Wednesday, 2 January 2019

What about the Figures.

This is always the tricky bit of the hobby. You get an idea in your head of a particular
period of history you are interested in. Next you start looking for figures ( or Minis) for that period. This is the first hurdle.

Many, are the cupboards, lofts, sheds and garages the length and breadth of the nation containing boxes of metal and plastic figures symbolizing the dreams and aspirations of wargamers never to be realized. Their ultimate destiny being a bring and buy stall ,church bazaar or car boot sale!

Why is this?. It usually starts with a book, a film, or an article in a war game magazine. In our minds eye we can picture the thundering charges of armoured cavalry, the closed ranks of legionary shields holding back hordes of barbarians or mighty tanks smashing enemy defences.

Next, having seen the coloured photos of lavish war game tables groaning under the weight of exellently painted figures or having been taken to a war game show, the spell becomes harder to resist. The colour! The spectacle! I must buy!!

Before you know it a small fortune has been spent on acquiring bags or boxes of figures (all rhyme and reason out the window) along with paints and brushes. These are stored in a place ready for those aspirations to be magically realised.

That's when the cold light of reason hits home. Four incidents usually happen.

1 : You finally realize that you haven't got the patience and none of the skill required to turn this pile of lead/ plastic into something resembling the pictures/games you have seen.

2 : Your domestic situation has changed whereby that spare room has been taken up by a returning sibling maybe with grand siblings in tow. Your regular home/ work routine has been knocked sideways by unforeseen circumstances.

3:  Having sat and thought about it for a few weeks you realise you have selected the wrong scale of figues combined with the amount of space not being available for the formations you envisaged.(note the bigger the figures the bigger the scenery. Have you the room for that as well as the figures!!).

4: There are no Wargame groups in your area that cater for large scale games or
     the group of mates you wargamed with have moved on to a different era, don't want to do that era of history, or have split up to go their separate ways.
This last one also contains the poison chalice whereby you have all the figures of one side only. If you wish to continue then you have to collect enough stuff to form the opposition. A double whammy!!!.

All these situations have happened to this blogger in the last 50 years and no doubt to many other gamers. On top of all this , if you have a partner ,will they tolerate your interest in " toy soldiers".

If you can spare a moment to give all the above some thought a lot of effort and money will be saved.

The photo above this post is my interpretation of a Sassanid Army. It took me about 8 weeks to paint taking roughly an hour a day. All the figures are Hat Industries. The metal spears are either dressmaker pins, or javelins cut down from North Star Miniatures. The War Elephants are the Carthaginian types again from Hat Industries.

All the plastic figures were supplied from
The figures below are 15 mm metal.

Mostly Miniature Figurines with some Peter Pig and Essex Miniatures.


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)