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"How did 4'x6' become the 'standard' table?" Topic

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Mister Tibbles06 Mar 2023 12:23 p.m. PST

I've always wondered why/how that size became the standard size for miniature gaming?

Here in the US, a standard sheet of plywood has always been 4'x8', which is why since before my time that became the de facto size for starter HO model railways. (since the late 70s, hollow core doors have been de facto for starter N scale.)

Dining table are 3'x5', but that didn't become the gaming 'standard'.

Why 4'x6'? Thoughts?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 12:37 p.m. PST

When I started, the standard was a 5x9 ping-pong table, and the cavalry commander who used a 4x8 was eventually boycotted. (No room for a defense in depth using 30's in CLS, you see, so the cavalry edge was serious.) My guess would be (1) 4x8 is an easy size to buy cheap and put up on sawhorses, but (2) it's awkward if your "game room" isn't the living room. I know a lot of bedrooms/studies closer to 10' X 10'. And (3) battlefields are seldom twice as wide as they are deep--unless you're doing sieges or WWI.

I'm trying to remember the introductory date of Geo-Hex 4x6 mats. Did they drive the adoption of 4x6 tables, or reflect an existing trend?

PaulRPetri06 Mar 2023 12:47 p.m. PST

That sure is an interesting question. As an eager teenage wargamer in the late 1970's a 4'X8' sheet of plywood was our go to game board size. We hooked it up to chains and hung it from my parents garage ceiling. Boy they must have loved me! By the mid to late 1980's I had to have a 6'X12' game table or I was a nobody. I skipped the dinning room table, except for D&D games and Ping Pong tables. I have no idea how 4'X6' became a standard. But I own probably 10-12 gaming mats that size!
I blame the British!
discuss below!
I'm kidding.

Dave Crowell06 Mar 2023 12:48 p.m. PST

We played a lot on 4x8 plywood, 5x9 ping-pong, or 5x8 (two conference tables which are 2.5 x 8 pushed together).

4x6 seemed to be a Games Workshop standard, Warhammer, etc.

Peter Pig do a lot of 5x3.

ChrisBrantley06 Mar 2023 1:05 p.m. PST

Ergonomics may have played a role. Anything wider than 5 feet and you have to lean on the table to move troops across the midway point. I remember having to walk around all sides of a ping-pong table to move my troops.

Also just like soldiers in ranks, you need some elbow room, so a 5-6 foot table accommodates 2 players a side, three if you squeeze. So a 4-6 table is good for 1v1 or 2v2 games.

Darrell B D Day06 Mar 2023 1:11 p.m. PST

5x9 when I started in 1969 in Liverpool.


dapeters06 Mar 2023 1:14 p.m. PST


John Armatys06 Mar 2023 1:16 p.m. PST

It might well be the British.

In the UK (at least in my part), 6 x 4 was standard when I joined the local wargames club c1973…. When the club moved to a community centre which had 2 x 7 tables (made up of two 2 x 2 with a 2 x 3 extension) we used to push two together and block off a foot at one end.

I now see 6 x 4 as large, and 4 x 3 as standard.

Anyone prepared to research the question could start with the back issues of Wargamers Newsletter – to my surprise the few sketch maps I've check from some of the earlier don't measure 6 x 4….

Personal logo Murphy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 1:49 p.m. PST

I think the 4 X 6' is for three reasons.

1: Two standard 2 X 6 folding tables side by side.

2: It's the easiest reach for people.

3: A sheet of regular plywood fits on it.

cavcrazy06 Mar 2023 1:52 p.m. PST

The first table I ever gamed on was 16x6 of course it was a custom built table in a beautiful room built specifically for gaming. Most of the games I play now are on a 6x8 table….half the fun.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 2:37 p.m. PST

I think it has a lot to do with the available time for gaming and recent rules (last 10-15 years). Most gamers seem to have a 2-3 hour window and many sets of rules don't use a lot of figures, so you don't need that much space any longer. "Back in the day" when we had plenty of time, rules that favored a ton of figs, and the feeling that you had to cover the board with figs, the answer was to get the largest board possible.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 2:44 p.m. PST

I played on a friend's 6 x 10, custom built table, made with 2x4's and plywood. I went with a 5 x 9 Ping Pong Table, for more than 20 years. Had a custom-built gaming table made by a pro carpenter, 5.5 x 9.5. It's amazing for D&D, and suitable for most 28mm minis games.

For gaming with my 54mm Army Men, though, a 12 x 30 is my desired table size, with an opening up the middle, of course. Gaming with 54mm figures, on a 12 x 30 table is incredibly fun… The 4 x 6 just does not appeal to me. My friend's 6 x 10 was used for mostly 15mm Napoleonics and 6mm WW II games, and it was a blast for those. We also played many a 1/144 Red Baron game on that table. What a hoot! At times, it was a bit too small for 1/144 airplanes, but we made do.

