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"Scope of a game - what size battle?" Topic


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©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 1:52 p.m. PST

With quite a few rule sets being published needing under a hundred figures for both sides

It got me to thinking for the Pike and Shot through the Horse and Musket period –

Given no financial constraints – all the high quality painted figures that you want

would you prefer

1) 1 figure = 1 man
2) 1 figure = 10 men
3) 1 figure = 50 men
4) Other

For me I prefer larger battles where you can have figures at a 1:10 or 1:50 ratio depending on the size of the battle

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

For me, it's not ratio at all. It's ground scale, length of arm and aesthetics. If I knew that I'd never suffer ill-health or have financial constraints leading to small living quarters, I'd want a 6x6 board where I would usually command a strong brigade to a weak division, but could sometimes run a corps with different rules and ground scale. Infantry units would average about 24 castings--meaning about 1:10 at Chippewa or Cowpens and 1:100 at Auerstadt or Quatre Bras.

It keeps breaking down to two sets of armies--one of maybe 200-300 individually mounted figures no smaller than 1/72 for the intimate little battles, and another set--certainly no bigger than 15mm of 100 or more multiple-figure bases for the larger actions.

And of course given the possibility of bad things, this has to work on a 3x3 or 4x4 board.

Pity I didn't figure this out 40 years ago.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse02 Aug 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

1:20 or 1:50

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

I want to be Napoleon, not Sharpe. My preferred game is to win the war with a crushing victory.

Skirmish is my least favorite scope/size of game. You can end up with a great story either way but I want sweep and scope.

I'm currently working on Leipzig, at 1cm=100 yards, with the plan for a 6x10 foot table:

TMP link

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 5:10 p.m. PST

I already have games that are the maximum scale and scope that is practical to play. I prefer the table to be 6' deep by 8-12' wide, unit size big enough to give an impression of mass and represent formations (typically 1-2 dozen figures, *sometimes* more), and a combination of unit footprints, ground scale and time scale that allows maneuver contests within these confines. All of my armies are designed and collected to fit these optimums, and I typically stop collecting figures for a period once I get "enough" miniatures to play a variety of workable scenarios. Horse & musket games within these parameters typically have a few hundred to a couple thousand figures, and putting more figures on the table actually makes things worse. I have a few collections I now consider "big enough", a few more that are close, and several with the end point clearly in sight.

- Ix

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP02 Aug 2017 7:46 p.m. PST

1 stand equals = 1 brigade.

At skirmish level, the unique flavour of Napoleonic warfare is lost and it's just another horse and musket game.

attilathepun4702 Aug 2017 9:21 p.m. PST

3. One figure = 50 men.

Sandinista02 Aug 2017 10:41 p.m. PST

All in glorious 10mm scale. 1:10 is my preference, and a 12' x 6' table.

Cheers
Ian

Major Function03 Aug 2017 3:24 a.m. PST

1:10 in 15mm

Dexter Ward03 Aug 2017 3:53 a.m. PST

Don't worry about figure scales.
Pick a ground scale. Work out how much space a unit occupies at that scale. (A unit could be a battalion or a brigade, depending on scale).
Fill with figures.
Easy!

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 4:38 a.m. PST

Let's see, typically I have 8x 6mm figures on a 1"x1" base representing 1000-1500 men, works out roughly between 1:100 and 1:200, often more.

I really only want to fight big battles – the whole battle, not just part of it – and get it done in an evening, on a 6'x4' table with 4-6 players. That necessarily means a high men-per-figure ratio. The clue's in the name!

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
link
bloodybigbattles.blogspot.co.uk

Glenn Pearce03 Aug 2017 10:05 a.m. PST

Hello DisasterWargamer!

Perhaps you should look at "Ruse de Guerre" from Baccus6mm. Although designed for 6mm Polemos standard basing you can use pretty much any scale and basing.

There is no figure scale. You size the battle to fit your collection or preference and change it as your collection grows or preference changes.

Although designed for the F&IW, AWI and War of 1812 you can use it for pretty much any H&M application.

