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"When is a game too big?" Topic

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2,179 hits since 13 May 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 10:03 p.m. PST

For example, how many 28mm figures are you comfortable fitting on a 6'x4' table?

Other scales and table sizes are welcomed to be measured.

Just curious at what point you think it gets too crowded.

Glengarry513 May 2018 10:07 p.m. PST

When there is no room to maneuver the units.

Cyrus the Great13 May 2018 10:38 p.m. PST

When it fills a gymnasium floor!

advocate Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 10:44 p.m. PST

What Glengarry said. If you are both lined up from flank to flank, all you can do is go straight ahead.

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2018 10:45 p.m. PST


John Edmundson13 May 2018 11:17 p.m. PST

I think it's about having a ratio that corresponds realistically with the troop densities that actually occurred on Napoleonic battlefields.


Mark Plant13 May 2018 11:58 p.m. PST

When the game takes too long.

Big games have a visual attraction, but if moving each side takes an hour all "flow" of the battle is lost.

Sean Kotch14 May 2018 1:22 a.m. PST

On a 6x4 table with 24 figs to an infantry battalion and 12 to cavalry regiment, maybe 3 or 4 brigades per side. That's already crowded for me.

Artilleryman14 May 2018 1:34 a.m. PST

With 36 28mm figures to a battalion they cover almost a foot in frontage when in line. This is the benchmark as a battalion needs at least this frontage to deploy even when it is in column. (Cram your battalion columns together and you should suffer a penalty.) Therefore, assuming that each force occupies the 'long' side, this gives a maximum of six battalions in the 'front line. Allowing for a second line, space for the artillery and some cavalry support, in a 6x4 table I would have a maximum of no more than a division of infantry (8 battalions?) a brigade of cavalry (8-12 squadrons) and two batteries (6-8 guns). That or get a bigger table.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 3:29 a.m. PST

How many castings depends on basing. Think in terms of unit frontages. For horse & musket warfare, you want at least enough troops to form a solid like 3/4 the width of the table, and no more than twice that--i.e. NOT enough to form a solid second line. This means you have enough troops on the table that the armies won't march past each other, without enough to turn it into a WWI attrition battle.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 4:11 a.m. PST

When tactics are irrelevant similar to what Glen Garry said

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 4:52 a.m. PST

I agree that unit frontages are the issue – if the troops fill the table end to end, you've got too many troops for too little table

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

It's only too big if it cannot be concluded in a single day.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian14 May 2018 6:01 a.m. PST

6-12 "things per player. a "thing" is a unit of infantry, cavalry or a battery. In 15mm that usually means @ 3 feetof table per player, figure 4+ feet in 28mm of not 6.

davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 7:30 a.m. PST

I think the real problem arises when your unit frontage is too distant from your ground scale. Taking Artilleryman's example, "a 36 28mm figure battalion has a frontage of one foot". Let's assume that this is a French battalion made up of 6 companies of about 140 men each (I realize this is regulation strength rarely seen on the battle field). To make the math(s) easy we will say that's 138 men three ranks deep with each man taking up two feet (regulation was 22 inches) for a total of 276 feet per company and 1,656 feet per battalion. Gives you a ground scale of 1,656ft./12" making your 4 foot table width 6,624ft. or 2,208 yards. Your table would be 1.25 miles deep by 1.88 miles wide. Comparison to an actual battle map should give you the answer to what was historically reasonable.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 7:35 a.m. PST

I think Saber6 has a good point, but there are some unvoiced assumptions.

1. "Things" are capable of changing conditions: they can limber and unlimber, deploy from road column and change face, and they can take losses without disappearing. You can handle a lot more DBA "elements" for instance.

2. 6-12 "things" for a full day. A quick afternoon or evening game might only involve 4-6 "things" per player.

3. The players need a total frontage based on unit frontage, as we've discussed--but the "frontage" of the player himself is a factor. He needs at least three feet, and four is often more comfortable. Go to 10mm or mocroscale, and you might fit 6-12 "things" on a 2' frontage--but it only works for one player a side, because while you can pack people that close for drill purposes, they're not comfortable playing a game like that.

4. And, of course, unit sizes and frontages matter, not scale as such. If Saber6 and I agree on troop density, he's figuring 15mm unit frontages somewhere around 4-5" and 28mm more like 6". That's common enough, but it's not a law of nature. Plenty of armies more like Artilleryman's with deployed 28mm battalions taking up a foot, and in that case, even a 6' frontage is cramped for a player with 12 "things."

Rogues114 May 2018 7:55 a.m. PST

When I can go shop the flea market or the Dealer Hall and come back and they are still on the same turn. One game I went to the Flea Market and saw the GM there. I didn't go back to the game.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 9:01 a.m. PST

Megalomania is nothing new in the hobby and I've seen my share of huge games where a 6 x16 table is packed with thousands of miniatures, there's no where to go except straight ahead, and if you get three turns finished in 6-8 hours you're doing good. The weird thing from my experience is that those kind of gamers stick together in some kind of unusual brotherhood. Whether it's the seeing tons of troops packed onto the board, the social aspect of the game, etc., is hard to say, but they keep putting on those kinds of games and seem to enjoy it.

