Tag Archives: wargaming

Miniature Scale, Rescaling and design

What is scale and why is it important for miniatures? It seams like an obvious question, but with miniature gaming it is important to know the scale of what you are creating, how to best manipulate scale to your advantage and to know how much space the gaming table will take up.

With miniature gaming there are two numbers to consider, the scale and the figure height. The scale is the ratio the object is shrunk and the figure height is the approximate height of a 173 cm male (5′ 8” in the imperial system). Some of the common scales are 5 mm (1:300) or 6 mm (1:285) used for micro-armour games such as Battletech and Epic. Along with the 25 mm & 28 mm using in RPGS, like D&D or Pathfinder, and Wargames, like Warhammer40K, Warmachine, or Infinity.

However, this is where things can get complex. GW in their aim to make their minis more impressive made the 25 mm Heroic scale, which is slightly larger that 25 mm and then did the same with the 28 mm Heroic, has lead to some variations in scale. This has been common among miniature companies Even Wikipedia does not agree with it’s self with with 28 mm being 1:56 and 1:64.

There are two useful number to have when designing miniatures or terrain. The first is the figure height, which can be found by dividing the height of a average person (1730 mm) by the scale. And the second, is the scaled foot, which is found by dividing a foot (304.8 mm) by the scale.

Rescaling

It’s all about scale includes these two scale conversion charts (below), and covers why scale is important. In the end the only question should be does it look right and for 28mm anything between 1:56 up to 1:72 should be ok.

Converting between common miniature scales.

Converting between common miniature scales.

A simpler conversion chart with train and miniature scales.
A simpler conversion chart with train and miniature scales.

Designing to scale

Since we are designing miniatures and models for gaming. We need to look at Anthropometric, or the measurement of humans. There is a wealth of information in this field, although most of it is only useful in defining the common sizes of people or our miniatures. It’s the application of this idea, Ergonomics, that becomes very useful because it forms the foundations used in the design of products (industrial design), clothing design, houses (architecture), among any others design fields. So in a nut shell everything we use is designed for the human scale and changing scales by guess work can lead to time wasted on a modelling project.

it is also worth looking at the designs of the experts, such as Bauhaus, a German school of design founded in the 1920s that has influenced the modern world. The most well known item to come out of the school is the Bauhaus chair.

Of all the chairs to come out of the Bauhaus, this is the one that commonly comes to mind. Designed my Marcel Breuer, the Wasilly chair is a mix of steel and leather, using no more material than is absolutely needed, while providing maximum comfort. It's a design you'll still find in homes today.
The Bauhaus Chair

Scaling Vehicles

The next step up from everyday objects tend to be vehicle, and Antenociti’s Workshop covers the subject in such excellent design in If I base my figures how big should my vehicles be, that why would I try to do it here.

Also I’d be considering the rescaling tables above to hunt out die-cast kits for cars, and even scale model trains for terrain and buildings.

Scaling Building

Finally there are building, which are usually designed around people and sometimes vehicles. When working on architecture the placement of Windows & Door, and how big should they be.

And finally, if you add a base to your miniature is changes the look of everything.

 

The Process for Designing Terrain

How do you go about designing good miniature terrain to conduct battles on? Is there a process you can or should follow? When trying to answer these questions I tend to examine what others do and then apply it to my own design process.

Below is the design process that Battleboards.co.uk follows when creating their boards. The finished products are wonderful set pieces for miniature games, however, as I said earlier I’d prefer small tile-able terrain that is easily packed away. However, the design on paper, refine on computer, before committing to physical thing is a excellent fundamental practice.

I tend to start with sketches on paper, as I build up the idea. That way bad or ill considered ideas can be left, and any potential problems can be found before building a large expensive mistake.

It’s something I remember from Engineering, that for a $1000 product if you catch a defect after the sale stage it costs $2500 in product recall and such. But in the design stage it’s $0.03 

Design Considerations

So it pays well to deeply consider how to design anything, and in this case miniature terrain. They can be broadly split in to the two groups of form and function. Form or Aesthetics is the consideration of the look of an object, where Function is more focuses on it’s operation and use. A good place to start are Design elements and principles, and the Engineering Design Process.

There are a bunch of things you should think about before making or buying terrain. These questions should be focused on things like;

  • How you plan on using it?
  • What your budget it?
  • The time needed to make it or acquire the parts?
  • What scale of miniature is it designed for?
  • And others I can not think of at this point…

So for this project I’m setting out what I’m aiming for.

