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"basewidths and basing? Is it still a thing?" Topic


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03 May 2017 6:31 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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daler240D01 Nov 2016 8:57 a.m. PST

So as a relatively recent miniatures gamer (last 3 years), I tend to play newer games and seem to have newer sensibilities. I enjoy reading a LOT of rules though and am fascinated by the development of the hobby and reading older rules. I am MORE fascinated that some people have not moved beyond certain things and I am wondering if this is an age thing (i.e. "this is the way we have always done it and there is no need to change") or if it is actually related to a certain view about levels of simulation/abstraction (quest for "realism"). I ask mostly because whenever there is an announcement about a new set of rules or someone discussing a set that maybe someone is not familiar with you ALWAYS get the: "What are the basing requirements" question and then people discuss if a set "is worth rebasing for" as if that is a sign of respect and quality. I cannot conceive or imagine any ruleset needing to have strict basing requirements let alone a needed certain number of figures per base. I DO also notice that almost everytime this above question is asked by someone, somebody replies whatever you have is likely ok as long as your opponents are similarly based as each other. Will there EVER be a time where this flexibility is just accepted as the way it is or will there be a persistance of some that these issues are critical to the game.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 9:14 a.m. PST

Frontages seem to be the main issue when it comes to basing. Personally I can't see how that issue is to be solved without some sort of conventional approach (meaning that players agree to a certain convention on basing).

Having fixed numbers of figures per base is, again, a convention so that all players can recognise particular troop types – can't say that I've seen that in many Horse & Musket rules though. Tends to be more ancient/medieval.

Can you be more specific as to WHY you see that as a problem ? I can't see why it isn't obvious that a player with a Bn on a 50mm frontage isn't going to be able to play against one with his on a 30mm frontage using the same rules.

Possibly you base your figures individually – which would not be an option for me using 2,3 & 6mm figures – or have a viewpoint that I can't see.

Explain further please, I'm interested rather than being critical of your viewpoint.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 9:42 a.m. PST

Dear Daler240D:

I take it you entered wargaming by way or SF or fantasy? Welcome to the reality of historical miniatures gaming, most certainly of horse and musket gaming, and especially of Napoleonics gaming. Here's how it goes: you either base individually, you base to keep the number of castings on the stand constant, or you base to reflect tactical organization. It's especially bad in Napoleonics because the frontage held by a given number of men can vary substantially from one army to another, and because the internal organization of battalions varies hugely and matters in tactical games.

So your castings can be based individually (really old school, like Grant, Young and Featherstone) they can have a constant frontage for stand-removal games like the DB series, they can represent X many men--Empire, or Napoleon's Battles--or they can reflect tactical organization--whether or not there is a light or a grenadier company, say--like Column, Line and Square, In the Grand Manner or General de Brigade.

Basing for any rule system can be used (with a little fudging) for any other rule system OF THE SAME TYPE. You hardly ever see Charge! played with the original 1/2" frontage, for instance. Usually it's about 20mm And as long as your French infantry battalion has a light a grenadier and four line companies you can play a CLS style tactical game--24 castings instead of the usual 36, for example. Castings on 1 1/2" stands play DB series as well as the usual 40mm or 60mm. And Shako was written to work with either Empire or NB basing.

But if you change rule types, your basing defeats you. DB constant-frontage bases won't work with CLS's different company strengths and frontages, and different-size stands within an army defeats Shako. I have four different sets of Napoleonic troops in the garage, and that's the minimum. Even at that, I'd have to do a fair bit of fudging adapting NB basing to Empire if I ever felt the urge.

The good news is that Napoleonics is about the worst. ACW at least seemed to be settling on two common multiple-casting basing systems, one for Johnny Reb and one for everything else--until the regrettable Fire & Fury Regimental screwed things up for all the OTR/TWF/MLW/F&F players with 2x2 basing. I've got a footlocker plus of 15mm ACW in the garage, and if I wanted to play any Johnny Reb series game or Fire & Fury Regimental, I'd be out there basing two fresh armies.

So yes, basing is a valid question and concern. Depending on how the rules are written, to play New Game X I may very well need to raise new armies or rebase old ones. This is even more likely in tournament play, where I can't take my constant-frontage 1 1/2" bases against an opponent based on the regulation 2" or whatever. Is the new game worth the time and expense? For me, usually not.

There are more things out there than you can conceive. Stretch your imagination a bit.

David Hinkley01 Nov 2016 9:57 a.m. PST

Assuming that both units have the same number of figures or combat value per stand , the player with the 50mm frontage is at a disadvantage because the player with 30mm frontage can bring 1.4 units to bear on one 50mm unit.

parrskool01 Nov 2016 10:18 a.m. PST

Surely the frontages are based on the ground scale of whatever unit the rules are trying to depict.

Hence, if the unit is a Battalion with a frontage of 300 yards in real life, if the rules state a scale of, say, 1inch =100 yards, then the basing per unit should be 3 inches.
Tough some folks say it doesn't really matter… it's only a game.

The Wargaming Company01 Nov 2016 10:29 a.m. PST

daler240D,

We're doing exactly what you are talking about with Et sans résultat! our grand tactical Napoleonic game.

This is something that we really struggled with how best to address when developing ESR.

There is a legitimate concern that if your units are smaller than mine, but the rules treat them all as equal in combat, then you gain an advantage with your smaller units. ESR addresses this with a pair of combat modifiers that equalize it, two smaller units fighting one bigger unit ends up being a nominally equal match.