Best regards,

Glenn

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 11:00 a.m. PST

1:20 or 1:50

As with Extra Crispy I play skirmish but I sure don't prefer it

Fredloan03 Aug 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

I have a ratio of 1:40 and usually play on a 6x8 or 6x12 table. I prefer to play with at least a Corp per side. If I am playing against one other person I could go down to a division per side with a Cavalry arm at least brigade size.

I am not one for skirmish games and I have a few thousand AB 18mm.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 4:38 p.m. PST

1:1

1-24 figures per side, depending on what is going on in the scenario and how you command them.

4th Cuirassier06 Aug 2017 5:16 a.m. PST

This discussion neatly encapsulates the point that the constraint is space, which limits how many figures you can deploy. Someone who has a table large enough to deploy 1,000 figures a side is probably well off.

You then have to decide whether those 1,000 figures represent a couple of divisions or an entire Napoleonic army. In either case you are suspending disbelief. Either you imagine that eight or ten units that credibly look like battalions are an army, or you imagine that eight or ten figures on a stand are a brigade so that the sum can be an army.

There is no escape from bathtubbing.

Codsticker07 Aug 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

As in thr ECW there were many battles with just a few thousand troops per side I am going to pick option "4)Other" and say 1:30. 4-5 hundred figures on a 6x8 table is satisfying for me.

Father Grigori08 Aug 2017 2:41 a.m. PST

Depends a lot on the scale of the figures used, IMHO. 15mm and bigger are ok at 1:20, 1:40, or 1:50 (unless you're doing skirmish games). 6mm are better at about 1:4 to 1:8, or, conversely, using a really big scale like 1:100 (I'm thinking of the HFG type game here). If you're using element based rules then it's more a question of the aesthetic you want and matching up the ground scale.

Sparta08 Aug 2017 11:19 a.m. PST

I have tried but cannot be happy with any other scale than the multibase battalion as the standard unit. We play 6 mm in about 1:20 with games being anything from a division to several corps pr. side. I have not found a satisfactory brigade as a unit level ruleset that will suspend my sense of disbelief and satisfy my aethetic sense of the battle, but I find the rules where a battalion is fixed on a single base without the possibility of showing formations absolutely horrific.

Father Grigori08 Aug 2017 4:51 p.m. PST

Sparta: I hear you. I tend to mix things. I like the HFG rules and brigade bases for big battles (they're the only set I've found that give the Swedes much of a chance at Poltava), but for AWI or South America I prefer either Black Powder or the old WRG 1685-1845 set. I agree that one base battalions just feel wrong. I can suspend disbelief for a brigade, but for the samller battles, I prefer multi base battalions.

Digby Green08 Aug 2017 5:56 p.m. PST

This is a very interesting question.
As a keen Napoleonic wargamer in the 1990's I was always interested in this topic.
Most of the rule sets I had (a lot) seemed to be aimed at divsional sized battles. Yet there were very few of these in real life.
Not only that, but due to their game mechanics they only allowed for one major attack on each side which resulted in huge casualties effectively ending the game in 4 hours.
Even though this was say ten or 15 moves at 3 minutes of real time per move ie only half an hour!
I came to the conclusion decided that was needed was a set of rules that allowed for attacks to go in and fail and then recover and another attack be launched
But I get bogged down and other priorities came along.

Father Grigori08 Aug 2017 8:31 p.m. PST

Digby Green: I think you're echoing a lot of the frustrations Napoleonic gamers have had for a long time. A Napoleonic battle should be – and feel – BIG. Unless you had a really huge table and thousands of figures, you had a small part of a larger battle; eg. fighting just La Haye Sainte rather than Waterloo. The only battles that are really gameable using most sets of rules are the wars in South America, where you have small armies.

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 9:42 p.m. PST

It's complicated.
If you want to show tactical battalion level combat, yet include it as part of a very large over-all conflict, there are two things you need to have: small battalions, and lots of terrain.

