How soldiers are presented on the war-gamming table is a central question of any miniature gaming rule set. Some systems have units that are a constant size, manpower density being the only variable.
In the image above, each of the regiments sit on individual stands.
Using this approach, planning is a breeze. Each regiment is the same size so it’s a simple matter of painting as many as possible. The downside is that you don’t have any variation in unit footprints. All regiments take up the same space regardless of the number of soldiers they represent.
Another approach that is sort of novel is using a fixed number of troops (regardless of how they are organized) rather than using the “unit” as the basis of the game, . The only rule here is that troops should be organized by type. Using this system means a greatly simplified order of battle. I need X stands of this and Y stands of that. No generals.
In the image above, the knights on the left have the EXACT same width as the skirmishers on the right.
This allows for games where enemy units can come into contact and not overlap. It makes for an eloquent system and is REALLY popular in ancients war gaming.
One MAJOR issue ignored by both of the approaches above is that of formations. Units of the Civil War typically fought in close order, two lines deep. They also fought in a more spread out formation called skirmish lines. Additionally they would have marched everywhere in columns. And finally, troops exposed to too much battle would eventually break and run for their lives in no particular formation at all.
Another concern is that as units of the Civil War took casualties they tended to compress into smaller footprints, preferring to maintain a constant density rather than a constant frontage.
What is needed is a method for laying out troops that can visually reflect different formations and can get smaller to accommodate battle casualties. Using multiple stands to represent a singe unit allows for both of these.
In the image above 6 stands are used to represent a single unit. Notice the third stand has the unit’s office and color bearers.
By turning all elements 90 degrees and placing the command stand in front, the unit now appears to be marching.
Basing for McPherson and Revenge
As I mentioned in a previous post, a 400 man regiment, while in line, would have occupied a frontage of 200 yards and 200 yards is 4 inches on my table. This same regiment in columns would be much shorter. Probably closer to 120 to 150 yards (2.4”-3”).
I could just say that I would use a one inch wide by 3/4 inch wide stand to represent 100 soldiers. That would work really good. However, I need the soldiers to look right on the stand too. I know from experience that the 6mm minis I have ordered (and have AGRAVATINGLY not yet received) are only about 3/4 wide and 1/4 inch deep. Even if I put two rows of these guys on a stand it would look a little goofy. Instead, I will use 7/8” wide by 5/8” deep stands and say that each stand represents 90 men. This too will work really well.
The number of stands used to represent a unit will be variable base on 90 man increments. Rather than worry about odd numbers, I will just round the units either up or down as needed. This effectively means that all infantry units in my game will represent units strengths of 90, 180, 270, 360, 450 and 540 men.
Using stands side by side, a regiment will form a line.
Using stands front to back, a regiment will form a column.
By placing stands side by side with a goodly bit of spacing, a regiment my form a skirmish line.
And by placing stands close but facing in all directions, a regiment may appear disordered.