Being determined to move into "basing shouldn't really matter" ESR is a system where the base is the area of control of the unit and can have any number of any scale figures. To determine your ground scale, look at the size of base you want to use for your basic unit.

This also means that you could use any scale figures you want with ESR.

ESR is very sabot friendly as well, because the base of a unit is fairly large for the ground scales that are favored by 15mm and 25mm, players can put their existing units on sabots or "movement stands" if they like. Some players don't bother with the sabots and just make sure to keep the stands of a given unit tight together.

The result is you can play ESR with any scale figures, on any ground scale, with any basing. And you don't even have to have your units based the same as your friends'.

Being that Napoleonics is one of the gaming spaces where players are really fixated – understandably – on basing, the hardest part has been trying to explain to perspective players that their basing doesn't matter.

If you want to know more about ESR, check out our website, and also, take a look at The ESR Overview which is the rule book with the procedures for mechanics and examples pulled. Should give you a strong understanding of whether it is a game you'd enjoy.

In this photo from a game we ran at Little Wars this past spring there are Napoleonic figures based for Age of Eagles/Napoleon's Battles, Empire/1:60 standard, and Carnage and Glory, in addition to those "natively" based for ESR.

-TWC
thewargamingcompany.com

Decebalus01 Nov 2016 10:48 a.m. PST

I dont see, why in the horse & musket time the same frontage is important. The DBx comparison is mood, because these are ancient rules.

Yes, you need similar frontage. But why shouldn't a 3 6cm bases battailon not fight a 4 4cm battailon? Our models depict the area where a unit is located. I dont care, what the battailon commander is doing in that area.

Personal logo Dale Hurtt Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 10:54 a.m. PST

Basing requirements are important in that you want to understand the game designer's intent on how much firepower is contained within a given frontage and how much firepower can be delivered in the same span of time as a move.

Game designers have gotten lazy lately in their attempt to be inclusive of everyone's collections. They DON'T want to be the rules that everyone doesn't play because the players don't want to rebase. So they say things like "use any basing scheme as long as it is consistent", then give a basic scheme for people that are starting new.

As players with troops already based, and not wanting to rebase, it is upon us to look at the recommended basing scheme to determine the ratio of firepower-to-frontage and of frontage-to-move distance. These are critical measurements, if you want to play the way the game designer intended.

I have watched games where people say "this game is too bloody" or "these rules don't come to a conclusion fast enough", but when you look at the unit basing versus the recommended basing, the guy that thinks it is too bloody has two units crammed in the same frontage as one of the author's units, while the guy that thinks it is too slow has one unit where the author would have 1 1/2 to 2 units. So the first guy gets into combat much quicker (his frontage to movement ratio is half) and when he gets there his firepower in the same frontage is doubled.

So, if you don't follow the basing scheme of the author, be sure and look at the ratios of firepower, frontage, and movement. Otherwise you are not really playing the rules the way they intended. And rules authors: stop being so lazy and saying "Ah! Use anything" and include so notes about these topics and suggestions on how to compensate.

Yesthatphil01 Nov 2016 11:19 a.m. PST

No it isn't an age thing (indeed if you go far enough back basing and frontages weren't important and nobody much cared) …

But as Dale says, basing is important to those historical wargames that pay attention to troop scales and ground scales in order that you know what is being modelled. If you just play sham battles with your historical armies this scarcely matters (which why I suspect being clear about scales has fallen out of fashion) but it really matters if you intend to refight actual battles and plan to get the right number of combat units operating in the appropriate areas of the model battlefield.

At a more prosaic level, the number of figures on a base (actual scheme of basing requirements) makes a difference in a number of anc-med-ren rules by differentiating troop types at a glance (particularly in the crowded 3 or 4 foot figures per base) … nothing insuperable here but a lot of players prefer to stick rigidly to the schedule so that things are clear *at a glance* rather than by regular clarification of what is meant to be what.

In most historical scales other than 28, block basing of several troops is common and prefered by most players. It just looks better, feels better and makes games easier to play.

Phil

RogerC01 Nov 2016 11:20 a.m. PST

I am currently using Black Powder and fin their approach works for me. Rather than having X figures per unit units are designated as Large, standard, small or tiny. If you opponent agrees on the size of these unit types and frontage s broadly similar (I am basing 50mm frontage my opponent is planning on 60mm ) then it will work very well.

I do agree though that many rules will not feel right if you are unable to base them in the way the authors intended.

Brian Smaller01 Nov 2016 1:01 p.m. PST

I have used the same 28mm Napoleonic troops for games of Black powder, General de Brigade, Piquet, Sharp Practice, Cousin Jonathan, Warhammer Waterloo and my home made rules – probably others as well.

'Similarly based' covers a wide range to sins to me. Whether troops are based with 15mm, 20mm frontage each doesn't make much difference on a tabletop.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 1:58 p.m. PST

Decebalus, of course different size battalions can fight under almost any rules--but not necessarily different basing systems, which is the point. The player with Empire or NB basing just doesn't have the parts to put together ITGM units. And watch what happens when you try to casting-removal systems, one with a frontage of 15mm and one with a frontage of 20mm.
Almost all the "basing doesn't matter" people either go to stand removal--which means all the stands of a given arm need to be the same size--or roster. Roster will work, provided a 4" frontage battalion has 2/3 the fighting power of a 6" frontage battalion. (5"? 30mm? Get out your calculators, everyone!) And of course you have to be prepared to stomach a roster system as recreation.

