After having banged the 6mm skirmish drum for a while I have no choice but to get on with the big battle of the Year as Joy of Six is getting closer.
In creating a battle board for gaming a known battle there are a number of steps I take to allow me to create a reasonable area that creates the right balance between four elements – historical accuracy, playability, available space and overall visual impact. Remembering important issues such as the difference between the ground scale and the figure scale for large scale battles (and building scale) – this is why you see towns represented by just a few buildings next to rivers that looks like the models could just jump over.
The Lesnaya Battle was not a straightforward “line-them-up-and-attack” battle but happened in stages where the Russians first attacked the Swedish rearguard that was reinforced in stages but the front line of battle constantly moved back towards Lesnaya – it quickly became clear that the battle would be best played length wise on the table.
I have used the map below as basis for the battle board and it was produced by Örjan Martinson on his absolutely brilliant Tacitus Webpage that contain a lot of useful information about the Lesnaya as well as other battles of the Great Northern War (link here http://www.tacitus.nu/gnw/battles/Lesnaya/ ). The map show the position of the opposing sides at the start if the battle (Note the name of Lesnaya in the traditional Swedish spelling – Ljesna).
The first thing I wanted to do was to overlay my conceptual 4 by 8 feet (120cm by 240cm) battle board space over the map and see what area this would cover – would it be enough to play the battle on? In this case I simply use the Freijbourg Rearguard as the basis for my battle board (marked in the red circle) for my calculations. The Rearguard consisted of 2 No. battalions of De la Gardie’s Regiment and 1 No. battalion of the Närke-Värmland 3-männing Regiment. In the Polemos Rules each battalion is represented by a 60mm frontage base and in the Twilight of the Sun King rules this is (at battalion level) represented by a normal unit (2 No. 60mm frontage bases) and a small unit (1 No. 60mm frontage base). Giving some space between the battalion I used a length of 20cm for the 3 bases.
In the PowerPoint files I used to do the exercise the length of the Rearguard Box (in the picture) was 1.4cm and I multiplied this with 6 to get the equivalent of 120cm (or 4 feet) length, this is 8.4cm and I created two squares (with 8.4cm sides) and overlay these on the map to represent the area the board would cover. To my (happy!) surprise the area covered (as shown in the picture below) was spot on for where the fighting actually occurred. Sometimes it does not work and you may not have enough space – you could easily cut this board down to a 6 by 4 table by taking away 2 feet of on the left hand side. The first notable encounter between the opposing armies was at the location of the rearguard. In addition it could be possible to reduce the depth as well but we did not have those problems on this occasion. All the Russian forces will not start on the board!
Following a deeper review of the overall battle from the start to finish with regards to the known locations of fighting, the area covered is sufficient to represent the fighting on the day.
But wait!, you may say… In the In the Twilight of the King Rules a base width (60mm, or 6cm, in our case) is about 150 meters, meaning that the frontage for our 3 bases (18cm) is about 450 meters. As we measured 20cm this equates to about 500 meters width for the set of three bases with some space in-between. We can clearly see that the width of the rectangle is far less than the 0.5km length based on the ruler in the to left corner. So in terms of adherence to real scale it does not work but in terms of ground scale and playability it does – I think that makes sense?
Case Study: Fraustadt 1706
Another example is when I did the wintery Fraustadt 1706 Battle a few years ago where the main feature was the line of Saxons and Russians between the two Villages (Rörsdorf and Geyersdorf). The key design feature of that battle board was to be able to fit all the based miniatures for this line the space available. I physically put all the bases on the table and used this to draw the features on the board, this gave me the “correct” measurements to play the game efficiently. I recall that I took some liberties on the Saxon/ Russian left flank to make the it work, but overall the battle board reflected the terrain features of the battle.
Back to the Lesnaya table and the next step which is to highlight the key features of the battlefield that are needed on the final battle board. The board will contain a lot of forested areas (!), roads (important as they cut through the forests), rivers and bridges and the elevation around Lesnaya and the river.
After this I mark out the features (I did not include the bridges or Lesnaya itself at this stage) and we are ready for the tools and the materials.
I have previously made the Great Northern War tables as 8 No. 2 by 2 feet boards but decided to do a mat this time in the same way as the Saga mats last year (See link here https://rollaone.com/2016/06/19/saga-in-6mm-part-7/ ).
The mat will incorporate the forest areas and make these darker than the general white areas (these will incorporate a few fields) the marshland will be a in yet a different colour and I will create separate river tiles to put on top of the mats (with bridges), including the elevations around Lesnaya.
I have not yet started the mat, instead focused the weekend on basing some trees – I will need a fair few.
Hope to show some mat progress soon.
I am working on some 6mm fantasy stuff in the background, here are a few pictures of work in progress (I will do a write-up later).
/Have a good week