  1. Storage. Do to limited space I need to be able to easily store the parts
  2. Quality. I want have it look good and to make good stuff, because If I can help it, I don’t want to do it all again, or to spend time repairing it.
  3. Scale. I play Warmachine, Warhmmer40K, and Patherfinder/D&D amoung others. All of which tend to be 25-28mm scale.
  4. Variability. I like to be able to mix-up my terrain to suit the individual situation or scenario, because I get bored easily with the same tactical battle.

Designing Tiling Terrain

I’ve been reading Observations of the Fox’s posts about Hexagonal Geomorphs. I’ve looked in this direction before and have played games like Magic Realm (on Boardgamegeek), Battletech, and Star Fleet Battles. And I created a SFB Hex map a few year back, which is up on deviantArt. The Hex-map technique allows an easy simplification of the game map into discrete elements, while allowing more options than the square grid-map. However, with a shift in miniature war-gaming to the inch-based measuring system, using hexes just feels like old times, in both a good and a bad way.

Ultimate Table Top Terrain collection of Hexagonal Terrain does make me drool and shows a different way of using hexes. As large scale terrain pieces that interlock to allow the miniature battles to happen over them, without binding the game to the hex grid. It also allows the army to be set up on one hex for transport, and for the terrain to be (relativity) easily packeted away at the end of the game. Good for places where space is a premium.

So, here is a summary of Michael Wenman‘s series on Geomorphs and helps explore the idea of terrain design for miniature games;

It’s also worth examining ways of making interlocking Sci-Fi walls, which sit on flat cardboard floor tiles. This technique of using card pegs or wedges is one of the simplest I’ve seen. In my 3D Printed designs I’ve started with small pegs that clip into place, but found that they tended to break off, and I’ve moved onto a similar technique of using interlocking joints.

It is worth noting that what ever system you want to use that it fits you needs. For myself I will be looking for the following;

  • Multiple configurations to allow many scenarios to be created. Si I’ll be looking at pieces.
  • Can be easily packed away and transported. So it will most likely be 1 to 2 foot in size.

 

History of Miniature Wargaming Rules

A while ago I got curious about War Gaming, in particular it’s history. Having been an irregular war gamer for the last *many* years and cut my teeth on Battletech. Then expanding into Warhammer 40K, Necurmunda, Space Crusade & Space Hulk. I’d like to try my hand at making a board game or war game of a similar nature. So I was wondering did they all come from? How did they evolve to what we know now, and what influenced that process?

The wikipedia page on Wargaming, giving some insight about hobby and how it started. With the a set of rules been publishing in the early 20th century,  with H. G. Wells’ Little Wars and Jane‘s naval war rules in 1913. It’s also worth noting that Jane also publish All the World’s Aircraft, which is a great research for aircraft of types and is regularly updated.

Little Wars is a set of rules for playing with toy soldiers, written by H. G. Wells in 1913.
Little Wars by H. G. Wells.

John Curry the editor of The History of Wargaming Project has a few videos outlining the project (See part 1 & part 2), and an interesting presentation of the Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame, which at it’s peak had huge games of 60+ players and did not look like the hobby as I know it now. This was a more social game with people playing on a Friday or Thursday night in large dance halls.

RPGs Split off

In 1971 Gary Gygax & Jeff Perren published the miniature wargame Chainmail, which lead to Dungeons & Dragons and the RPG explosion of today. However, it is worth remembering that most RPGs model themselves after D&D and as a result have a strong tactical basis for their game play. It’s only later, in early 1990, that more narrative-based RPGs emerged with games such as Whitewolf’s Vampire.

Chainmail is a medieval miniature wargame created by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren.
Chainmail

Computer based Wargames

A decade later saw the adaption og Turned-based War Games (See Turn-based strategy (TBS)Turn-based tactics (TBT)) on the computer, with Blue Bytes Battle isles a personal favorite. These in turn led to Real Time Stratagy (RTS) Games, like Dune 2000 and Command & Conquer.

 

Command & Conquer is a 1995 real-time strategy video game developed by Westwood Studios
Command & Conquer

So going back to the start of all this has given me a better idea of these style of games. Along the way I’ve found some cool projects and some great ideas for my own games, and should aid me in writing one.