I love large tables. Period. Full stop. The 4 x 6 just seems tiny, to me. Cheers!

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 2:52 p.m. PST

This is the wargame hobby. There are no standards.

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 3:12 p.m. PST

I started with a 5x9 ping pong table and through the years things changed. As to why, I don't know but as pointed out above it may very well have been GW influencing things. It is what it is now and a 4x6 Game Topper is what I have.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 3:13 p.m. PST

Games Workshop

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 3:13 p.m. PST

It was partially welded into being by being the specified standard size for WRG ancients Rules V3,4,5 etc
This was well before Games Workshop (1973).
Most games I observe just use as much space as possible and then lay their play sheets and clutter on the gaming area. Shame.


Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 3:13 p.m. PST

It isn't.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 3:20 p.m. PST

Bigger is better. 4' x 6' isn't.

rustymusket06 Mar 2023 3:21 p.m. PST

If there is a standard, and I believe there is not, it is because game mat makers and hexagon makers tried to find a suitable compromise. IMHO, of course.

Zephyr106 Mar 2023 3:32 p.m. PST

A full size mattress on a bed is about 4x6. Throw a sheet of plywood on top and you have a ready gaming table… ;-)

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian06 Mar 2023 4:15 p.m. PST

I've wondered the same.

Grant's Programmed Scenarios all had 4x6 tables. For GW and FoW it is also the 'defacto standard'. Partially I think because it will fit on 2 confernce tables and leave a little room around the edges for clutter.

Another is getting materials in 2x2 foot or 2x4 foot sections and storage considerations.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 4:37 p.m. PST

If WRG specified 4x6 for competition play and GW matched it, that would make sense. 4x6 just won't work with old school infantry battalions taking up a foot in line formation, but it's fine for 15mm, or those skirmishy GW "armies" coming in the 1970's.

Early Grant isn't 4x6, by the way. I'm trying to find my notes, but the early "Table Top Teasers" starting in 1978 scale at 5x7.

In terms of ergonomics and historical battlefield shapes, I suspect Grant's about right at 5x7--roughly square, and narrow enough to reach across. A 6' table depth is (just) doable, and at 7', sooner or later you wind up with a skinny kid actually on the table.

I'm mostly microscale on 3' square these days, sometimes 4' square or 4x6. But when the 28mm "Horse and Musket" or 30mm CLS Napoleonics come out to play, I use a 6x8 or 6x12.

Mister Tibbles06 Mar 2023 4:39 p.m. PST

A full size mattress on a bed is about 4x6. Throw a sheet of plywood on top and you have a ready gaming table… ;-)

No comment! LoL.

Hmmm, I never thought about conference tables.

I have a 2.5'x2.5' table, a 3'x5' table, a 2'x4' table, and three 2.5'x6' folding tables. The 3x5 table sees most use and doubles as a laptop desk right now.

Thresher0106 Mar 2023 5:03 p.m. PST

It isn't, though I imagine for some it is.

I much prefer 6' x 12' for club games, but don't have room for that at home.

4' x 8' is preferred, as are 5' x 9', or 6' x 10' too.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 5:05 p.m. PST

GW standard and adopted by other gaming stores probably for the same reason GW went for it: a combination of decent size and you can fit more of them in the store with room to get around them.

khanscom06 Mar 2023 5:10 p.m. PST

Hmmm… 4'x6' gaming mat on a 4'x8' plywood surface leaves 1' on each end to put the drinks and Cheetos.

FearAndLoathing06 Mar 2023 5:31 p.m. PST

4X6? I've been going with 4X8 the last 25 years. Boy, that's a relief. Trying to fit a 4X8 into the tiny furnace room at our new place is proving to be "not practicable," as Gen. Ewell might say. Now I can stick with two 2.5X6 folding tables instead. Wait, that still wrong, isn't it? Darn it

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 5:36 p.m. PST

I'm not convinced that there is a standard size table for miniatures games.

Games at conventions rely on the venue's available folding tables, which do come in a few standard sizes (which it seems to me are usually 3ft x 5ft and 2ft x 6ft). That leads to games being played on similar sized tables at any given convention.

At home, it depends on the space.

Titchmonster06 Mar 2023 6:01 p.m. PST

Ping pong table is the go to. 9x5 so if you want a smaller mat you have room for casualties, beer or supporting materials

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 6:35 p.m. PST

I played on a Ping Pong table for years, when I was doing large games with 28mm minis. For the past few years though, I've moved to smaller, skirmish type games. I now set two 3 x 3 mats on a pool table.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 6:42 p.m. PST

I used a ping pong table for years. I had it in two halves so I could use one or both pieces. Then I had a 7X16 foot table with a 3x12 foot side table in my garage. The side table was great for off board artillery, or rivers with the space in between tables as the water. I had a couple bridges that would span it.