I'm sorry: "Deduct 12 points, rally back 5 but remember it can't go over twice the previous low point and add two points for the captured flag--oh,and which of these is the 17th?" is work. People get paid to keep book on units like that.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 2:59 p.m. PST

@Daler:

Like you I'm relatively new to the hobby, having come in as a gamer about 12 years ago. I too saw all the anxiety about basing and resolved on a simple solution: I base my (15mm) figures 2 per base on a 20x15 stand. The stand is made of steel and I can cut movement stands from sheet magnet in a trice.

So if you have battalions of X width I just cut movement trays to match. I have yet to fins a rule set this system won't work with quite easily. The only loss is some times you lose the exact company representation but that doesn't bother me in the least.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 5:33 p.m. PST

To the OP,

The responses you have received exactly illustrate your point.

I agree that the opposing armies should have a similar frontage for a similarly sized unit but after that I can not see how it matters. This is usually accomplished by similar sized bases but not absolutely necessary as someone has pointed out above. It is impossible to model the actual depth of a unit with model soldiers.

I have played multiple different Napoleonic rulesets with my 40x40mm bases for my 28mm men, but have recently gone to 25x25mm bases as I have dropped down to 18mm men. I have never had a problem.

All I can say is let us say thanks that the more modern rules have done away with the necessity for specific basing.

Of course this will not satisfy the button counters as we can see from some of the responses above. I just can not see that the size of the bases or the number of men (except of course you want a visual representation of loose order vs closed order troops) on them can make any difference as long as the frontage is representative as the size of the units. Specifically a unit with 1000 men should have twice the frontage of a unit with 500 men (I am surprised no-one has yet brought up the 3 row vs the 2 row firing line and the necessity for modeling this).

Neither do I believe that basing neutral systems require stand removal. I actually prefer this myself but casualty markers easily accomplish the same thing.

I agree that the frontage has to agree with the weapons range and movement, thus systems that use base width are easily adaptable to any base size.

I am not sure if it is "age thing", I am 60 and believe that basing neutral rulesets are the way to go. I suspect there is another factor that causes some gamers to be inflexible in respect to this.

John

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 6:07 p.m. PST

I seriously doubt that rules that attempt to portray actual battles can be 'basing neutral' if only for the reasons others have noted: weapons' ranges and frontages matching the numbers of troops represented.

Having said that, there are innumerable ways to avoid rebasing or a rules set requiring a particular basing system. An number posts have provided some examples.

The basing issues are created by the game designer or the designer provides alternatives such as David does for ESR, and even then, wargamers are very good at adapting whatever is available…again some examples have been given.

I can say I hate rebasing, so avoid it at all costs. I have never found myself unable to play a rules set simply because of the wrong bases…or bases that don't match my opponent. We just had to 'adjust.'

I also think that some of the issue is simple past expectations and 'group think.' For instance, John de stated "It is impossible to model the actual depth of a unit with model soldiers."

It isn't impossible, though that certainly is a common conclusion. Depending on what the base is supposed to represent, that 'actual depth' can be achieved--and the issue is no more impossible than having a set of game rules able to accommodate a variety of base sizes. It's all about what the bases represent and how the game is designed.

If a game is truely 'base neutral', that is only possible if the bases don't represent anything. Then the basing issues are really, really neutral.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 7:18 p.m. PST

I would ask the people who--generally not having tried it--insist that any basing can be used with any rules, to try, if only as a "thought experiment" to take troops based for Napoleon's Battles and fight a tactical game such as CLS or ITGM. Just try. Your companies can only be all the same size for every army, or only multiples of the same size. You need light and grenadier companies you don't have. The best you can do to represent skirmish lines is a clumsy improvisation with sabots--once you build the sabots. You're short the guns NB says are counted as part of the infantry brigades, and you probably don't even own the limbers you now need. The reverse is about equally clumsy and unsatisfactory.

Certain rules and basing systems work together. Others do not. And a reviewer who does not identify what basing is preferred and what basing can be used isn't doing his job.

All those who feel otherwise are cordially invited to take a nice company of CLS Austrian fusiliers--ten castings in two ranks on one stand--and go fight a 1:1 skirmish set.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 7:49 p.m. PST

[q]I also think that some of the issue is simple past expectations and 'group think.' For instance, John de stated "It is impossible to model the actual depth of a unit with model soldiers."

It isn't impossible, though that certainly is a common conclusion. Depending on what the base is supposed to represent, that 'actual depth' can be achieved--and the issue is no more impossible than having a set of game rules able to accommodate a variety of base sizes. It's all about what the bases represent and how the game is designed.[/q]

Maybe with very small figures but I am not really sure how you would do that with 28mm or 15mm. Take a 600 man battalion in a firing line of 2 row with 3' being square for each man. I believe that you would need footprint to be a factor of 150:1 in respect to frontage vs depth.

[q]I would ask the people who--generally not having tried it--insist that any basing can be used with any rules, to try, if only as a "thought experiment" to take troops based for Napoleon's Battles and fight a tactical game such as CLS or ITGM.[/q]

I certainly do not think that any basing can be used with any rules, that is why I play rules that are basing neutral. The minute I see a basing requirement, I put the book back on the shelf.

John

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2016 10:03 p.m. PST

I believe that you would need footprint to be a factor of 150:1 in respect to frontage vs depth.

John:
Yes, if you define what the base represents shoulder-to-shoulder men and nothing else.

For instance, I have two stands represent a battalion, 1 X 1/2 inches, which can take 3 to 4 15mm figures. Now, the base could represent the ground covered by the rank and file, and the officers on the outside, and the color guard in front of the line and the space between companies and the room always left clear on the rear and sides [the 15 to 30 yards between battalions side to side and the 150 yards to the rear, particularly if the column is an open column.]

