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"Towns aren't" Topic

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3,320 hits since 27 Sep 2012
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Last Hussar27 Sep 2012 4:28 p.m. PST

The other day I wanted to see what a wargame table looked like compared to real life. As I had been playing IABSM I used that as a basis.

1ft = 80yds.

I drew a rectangle 320yds by 480 yds (equivalent to 4x6 on the table) onto Google Earth, centred on my house.

1) Its not much
2) Thats an awful lot of houses, even the 4x3ft area that is prewar, so the correct density.

Even my parents village its only about half of it, with a damn lot of houses, even discounting the ones that are post war (or likely to be) Google Earth SG4 7BH. The village is Y shape with the oldest house on the top right arm (at the bootom of the stem is a pub that has been a pub for at least 150 years, and marks the southern, almost. limit)

A 6x4 table angled on that right arm just about covers from the village green in the centre, to the top of the village (just past Mill Lane). The houses on the West of Fore Street mark the long ege of the table (on Fore Street are a number of houses from the 16th and 17th centuries.) Mill lane joins Maiden St about on the other long edge, the table is rotated approx 30' clockwise.

Centre Right is a new housing estate. Up until recently these were 2/3 factories, and would have been there pre war – one was the Hat Factory, which made Guardsman's bearskins – kids at school who's parents worked there wouldsome times come in with a bear's nose (it takes a whole skin to make one hat). Unfortunately it proved cheaper to make them synthetic and in the Far East.

Use street view to wander around the village – notice the density of housing, discounting post war stuff. This is a typical English village. (Start at the Village green, up Fore street, Right onto Mill Lane, then down the hill, right again, and up the hill on Maiden Street back to the green, where I have some fond teenage memories.) Now look at the 'BUA' on your war game table

Just an observation really.

idontbelieveit Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 4:38 p.m. PST

I have a vision of doing a skirmish campaign in a town someday and I would expect a 6x4 table to be full of buildings.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 4:46 p.m. PST

Conversely, in most games a house in scale with the figures is the size of a football stadium…

Last Hussar27 Sep 2012 5:14 p.m. PST

A house should be 1-2 inches by 3-4 in IABSM!

Dave Crowell27 Sep 2012 6:45 p.m. PST

Most Wargames buildings suffer from the same selective compression as do model railroad buildings. Windows and doors may be to scale with figures, and the vertical dimensions likely are as well. But, especially in larger scales (HO 1:87 and up) the footprint is almost always too small.

Trees suffer the opposite problem, being far too short.

Of course when figure and ground scale are compared everything is out of scale. Formations seldom, if ever, occupy the correct area of ground, land contours are not accurate, scenery is grossly distorted.

And yet a "village" of three or four buildings works somehow. As does an army of a hundred figures.

It can be an interesting exercise to prepare an actual scale tabletop at the ground scale of your chosen rules.

War In 15MM27 Sep 2012 7:58 p.m. PST

I filled a 5'x7' table with buildings, most of them destroyed for a gallery I titled "Germany 1945." I believed I used 63 building bases (a few bases had more than one building) and that was a huge job. It took months to paint and many hours to set up. I also did a 35-building French village on the same table surface for a gallery I called "The Bocage '44." It wasn't a demanding as the German city but still a serious painting task to get 35 buildings painted and streets properly configured and painted. I'm glad I did both but it is no easy task. You can see the results at link and link

Personal logo Condotta Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2012 8:14 p.m. PST

War in 15mm, that is inspirational. What a thrill it must be to play on your creation.

MajorB28 Sep 2012 1:49 a.m. PST

Conversely, in most games a house in scale with the figures is the size of a football stadium…

- except at skirmish levele where 1 figure = 1 man.

Wartopia Inactive Member28 Sep 2012 2:06 a.m. PST

This is why I now play "toy soldiers" and not "tabletop military simulations".

Besides, those who assert they're playing "tabletop military simulations" are also playing toy soldiers since they also use warped ground and figure scales. They just don't like to admit it!


Elenderil28 Sep 2012 4:34 a.m. PST

May I suggest 2mm for Sirs delectation and delight? Real ground to figure scale matches are possible without needing a tabletop the size of Wembley Stadium.

Martin Rapier28 Sep 2012 5:07 a.m. PST

It is easy enough in 6mm using 12" to 100 yards as well. Playing on scale maps is interesting too.

War In 15MM28 Sep 2012 6:49 a.m. PST

Condotta, thank you. It was a lot of work (and fun), and now that it's done I'm certainly glad I have them. When I undertake one of these projects I'm not completely sure how they're going to turn out. For me, these two were time well spent. I'm glad you enjoyed them too. Again, thanks for the generous words. Richard

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2012 7:14 a.m. PST

I can fill an 4x8 tables with H.O. building (mostly in ruins). I've been collectiong for years and was lucky enough to be working near a model railroad shop that had a good selection of used buildings. Every few weeks I would come home with a couple of new (used) buildings that I would then damage. I even used the parts I broke off as rubble. The size works out for both 20mm and 25/28mm.


War In 15MM28 Sep 2012 9:35 a.m. PST

Vince, although I used a lot of JR ruins in my Germany 1945 layout, I also did exactly what you are talking about. Like you I'm lucky to have a great model railroad shop nearby (Arnie's), and I go there regularly to get modeling plastic and terrain materials, but also to see what they have on what I call their cheap table. They buy collections and sell the collection pieces at great prices. I got some wonderful buildings (they needed work/some needed a lot of work) at prices I could easily afford. Those same buildings new would have been far too expensive for my purposes. Happy to see that others are doing the same thing. It's a great way to go. Richard

Ron W DuBray Inactive Member28 Sep 2012 2:42 p.m. PST

my zombie and modern tables are covered in buildings side walks, roads, empty lots, cars and trucks and small parking lots.



