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"What is the best scale to wargame?" Topic

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19 May 2017 4:08 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from Utter Drivel board
  • Removed from Historical Wargaming board
  • Crossposted to Scale board

1,088 hits since 19 May 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango0119 May 2017 4:00 p.m. PST

"You've all seen them the posts from those who are new to wargaming that ask the apparently simple question: "What scale should I game in?"

This is usually the cue for any number of gamers claiming that 54mm/40mm/28mm/20mm/15mm/10mm/6mm/2mm (delete as appropriate) is "God's own scale" for wargaming and that the poser of the question would be stupid for choosing anything else. The discussion usually goes downhill from there…"
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Stryderg19 May 2017 4:11 p.m. PST

Whichever one you enjoy. Simple question, simple answer, doesn't really need an article.

I fear that the more junk that people put on the internet the less useful it becomes.

Dynaman878919 May 2017 4:15 p.m. PST

6mm of course. Plenty of junk before the internet, lots crud written in book and magazines too.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

I'm with the blog – whatever suits you and you're circumstances.

Might temper that with "but you might not be living in a bedsit all your life, so plan ahead a bit".

Anyway the answer is 20mm. Everyone knows that.

KPinder19 May 2017 4:28 p.m. PST

Scales are like screw drivers. No one screw driver is ideal in all situations. You must choose the right screw driver for the task at hand.

Example. I just yesterday read about a battle I'd never heard of. The Naval Battle of Miyako Bay, in the Boshin War in 1869. Most of the Japanese Shogunate Navy defected to the Ezo Republic. The Meiji government, to rebalance things, purchase the ex CSN ironclad Stonewall, renamed Kotetsu. It arrives in Japanese waters, but her engines need to be overhauled so she is immobilized. The Ezo fleet tries a raid. Only one paddle steamer, flying the US flag, gets close enough to board. Samurai, French Naval officers and Japanese sailors try to board and seize the Ironclad, only to charge straight into a Gatling gun.

Someday, somebody has gotta game that. You can get a card model of Stonewall in 10mm. The Lindberg/Pyro Harriet Lane is close to 15mm, but let's face it, this scenario demands 25/28mm.

Different scales for different tales.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut19 May 2017 4:56 p.m. PST

28mm. I don't know why this keeps coming up.

Personal logo StoneMtnMinis Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 5:04 p.m. PST

Let's be real here. Deep in your heart of hearts you KNOW it is 63mm. grin

Personal logo sillypoint Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 5:26 p.m. PST

Depends. Table size, how many players, do you want players to yell "Medic!"…etc.
Topic keeps coming up, 1) because there is a rotation of members, 2) there are some members who check Tmp now and then (not like some who check several times a day), and I suspect we sometimes forget we posted a subject before.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 5:48 p.m. PST

No one wants to do math. Take the size of the table you can keep up without actually being thrown out of the house. Divide by the size of the battles you're trying to fight. Now you have your ground scale. And once you have your ground scale, you know what your rule and figure options are, and it becomes a matter of taste, eyesight and dexterity.

You could about teach a monkey to do it. But an amazing number of wargamers do it backward. They grab hold of a popular rule set or an attractive bunch of figures, then spend years bathtubbing battles, handling microscopic stands with tweezers or trying to fit 15' boards into 10' game rooms. Most of the rest get it right by dumb luck.

You remember the von Moltke bit, about how if you screw up the deployment at the start of the campaign, you may not be able to fix it that year? Pick your figure scale and rules without thinking about battle and table, and you're in a MUCH deeper hole than that. Five years isn't uncommon.

And the guy at the end of the link is as messed up as any of them. Scales are not picked from "a clean slate and no preconditions." The man who tells you otherwise hasn't thought it through at all.

The rant is over. You may go about your business.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

Whichever scale you like is the best.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 6:37 p.m. PST

Huzzah for Extrabio!

Pythagoras19 May 2017 6:38 p.m. PST

All off them!

Winston0119 May 2017 7:40 p.m. PST

Isn't it always going to be the proper scale is in the size of the beholder?

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP19 May 2017 8:47 p.m. PST

When your young it's 15mm or below, as you grow older it's 20-28mm, when you mature it's 40mm and when your old and ripe it's 54mm. But other then that, it's which ever scale you like to game with.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member19 May 2017 9:06 p.m. PST

The scale (or scales) should fit the type of game (or games) you want to play, and nobody else can answer that but the gamer in question. Concrete examples: for naval actions after the ironclad era, 1/1200 might be okay for single ship duels, but not so much for squadron or fleet actions (unless you own your own tennis court), where 1/2400 or smaller is a more sensible choice. If you like skirmish gaming in the horse and musket era, then anything up to 54mm or so will work; 1/72 (or 20mm) to 30mm is fine and dandy for brigade level, but really kind of nuts if you want to play at corps level or above (unless you belong to some club that has a huge playing area), so 18mm or smaller is more appropriate. I do not play World War II land battles, so I'll leave that judgement to somebody else, but you should get the general drift. The specific choice of exact scale also depends in part on the availability of miniatures you like in a particular scale, as well as price.

Cyrus the Great19 May 2017 9:09 p.m. PST

The one you have.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 9:49 p.m. PST

The one that's cheapest and most complete in the setting you want to game.

Personal logo PrivateSnafu Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2017 9:57 p.m. PST

Whatever you have that is painted.

Jeigheff Inactive Member20 May 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

I'm drawn to well-sculpted, well-cast figures, which is a huge part of my enjoyment of the hobby. I own mostly 15s, but I also have a few 28s and some modern and WWII 1/285 stuff.

Robert Piepenbrink makes some great points. To echo what he said, I've tried to choose rules and plan armies which can be fought on tables at the houses of two friends and at local gaming stores. (Admittedly, some of these projects have yet to be fulfilled.)

awalesII20 May 2017 10:18 a.m. PST

Real men (and women) game in 1828mm scale.

Tango0120 May 2017 10:35 a.m. PST



Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2017 11:16 a.m. PST

28mm. I can see them.

Earthquake22 May 2017 2:49 a.m. PST

Dear Editor

As the author of that article, I would just like to point out that my blog does have a copyright notice


and the blog is created under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.

If you wish to share it's contents then I would appreciate if you would attribute the source accordingly.

Many thanks
Neil Shuck

Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2017 10:25 p.m. PST

The article is nice and does a good job taking multiple factors into account.

That said I will gladly play in any scale or size that is available. However for model Soldiers there are many sizes of toy soldiers but mostly just one scale 1/72. troll

Great War Ace Inactive Member24 May 2017 6:27 a.m. PST

90mm. 54s are too small. link

Ottoathome Inactive Member31 May 2017 8:16 a.m. PST

Whatever you bought.

vicmagpa111 Jun 2017 4:14 p.m. PST

skirmish, small battle or large battles. For larger battles I would use 6mm / 10mm. skirmish is 15mm, 28mm.

my two cents. Now I am broke.

Rick Don Burnette12 Jun 2017 7:53 p.m. PST

I use several scales together.
For the one to one skirmish game SUTC. I use 20mm and HO 1 to 87 figure scale on a ground scale of 1 to 100, sometimes 1 to 150
For games using platoon stands, 6mm for the ground units and 3mm for the aviation with ground scales from 1cm equaling 60 upto 100 meters, depending on era, WW2, 1950s, 1970s, 1980s and later

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