If your ground scale is too large, then you'll be starting inside of canister range from the other player. By this range most decisions have already been made for the commander on the spot. I would suggest that by the time a brigade entered to within 300m of the enemy battle lines that a commanding officers chances of anything more than a tactical victory lay not in his own hands but those of the commander above him. In other words, there has to be enough terrain, and enough information about the terrain, to give players real options.

Speaking of the terrain: if you have small, tactical battalions and no tactical terrain, then what's the point? It could just be aesthetic, and resolved inside of dice rolls, but really- if you have every battalion accounted for but no battalion level decisions to make, then why bother? That said, making enough terrain to keep all of your battalions busy can be quite time consuming, even if battle fields tended to be rather open.

attilathepun4708 Aug 2017 9:50 p.m. PST

Sparta,

I agree with you. Although I can play most any set of rules to please somebody else, I am never really happy unless horse & musket era battalions can form column, line, or square formations as needed with separate stands. But I am not obsessed with the look of big battalions or having a unit in line having two ranks, so a figure ratio of 1:50 and smallish battalions of 10 to 24 figures works for me. If you have a big table and lots of units, you can still play a pretty big battle if the rules mechanics are right.

Glencairn09 Aug 2017 2:15 a.m. PST

I think most gamers will agree that the 'look' of the setup is important. Ive seen large-ish 15mm games with no more than 12 inf figs per unit chug around, shoot, and get totally eliminated as if it were a p.c. game. Ive seen divisional-sized games in 28mm that seemed more 'fun' because the units had more stamina, i.e. they could take casualties, and still fire back.
In the end, we didnt worry about fig scale much, just the ground scale, and the nice terrain, and a set of fast-moving rules seemed to make the evening more pleasant.My own three 28mm armies hold no more than about 300 infantry each,about 24 figs per unit, but when you pile in the cavalry, and site the artillery, it looks brill, and room to manoevre gets important, so covering your table with troops EVERYWHERE doesnt work.My advice is: go for something that looks great, without hampering movement, and your battle will be more enjoyable!

Elenderil09 Aug 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

My preference is for big actions but depending on the period the size of a "big" action varies. My core periods are English Civil War where a full scale battle is between 10,000 to 16,000 men a side and Dark Ages Britain where an army of 2,000 men would be unusual although the occasional larger action exists. That said as noted above the constraint is always going to be table size. From that comes figure scale and ground scale. I'm almost entirely 6mm although I do have a large collection of 2mm figures. If I'm doing ECW then the ground scale doesn't vary much nor does the unit footprint between the two scales. All that changes is the number of men each figure represents.

What I do like to have is a reasonable correlation between unit footprint and weapon ranges. I also like the ground scale to avoid the bunching up of units that is common in FoW tank parks. It just doesn't look right. When all is said and done the look of the thing is as important as the playing of the game.

Glenn Pearce09 Aug 2017 6:06 p.m. PST

"I find the rules where a battalion is fixed on a single base without the possibility of showing formations absolutely horrific"

"I agree that one base battalions just feel wrong"

"I am never really happy unless horse & musket era battalions can form column, line, or square formations as needed with separate stands"

There seems to be a common theme here. Many years ago I would have agreed with this, but not after over 50 years of extensive reading and research about the era. I now strongly believe that my induction brain washing into the hobby that lasted for at least 20 years had it all wrong.

During the H&M era commanders did not stand around playing rock, paper, scissors (RPS) with each other (column, line, square, CLS). Nor did they perform "square dancing" where cavalry are constantly trying to catch infantry out of square and infantry constantly trying to be in square before being contacted by cavalry. A sort of cat and mouse game. This is not what drove the dynamics of the H&M era battlefield. It was the complete opposite. Units were generally locked in formation unless a critical event took place.

Once deployed in formation on the field of battle units remained in that formation unless a certain limited set of circumstances took place. Generally not imagined, guessed or suspected. Such as infantry actually being attacked or threatened by cavalry or shaking out of an attack column to form line, perhaps changing position as a result of combat and reforming, etc. Units were not constantly changing formation, or at least as often as is seen in a lot of games.

