“Bathtubbing’ in reverse

Many wargamers are familiar with the term “bathtubbing”, which means taking a historical battle and reducing it to a scale compatible with their own gaming area.

Thus, for example, a game of the battle of Waterloo reduced to a 6ft x 4ft table (180cm x 100cm) might reduce each brigade, or even a division, to a battalion in wargame representation.

This tends to be more common in 20th century warfare, maybe reducing every real formation to the next lower, so that a division becomes a brigade/regiment, a brigade/regiment becomes a battalion, a battalion becomes a company and a company becomes a platoon.

I am trying a new method.  Let us call it “Swimming Pool Method”  (SPM).  My idea is to use Squad Leader boards and 13mm counters to reproduce battles in many eras.  I have already successfully fought a Napoleonic game.

But my current project is to use the Squad Leader boards for a rolling campaign, beginning on 6th June 1944 (2019).  I have “Swimming Pooled” the boards from the designer’s 40m per hex to a, more realistic for the artwork,  20m per hex.

At the same time I have delved deeper into the unit ratio so that in my game an infantry base is, rather than a platoon or squad, a half-section, for the infantry either a light MG team or a rifle team.  (In my Napoleonic version a base occupying the same area would be a company of 60 men in 2 or 3 ranks!)

My initial game will involve a reinforced British infantry company assaulting the coast of Normandy on 6th June 1944.  The infantry company has:

2 bases for the company HQ

3 Platoons of:

         Command base

          PIAT team,

          2” Mortar team,

          3 x Bren team,

          3 x Rifle team.

German defenders are similarly organised, but according to national standards:

     HQ: 2 command bases

         3 platoons, reach of:

            Platoon HQ

            Panzerfaust team,

            3 x MG42 LMG team

            3 x Rifle team.

Reinforcements may include tanks, mortars, artillery or many other options.

Each tank, armoured car, artillery piece, etc.  is individually represented.

Although I would have liked to use ‘top-down’ illustrations to fit with the map/game-board style, I found that those available for download would not reduce satisfactorily to a 13mm x 13mm print.  Therefore I went back to the military mapping symbols of the time, but once again using the Swimming Pool Method I have adopted platoon symbols for sections or sub-sections.

Thus the symbol for a company HQ will represent a Platoon HQ.  An LMG platoon symbol may represent a single Bren gun squad. Some bases are reversible to show the “mounted” or “deployed” status, particularly for HQ or artillery units.

We shall see how it actually works on 6th June…

Measure twice – cut once!

Recently I have been working on how to use  Bob Cordery’s gridded wargame systems with my 6mm toys.

I have spray-painted and gridded a small cork board (already painted and gridded on the other side for another game).  I have been trying to find a way to satisfactorily reduce (or bathtub) large battles such as Blenheim into a grid of 18 x 12 squares.  Previous efforts at this sort of thing can be seen here.

From my viewpoint there is one major problem.  A battle like this has three or four villages that must be occupied.  If you put houses (a house?) in the square at this scale there is insufficient room for troops.

Yesterday I remembered the pictures I had seen in Chris Kemp’s ‘Not Quite Mechanised’ blog, where he uses something looking like cinema flats across the sides of the squares to represent towns.

I decided to create some outline towns in a similar method, using the 3d printer.  I also had the same idea for woods that could be occupied by troop blocks.

I use the free online site Tinkercad to create my models.  I created a trial town with terraced gables on a 40mm x 40mm base with a 2mm “wall” depth, and a similar woodland with greater depth to the trees.

After a few hours printing the town I was quite pleased with the result until I tried it on the board – and realised my squares are 30mm x 30mm!  Doh!

I immediately cancelled the woodland print half-way through, but realised that I can use the resulting half-model, inverted and cut into pieces,  to make 6mm gabions on a parapet.

So I reduced the size to 75% and tried again.  This time I was not impressed with the result and the wood was too small to accept a troop base.

And thus I started all over again.  This time I think it will work.  The woods need to be filed on the inside to insert the troops on a 2cm 2cm base.

Below are the undercoated pieces (and some fresh from the printer) awaiting detail painting.  I think that once the houses are painted in a variety of brick, stone or render shades, maybe with some half-timbering detail, they will do the job.

Front row, left to right:  original 40mm print, reduced 30mm print with command unit, typical “Blenheim” infantry unit, redesigned 30mm print.

Second row, left to right:  inverted half-printed piece (now destined as gabions), 30mm outline wood (too small), redesigned outline wood.

Third row, left to right:  hexagonal outline town, Heroscape tile for this town.

I may decide to make models of only two sides (3 sides for hexagonal towns) so that larger built-up areas can be constructed.

We shall see.  Far more pressing projects await.  Little lead men keep screaming at me in incredibly high-pitched voices things like: “I love the hat boss, but can you PLEASE get round to the breeches?!”