Sunday, 22 July 2012

Playing to Scale

My brain hurts.

I mentioned the other day that I have a desire to paint some 1/300th stuff. So I popped along to Heroics and Ros and bought a few bits and pieces of WWII Russians. Which of course leads to the question of what rules?

After a bit of searching I found a pdf copy of WRG's 1925 to 1950 rules, which brought back many happy memories - I must ask my mother if she can find my old copy. And being a fan of Two Fat Lardies, I decided to get a copy of I Ain't Been Shot Mum.

Which raised the problem of basing.

Using individual bases for 6mm figures is impracticable. And as the Lardie rules remove individual casualties and also requires that a record be kept of shock points some method had to be found for both of these tasks. That method would be using the dice holders and bases from Minibits I decided.

Ok all of this so far is fairly straight forward consumerist wargaming.

The brain ache begins with trying to decide the base sizes.

I Ain't Been Shot Mum uses a ground scale of 12" = 80 yards.

Looking at the bases others have used I notice that it common to use one and two pence pieces, with three or four men on a base. A two pence piece is a inch in diameter, meaning that the four men on the base are occupying roughly 6 - 7 yards of frontage. If we assume the that there are three such bases in a section, that give a frontage of around 20 yards, or 60 feet - giving each man a comfortable 5-6 feet of personal space.

And looking at battle reports and pictures of games the effect this spacing produces is certainly very pleasing on the eye.

And perhaps just as importantly - for some - allows the infantry to get out of the way of the tanks ;)

However, I happened to discover this table on which gives the unit frontages for armies of the period, both while attacking and defending.

It shows that the section frontage for a German unit as 30-40 metres, and for a Russian section as 40-50 metres. The multiplier is even greater when the distances are applied at platoon level (assuming 3 sections to a platoon). Using the penny method the platoon would deploy on a 60 yard frontage, whereas the recommended frontage is 100 metres (109 yards), when attacking, and between 200 and 500 metres when defending.

To put that into game turns, a platoon when defending should have a frontage of between, roughly, 31" and 75".

Or expressed another way each man goes from having a personal space of 5-6 feet, to something over 20 feet.

Which in terms of my planning is ideal because it allows me to use bigger bases - I'm thinking of 60mm by 30mm for a section of 3 or 4 figures - which will allow for addition of the dice holder, and a bit of scenic work. And also allow for the game to be in a proper scale - especially as in terms of game design I Ain't Been Shot Mum is true 6mm (apparently).

Incidentally for lists I am working of the formations at

I have to say that I am rather excited by all this mathematical activity because what it has opened up is the possibility of actually playing a 'historical' wargame.

Realizing that a 6 by 4 table is 1/5th of a mile by a 1/3 suddenly puts the idea of having hundreds of troops on the table into perspective. A table that size would just about fit two platoons, @60 men, at the minimum frontage for defending.

And it certainly places other supporting elements, such as heavy artillery, firmly where it should be - off the table. 

(Oh and forget for now will you that I have ordered about 300 Russian infantry ;))


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