The most common formation on a battlefield in this era was a line. Columns and squares were only formed in certain situations, which didn't occur at the level we see in a number of games.

In most "old school games" players can change formations pretty much on a whim and often contain an advantage/disadvantage system for the various formations when they interact with each other. Thus creating a RPS game that is completely unhistorical. This is a sort of the tail wagging the dog situation. It has created a tactical situation on our table tops that does not reflect historical activity at all. Yet it was drummed into most of us as the gospel.

Around the turn of the century some modern rule writers and gamers became aware of this major flaw and started to write modern rules intended to improve the situation. One step was the endorsement of the single base battalion, generally shown in line, but other formations can be used/shown as well. A more revolutionary one, however, was to effectively say "units are always in the proper formation for the situation at hand". This completely kills the RPS and "square dancing" games that take forever to resolve as players are constantly changing formation with every unit they can whenever they can. It also creates a better historical feeling then RPS. It is of course at complete odds with the "old school gospel".

Today some rule writers and players also realize that unlike what we were lead to believe years ago, the dynamics of this era are not at the battalion level. So there is no need to actually have units/figures that can constantly change formation. That just overly complicates things and drags out the game for no justifiable reason.

"if you have every battalion accounted for but no battalion level decisions to make, then why bother?"

Since most of the decisions are made at a higher level that are based in part on the footprint and functionality of the battalion, accounting for them makes the game work at the higher level. So you don't need different parts for a battalion to function on a large battle field, but you need different battalions for a brigade or Division to function. (I realize FMS that this is probably not the direction you intended with your comments. It just fits in with my position.) Oddly enough this is also why single brigade base games don't work very well for most of us, unless your pressed for space or time.

Sparta10 Aug 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

Dear Glenn. You argue well and I respect your point of view, but I still have to disagree, allthough I think you can have fun gamges with 1 base units, they do not fullfill my expectations of either aesthetics or decisionsmaking.
Battallions were definately not always in the correct formation, and decisions on formation was often seen as one the major decisions for a general – especially a divisional general. In the horse and musket/rifle era from the start of 1700 to almost WW1 the major decision was to be ployed or deployed. Polyed or coulmn formations had the unit in control and it could keep monemtum, wheras deployed units in line or open order had more firepower but experienced a lack of control, the decision between control vs combat power was the dilemma from the SYW to the prancoprussian war. The better troops you had the better control in deployed formations.
As an example at Katzbach the prusiians argue whether to advance the whole corps in line or column, in line they will minimize casualties. The change of formations disorders several brigades that has to move back in column to be able to advance because of the great disorder. So it is a command decision often at divisional level whether to advance to combat in column and deploy at musket range (or perhaps go through in column) or deploy at artillerys effective range.

But I digress, the main thing is that the visual diorama is som much better when you have units in different formation, also if you use small scale like 6mm, you can avoid the dreaded wall to wall phalanx troops.

The following pics are from Bautzen and Lutzen replays and one from the battle of Stradella 1800 a Marengo campaign we played last year.

4th Cuirassier10 Aug 2017 6:21 a.m. PST

Around the turn of the century some modern rule writers and gamers became aware of this major flaw and started to write modern rules intended to improve the situation.

And in another few years different rule writers will come along and superimpose a different bit of revisionism which they too will judge to be the end of history.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 7:31 a.m. PST

Sparta +1

Great looking games btw, that's what a wargame should look like IMHO.

That's also why I play in smaller scales; 10mm is a favorite of mine.

4 stands to a battalion. 24 figures line 16 figures for light infantry – it's easier to differentiate them that way.

attilathepun4710 Aug 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

Mr. Pearce,

While you make some good points, I would still maintain that rules which make no distinctions about battalion formations not only look wrong, but are historical distortions. If being in the correct formation for the tactical situation was not important, armies would not have bothered to intensively drill their troops in the complicated evolutions necessary to change formations efficiently. And rules which assume units to always magically be in the proper formation for the situation at hand would certainly make it impossible to achieve historical results for most battles of the Peninsular War. There the French were beaten time after time because Wellington's reverse slope tactics caught French battalions in columns which proved unable to deploy into line under fire. I am aware that there were other factors involved too, but the point remains that formation did matter, and it did not just happen automatically.