Then those two stands, scaled to 1" equals 75 yards, one behind the other will have a footprint depth of 75 yards. Less than half the typical room reserved behind a battalion to allow it to open up when needed… which is why supporting lines were at least 150 yards behind the front line.

It all depends on what you see that footprint representing. In Volley and Bayonet, the bases are 3" X 3" for a brigade at 1 inch equals 100 yards. That is the typical footprint for a brigade formation deployed in supporting lines.

I certainly do not think that any basing can be used with any rules, that is why I play rules that are basing neutral. The minute I see a basing requirement, I put the book back on the shelf.

I can really appreciate avoiding rules that would require a particular base size or rebasing. However, I'll also lay odds that any rules that you identify as 'basing neutral' still have requirements for scaling to make a particular base size work, if only for making them compatible to OOBs and weapons ranges etc. and of course, opposing armies bases 'squaring up' and matching frontages in some fashion. Not bad at all, but I think the term 'basing neutral' is really misleading, particularly if you believe that any basing can't be used with any game. I haven't seen that as an insurmountable problem.

4th Cuirassier02 Nov 2016 3:31 a.m. PST

Historically, a 600-man battalion in three ranks occupied a frontage of about 140 yards (as did an artillery troop of eight guns, roughly).

That distance is, coincidentally, about the same as the effective range of its muskets.

The rate at which such a battalion could wheel was determined by how fast its members could march while maintaining cohesion. The longer the line, the longer it took to wheel, because in a wheel to the left the men at the right-hand end of a 140-yard line have further to march than do those at the end of a 100-yard line. This is true whether the line pivots about one end or the middle.

So handwaving frontage away potentially opens up other pratfalls. You can express weapon ranges and move distances in units of whatever-your-frontage-is, I guess, but that means you've now got an implied ground scale, which in its turn then implies a move duration. If your battalions are 30cm wide on the table, then roughly 1mm = half a yard. Your artillery range would need to be 1.2 metres, and if your units can move 30cm per turn, then you have roughly a two-minute move at 2mph. Are the effects of artillery fire and musketry consistent with that? Are building footprints consistent with that? Is the map terrain you're depicting consistent with that?

There is no solution, I don't think, other than ex post rationalisation of whatever you prefer. What persuaded me there was no solution was when I worked out how big, or rather how small, squares should be. A 600-man British battalion would have been 180-odd yards wide, but in square it would have gone to four-deep. So a four-deep line would be 90 yards wide and that line wrapped around into four faces would have been 22 yards on each side.

In passing I note that that is an absolutely tiny target for artillery, who under battlefield conditions are going to miss it altogether very frequently indeed. The main point, though, is that I use Elite Miniatures 28mm figures, mounted in threes if in three ranks, or in pairs if in two. They are on bases 40mm wide and 20mm deep in either case, and three figures is as many as you can squeeze onto one.

A 20-figure British battalion that is 180 yards wide in line occupies 40cm of table width, but if in square should occupy 5cm of width and depth. It can't be done, no way no how, and this is where overscale depth finds you out. There is no way you can fit 20 figures occupying an area of 80 square centimetres in line into a square space whose area is 25 square centimetres. Ye cannae change the laws of physics, cap'n.

So my British squares would have six figures on two faces and four on the other two, or at a pinch four per face with the other four figures inside. But no way can its faces be less than two bases wide, making it 8cm wide and thus at least 60% oversized in each axis. The closest to accurate depiction possible would be for it to comprise four stands when in square, buttjointed one per side, and arranged to have overlapping ends so that it is 6cm wide on each face (one 4cm stand wide with another 2cm at 90 degrees, this being the depth of the stand representing the adjacent face). It would then be only 20% oversized even though 60% of its figures would have been temporarily removed from the table, which however would throw off my extra-casualties-for-ranks-deep.

If there's a way to square this circle other than by ignoring it, I don't know what it is. It seems fundamentally insoluble to me.

daler240D02 Nov 2016 4:20 a.m. PST

My background to this is as a board wargamer, where obviously units are all the same size. Though I do remember Wellington's Victory having a mechanism (an extra generic line unit marker) to show that British units when in line formation were longer because of their 2 ranks and took up 2 hexes.
Interesting to me that this discussion has sort of morphed into a talk about scale. I don't mean to conflate the two. (Clearly 2 battalion can't be on smaller bases and face a single larger based battalion and therefore get twice the fire power of the single battalion!!) How many men you can fit in a certain front cannot be really changed. As far as base removal goes to show force reduction, I'm not sold on that completely. Everything that I have read showed that maintaining the front was considered critical even as losses mounted (makes sense lest a hole form ).
My thoughts are that in 18th/Nap Cent period battles, differences in unit sizes don't matter THAT much since deployment would be made to cover the area effectively so that there was only the needed gaps between and behind units as was necessary. I guess I don't wish to "simulate" on the tabletop the difference between a 600 man battalion and an 800 man battalion. I also believe that since frontages were attempted to be maintained, that the literal removal of 1/4 increments at a time to represent this just makes the point that it is not an accurate simulation. I think unit level (i.e brigade or battalion), frontage and weapon range are all dependent variables and can be represented as one unified concept. I can (but should not NEED to) convert just about any set of rules into this paradigm. More to the point, it would open up a set of rules to being played by a LOT more people if writers would think about this.

Weasel02 Nov 2016 6:21 a.m. PST

I try to keep basing pretty vague, because I figure if I am trying to sell you on my game, then you should be able to just sit down and play using your existing figures.

I tend to prefer skirmish gmaing, where it's rarely a factor.

