Thursday, February 17, 2011

6mm or 15mm; 1:60 or 1:15 - the debate finalised?

For a while now I have been contemplating what base sizing and therefore what figure to men ratios I should settle on for my own solo Empire napoleonic gaming.

Empire is written with a 1:60 ratio in mind. So a 720 man battalion in line is simply 12 figures side by side.

This translates easily to other ratios. In the past I have played 1:30 ratios and use 2 figures for every 1 and even played around with 1:15 ratios and use 4 figures in place of 1. The problem occurs with distances. The ranges for shooting and moving and so forth.

Base sizes are just that. Base sizes. So I could in reality put what ever sized figures I want on those bases and multiple that out to the number of "figures" that would be. For example, I regularly game with a group who use 6mm Adler miniatures with Empire. For this, they half all the sizes and distances stated for 15mm figures and use the same 12 man battalions as for 15mm or even 25mm. This works well and a quick look through my After Action Reports will show massed 6mm battles involved multiple corps on either side.


Empire says a battalion of 12 figures in line for 15mm should be based 12 x 10mm wide and 12.5mm deep. I converted these from inches.
This is a total of 120mm wide x 12.5mm deep for 15mm.
For 6mm this would be 60mm wide x around 6mm deep. In all the 6mm gaming I do, we all use 60mm wide x 5mm deep as you can see from the 1st pic in this post.


Empire says a battalion of 12 figures in line for 15mm should be based 12 x 12.5mm wide and 12.5mm deep. I converted these from inches.
This is a total of 150mm wide x 12.5mm deep for 15mm.
For 6mm this would be 75mm wide x around 6mm deep. In all the 6mm gaming I do, we all use 75mm wide x 5mm deep.


Empire says a regiment of 8 figures in line for 15mm should be based 8 x 18.75mm wide.
This is a total of 150mm wide.
For 6mm this would be 75mm wide. In all the 6mm gaming I do, we all use 80mm wide.


Empire says each gun model is really 2 or 3 guns so a battery of 8 guns in line for 15mm should be based 4 x 18.75mm wide.
This is a total of 75mm wide and 4 gun models.
For 6mm this would be 37mm wide and 4 gun models. In all the 6mm gaming I do, we all use 20mm wide and 1 gun model.
In reality it is hard to get 4 guns models onto a base 75mm for 15mm or 37mm for 6mm. In reality most Empire players half their gun models making the bases the same size but only 2 guns for an 8 gun battery with 4 crew on each gun model or 2 guns with a slightly smaller wide base for a 6 gun battery with 3 crew on each gun model.
There is also some research done. One of the groups I belong to built a gaming table to match a particular battle and had all the terrain sized to match the historical map. When he tried deploying a massed battery in the historical space mentioned, only half the guns would fit. This led to some extreme research being done and we all found that the basing should be halved and results in just 1 gun model with 3 or 4 crew with each crew representing 2 guns. This has been working very well so far.


Doubling could be giving everything double the figure depth or doubling the width. I think part of the whole idea of doubling the figures would be to look more like a line, long and gangly, or a column, wider than it is deep but still a massed blocked of men. To simple double the depth would be to make formations look thinner than they actually were in width.

The battalion in the centre is actually in line! Doubly deep.

The double depth just does not look that good keeping the original width.

The battalion in the centre is now in line with double the figures wide.

Doubling the width looks better. It actually means I am using 6mm figures with 15mm bases. Not a bad thing.


One of the advantages of using 6mm besides being so quick to paint and so cheap to purchase is the ability to use more figures in your units. For our Empire group, the advantage of 6mm for us has always been the 2 mentioned above AND the ability to field large armies on moderately sized tables. A battalion of 12 figures takes little room and allows for hundreds of these to be deployed into action.

Looking at the alternate way of taking advantage of the numbers game, we could use large units. These look fantastic. In reality we would be moving back to 15mm gaming from a table size point of view. Not that bad a thing considering my table can be anywhere from 4' x 4' to 8' x 4' which is common for 15mm gaming.

So if I can't double the depth without doubling the width, then I can do both. This is now 4x the figures or 1:15 ratios.