Most of the early Napoleonic rules did encourage the kind of "square dancing" that you complain of because not enough research had been done on the actual drill regulations. A well drilled battalion could really form square quite quickly, but one rules set I recall from the 1970's mandated half a turn, which amounted to 7.5 minutes, to go from line to square. That unrealistically slow formation change forced excessive caution upon infantry trying to advance if there was any enemy cavalry around.

It is really a question of adopting good game mechanics, based on sound research, without throwing out the baby with the bath water. As far as I am concerned, the "modern" rules writers have sacrificed too much for the sake of fast, fun games with lots of eye appeal. I might add that you cannot expect any decisive results based on timid, indecisive generalship, and that comes down, in the end, to the personal qualities of individual gamers, not the rules.

Osterreicher10 Aug 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

After growing up long ago on Empire II and III, and Tractics, and the obsessive complication, I can see where those who prefer single battalion or brigade stands are coming from.

However, the secondary reason for playing miniature games is the aesthetic pageantry of the board, and that includes seeing the units, whether the battalion or divisions in formations that one would have seen on a Napoleonic battlefield.

Whilst I can sympathize with the square dancing vs column, line, & square obsession (and I would add forming a skirmish line as well to formations), a well designed set of rules can use different mechanics to portray this on the table. However, I would say that the formation mattered, as well as when the unit changed formation.

Additionally, I don't believe you are correct when you state that "Once deployed in formation on the field of battle units remained in that formation unless a certain limited set of circumstances took place." One of the biggest tactical changes from a battlefield of Friedrich the Great was the "impulse system" where the units (battalions and regiments) would change formation a lot depending on circumstances.

For the Seven Years War era, once the brigades came on the defined battlefield, the battalions/regiments would form line and stay with that formation throughout the battle. However, consider how Soult's divisions of Vandamme and Sainte Hilaire acted at Austerlitz, and how Sainte Hilaire acted at Jena. At Austerlitz, the divisions deploy operationally into column in the valley in a wide divisional formation to allow room to deploy from column into line. The Légère units send out a strong skirmish screen as well.

Once the units reached the top of Pratzen, they deployed into line, one at a time and shook themselves into a different divisional formation to take on the Russians. This division formation is shown in Duffy's book on Austerlitz as a long line of individual battalions in line.

At Jena, it was even more dynamic. Bressonnet's book "Étude de Tactique" (and Bowden's recent translation) shows how the division maneuvered and how formations were changed, between forming a skirmishing line, column and deploying into line for a firefight, back into column for additional divisional maneuvering, then skirmishing, then back into line.

For me, if I can't see any of this deployment and change of divisional and battalion/regimental formations on the table, I would rather just paint. I don't mean to put anyone down who enjoys single stand battalion or brigade games, it's just not for me.

The hybrid approach I take is to have 3-4 stands per battalion or regiment of cavalry, so the basic formation is seen, but with move-stands, I can move and act with my units quickly. Additionally, since combat is resolved at the regimental level, there is fewer crazy scenarios where battalions are facing multiple directions (as in Empire), and combat is painful to resolve.

The focus of these games is still on operational planning, and leadership, but the game allows tactical combat that mirrors what did or could have occurred. To remove what you refer to as RPS, don't throw out formations, but use a well designed rules system that provides a better experience of when these formations would be used. Like empire, if there is no downside in fire or close combat to be in column, then units stay in column the entire game. If being in line has big disadvantages, then players will avoid line. This is a rules issue, that can be fixed.

I don't see single stand battalions or brigades as an improvement in a Napoleonic experience. I also don't see how you would get a better historical feeling with no formations. If a French regiment would be in the ideal formation, you wouldn't have seen their regiments in column get shot up by British in line. The ideal formation for the French would be to deploy in line, but that's not always historical.