THAT BEING SAID

For games where units spend a lot of time in physical contact with each other and where each base can roll to attack or contribute to the combat, if the two players don't use similar basing, it can cause issues, like allowing 5 of my bases to attack 3 of yours.


Of course, you can design around that.

As discussed above, unit frontage can be an issue. I'll be honest and say, it's not something that tends to bother me much, mostly because it can be worked around.
If your figures are too narrow, you might put two stands side by side for example.

raylev302 Nov 2016 6:33 a.m. PST

Will not rebase! If a set of rules can't be played with generic base sizes, we won't play them.

In fact, for black powder era games, we settled on 30mm wide by 40mm deep (for 28mm). If you need a skirmisher stand we half that to 30mm wide by 20mm deep (two figs per stand).

We use that for ECW, 7YW, Napoleonics, and ACW and it works just fine.

We use it for Black Powder, Fire and Fury (both regimental and brigade), Age of Eagles, and Regiment of Foote. As long as everyone is reasonably consistent, it works.

Okiegamer02 Nov 2016 7:05 a.m. PST

The issue of basing has always been the bane of miniatures gaming, but recent trends seem to be slowly resolving it. The questions are: (1) what composes a sub-unit and what does each represent? and (2) how are combat power and losses assessed? In the original "old school" – Wells through Grant, etc. – the sub-units were individual figures, based individually. Losses were assessed in the loss of one of these. Beginning around the 1970's, and continuing through the turn of the century, sub-units were bases, and losses accrued through the removal of these.

The latest generation of rules – Lasalle, Shako, Black Powder, etc., have moved towards not really having sub-units as such, but rather what amounts to "step losses" assessed on the entire unit. In other words, the entire unit remains on the table until it breaks, and losses are assessed and recorded in some other way, such as the use of a roster or casualty figures.

Although it begs the question of how a unit at, say, half its original strength can still occupy the same frontage as it did at full strength, it does solve many of the issues related to rebasing. If a battalion has, say, six strength points distributed over a 6" frontage, then this can be represented by eight 3/4" bases, six 1" bases, or four 1.5" bases. The total frontages in line will be the same, although there will still be some minor differences in column, square, etc.

von Winterfeldt02 Nov 2016 8:00 a.m. PST

it depends what you want, I like mine based in that way that it represented an actual frontage, example a 900 soldiers strong battalion had 300 soldiers in 3 ranks, by giving 50 cm per soldier it would mean 150 m frontage

An Austrian Battalion of 1200 soldiers would have 400 soldiers in 3 ranks, that would be 200 m frontage.

In my view that makes a difference.

At least for those units who had 3 ranks they could maintain their usual frontage by replacing losses from the third rank, so up to 1/3 casualties they would maintain their original frontage

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2016 8:09 a.m. PST

We've got (at least) two separate issues:
1. Can you somehow make the rule and the basing work together?
2. Can the castings as presently based be used against other people's armies or for tournament play?
The answer to 1 is usually yes--but only usually. Games involving fairly large homogenous units and roster systems have basings which can usually be adapted to other games involving large homogenous units and roster systems, and rules with large homogenous units with stand removal can usually be adapted. But playing two different basing systems against each other may add another layer of complication.
The answer to 2 is usually "no." I have 5mm Napoleonics on 2" frontage bases (1" for artillery.) They work fine for V&B at 2/3 scale, for Horse Foot & Guns and for Wessencratft's Army Corps game. But they won't work in a tournament which will require the official 40mm or 3" basing. No reason I can see you can't play FOW with infantry based two to a 1" circular stand--but that won't get you into the FOW tournament at Fall In! So especially if the rules are intended for tournament play, the required basing has to be knowable without breaking the shrink wrap.
Is it sometimes impossible to adapt certain basing to certain rules? You betcha! Especially if you change the level of the wargame. Go from Okiegamer's "latest generation"--in all of which the step-lossed unit is a battalion or more--to a game in which the position of the companies in that battalion matter, and you start needing separate grenadier companies, skirmish stands and limbers in horse & musket, and low-level "moderns" require separate bazooka teams or LMGs in WWII. Go to a 1:1 skirmish game level, and you really can't use 4-8 castings on a base. You need individual officers and NCO's and the equipment requirements are a lot more exacting.
Yes,it would be nice if I could open up the boxes and say to the castings "Volley and Bayonet today, men! Everyone form on a 3" frontage!" or "I need twelve volunteers for a skirmish game: one step forward, MARCH!" But lots of things which would be nice aren't true.

Dad always said "life is full of choices." Make a few, and live with them.

Weasel02 Nov 2016 8:12 a.m. PST

As Robert sort of implies, I think most gamers also are fine with "good enough" if it means that you get to play the dang game :-)

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2016 10:58 a.m. PST

As Robert sort of implies, I think most gamers also are fine with "good enough" if it means that you get to play the dang game :-)

exactly

It all depends on what you see that footprint representing. In Volley and Bayonet, the bases are 3" X 3" for a brigade at 1 inch equals 100 yards. That is the typical footprint for a brigade formation deployed in supporting lines.

Fair enough, but I felt we were more discussing rules where the tactical unit was the battalion, which is made up of a number of bases rather then where a brigade that is on one base. At the battalion level I believe it would be quite difficult to model depth especially when a unit is in line and one is using 15-28mm figures. The 150:1 ratio holds for a 2 row battalion withe it being a 100:1 for a 3 row battalion.

