Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Short Primer on 'Figure Scale'

           A set of rules often states a few different scales. For instance, there may be a stated time scale, and/or a ground scale, as well as a figure scale. Many sets of rules are vague on these various scales and simply leave it to the players themselves to determine these – if such ever becomes important in a battle. It does help players to convert orders of battle for use in scenarios, and also helps in better understanding just what is going on during a battle. Of course, not all players are interested in such details, being more concerned with the ‘game’.

              Let’s take a look at figure scale.

A set of rules like General de Brigade, or British Grenadier, states a figure scale of 1:20 – or, each model soldier represents about 20 actual men. This allows me to convert historical unit sizes over to the appropriate number of models on the tabletop. For example, if a unit was about 300 actual men, this would convert to 15 model soldiers.

How does this affect play during a game?

·         When playing with a set of rules like General de Brigade, the figure scale determines how I base my models. For instance, a single base of four infantry models represents 80 actual men, or about one - two historical companies. This is quite convenient as during the 18th-century companies were normally grouped into multi-company units called ‘grand divisions’ of two companies in strength. Such a larger formation would march about paying close attention to its position within the battalion formation it was part of.

·         When it comes to combat, whenever a unit fires its muskets at an enemy, the player counts up the number of ‘models’ firing, rolls his dice, applies some modifiers, and consults a results table based again on the number of models firing. This is different than rules such as Black Powder that ignore the detail of counting up the number of models altogether. Melee combat is handled similarly.

·         When a unit takes casualties, one effect is often the loss of models. For instance, a unit that is fired upon may end up taking two model casualties. This results in two models being removed from the targeted unit, thus reducing its effectiveness later in the battle.

       So, there you go. I hope that helps some in understanding what ‘figure scale’ is all about. Figure scale may indeed be a new concept to those just getting into the hobby of miniatures wargaming, but the idea is quite simple to understand. As many rules sets today skip past such detail, or handle it in a different way – as in Black Powder.