Sunday, September 28, 2008

A modelling epiphany...

I had a moment of enlightenment this weekend when basing some 28mm figures for a game of Koenig Krieg. Most of these are currently unpainted (hangs head in shame), but I wanted to get in a game next weekend. Purists may console themselves in that I will be taking units "out of the line" in rotation for painting so that over time the army will take shape while I hone my (doubtless Marshal de Saxe-like) tactical skills on the tabletop.

My dilemma has always been that while I much prefer painting 28mm figures to 15mm for numerous reasons that I won't go into here, for me space is at a premium for gaming, which means two things.

First of all, I realized that given the number of units needed for a decent game of KK, my original plan for 18 to 24 figure units is not really going to be workable. Not so much from the point of view of cost (which has never stopped me yet, as the sad state of my bank account will attest), but from the fact that there is simply not the room to manoeuvre units that size when there are three to four brigades of foot and horse on the table.

And of course there is the matter of painting time- smaller units will simply be faster to paint, and as there are a lot of competing demands on my time these days, that is no small consideration.

The good news is that as I based the figures I realized that the 12-figure units in two ranks that the rules recommended actually do look impressive on their own account. When looking at any one 12-figure unit in isolation it does look tiddly-small. However, place a large number of such units on the table- say two brigades or more- then it becomes apparent that the whole looks very much greater than does the sum of its parts. And with all those flags, it should all make for a very impressive looking host indeed!

The second flash of insight concerned terrain. I have some gorgeous 28mm buildings, and while great models they do use up a lot of space on the table (not to mention in storage). But I discovered that given the smaller "footprint" of the 12-man units, I can use 15mm buildings, which actually end up looking more "in scale" somehow than do the larger ones. The eye soon gets used to the height discrepancy, in the same way it gets used to seeing a unit of 12 figures (or 24 even) represent a much larger body of men.

So in the end all I have done is to scale up the basing and ranges by two for 28mm figures. The old editions of the rules give measurements in inches, which I find fiddly and hard to convert easily (I grew up with the much more user-friendly metric system, and tape measures in inches are very hard to find here anyway). So I converted the bases sizes to metric, and doubled all base sizes and ranges.

(I've since found out through Siege Works Studio's Koenig Krieg forum that their upcoming third edition of the rules will include both Imperial and metric measurements, which is a big step forward!)

Infantry battalions will consist of three bases (or four in some cases), each base being 40mm square and four miniatures to a base. For now, they have been tacked on to those Games Workshop 40mm square plastic bases- the ones with the bevelled edges. I'm not so crazy about these and will remount the painted units on wooden Litko bases instead over time.

Cavalry will be two to a 50mm x 50mm base. I haven't really looked at artillery yet, and have never liked the rather idiosyncratic basing system given in the original edition of Koenig Krieg.

For buildings, the rules stipulate that one "building" to be fought over in game terms should fit a 2" x 2" base. Scaled up and converted to metric, that means a 10cm square base will equal one building with my 28's.

So, having now started looking for suitable 15mm buildings with which to decorate the gaming board, I find myself drooling over this beauty.

The irony is that it will probably end up using just as much space as would a 25mm resin building- but it would look SO impressive on the table...


Bluebear Jeff said...

I know that in North America we have a lot of "Dollar Stores". They have various names, but most of them charge $1 for most items.

Particularly after the Holidays they frequently have a lot of those painted ceramic buildings. Now they frequently are in "Christmas colors" or have "snow" on them . . . but they are very easy to re-paint.

Indeed, when you find a good-looking building get a number of them. It is surprising what a difference it makes to paint their roofs different colors and face them at different angles.

Look in regular stores before and after the Holidays as well . . . you can often find some very nice buildings for very little money . . . and some are in smaller scales.

-- Jeff

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

I use the same scale and basing for my AWI set-up.... 50mm square bases for infantry and cavalry though, two horse, or 6 foot (2 lines of 3). Two bases make the battlaion or the squadron... I think it looks very effective in 25mm, not so good in 15mm though!

Snickering Corpses said...

I think you hit the nail on the head with buildings when you mentioned footprints. 28mm buildings are gorgeous for photographing, but compared to the figure ratio they take up far too much footprint sometimes.

Robert said...

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Jeff wrote:

"I know that in North America we have a lot of "Dollar Stores". They have various names, but most of them charge $1 for most items."

You can find similar shops here in Japan as well, called- not surprisingly- "hyaku-en" (100 yen) shops! Christmas is a popular event here- if largely secular- and Christmas decorations are readily available.

It's a good idea, and I may take a good look around this Christmas season to see if I can find anything useful. A good lick o'paint can hide a multitude of sins.