New bases

Dean’s (of Olympian Games) bases arrived. I have ordered enough to do a few mock-ups to see how they’ll turn out. The base turnaround was very quick and Dean suggested cut-out sabots to layer over his thin bases. He will be able to do dice frames for me. In fact he’s given me a couple of dice frames to experiment with. I got a 6mm dice frame and 8mm dice frame to accommodate 5mm and 7mm dice respectively.

His advice was to do fairly thick dice frames to hold the dice securely. That’s sensible enough, but I think I’ll go with poster putty (Blu Tack) to reinforce gravity and friction. That means I can keep the overall base thickness down. You can see a dice frame below:

DF 6mm 75mm

6mm on 75mm (3″) base. Dice frame at the rear.

I had to search them out but I found some 5mm dice in the flesh. Gak! They’re tiny. In fact, they’re so small that I’ve abandoned them as an option. I’ve order some 7mm dice to have a look at. The smallest I have are 9mm and too big for the dice frames.

In terms of the bases my first impression is that 6mm and 15mm figures look pretty good on 75mm bases. Certainly, Napoleon’s Battles size infantry bases will look very good saboted onto this size. On the other hand 60mm looks a little crowded as the figures go right to the edge. Finally, 50mm is real squeeze. See below:

15mm 75mm

15mm on 75mm (3″) base.

15mm cavalry on the same base.

15mm cavalry on the same base.

15mm infantry on a 60mm base.

15mm infantry on a 60mm base.

15mm infantry on a 50mm (2

15mm infantry on a 50mm (2″) base.

My Heroics & Ros 6mm figures look very small on the 75mm bases particularly (as above). In terms of other sizes, see below:

6mm infantry on a 60mm base.

6mm infantry on a 60mm base.  Rear battalion in focus and depth of field wrong.  Sigh.

6mm cavalry on 75mm (3

6mm cavalry on 75mm (3″) base.

6mm cavalry on a 60mm base.

6mm cavalry on a 60mm base.

6mm cavalry on a 50mm  (2

6mm cavalry on a 50mm (2″) base.

The thing to test is smaller base sizes to sabot on to large 60-75mm bases. 15mm cavalry are going to struggle to fit on 30x20mm bases but infantry are fine. Smaller bases at 20 by 20mm are just unworkable for 15mm and would give an odd, clumpy look to 6mm.

15mm figures looked pretty good on a 60 by 30mm base.  20mm is too shallow for 15mm cavalry.

15mm infantry on a 60 by 30mm base.  Obviously, 6mm will fit well too.

15mm infantry on a 60 by 30mm base. Obviously, 6mm will fit well too.

15mm cavalry fit fine for depth on a 60 by 30mm base.

15mm cavalry fit fine for depth on a 60 by 30mm base. You can fit 6 figures.

Another problem is how magnets on bases behave when like poles repel each other. Magnetic sheet on the sabot makes sense, but I think I’ll go with shim steel under the smaller bases to avoid the repulsors effect.

Shim Steel 0.05mm

Shim Steel 0.05mm. You can see a test corner clip done with nail scissors. Yep, easy to work with.

I also found some old Napoleon’s Battles movement trays in both 3″ and 2″ size.  As you saw above, I’m not actually sure I want to go with 2″ bases.

Napoleon's Battles movement trays.

Napoleon’s Battles movement trays.

I showed these bases to some of the boys on Monday night. There was some discussion about the large number of 6mm figures we have access to. We have enough 6mm figures to fight the Battle of Dresden at 1:33 figure scale. That should be enough! In terms of 15mm we’ll have 6-7,000 figures which is also a substantial number.

There was also some discussion about how to use 6mm and 15 mm figures. I think the consensus was to place the 6mm figures on the 75mm bases to maximise the diorama potential. We should then be able to use models to signify unit traits (such as skirmish and firepower). We can use the 15mm figures on smaller bases for the larger battles as you don’t lose any diorama potential (because there isn’t any; they just fill the base) by shrinking the base width. They are always going to need rosters or labels anyway.

I’m not sure I agree, but that’s the nature of consensus. I think I’d go 60mm for the 6mm because if we are going to refight Bautzen, Leipzig or Dresden with anything, it will be with them since we don’t have the right 15mm figures for that.  For those battles we’ll definitely need smaller base widths. We can always place the 60mm base on a 75mm (3″) sabot.

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Basing for Blücher

One thing we’ll need to do is to rebase all of our existing 6mm troops.

I’ve been considering basing options in terms of flexibility. The objectives are fourfold:

  • maximise compatibility with different rules
  • maximise Blücher scaling
  • minimise Blücher book-keeping
  • get the most out of the figures we have

Compatibility

I did some basic research on scaling for some popular rules below.

Base sizes in mm
Infantry
Cavalry
Artillery
Uses Base Widths?
Covered?
W
D
W
D
W
D
Polemos GdD 60 30 60 30 30 30 Y At a stretch
Polemos MdE 60 60 60 60 30 30 Y Y
Grand Armée 75 75 75 75 40 75 Y Y
Lasalle 30-50 20-35 30-50 20-35 30-50 35-50 Y Y
VnB RtG 75 75 75 75 75 75 N Y
VnB 75 75 75 75 37 75 N Y
Blücher 75 75 75 75 75 75 Y Y

Most are for large battles or related to such sets. I’d be grateful to hear if I’ve overlooked any you think I should include (just use the comment option at the top of the post).