The photos I see of battles with single stand units/brigade, resemble nothing like what is shown on maps. The photos show cramped units together with no deployment room. I've also played one game at a convention long ago using "Column, Line, and Square", and the painful memories still persist. So, I see the temptation to just throw out formations to remove such a hideous experience, but it's the baby with the bathwater, and you'll turn a miniatures game into a quasi board game.

Glenn Pearce10 Aug 2017 12:16 p.m. PST

Hello Sparta!

Thanks for your kind words, detailed point of view and wonderful photos. All great stuff.

There is an unproven assumption in RPS games that if a battalion perceived to be in a wrong formation, was in a different formation, things would have worked out better for them. While there are historical situations where some units were also perceived to not be in the "correct formation" and did very well. To me this means that RPS games somehow got it wrong.

Decision making does not digress if you are using single base units (SBU). If anything it enhances it. Players don't get lost in a sea of units constantly trying to figure out the best formation for every unit under their command. That gives them more time to mull over the more important decisions. Such as when and where to fire, attack and how best to deploy my brigades/Divisions for attack or defence.

Disorder happens a lot in SBU games. Once the action starts players are constantly under pressure to maintain order within their Brigades and Divisions. I think SBU games actually disrupt the Brigade formations more often and faster than multi based units (MBU). Makes for a much more exciting game.

Okay, so your main point seems to be aesthetics. Oddly enough your last photo, which I assume is the 1800 one, could have been taken in my basement. I even have the same lay down fields! Almost everyone is in line, which is just as realistic looking as my games! The other two photos show lots of columns, which to my eye look to be too deep for battle columns. So if I'm correct that's a negative to me for aesthetics. But let's not waste our time on the little things.

You don't have to base your units all in lines to play SBU games. Put the French Napoleonic's in column if you want to. There are no restrictions on how you base your units. You can even change them out if you want when they change formation. It would just require more bases. Most SBU players don't bother with this or even care. The table looks realistic, the figures are well painted what else matters? Also keep in mind that two or more bases in line placed one behind the other look like columns. So there are actual columns on the table.

Best regards,

Glenn

forwardmarchstudios Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

You can also "fake" a SBU game but placing an officer base to represent the center point of the SBU, and requiring all the sub-units to deploy within a certain distance of that center point. All combat is handled abstractly, and the sub-units are only moved to represent chaining facing or threats, similar to rotating a SBU when it's attacked to square with the defender.

Glenn Pearce10 Aug 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

Hello attilathepun47!

Thanks very much for your thoughtful input. Hopefully I can answer your concerns.

SBU rules don't generally force people to mount their figures in only one way. You can mount them anyway you want in any formation you want. Most people just take the easy way out and mount them all in line. So they can look anyway you want them to.

That's exactly why they drilled their troops, to ensure that they were always in the correct formation and were a cohesive unit. There is no magic involved.

As far as I know there is an unresolved debate about what was the root cause of the French defeat by Wellington in the Peninsula. There are way too many factors in play to simply say that every French battalion (assumed to be in column and was unable to deploy into line under fire) was taken out by British fire. What part did surprise play? How well trained were the individual British units? How effective was the British volley? Did the British countercharge? Did the French cohesion start to break down before coming under British fire? How well trained were the individual French units? If the French were in line would it have made any difference? Did the French actually want to deploy into line? And so on. So under careful analysis it's pretty easy to argue that the formation alone is a moot point.

Trained infantry can generally change into square in under 2 minutes. It might even be possible for some poorly trained to get close to that time. The time to change into square is a major factor often overlooked in most MBU/RPS games. Everything is badly distorted once you go over 2 minute turns. So why play games that can't even get their timing right? How historical can that be?

I don't think that any SBU game designers are throwing any babies out. Their just disposing of the dirty bath water.

The feedback I've gotten from SBU gamers is that if there not on their toes a better player will take them down, not the rules.