I've participated in a few over the years and have sworn them off. When I see certain names in a program or on the store calendar I instantly know that I'm not going to participate. To me it just seems weird to spend all that time painting for a big game, use 2-3 hours for set up, play a few turns in 6 hours and come nowhere near finishing the game, then pack it all up again.

Trajanus14 May 2018 9:01 a.m. PST

To be honest, I wouldn't dream of doing 28mm on a 6x4, comfortable or otherwise.

Unless you are using 12 figures or less per unit – which detracts massively from the visual appeal of 28mm – the over all foot print of the units is way too large and you end up just playing skirmishes.

jwebster14 May 2018 12:04 p.m. PST

When the game takes too long.


Or when some players are sitting around with nothing to do for a couple of hours

The calculations about physical unit size vs ground scale are also very important – I think 28mm is too big for this reason, although there are lots of nice figures out there ….


Rich Bliss14 May 2018 1:18 p.m. PST

I've done Gettysburg in 28mm. 6x9 table. So, no battle too big.

Razor7814 May 2018 2:51 p.m. PST


Fredloan14 May 2018 4:02 p.m. PST

I play on an 8' x 5' table with 18mm troops. Battalions are 16 figures and cavalry regiments are 12 figures. Great for a corp on corp game with plenty of room to maneuver or even adding cavarly wings and reserves

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2018 5:03 p.m. PST

My figures are on 40mm wide bases (2 figures per). Usually 5 stands wide by two deep for a regiment. So a brigade of 5 regiments is a little over 3 feet wide if deployed in a single file of regiments. That leaves 18" on each flank. So 200 figures on each side is usually the max I put on a 6x4 foot table.

The Wargames Room14 May 2018 9:16 p.m. PST

Historical refights should be the guide to troop density. This of course will depend on the battle being fought and will be further modified by the level of the rules you are using. Finally, the density of figures per base will play its part.

I have refought Gettysburg several times very successfully. In contrast I have talked to players who refought portions of Gettysburg where a massive table was used. The host had used rules designed for a lower level game and so many players it was a less than successful.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 7:07 a.m. PST

When it's your turn and you are swamped in work and everyone else zones out, checks their phone or goes for a long walk only to discover you only just started the shooting after having moved all your units …

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2018 8:25 a.m. PST

Seems like a lot of people are banking on being in line. If youre the French and Prussians, isnt column more the rule? At 2 inch front for a French Battalion of 36 figures in column, one could fit 12 or so battalions in a 30" area for an attack.

KevinV15 May 2018 4:02 p.m. PST

Gettysburg using Johnny Reb!
We now use Fire and Fury, and have done some 'mighty big' battles, Antietam, 2nd Manassas, Chickamauga, Waterloo.

Cleburne1863 Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2018 4:40 p.m. PST

When people sit around with nothing to do.

Lion in the Stars23 May 2018 9:02 p.m. PST

@Cleburne: That would make most IGOUGO rules 'too big'…

Seems like a lot of people are banking on being in line. If youre the French and Prussians, isnt column more the rule? At 2 inch front for a French Battalion of 36 figures in column, one could fit 12 or so battalions in a 30" area for an attack.

Pretty sure the French and Prussians still allowed for space to deploy into line.

Snapper6924 May 2018 4:28 a.m. PST

Our rules penalize units in column which do not have space to deploy into line. Columns were not normally deployed that close to one another. Lines should also have enough deployment space front and back to be able to form column ot square. If either is not the case, any change of formation causes the unit to become disrupted.

4th Cuirassier24 May 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

@ Artilleryman
With 36 28mm figures to a battalion they cover almost a foot in frontage when in line.
Whose are you using to get a line that short? Elite Miniatures 28s aren't especially large, but I can only get 3 of them abreast onto a 40mm base. A 36-figure battalion of them would be 48cm wide, which is ~19 inches.

@ Trajanus
Unless you are using 12 figures or less per unit which detracts massively from the visual appeal of 28mm the over all foot print of the units is way too large and you end up just playing skirmishes.

Yes, essentially a 6' x 4' table can hold x figures a couple of hundred or whatever. It's then a matter of preference whether you decide that those 200 figures represent 8 x 24 figure battalions and pretend 8 battalions are an army; or whether you decide that those 200 figures represent an Austerlitz-sized army, and your pretence is then that 20 figures is a division.

You end up unavoidably bathtubbing in either case. Neither is superior, but the 8-battalion army enables you to do the column / line / square thing, while the 20-figure division enables you to do corps-strength attacks. The only way to do both is to have a really huge table and a long, long time.

Sho Boki24 May 2018 5:49 a.m. PST

The 6' x 4' table is great for 6mm figs, where division/brigade have 2" front.
All big battles are available.

evilgong24 May 2018 3:37 p.m. PST

hi there


The only way to do both is to have a really huge table and a long, long time.

Or spectacularly bloodthirsty rules.


Last Hussar24 May 2018 3:42 p.m. PST

3,456, actually.

Bloody beginners.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2018 8:42 p.m. PST

@Snapper69. My rules are a CLS derivative and not only can you have columns within 2" of each other but I believe you can form a "snake" of three battalions in a solid column of divisions.