This looks good. 48 figure battalions in in line and attack columns

A 48 figure battalion in column of march

A 48 man battalion in square


Because I am using 15mm basing, I should probably use 15mm distances and ranges. But this may feel funny when compared to the figure height being 6mm. Testing will be required. I have already ruled out using the 6mm distances as these are now way too short for the bases being used. 15mm I think may be too long. Maybe the 15mm distances in inches can be made 1 for 1 into cm and then doubled. This would reduce everything by about 1/4. So 8 inch engagement range becomes 16cm and 40 inch Grand Tactical Movement in columns becomes 80cm. Should work okay. Testing will reveal all.


I have tonnes and tonnes of 6mm Adler in my possession. In some instances more than enough needed for 1:60 ratios to complete the formations I aim to complete. Using 4x the figures will mean slower progress (which some might say is already quite slow) but considering I would not need to make more purchases and that after moving I do have more time, this should still work out okay.


This is a concern to me. My aim is to build armies of the main nations involved in a 2 or 3 main theatres during the wars. To begin with, I have been working on the 100 days. Now I was not intending on building the entire army of each nation, but a sample that can be used repeatedly to fill the full OOB. Afterall, not all Corps are on the field at the same time in the same place. My idea is to build portions of the OOB and when I play a battle, split the field and fight the sections 1 at a time. This makes good use of my limited space and sits nicely with the solo rules I am creating for the enemy. So the whole French army during the 100 days campaign was to be 2 x full Corps of Infantry being 8 Divisions, 1 Reserve Cavalry Corps and the Guard Corps. The Prussians were to be 2 full Corps of Prussians, and so on. You get the idea.

But can I still achieve this using 48 figure units? I probably can, but I will probably split the field a little more and reduce the number of divisions to be built. But who knows? 1 step at a time.


Well the quick answer is I can't. And I really don't need to. The group I play with is hosted by Michael and he has such a massive collection of ready to Adler armies that we can play Waterloo twice and certainly play any battle from any time in the period. Everything is there. I have never needed to bring my troops over.

My armies will be for games hosted at my place and mostly for my own solo campaigns.


So there it is. The debate over ratios is finished and I have settled on 15mm basing with 3/4 distances and 1:15 ratios. Good stuff.

A French battalion in column on the left with another battalion in square on the right and a battery of 8 guns deployed in between.


Reddragyn said...

While I prefer the look of 25/28mm figures from an artistic point of view, there's nothing quite like a fleshed out battalion of 6mms for the mass effect of the troops.

I've found that using all the standard measures for 15 or 25 and 'overmounting' with 3-4x as many 6mm figs works very well. The feeling that that the ranges etc are off is a mental remnant of the bigger figures but it fades after a while; after all, even at 25mm, the ranges and move distances are WAY off, proportionally, so it's just a matter of letting the brain adjust (harder as we get older, I'll admit! :) ) Plus, using the larger scale distances means the built up areas physical areas are large compared to the figures/ scale model buildings, which gives a much better looking effect.

Try it, I think you'll like it.


David said...

Hey thanks for the comment Red. I was beginning to wonder if anyone was actually reading this.

I know what you mean about the ranges. They are usually more reflective of the footprint of the base rather than the height scale of the figures.

Reddragyn said...

The only real problem with increasing the number of figures is determining casualties at the new 'scale'. The rules I use are base related, so it's no problem, but with others, it might get complicated.

As I remember Empire (I was one of the guys playtesting the original Empire back in the 70s with Scott and crew, but havent played much since...), all fire is by numbers of figures, so it would probably balance out. Otherwise, you'll just have adapt and adjust.


David said...

Yeah it's fine. Every 4 guys of mine is 1 for Empire. I based them that way. So it's just counting bases as figures. 1 figure dead is 1 base gone.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article David

How do you intend to apoply this for Cavalry?


Greg said...

Good pics and info. I'm in the process of deciding what scale to purchase and use for my ancient armies, and you have me pretty much convinced for 6mm. Thanks!

David said...

Cavalry will follow the same. So instead of 4 bases of 2 figures totalling 8, a regiment will become 4 sets of 4 bases of 2 figures totalling 32 figures. Can't wait to see some of the larger units of infantry and cavalry using the 1:15 ratios. The Austrian white "mass" really will be a "mass".

David said...

No worries Greg. Make sure you join the 6mm forums at Angel Barracks for all things 6mm. Also make sure you journal your projects. Enquiring minds needs to know afterall.