Best regards,

Glenn

Glenn Pearce10 Aug 2017 7:20 p.m. PST

Hello Osterreicher!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and expressing your point of view. Your comments indicate that perhaps my posting was not as clear as I intended it to be. So please allow me to go over some of your statements.

Although Empire is still played and enjoyed by some it seems that the vast majority moved on. It certainly didn't match my expectations.

As I mentioned to Sparta his last picture looks like it was taken in my basement. To me it looks to be full of aesthetic pageantry. What more do you want?

Some SBU games have skirmish lines and some just factor them in. Some also have entire units in skirmish formation.

When a unit changes formation its certainly critical in MBU games because it fits in nicely with the RPS concept and the distortion of time. Once you free yourself from those issues it's no longer as important.

"Additionally, I don't believe you are correct when you state that "Once deployed in formation on the field of battle units remained in that formation unless a certain limited set of circumstances took place." One of the biggest tactical changes from a battlefield of Friedrich the Great was the "impulse system" where the units (battalions and regiments) would change formation a lot depending on circumstances."

I don't think were very far apart here. My comments were brief. I intended to include any justifiable change in circumstances. Not just on the whim of a player as you commonly see in RPS games.

"For the Seven Years War era, once the brigades came on the defined battlefield, the battalions/regiments would form line and stay with that formation throughout the battle."

So we seem to also agree on the SYW, great.

We have played Austerlitz a number of times. The formations before combat don't really matter. Our units are based in line so the space required to shake out into line is already accounted for. This saves a ton of time in a game. In a RPS game players have a tendency to become befuddled as to when, where and how to shake out their formations. This is where a RPS game starts to fall apart as players artificially jockey their individual units into various positions. Its very common to see entire brigades lose their cohesion with absolutely no penalty.

" At Jena, it was even more dynamic. Bressonnet's book "Étude de Tactique" (and Bowden's recent translation) shows how the division maneuvered and how formations were changed, between forming a skirmishing line, column and deploying into line for a firefight, back into column for additional divisional maneuvering, then skirmishing, then back into line."

I've played Jena a number of times using MBU/RPS rules and I've never seen that happen.

In SBU games the brigade, Divisional and some regiments can and sometimes do change formation a lot. The only thing that does not change formation (visually) is the battalion and if that really bothers you can change them out with units that look like what you would like to see. That's not a problem, just lost time and requires more figures. So since you like to paint that should fit in well with you.

Formations are not thrown out in SBU games. Some of them are just not shown on the table. However, if a player like yourself needs to see them then you can certainly put them on. Players who understand and accept the concepts don't need to see them and see it as a waste of time.

"I don't see single stand battalions or brigades as an improvement in a Napoleonic experience. I also don't see how you would get a better historical feeling with no formations."

It's very hard to describe, you have to play a game or two with an open mind. Again there are plenty of formations on the table. It really plays very much like a traditional game. A lot of new players are oblivious to the absence of battalions constantly changing formations.

"If a French regiment would be in the ideal formation, you wouldn't have seen their regiments in column get shot up by British in line. The ideal formation for the French would be to deploy in line, but that's not always historical."

Exactly and it's a dilemma that you don't have to worry about.

"The photos I see of battles with single stand units/brigade, resemble nothing like what is shown on maps. The photos show cramped units together with no deployment room."

That's not what Sparta's photo shows. So I have no idea what photos you have been looking at.

"I've also played one game at a convention long ago using "Column, Line, and Square", and the painful memories still persist. So, I see the temptation to just throw out formations to remove such a hideous experience, but it's the baby with the bathwater, and you'll turn a miniatures game into a quasi board game."

Absolutely not. As I said to attilathepun47, the baby is still here and now doing extremely well. But all the dirty water is gone!

Best regards,

Glenn

Swampking11 Aug 2017 2:52 a.m. PST

I still go with the 1 figure equals 25 men scale for Horse and Musket era games. I guess I'm still in the Ken Bunger 'Tricorn' rules era. In my homegrown rules for Horse and Musket, 1 stand equals 1 company with 4 stands (normally) making up a battalion.