Of course I agree completely that the footprint also has to give room for maneuver. I do find this a weakness in some newer rulesets as they do not seem to set a ZOC for a battalion. It really exhausts me to play games where the players jams multiple battalions next to each other in order to bring as much fire power to bear as possible or pushes a battalion through a gap that would be impossible to maneuver through in actuality. I find this just unsporting. A simple rule that no units should be within 2-3" or a couple of base widths (depending on the footprint of your units) next to each other unless they are in combat would resolve this.

John

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2016 11:42 a.m. PST

So a four-deep line would be 90 yards wide and that line wrapped around into four faces would have been 22 yards on each side.

4th C:

Yes, but that square would not want to be within 100 yards of another square if they want to be free to fire. Forming up where squares have corners facing corners still requires maneuver room to actually accomplish that…and time. So which is easier: Forming up quickly with an open field of fire or in a group of supporting squares…. and in each case, the footprint for that square *could be* realistically much larger than a facing of 22 yards, particularly if it is forming with others. At Waterloo, because of the time and coordination involved, Wellington is the one who ordered the infantry to form squares in anticipation of the French cavalry charges.

It all depends on what you are representing with that footprint.

Garth in the Park02 Nov 2016 12:21 p.m. PST

A simple rule that no units should be within 2-3" or a couple of base widths next to each other unless they are in combat would resolve this.

But it's "in combat" where it matters, right? If you forbid units to get close, except for combat, then that's not really stopping the problem. You'd have to say something like, "Only 1 unit can attack 1 other unit…" but then you get all sorts of other issues like, "Well, what about one on the front and one on the flank?" so then you get units that can't make a flank attack because a friend is too close to the front, and so on.

I suspect that if this were easy to fix, somebody would have fixed it by now.

John de Terre Neuve Supporting Member of TMP02 Nov 2016 12:38 p.m. PST

Most rules allow for more then 1 unit to attack another.

I am talking about maneuvering units and footprint as brought up by McLaddie. I am just not sure if you can model the battalion's footprint as well as it's maneuver space requirement by it's frontage (depth is not an issue as it is already way out of scale with the square bases most gamers use).

But I agree with you in respect to my wording, it is poor. Really I am just referring to a unit's flanks and their ZOC as the frontage is already way out of proportion. I also should note once in combat my concern with a unit's flanks diminishes.

John

4th Cuirassier03 Nov 2016 4:33 a.m. PST

@ McLaddie

So if I follow your argument, you are suggesting that an oversize square could be taken as depicting both the actual ground footprint it occupies, plus its "elbow room" into which it would expand when it shakes out into line, column, etc?

That is an interesting way to look at it, although the reservation I have is that the unit is still physically larger than it should be, and hence things like the artillery range to it are foreshortened. Also, the physical space between such units is so narrow that certain things we know did take place – cavalry actions to and fro in the intervals between squares – become impossible.

If one thinks of Mercer at Waterloo, with his troop deployed between two squares, from what we know about artillery frontages, those squares must have been some way apart. About the width of a battalion in line typically / presumably – which would not be possible with miniatures if the squares are physically oversized.

I suppose it is whatever one can live with.

Glenn Pearce03 Nov 2016 6:42 a.m. PST

Hello daler240D!

I think what your looking at is a hobby in transition.

In the 70s and 80s a number of rule sets were produced where strict basing protocol was required to play the rules. Some of them also stated the number of figures to put on a base as the games were also designed with a strict figure ratio. So all of the gamers, of which there are still many, that are locked into these various systems are constantly checking up on new rules to see if they can somehow work with them using their old basing system.

Most new rule sets produced in the last 20 years or so are designed to work with pretty much any basing system. Sometimes you just have to make a few house rules or use sabots to make them work.

So most new age designers have seen the problems of the past basing systems and have generally worked around them.

Best regards,

Glenn

The Wargaming Company03 Nov 2016 7:30 a.m. PST

So if I follow your argument, you are suggesting that an oversize square could be taken as depicting both the actual ground footprint it occupies, plus its "elbow room" into which it would expand when it shakes out into line, column, etc?

That is how we handle the issue in Et sans résultat!, the area of a battalion on the tabletop is the area *controlled* not the area occupied.

although the reservation I have is that the unit is still physically larger than it should be, and hence things like the artillery range to it are foreshortened

This is a ground scale question, for ESR, the system is playable at any ground scale, but generally run at scales of over 50 yards per inch at which point artillery range is fairly moot for the fractions of an inch one is talking about.

cavalry actions to and fro in the intervals between squares – become impossible.

This can be addressed by somewhat liberal passage-of-lines rules that respect the area occupied design. That is how we solved it in ESR but there is no reason other game designs could not do similar.

-TWC
thewargamingcompany.com

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Nov 2016 8:36 a.m. PST

That is an interesting way to look at it, although the reservation I have is that the unit is still physically larger than it should be, and hence things like the artillery range to it are foreshortened. Also, the physical space between such units is so narrow that certain things we know did take place – cavalry actions to and fro in the intervals between squares – become impossible.

4th C:

Actually, that 'larger' footprint is what was granted the unit within a Napoleonic formation. Throughout the treatises and regulations you see the distances battalions, brigades, supports etc. required between them established. And they were pretty standard, such as supports staying at least 150 yards from the front line, for instance. So, ONE way to handle the footprint issue is to give the unit the area it would be given in reality.

Certainly cavalry did go between squares…depending on the spacing. And depending the spacing, such actions would or wouldn't be particularly effective. Is it necessary to show that? We don't have cavalry flowing around squares in wargames I have seen anyway.

