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"Table size, scale and battle size" Topic

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Whitemanticore & Nazrat's Game Table

The game table created for an Arc of Fire game at Cold Wars 2005.

1,171 hits since 9 Oct 2018
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

captaincold6909 Oct 2018 2:07 p.m. PST

I'm going to do a bit of solo gaming using I ain't been shot mum. My table is going to be roughly 3x3 and I'm wanting to do company vs company sized battles.

Originally thinking 6mm but I'm wondering if 10mm or 15mm would work.


Banana Man09 Oct 2018 2:14 p.m. PST

You could get away with 10mm.

BrockLanders09 Oct 2018 2:45 p.m. PST

I think with a table that small 6mm would be best

14th NJ Vol Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

We do 15mm, smallest table we use 8x6

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2018 4:07 p.m. PST

Oh, for crying out loud, people, DO THE MATH!

Captain Cold, can you find the real life size of the battlefield? I thought you could. Now, armed with that and the known size of the table, work out your ground scale.
The reviews tell me that the smallest maneuver unit is the section. So look up how much space a section would normally occupy, and armed with your ground scale, work out how big a section-sized stand should be. Can you handle a stand that size? Good.

Now, take some figures and see whether you can fit a section's worth of castings on your section size stand in 15mm. If they don't fit, keep downscaling until you find a scale which does fit. There you are. That is the maximum scale for fighting IABSM on a 3x3 table.

Now, watch maneuver and ranges, and this is a little more touchy-feely. If two platoons can hold your front, you're going to have a bloodbath, but some wargamers like that. And if normally-used weapons shoot 3/4 of the way across the table, you will only be able to fight battles with lots and lots of blocking terrain. So maybe on a 3x3 table you can play the game, but you can only fight bits of Stalingrad, Berlin or Monte Cassino--or maybe hedgerow country. The Western Desert might be a problem.

But do the math first.

Sorry. Bad day. I'll try to be polite tomorrow. But questions of fit are always math problems. They are not Indiana Hog Weighings.

(You tie the hog to one end of a pole balanced on a fulcrum. You tie a rock to the other end of the pole exactly as far from the fulcrum, and keep going until you find a rock which exactly balances the weight of the hog. Then you all sit around and guess how much the hog weighs.)

Lee49409 Oct 2018 4:18 p.m. PST

Robert if we followed your logic we'd all be playing 3mm on basketball courts. Get over the Real Scale Phobia and even more importantly get over yourself!

I've played 6mm on a 4 x 8 or even 5 x 9 (ping pong table) for years but also 28mm on a 4 x 4 or 4 x 6. Once you get over the "exact ground scale" fantasy you'll find that a lot can be done in a little space!

The most important consideration is what floats your boat? Do you like 6mm or 10s or 15s? How much time do you have to paint them and what's your gaming budget??

Sorry I've had a bad day. Tune in tomorrow. Cheers!

Mobius09 Oct 2018 4:52 p.m. PST

Is that feet or meters?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2018 5:01 p.m. PST

Lee, nonsense. If you will actually read what I wrote, I at no time suggested deriving ground scale from figure scale. Actually, 28mm on 4x4 is what I mostly do these days.

Cubits, Mobius. Cubits. Or possibly smoots.

Lucius09 Oct 2018 5:27 p.m. PST

Or, you could ask the same question that captaincold69 asked.

Someone who actually plays IABSM could say something like, "6mm would probably work, but if you wanted to use 10mm, you might cut the published ranges in half." Or something similar.

Questions of fit are not math problems at all, as long as you are willing to change the rules to have a fun game in the space that you have, using miniatures that you like. And politeness is never optional.

captaincold6909 Oct 2018 5:35 p.m. PST

If answering a question incites anger in you it's probably best to just not respond.

But despite that I appreciate the responses.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2018 6:33 p.m. PST

All true, except that it was the responses and not the question. I don't apologize for anger. I do apologize for rude.

Let's try again. The difference between the size of the real battlefield and the size of the wargame table determines ground scale. You can ignore that, but you can't ignore the consequences of that. This has nothing directly to do with figure scale, except that a unit can only take up so much space, and you can get into situations--especially when you're playing a 1:1 game like IABSM--when you literally can't fit the castings in the space the unit takes up. As long as the castings can fit in the appropriate space, everything else is aesthetics. But it's why Captain Cold can't use 12" GI Joes to play IABSM on a 3'x3' table.

The other problem, and yes, I've seen it a couple of times, is that in order to shrink a specific game down to a particular table size, you wind up with bases too small to be handled. When you need tweezers to move your castings, you should probably rethink the combination of rules and table.

SO work out how small your section stands need to be to be to take up the right amount of your frontage. Be sure that they're still big enough to handle, and to hold the number of castings the rules require. If you're OK there, the rest is just a matter of shrinking movement and firing distances in proportion.

If your preferred stands, because of your choice of size of casting, are disproportionately large, keep in mind that shrinking everything else to fit your table size may cause some odd effects, and you can't count on the game playing the same way. At that point you may want to look again at the scale of casting you want to use, the size table you have and the level of combat you want to fight and see whether there are other options.