Now I have two parallel 7 x 40 foot tables. And two small side tables on each side in my basement.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Personal logo gamertom Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 7:03 p.m. PST

I fully expect the 4'x 6' "standard" table to shrink in the next decade. Nearly all of the games the younger generation play use smaller areas, usually 4'x 4' or 3'x 3'. Just check out the Star Wars: Legion and similar systems being played in the game stores. And nearly all of these games are what we would refer to as skirmish games with relatively few figures per side.

Ping-pong tables were standard when I started with miniatures around 1976. The hobby shop I where I played had several 6' x 8' tables that could be moved together to get 8' by 12' playing areas (one had to walk on the table to get to the figures in the middle). When I moved to the Chicago area in 1989, 4' x 6' had pretty much become standard. It's the dimension I used when I built my gaming table on an old dining room table.

evbates06 Mar 2023 7:27 p.m. PST

I have two 6'x8' tables which can be put together to make a
6'x16' table for big games.

Mr Elmo06 Mar 2023 7:56 p.m. PST

Given that plywood was generally 4x8 it was a standard for tables and model railroading TBH. Games Workshop started using 4x6, I always thought because houses were smaller over there, it then became the industry standard.

Games Workshop now uses 22x30 and 44x60 which is gaining popularity.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2023 11:43 p.m. PST

Does nobody recall the 1972 revision of the 1969 Regulations and Rules issued by the International Wargaming Standards Board?

Mr Elmo07 Mar 2023 12:17 a.m. PST

Does nobody recall the 1972 revision of the 1969 Regulations and Rules issued by the International Wargaming Standards Board?

I do so I only use 40mm and 60mm frontages on my bases 😝

Martin Rapier07 Mar 2023 1:05 a.m. PST

When I started gaming with n early 1970s we usually used 6x4 as that has how big two pasting tables side by side were. They would also (just) fit in my bedroom with all the furniture pushed to the sides.

The school Wargames club had a bigger table, and my mate Phil had a ping pong table in his garage we used to use sometimes.

By the end of the decade, all I can remember is using 6x4. I blame WRG.

UshCha07 Mar 2023 2:14 a.m. PST

Basicly 6 ft by 4rt at least in thew UK is the standard for most Flat material MDF or Ply. You can get 8ft by 4ft. On that basis in the UK the cheapest and most convenient is 6ft by 4 ft or 6ft by 8 ft. our own experirnce is that anything heavier than a 6ft by 4ft MDF sheet becoems an increasing safty risk if dropped. see beloe. Ply in my club was ruled out on the basis of it being much heavier.

Again in the UK club storage is typically limited so again 6ft by 4ft sheets placed on avaiabke pub tables is low on storage demands. Pingpong tables take up a lot of room and are unsuitable for most UK houses.

Thre may also be an issue that the UK (in my experience) has a lot of 1 on 1 games so multi player games are not so much of an issue.

bobm195907 Mar 2023 4:44 a.m. PST

WRG ancients using 25mm figures on a 6'x4' table with 1000 points plus General per side got you a game at almost any wargame club in the UK in the 70's and 80's…

mildbill07 Mar 2023 6:16 a.m. PST

Der Alt Fritz for the win.

Personal logo Tacitus Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2023 7:48 a.m. PST

Because 4 X 6 fits well on the hand. Oh, feet!

Marcus Brutus07 Mar 2023 9:44 a.m. PST

It is the versatility of the 6'x4' that makes it so useful. Put two together and you now have a 8'x6' table. Three together and voila, there is the mythical 12'x6' table that we all yearn for. An 8'x4' table can't be used that way because 8 feet of depth is too much.

Dave Crowell07 Mar 2023 11:54 a.m. PST

4x6 being a standard UK builder's sheet would explain it.

Use what is readily available.

Cerdic07 Mar 2023 1:20 p.m. PST

Dave…good point but UK standard builders sheet of ply is 4x8. That's why a transit van is the size it is…

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2023 4:19 p.m. PST

I agree with mildbill

Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2023 6:11 p.m. PST

I assert that the true standard is 5.246 x 7.921

In other words, ‘There's a standard? Why don't people tell me these things?'

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2023 11:10 p.m. PST

Three together and voila, there is the mythical 12'x6' table that we all yearn for.
I've been playing on mythical tables? No wonder my games take so long to finish…

altfritz08 Mar 2023 5:59 a.m. PST

My planned table is going to be 64" x 120" (10') (if I can squeeze that much length into the space.)

The width is so I can use an 8" grid if I want to play "To The Strongest".

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Mar 2023 2:17 p.m. PST

and voila, there is the mythical 12'x6' table that we all yearn for.

Apparently you and I yearn for different things …

altfritz08 Mar 2023 7:38 p.m. PST

The club I started with used an 8' x 8' table, not wanting to waste any of the wood.

In theory lots of maneuver room except for the tendency for most of the action to occur smack dab in the center of the table.

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