Until recently I had spent what gaming time I had available (which wasn’t much) on board games (or boardgames? – we seem to have become more Germanic in assembling nouns). As I almost always played solo I came to appreciate simple, engaging, and ultra clean rules, an appreciation that more and more informs my approach to gaming.
When I got back to miniatures around 2012 I used a gridded tabletop for movement (large 10” x 10” squares), but in the switch to 10mm I went to a free-form tabletop with the figure stands becoming more and more conceptualized as playing pieces in a board game. The grid is still present but in a much more abstract way.
The figure basing that I used in 25mm (see photo below) employed various shapes and sizes (although the same for each troop type). When I began to experiment in 10mm with the War of the Roses period, thanks to the “White Queen” and the discovery of the Perfect Captain’s excellent “A Coat of Steel” rules, I continued to use 3/16” foam core for the figure stands. Now foam core is a wonderful material for all kinds of things – this is not one of them! It gets crumpled corners like cars in a NYC parking lot and the edges fray easily. Still – that’s what I used. I created an elaborate labeling system for use with “A Coat of Steel” which apparently addresses a deep need I must have to explain EVERYTHING on the figure stand (the photo to the right shows the first WoR label system)
By the way – I know my painting quality is not very good, never approaching the level of what the hobby now calls “eye candy”. My painting, on a good day, equals that of a turn-of-the-century (19th) Britain’s toy soldier. And practice only seems to make it worse!
In any event, I then came to discover Too Fat Lardies and their creative rule systems. I was (and am) much enamored with “Chain of Command” and tried a few 10mm’s from the World War 2 period (as US rifle squad is pictured below). I also changed to thin wooden discs to base these figures (but kept the detailed labeling scheme). As much as I like the rules, the time period did not hold my interest – I never managed to paint even a single German figure! So, back to the War of the Roses. By that time I had decided that the figure stands needed to be highly standardized, sturdy, and very clean-looking. I ordered a bulk supply of 1”x1” x 1/8” wooden squares and a few other shapes and began re-mounting the WoR figures, this time omitting the labels, flocking, and micro shrubs. I liked the look – more like board game pieces – the direction I was going in my thinking anyway. Okay – I did put small – ridiculously small – labels on the rear edge of each piece but very unobtrusive. So unobtrusive that a normal human with 20/20 vision can’t read them from two feet away! (the Duke of Somerset and retinue archers are shown on right).
The upshoot of all of this is that in creating the new ECW period armies in 10mm I use the wooden squares for ALL combat pieces (none of which are now labeled) and a series of semi-circular command stands, most with flags so you can tell at a reasonable distance who everybody is. The combat pieces are very generic and can then be easily mixed and matched to assemble units of variable size and in a variety of combinations. The command pieces (both visually and in rules structure) are designed to identify units and generally hold everything else together. A basic musket & pike regiment (Laghtnan’s, the Irish Brigade – 1644) is shown in the last photo above. Over time I’ll present each of these combat and command pieces to give a better idea of what I am talking about.