A lot of miniature warfare is a matter of taste. Fitting an existing set of rules to a set table size is a matter of mathematics.

Achtung Minen09 Oct 2018 6:50 p.m. PST

I believe 12" is supposed to be 80 yards in IABSM, which comes to 1" = 20 feet. At that scale, 15mm models are approximately twice as big as they should be (as 15mm would be 12 scale feet on the table, or about twice the height of a normal man).

A 3 foot across table would work if you used 6mm models and read all the measurements as centimeters. This actually retains the exact same ground-to-figurine scale as using 15mm models and inches. Thus, 12cm would be 80 yards and 1cm would be 20 feet. 6mm scale models would still be about twice as big as the units they represented (a 6mm model would be 12 feet tall). This means your 3'x3' table is about the same as the typical 6' long table used with 15mm models.

I actually really like the 2x zoom of using these scales with IABSM. For one, it lets you base your infantry sections with half as many models and still get the same effective spacing between soldiers as illustrated on the base. That is, a single base with four models covers the correct amount of ground for the 8 infantry the base represents. Two, it just looks cleaner… less models on the table, easier to see and so on. Reminds me of the old Combat Mission computer games, which also represented infantry sections with a few soldiers at 2x scale.

advocate10 Oct 2018 1:21 a.m. PST

Achtung Minen has the correct answer.

If you don't use individual figures (I wouldn't in 6mm), you will have to mark casualties against each section (as well as the shock that has to be marked). That's the only issue I see, other than at some points movement may be slow.

Oh, and this post might be handy… link

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Oct 2018 3:32 a.m. PST

The rule set you are going to use may have some thoughts on figures size and table size combination.
If individual figures need not be easily identified then 10mm looks a good size. Do have a good look at the rules and judge how identifiable things need to be.
One solution is to use small figures (10mm) but label or shape bases for identification. e.g yellow lip =rifle base, red lip = LMG .

On a personal note I would suggest that 5mm might be too physically fiddly for company actions along with problems in identifying which is the LMG team and which the PIAT team etc.. Tried it 40 years ago.

I re assure you the a 3x3 can give a great game, in terms of tactics and manoeuvre.
Additionally the scenery will need less storage due to its size and amount.
A lot of gaming is about the visual appeal I feel.

Look upon this is as an exciting project, rather than a set of limitations. Good luck.

advocate10 Oct 2018 3:45 a.m. PST

IABSM uses sections as a unit, so individual weapon id isn't an issue (a section can cave 0, 1 or 2 LMGs). You wouldn't even have to have the regulation number of men, just the base (or maybe two) for the section. If it's something odd like and SMG squad you might want to identify it as such.

Martin Rapier10 Oct 2018 4:01 a.m. PST

3x3 is plenty big enough for IABSM with 15mm figures. I just use a couple of 30x30 bases for each section (as losses can be tracked on a roster anyway).

The notional ground scale is 12" to 100 yards, so it isn't a huge area for figjht a whole company in, so make sure you have lots of terrain or it is going to be a bit dull.

French Wargame Holidays10 Oct 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

I regularly play skirmish level games with 20mm figures on 3 x 3 ww2 and modern.

Pays de Loire

Achtung Minen10 Oct 2018 10:29 a.m. PST

@Martin, 100 yards? That might be a difference in printing then… could have sworn my book says something like 12" equals roughly 80 yards. Anyway, you're right, 3'x3' is indeed fine for 15mm scale too, especially if you are doing smaller engagments like a reinforced platoon or two per side (which, incidentally, is a very fun way to play IABSM). I also like the idea of just using smaller bases so that the smaller battlefield doesn't end up looking too cluttered.

If using a smaller battlefield perhaps use fewer Big Men… maybe no more than one per platoon or even fewer. That means the Big Men will still have to hoof it across the battlefield to keep all the men going. It might make the battlefield feel a bit bigger than it actually is!

By the way, if you want to use 10mm models but still want to keep the visual ratio of 2x figurine scale to ground scale (for whatever reason), you can do so by making a custom measuring stick (I recommend a painted dowel) with each increment as 2/3rds of an inch. The longest range you would need would be 24 increments (or a 16" long dowel).

UshCha16 Oct 2018 4:56 p.m. PST

I work on the basis that between about 7 and 4 times figure scale is a good rule of thumb for games where one figure represents 1 actual man. So 3 by 3 in 1/72 (battle field around 360m by 360m (at 1"=10m)would be fime with 20 or so houses on the board but not really good for tanks, as they would too close to the infantry and in bad terrain for tanks.

At 12mm (1/144) we tend to play on a 6 by 4 ft board. Battle ranges 1.8km or less (ground scale 1mm=1m).
So a 6mm game on a 3 by three board (with a ground scale of 1mm=2m)looks fine battle field is around 1.8km by 1.8 km That OK for tanks with a bit of care with terrain.

Lion in the Stars16 Oct 2018 9:05 p.m. PST

I've played Flames of War at the reinforced-company-per-side for a while, and 3x3 just isn't enough space for that many 15mm minis.

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