Since I game normally with Swedes, Dano-Norwegians, Poles and Russians – this scale works well for me. My table is 6' by 4', and I'm not interested in the huge battles of the Napoleonic or 7YW era, though I must say that they look impressive.

Timmo uk11 Aug 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

Napoleonic – 1:33
ECW – a tad less than 1:20 or 1:33 depending on the scale of battle

Osage2017 Inactive Member11 Aug 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

I agree with Sparta:
"a battalion is fixed on a single base
without the possibility of showing formations absolutely horrific"

Amen

Lascaris14 Aug 2017 9:17 p.m. PST

I'm in the SBU'ish camp. For my period of choice, the 7YW, I use Sam Mustafa's Might & Reason for rules. I these rules 2 bases make up a brigade of ~4 battalions. I'm interested in making army level decisions, I.e. where and when to send in an assault etc. I don't want to worry about what battalion is in what formation, I think that will be handled "under the covers" so to speak.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse15 Aug 2017 9:21 a.m. PST

1:20
1:50

huron72521 Aug 2017 2:57 p.m. PST

1:1 Skirmish

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2017 11:39 p.m. PST

1 did 1:60.

Have easily 1000 figures per side so can do any battle up to 60,000 men per side if needed.

Marc at work01 Sep 2017 4:37 a.m. PST

1:20. Aesthetics. Formation changes. Big as you can table. Lots of troops. Good friends, food and drink. Great times.

No Baccus basing for me – but always fun to see Glen pop up on a thread. I enjoy his thoughts. Don't agree with them, but that is what makes this an engrossing hobby

Marc

Glenn Pearce01 Sep 2017 8:22 a.m. PST

Hello Marc!

Thanks for your kind words! It's also nice to see that we fully agree that diversity is a major strength in our hobby.

I also agree with aesthetics, big table, lots of troops, good friends, food and drink and great times. All of which seem to have improved over the years. So far 2017 is turning out to be a banner year for our club (which doesn't waste any time with formation changes). Maximum fun is the goal.

Best regards,

Glenn

14Bore01 Sep 2017 2:10 p.m. PST

Empire goes 1= 60, and for big battles its the way to go.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse01 Sep 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

I think the OP means "figure ratio" not the size of the battle. A little confused. I was going to say as big as you can fit on your table. I like big battles played at 1:20 or 1:50.

Sho Boki01 Sep 2017 5:23 p.m. PST

First and most important task is to fit the big battle on existing game table.
The result determines useful figure ratio.

Lion in the Stars01 Sep 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

For everyone talking about whether the player should be the one making decisions on which formation a battalion should be in: Isn't it the job of the Battalion Commander (whatever his title is in the appropriate language) to decide what formation his battalion is supposed to be in at any given time?

If you aren't playing a game with one battalion on the table, why are you doing the Battalion Commander's job for him?

Yeah, I know Wellington (and other generals) had a habit of micromanaging battalions, so lots of rulesets want to include that. But when the General is managing a single battalion, he is NOT managing the whole battle.

Now, there are times when you might need to have a mechanic for when a battalion commander doesn't get into the proper formation in time, but why can't that be a dice roll? Or just what happens when the Infantry unit flubs it's close combat roll?

As far as I see it (granted from reading Sharpe) is that the big interaction between infantry and cavalry is that cavalry stops infantry from moving, and then artillery pounds the hell out of the square. At least when everything works out properly.

Then again, I'm one of those gamers who doesn't mind units not necessarily doing what I want them to, and other random events.

Sparta02 Sep 2017 2:56 a.m. PST

"Isn't it the job of the Battalion Commander (whatever his title is in the appropriate language) to decide what formation his battalion is supposed to be in at any given time?"

No – most of the times this was ordered at divisional or higher levels. Example is Katzbach where the prussian army and corps commander is discussing whether to deploy into line or stay in column with the brigades (divisions) that are to assault. Similarly with McDonald at Wagram etc. At some point individual initiative could take over – but usually at brugade level.

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