the tech!!