If one thinks of Mercer at Waterloo, with his troop deployed between two squares, from what we know about artillery frontages, those squares must have been some way apart. About the width of a battalion in line typically / presumably – which would not be possible with miniatures if the squares are physically oversized.

True, but it all depends on the scale you are representing. And Mercer wasn't in between squares IIRC, but in front of them. However, the issue of fields of fire and the distances we are talking about, it might not be an issue.

wargame insomniac03 Nov 2016 12:05 p.m. PST

I suspect that if you are that worried about base width versus movement rates and firing ranges, then you would nt be playing Napoleonics with 28mm figures. I use 28mm figures because I like the look and to be honest, my eyesight is too poor to really enjoy smaller scales. So I am after something that looks good on the table top rather than strict scales & ratios.

So I love the look of figures based for ITGM, with French Line Infantry Battalions of 36 figures with 6 figures per base with each base being 45mm wide by 40mm deep.

My regular opponent wants to maximise how many units he gets from his figures and so uses Battalions of 24 with 4 figures per base with each base being 40mm wide by 40mm deep.

That means we will have difference of 10mm per unit in Column formation, and difference of 30mm per unit in Line formation. We play Black Powder and these small basing differences have yet to have any effect on our games, and allow \just to get on with putting figures on the table and simply having fun.

4th Cuirassier03 Nov 2016 3:12 p.m. PST

I can't help thinking the units in ITGM are that big because Peter Gilder was getting a staff discount on the figures he designed…

Murvihill03 Nov 2016 4:14 p.m. PST

I started my army in the 70's with CLS rules at 1:20. I'm not rebasing because there are just too many little guys and I like the look of massive battalions. I also like games where each figure actually means something, so rules where "It's the base that matters, not the figures" aren't for me. This is complicated by stand sizes that vary from 2 to 12 figures per at 6 figures per square inch (fo infantry). a 60-figure Austrian infantry battalion in column is a sight to behold.

Art04 Nov 2016 10:14 p.m. PST

G'Day Phil

Just a fleeting question…

What is l'ordre de bataille you are using to come up with a frontage for a batterie of 8 pieces, en bataille at roughly 140 yards?

Meaning what is the width for each piece and their interval you are using…?

Best Regards
Art

4th Cuirassier05 Nov 2016 4:19 a.m. PST

A battery of 8 guns spaced 20 yards apart would have seven such intervals between them, so 140 yards.

200 files would fit into such a frontage, so in 3 ranks, that's the same as a 600-man battalion.

Art05 Nov 2016 4:34 a.m. PST

G'Day Phil

Unless I have misunderstood, you didn't include the space taken up for each piece.

Best Regards
Art

4th Cuirassier05 Nov 2016 4:49 a.m. PST

AIUI the intervals were measured from tube to tube, so from wheel to wheel would presumably be less?

If not then yes, you would need to add the width of the pieces.

Having for many years presumed the breadth and depth of a deployed battery to be less than it is I am now persuaded otherwise. I reckon a battery on the table should probably occupy a squarish space one deployed battalion wide on a side. In terms of table pieces this gives me an excuse to place limbers and caissons on the table.

Art05 Nov 2016 5:12 a.m. PST

G'Day Phil

I only mentioned this because for the French they have two distances when "en bataille":

"En bataille": the distance between each piece is 25 paces

"En parade": the distance between each piece is 50 paces

When marching en bataille the interval or distances are the following:

"distance au quart" – 6 paces
"distance demi-distance" – 12 paces
"distance entieres" – 25 paces
"distance double" – 50 paces
"distance quadruple" – 100 paces

Hope this might helps

I use 25mm and 28mm figures as well…but due to the cost of 25/28mm artillery…one piece represents a battery no matter how many pieces they are…4…6…8…

That's just me being cheap…

Best Regards
Art

4th Cuirassier05 Nov 2016 5:27 a.m. PST

Art, interesting. A French pace was how much? What would be the conversion to yards?

I use 28mm at 1 figure = 33 men and one gun doesn't look right on a 20cm frontage. Two or even three look right and of course you can then represent the howitzer component. On a triangular base to give a 30 degree arc of fire either side of dead ahead, you end up with a base that is 20cm on a side and 22.4cm from corner to the middle of the opposite side.

I like gun models on a table although I've yet to find two 28mm Gribeauval pieces from different manufacturers that look like each other. At present I think I am using Elite gun barrels on Eureka carriages, which is a bloody expensive way to do it even at one model per battery.

Art05 Nov 2016 6:52 a.m. PST

G'Day Phil,

Your right…one artillery piece to represent 4…6…8 pieces does not look right…but I do use 2 artillery pieces to represent 12 Russian pieces ;-)

So I have nice bases for the artillery figure and men ;-)

I do not permit any arc of fire…artillery is only permitted to fire at the 12…

I use one 25/28mm figure to represent 60 men for infantry and cavalry…and like yourself I have them in one rank…for I am not attempting to simulate 2 or 3 ranks, but sub-factions.

For me, a battalion in column with the correct amount of divisions is what is important.

The French defined a pace as deux pieds (2 French feet) in their 1791 Regulations, Ecole du Soldat, Troisieme Lecon, Paragraph 20.

The Napoleonic Source Book (by Philip Haythornthwaite) has a chart on Page 390 which shows comparative measurements in Europe as percentages of English feet. This shows a Paris foot as 1.068 English feet so the French pace of deux pieds would be 25.6 English inches (65 cm).

Best Regards
Art

Art05 Nov 2016 8:52 a.m. PST

G'Day Gents

As posted above…and repeated many times on other threads…some are worried about base width and how it would impact movement rates…

With that said…let me ask everyone about their game…does everyone feel that their movement rate for their figures are realistic in nature?