The desire for flexibility stems from the figures we have had sitting in a cupboard for decades because re-basing for new rules was a pain.

Scaling

For historical battles, Blücher allows game scaling by altering the men/base scale and by altering the base size.  Men/base scale can vary from 1,000 to 5,000 infantry without too much problem. Base size can be varied up or down (but mostly down, no need to go much larger than 75mm) as low as you want to go.  Halving the base size doubles the ground scale.

Just as an aside I suspect Sam Mustafa would say Blücher doesn’t have fixed ground or figure scales and I understand his point. The important thing is that the game plays well and not that imprecise assumptions are precisely modelled. However, you need to start with or choose a map size and and unit scale when developing historical scenarios.

30 by 20mm bases could be sensibly saboted onto all of the base sizes above or used raw in Lasalle.

Markers

Using 30 by 20mm bases allows some room on full size 75mm bases for game markers.  Room for a line of skirmishers out the front, a dice frame, a gun, or a squadron of cavalry would minimise the paperwork for a rosters and information strips on the bases.

Figures

This is pretty self-explanatory. 🙂 Whatever system we adopt needs to give bang for buck in terms of figures.

The approach

I was thinking something along the lines of having 75, 60, and 50mm sabots with the figures mounted on 30 by 20mm bases. That allows us to play all but Polemos GdD and if keen we could go with very simple 60 by 30mm sabots.

So, something like this:

Sabot scheme

Sabot scheme

What do you think?  Leave me a comment if you have any feedback.

‘Fessing up

Ours is an interesting gaming group with an interesting framework supporting our gaming nights. Anyway, that’s a post for another time. I thought it was time to come clean with them.   I hadn’t actually checked whether they’d be willing to participate until after the play test mentioned in the previous post.

I outlined my campaign plans to them and, as I suspected, they were supportive. There was some hesitation when I outlined some of the risks (the biggest being “carking it” before completion), but there were also helpful suggestions about how to proceed.

One issue I hadn’t considered was how to incorporate naval campaigns into the approach.  Graham, the player who was keen on naval campaigns, is going to have to help me out there. I’m not a big fan of naval games and campaigns. Close rapidly to effective range and shoot a lot seems the post-Dreadnought approach and the idea of plotting ocean moves seems too extreme.  Anyway, we’ll see what we can come up with.  I’d welcome suggestions in the comment field under the title above.

Use of only one ruleset was supported and there was no objection to at least starting with Blücher.  We did discuss re-basing and scale.  Everyone has 6mm figures and I have some thousands of additional 15mm figures and they are going to need some sort of basing intervention.

Currently the 6mm figures are based in line with our old ruleset so that’s paper strength companies/squadrons at 1:35 figure scale (so Prussian musketeer battalions of 1806 are represented by a command strip of 5 figures with a mini-movement tray and four more “sticks” of five figures).  That arrangement is clearly going to need some major adaptation for any other rules, let alone Blücher.  My 15mm figures are based for Napoleon’s Battles.

The use of different players as umpires in different theatres was also suggested. That’s a relief to me as I would love to play in some of these campaigns.  However, it does mean whatever campaign rules I come up with will have to be developed enough to hand on to others to use.

My idea of building “careers” for players generated puzzled looks particularly when I guaranteed some of them would die. When I suggested player characters might participate in place of named historical generals in multiple campaigns in different theatres I encountered more puzzlement resistance.  It seems we’ll be using historical generals.

Finally, player’s understood the need to “reset” history at the close of every campaign. We’ll have to judge our performance by how well we do in each each campaign, not by the fate of nations.

One new concern I do have is players researching particular campaigns ahead of time.  I’d like the puzzles presented by at least the lesser known campaigns to be fresh and not tainted by the historical outcome.

What else do we need?

It seems we have a venue and players sorted.  There are outstanding issues regarding the tabletop rules, campaign rules, terrain, and figures. So it seems we have a fair bit outstanding.

We haven’t been able to settle Napoleonic tabletop rules in the 20+ years since we ran our last Waterloo campaign.  I was unable to interest the group in Napoleon’s Battle’s but we have just tried out Blücher.  I think we’ll get there once the need for rules crystallises and people make decisions about never finding a perfect ruleset .

The campaigns are so different in scale, time frame and intensity that I don’t think one set of campaign rules will suffice.  Le Vol de l’Aigle and the Empire Campaign System or some combination of the two will cover us for a traditional, operational level game.  There is room for a matrix game or Snappy Nappy for some of them.  The task required is to go through the campaigns and settle an appropriate treatment for each.

We are a bit light on for tabletop terrain,for a 2.4m by 1.2m table but there are cheap options.  I think this issue can be resolved as we as we go.