Also, the rules are good and "bloody" so it makes for a fun fast game which I prefer to the pedantic "It didnt happen that way" approach which yields one casualty every three turns.

Marc the plastics fan27 May 2018 1:42 a.m. PST


I'm impressed. I get 3 1/72 figures on a 45mm frontage. Mine are double ranked, so a line is 6 bases, 45mm each, so 27cm in total.

However, to try out Gd'A I will shrink my units slightly, down to only 4 bases. That way I will be able to field more brigades, which is what the rules need.

As to how big – as a Napoleonic gamer, I am not sure I understand the question. I have just added another two foot onto the end of my table, so bigger is best for me

Last Hussar27 May 2018 4:00 p.m. PST

I like the fact that poor delicate OP thought wargamers have a concept of too big.

Cyrus just hasn't found the right size gym yet.

Marc the plastics fan28 May 2018 2:14 a.m. PST

Are you "the last hussar" or Blenheim rules additions for BP?

If so -thank you, they were just what I was looking for, without having to do the hard work of getting to the same position.


Last Hussar28 May 2018 2:30 a.m. PST

I am. There have been changes in the way we play, which I must update.

Marc the plastics fan28 May 2018 12:25 p.m. PST

Then another big thanks as I found the Jesus and Mo cartoon via you. Brilliant. Thank you

firstvarty1979 Inactive Member01 Jun 2018 7:37 p.m. PST

"Or spectacularly bloodthirsty rules.

Exactly. That is what we do. You might start the game with a solid line, or something close, but it won't last long.

Aethelflaeda was framed03 Jun 2018 5:40 p.m. PST

I like maneuver, so unit density and frontage should be as lean as possible.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 7:08 a.m. PST

I've seen tables where it was literally wall to wall with miniatures.

Interestingly enough, in the very distant past, I remember in Wargamers Digest, there was a Leipzig game with 10,000 miniatures and it was photographed on a gym floor. I always wondered if anyone stepped on anything.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 9:41 a.m. PST

As a general rule – when you can no longer maneuver and the game degenerates into a slogging match.

Where that point is achieved varies.

When it fills a gymnasium floor!

I don't know, when you're doing WWI naval in 1/1250 scale you need a gymnasium.

Beresford Inactive Member18 Jun 2018 8:47 a.m. PST

With Napoleonic warfare you need to balance the ground, unit and time scales. We have found that the best workable scales with 25/28 mm are 1:1000 and 1:50 respectively with unit frontage in column or line being the main guide, and keeping 10 minute periods. Sadly, you have to ignore unit depth.

This way you can represent the different battalion sizes: Russian line normally 10/12 figures; Austrians up to 24/30; French 14/20.

Cavalry can be as low as 9 and up to 18+ figures. Bigger regiments tended to split into two half units.

For artillery we use one gunner represents a gun but takes 2 hits to remove it. This represents splitting the damage between other equipment and horses.

Using these scales and figure ratios you can fight very large historical battles such as Wagram, Borodino, and Leipzig on rows of 6 foot tables giving the same space for manoeuvre that armies of this period had. With the right discipline that soldiers of this period experienced, 20 to 30 players (commanders) can re fight Waterloo in a good day with a similar ebb and flow of battle and differing outcomes.

But for that you would need to use "Art of Command" a Napoleonic rule set designed to fight big battles. For more information just look these up on eBay.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP18 Jun 2018 10:41 a.m. PST

"Gettysburg using Johnny Reb!"

We did Antietam using JR2 in 15mm. We also did the first two days of Gettysburg with JR2 in 15mm. One on 6 x 10 and the other on 6 x 14. The only thing which limits my games are the lengths of the players arms.

You need to use the correct scale figures for the period being played. I would never do ACW in 28mm regimental. Like wise with Napoleonics. In 15mm you can do the bigger battles. 28mm is good for wars like the AWI or Colonial, which have mostly small battles.

14Bore18 Jun 2018 2:01 p.m. PST

On the door would be to big, might be fun for a spectacle but my back wouldn't take it. If it fits on a table no matter the time needed its good.

MiniPigs Supporting Member of TMP18 Jun 2018 4:18 p.m. PST

But it is true that the rules you use can affect the amount of figures you begin with. For instance, if you like a more CLS type system, as is noted above, units are either disintegrated or leave the table fairly quickly.

However, for the crowd that likes the nibbly sort of rules where you have to roll 10 times to put one casualty on a unit, that might reduce the amount of figures that are reasonable to play with.

FlyXwire23 Jun 2018 5:48 a.m. PST

I've seen the big "project" battles suck lots of energy out of our local gaming scene it seems one of those perennial, glossy goals "let's do Gettysburg in such and such scale"…..and then the months go by……
Currently, I would much rather [and do] aim for a specific section of a battlefield when recreation is used as inspiration.
Actually, recreation has lost its glossy utility too, as I now favor generating anonymous encounters where goals, forces, and terrain are hypothetical and therefore there's much to be discovered on the battlefield.
So when is a game too big, or a table too small for fitting the figures on it when "big" was never the goal.

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