I used to play a game design that had a movement rate so sloooooow that a soldier in real life could actually crawl faster than the units marched on the tables ;-)

Best Regards
Art

The Wargaming Company05 Nov 2016 9:00 a.m. PST

With that said…let me ask everyone about their game…does everyone feel that their movement rate for their figures are realistic in nature?

I think you are entirely correct in pointing this out Art.

In Et sans résultat! infantry move at a rate of 1125 yards per turn across open ground. Which, averages approximately 56 yards a minute.

We figure this rate is a bit slow and should be closer to 75 yards per minute, however, players are absolutely shocked at how fast they move as is because so many tactical horse and musket games have movement rates that are below 20 yards per minute.

-TWC
thewargamingcompany.com

Art05 Nov 2016 10:42 a.m. PST

G'Day

Glad to hear someone else has increased their movement…

This is how we do it…in our game design…"Remembrance of Glory"…

The movement is a shocker for all the first time…and its even simultaneous movement for both sides…which adds on to the shock ;-)

Movement rates are in accordance to the book called "Des marches Dans les Armees De Napoleon" which may be downloaded from the internet.

link

Therefore I have used this book as my source for calculating movement in a 20 minute period and 32 yards equals one game inch:


(for simplicity…I am making a yard equal to a meter…)

Infantry (starting on page 16)

85 to 90 paces a minute which can be held no matter the depth of a column

Pace count of 85 – in one hour its 3,366 meters or 35 inches in 20 minutes

Pace count of 90 – in one hour its 3,564 meters or 37 inches in 20 minutes

For difficult terrain, sand, mountains, trail, ect…the pace count of 76 paces – in one hour its 3,009 meters or 31 inches in 20 minutes

Cavalry in Battle formation (starting on page 23)

Au pas = 100 meters in one minute = 20 minutes its 2000 meters or 62.5 inches

Au Trot 240 meters in one minute = 20 minutes its 4800 meters or 150 inches

Gallop 300 meters in one minute = 9 inches

Horse Artillery (starting on page 35)

Au Pas 86.40 meters in one minute = 20 minutes its 1728 meters or 54 inches

Au Trot 189 meters in one minute = 20 minutes its 3780 meters or 118 inches

Au gallop 378 meters in one minute = 12 inches

Quite a shocker…but it is correct…and we use a standard 6 foot by 4 foot table (or more depending on the amount of players). When a player first starts using these movement rates…it is the cavalry that get hurt the most…

And no…bodies of troops do not go snaking around like tanks…but must manoeuvre in accordance to the Reglement or Rules and Regulations….ligne de science…

In a sense we have effectively killed the "100 Foot General"…since most assaults only take 1 or 2 game turns to reach their objective…then perhaps fall back and reorganize for another assault later.

In the game design…we have found that if everyone commands only a corps…then one turn takes about 25 to 35 minutes…and remember each game turn is 20 minutes…

…and why are turns so fast..because the figures are marching at the correct rate of march…and not crawling…

Best Regards
Art

4th Cuirassier05 Nov 2016 10:57 a.m. PST

My guys move 140 yards per 2.5-minute turn which is exactly the same as TWC gives above for ESR. It comes out at 1.9mph, which is close to the campaign march rate I use of 2mph. I would expect a battlefield column to move slightly slower than a march column as they would be dressing ranks etc.

One of the parameters I check when looking at rules is battalion frontage versus longish musket range versus march rate, which IMO should all be about the same (adjusting for deemed move duration).

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Nov 2016 1:18 p.m. PST

I would expect a battlefield column to move slightly slower than a march column as they would be dressing ranks etc.


4th C:

That can be tested against any number of accounts. [the more, the better]

For instance, as a start, the different allied columns at Austerlitz marched at @64 yards a minute from 1 to 2 hours and Soult's French divisions marched at @70 yards a minute in 20 minutes, or about what Pickett's Charge accomplished. One Allied column didn't move that fast. Observers noted that their path was very muddy and engineers had to fix one part of the course. That column averaged 40 yards per minute over an hour and a half.*

Battlefield columns didn't have to dress lines… line formations did. I haven't ever read of columns dressing lines--I suppose it is possible. Even so, Leith's division stopped and dressed lines as a whole and still accomplished better that 65 yards per minute in line formation.

Collect enough of those examples and some patterns begin to emerge as to what was typical, how much bad terrain slowed units and any differences in speed between columns and lines in a battle line.

One of the parameters I check when looking at rules is battalion frontage versus longish musket range versus march rate, which IMO should all be about the same (adjusting for deemed move duration).

How do you calculate that so you have 'the same'?

I would expect a battlefield column to move slightly slower than a march column as they would be dressing ranks etc.

What I have found is that once units enter artillery range, the movement rate increases to closer to quick march until contact. The thing is that the various paces were the speed control for a commander and it could and did vary depending on the situation and the commander's effort to avoid fatiguing his men. Ordinary march was around 50-60 yards per minute, but quick march was 80 to 90 yards per minute and double quick around 110 yards per minute depending on the nation and their pace length. [French 28 inches and English 30 inches for instance.]

* Obviously, any distance and time reporting isn't exact and could vary quite a bit. That is the reason you want to have a lot of examples. But that is what Escalle does in his book "Des marches Dans les Armees De Napoleon" Art identifies--to a certain extent.

Art05 Nov 2016 1:54 p.m. PST

G'Day Gents

What is a battlefield column and march column in wargame terms?

Do you mean close column and open column?

Best Regards
Art

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