Aldroud28 Sep 2012 6:40 p.m. PST

I can fill an 8x4 table with WH40K urban terrain. All humanocentric though. One of my 'if I ever have the time and money' goals is to build a T'au city. Much more fun fighting in someone else's city I would think.

Wellspring Inactive Member29 Sep 2012 9:13 p.m. PST

I think the typical response is that a couple of buildings on-table stand in for an "urban area" or "village", rather than a strict model-to-building representation.

Obviously different scenarios even in the same game will often take different positions on this.

Aldroud, please post pics if you ever do this!

uglyfatbloke14 Feb 2013 9:24 a.m. PST

warin15mm…it's distressing that your 15mm buildings/figures'vehicles look so much better than our 20 mm ones.

Great War Ace Inactive Member14 Feb 2013 12:35 p.m. PST

@warin15mm: "AAEEEIIII! The storage! the storage!!"

Wartopia Inactive Member19 Feb 2013 11:05 a.m. PST


I did the same thing with Google Earth and it made me realize the futility of trying to build and play a perfectly scaled wargame at 1:1.

Rather than being a disappointment the experience was liberating. I realized that it's better to just focus on building a fun game in the context of our miniature troops and terrain and ensure that it makes sense in that context.

I believe that's why games such as 40K and FoW do so well. They're not "accurately" scaled in any way but they work in the context of the table top size and deployment ranges. Compare a 4x6 table with two armies deployed 2' apart to their move rates and weapon ranges and you see incentives to maneuver and nice contrast in battlefield roles for different troops and weapons.

pigasuspig21 Feb 2013 12:18 a.m. PST


I had the same experience in a different way: I cast about trying all sorts of different ancients/medieval rules, and even making my own. I was hellbent on finding the perfect balance of mechanics and realism, with all the possibilities represented in still-elegant mechanics. I finally played Lost Battles and saw two things:
1. It is possible to make a really realistic Ancients game (which Lost Battles is).
2. It's not really what I want.

So after that I just decided to look for the funnest, fastest way to get toys on the table. Currently play Mantic's rules and Operation Squad.

Dynaman878918 Apr 2013 9:26 a.m. PST

I play IABSM in 6mm so the ground and figure scale pretty much match.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Apr 2013 4:09 p.m. PST

Building density varies a lot depending on where you are…
Try the experiment in Mumbai, India then in central Idaho, US. It also varies depending on where you are in the town, f'r'ex, it is likely to find a large open space, somewhat larger than a football field at, say, a football field. And a pro stadium will have a large parking lot, too. College campuses usually have large open spaces dotted with tight clusters of tall buildings.

Here's a nice large density idea…

wizbangs20 Apr 2013 5:35 a.m. PST

I have been using Google Earth as well- it makes creating the battlefield so much more exciting than randomly creating terrain in an area "like" where the battle takes place. Although the aerial photo may show a cluster if 12 buildings in a condensed area and I can only fit 6, it still works fine within the context of the rules. The area is considered built up or occupied by hard cover, and 6 buildings looks much more natural than 12.
I had to mull over some of the details, like sidewalks and the line tree here or there. They look more realistic, but add no tactical value to the game. Therefore I seldom model them. BTW, I use GHQs hex scenery system so that I can create different battlefields on a regular basis, rather than modeling a static battlefield that looks beautiful, but has more limited use.

Great War Ace Inactive Member24 Apr 2013 11:15 a.m. PST

There is an enormous threshold to overcome if you are going to do uber realistic looking "cityscape" terrain. Inlgames approaches this with practicality, and I go that way myself, prefering the time, energy and expense of terrain building to be minimized. I do admire the "fanatics" of realism when they cook up a thoroughly detailed setpiece, but can't see myself doing that….

UshCha15 May 2013 11:47 p.m. PST

You are never going to get it right that is for sure. What we find is that provided you have a village that is say 20 houses the scale becomes a bit less of a cruncher. At 1 inch to 1 yd/m rifles and MG's still can sjhoot from one end to the other. MG has no degradation with range and the grunts can move from house to house "usually" in one bound. To get the feel right you need at least twice as many houses as elements. That keeps the enemy guessing as to which ones you are in and makes it tactical and interesting.

Why do you think we mad fold flat buildings, cause you need lots and when you have lots individual quality is not such an artistc issue. Ps you need the buildings a bit too close to the road to simulate the right sort of narrow frireing arcs.


Don't have to buy it, do it in cerial packets thats how we started.

doc mcb23 May 2013 11:13 a.m. PST

Not actively doing WWII now, but I have enough buildings to do a 1944 French village of 20+ structures. Not nearly enough houses, to be sure, though probably a lot of shopkeepers live upstairs. But it looks good and the problems of line of sight and hard cover from small arms and vehicles exposed to plunging fire and so forth -- those are very do-able.

You know, there's plenty of small towns in America -- in Va and Ga, and Texas and Tennessee, anyway, where i've lived -- whose central area at a crossroads in no more than a dozen buildings. Most of the population lives scattered out from there.

Deadone Inactive Member08 Jul 2013 5:56 p.m. PST

Hmmm I'm seriously lacking in buildings. Probably have 20-30 but many are small Eastern Front hovels and the amount of urban stuff is lacking.

I had built half a dozen reasonable size 15mm urban buildings but then playing a Stalingrad campaign put me off urban combat at 15mm company level stuff.

Urban combat was simply too time consuming and too much of a slog.

The other issue is that the aesthetics never looked like a proper city – too many different architectural styles, too much of a mixture of different manufacturers and home built:


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