That just leaves figures and that is going to require some more thought.  We have nothing suitable for pre 1809, but at 6mm most armies built for the period 1792-1808 can stretch to cover almost the entire 16 years.  We are going to need to rebase existing armies and paint some more.  Frustratingly, the “paint some more” option will delay the start if we choose to stick to chronological order.  Of course, we can just turn a blind eye.

To hand and prerequisites – the MacGyver stocktake

The first thing to do is to work out the scope of what we’ll do. Then we can assess what we have and work out what else we’ll need for the project (after this referred to as Compleat).

Scope

My vision for Compleat is to re-fight each campaign from 1792 up to 1815 and the Waterloo campaign.

I’d like the players to take a variety of roles and nationalities throughout the period, but also feel some ownership of the many characters they portray. Those characters will be generals and not politicians. Their focus is combat, not politics and grand strategy. While not strictly role-playing, I’m expecting characters to build experience, a record of achievement, develop foibles, and risk death in action. Obviously, we’ll want to record that.

In terms of the campaigns themselves I saw us re-fighting them in chronological order (but am having second thoughts) with potentially different outcomes for each. However, the next campaign would start from the historical, not the “as played” outcome. That way, the next campaigns are recognisable and fit the framework of the history of the period. The rules and work that would be required for running nations to account for different campaign outcomes make that option unworkable for me.

Resources

Players

Currently nine of us meet on Mondays and occasionally on long weekends. There are a couple of people posted away from Canberra who may return. We all know some players who would help out if we need more.

  • The group is stable and permanent.
  • We’ve previously run brief campaigns (1815 and Successors).
  • The group is experienced and skilled.
  • The group is old (30-55). I will be 78 by the time we finish if we don’t outpace history.

Figures

  • Some thousands of 15mm figures based for Napoleon’s Battles.  They include combatant nations and uniforms suitable for 1808+.  (I’ll include a link to a stock-take when I conduct it).
  • Some thousands of 6mm figures based for our home-grown rules.  They include combatant nations and uniforms suitable for 1812-15.
  • Probably 1,000 unpainted 15mm miniatures.

Terrain

  • Unfortunately our hand-crafted boards of Dresden and Waterloo that we used for exhibitions at Cancon didn’t survive continued movement from place to place and getting wet in my garage. In any case, battles are unlikely to be re-fought at the same places and their ground scale was one we no longer use.
  • We have some felt cloths and patches, hills, roads, forests etc.
  • We also have some hand-painted boards for Quatre Bras, Ligny, and Albuera.

Rules

  • Tabletop
    • Blücher
    • Napoleon’s Battles
    • Grand Armée
    • Lasalle
    • Snappy Nappy
    • and our own Schrork!
  • Campaign
    • le Vol de l’Aigle
    • Empire Campaign System
    • Napoleon’s Campaigns in Miniature – Bruce Quarrie
    • Setting up a Wargames Campaign – Tony Bath

Venue

  • We regularly meet in the rumpus room behind my garage (I’ll soon add the following post and link – see my Games Room post). It’s 7m by 4m so it is a substantial space allowing two to three games simultaneously.  Games can stay set up from week to week.
Game room looking north

Looking north

Games room looking south

Looking south

 

  • We also have access to another games room behind a member’s garage.  It’s about 6m by 3.5m.  Again, games can stay set up from week to week.

In my next post I’ll consider what’s missing and settling an approach.

Beginnings

Whatever else has happened in my life, I have always been drawn by the appeal of games.  Like my grandparents, with their love of cards and dominoes, I enjoy the social interaction that comes with playing a game in competition or in coöperation with partners.  While I still love cards, as a boy it was toy soldiers that engaged my imagination.  Consequently, my first forays into gaming with friends and not family was tabletop miniature wargaming.  This type of gaming came with no real structure beyond commercially available rules so I was able to enjoy research, crafting terrain, painting, and developing projects in addition to basic game play.

Thoroughly bitten by the bug, I play every Monday night with a group of friends. Over the years the venue, the night, and the frequency have varied, but I’ve been playing regularly with some of this group for 37 years.  People come, go, and return, but the group remains.  Shooting the breeze about the world, our lives, and suffering the vicissitudes of game-play adds a sparkle to our week.  Our gaming interests have broadened to include boardgame topics of almost every genre: military, power generation, commerce, and abstract “euro” games.  From time to time we still play tabletop miniatures and recently the urge has arisen within me again.

Roughly chronologically, our gaming pedigree runs the gamut of:

  • WRG’s 1685-1845 rules.
  • Our own rules and demonstration games at our local convention, Cancon.
  • Running miniatures campaigns (notably 1815 and Successors).
  • military boardgames (including design and some published and unpublished games among the members).
  • DBA and DBM.
  • more widely themed games (of which Battlestar Galactica, The Fury of Dracula, and Power Grid have been among recent favourites).

Recently, I have mulled over the appeal of running miniatures campaigns covering the period of conflict from 1792 to 1815 since we have the figures and I have the interest.  Consequently, I have created this blog to document the project I’m determined to undertake.

In terms of the archaic spelling of “complete” in the title, my wife’s advice was that it seemed a bit wanky.  I agree, but that’s me to a “t”. 🙂