Thursday, November 04, 2010

1:10: The Only Scale

Before I leap too much further into sharing more of my AWI battle plans, I realized it might be worth your time to talk a little bit about scale and rules.  The American Revolution can be tidily divided between the northern war and the southern war.  The north features those classic actions such as Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Saratoga, Monmouth and a host of other actions.  These tend to be good sized, actions, with Washington fielding over 18,000 men at Monmouth.  That's a passel  of troops and a worthy subject for a 1:20 action. 

My interest in the Southern campaign, however, showcases zero battles of such size.  The largest battle is Guilford Courthouse, with about 2,000 British and 4,000ish Americans.  The other four battles are much smaller indeed. It's a campaign that calls out for 1:10 scale.  Why?  Setting aside Guilford which has a bunch of 250-400 man units on both sides, most of the participating units are small.  At Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs many of the British units are 140-160 men strong.  Those are sixteen figure units, or four stands at 1:10.  At a larger scale they'd be only a couple of stands.  One of my favorite units is Kirwoods Delaware Regt., a stud unit that wears very cool bed-ticking trousers.  They are effective light infantry with an influence on a battle well beyond their 80-110 men.

There are some snags with the 1:10 scale.  I am not convinced that the groundscale always works.  I have some very large Continental units at 40 figures or ten stands.  They take up 15 inches on the game table.  That seems like a lot of room. What about large units that can fight in open order, such as the British 33rd Regiment.  What if one end of a ten stand unit is attacked?  What then?  I guess I need to do some more reading.
Despite the ground scale concerns, I can't envision another way to do the South in a larger scale.  If nothing else the historical feel is gone and you have tiny units.  How do you show the 50 17th Light Dragoons at Cowpens, or William Washington's Continental horse at each of these five battles.  Lee's Legion would be a speck.  These units and others influenced battles far more than their tiny size would indicate-and the more there are, the cooler they look. I also think it's best in 28mm.  There, I said it.  I'm slime, but I admit it.  I haven't seen any 15mm AWI I'm particularly enchanted with, and would you really trade in your Perry figures for 15mm Old Glory?  I think not!

Rules are always an open question with me.  Most of the games I want to run/plan are geared around   conventions or with friends who aren't familiar with the rules or the period.  So, they have to be fairly easy easy to pick up with reasonably simple mechanics. I own a copy of British Grenadier rules, which I hear lots of good things about.  If I had an intact group of regulars interested in the period, I'm sure I'd play these.  They are adaptable to 1:10 and have a couple of useful scenario books.  Unfortunately, that's not the world I live in.

A couple of years ago I began writing, or perhaps deriving would be a better term, a set of AWI rules from Fire and Fury.  At that time, Regimental Fire and Fury was still in its 275th beta version and publication was not on a foreseeable horizon.  I was also intrigued with the Hasenauer spawned "Wars of America" Regtl. F and F rules intended to serve a wider audience covering the American Revolution through the Mexican War.  Those rules are still unaccounted for.  Because Fire and Fury, together with The Sword and the Flame, are the greatest rules every written I decided to adapt my own version I called Tarleton's Quarter.  These were intended to be written at a 1:10 scale and aimed at the American Revolution in the South.  With those rules I hope to capture the more open formations the British used, and the closer integration of regular troops, provincials, and militia that was a regular feature of war in the Carolinas.


The Angry Lurker said...

The more figures the better but you are right about certain units would not exist on the tabletop.As for the fire and fury rules variant(our group call them 1 and fury rules) they would definitely work for conventions as they are easy to play and evoke great passion(fury).

Neil said...

Sounds interesting. Has Tarleton's Quarter been published or on a web site?

Dogstar said...

As to rules, you might try The Perfect Captain's John Bull/Patriots rules.

Scall is variable but approx 3 figs is about 25 men or about 1:8 scale but not too far from 1:10.

I'm currently looking at The Captain's John Bull/Patriots and Cousin Jonathon rules for an 1812 campaign.

Brian R.