Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Adventures in (table) Space - Developing the Space 1889 solo campaign

So a while back, I posted how I was going to wedge Kas'trum into the existing Space 1889 map of Mars. With work quieting down, I have had some more time to develop my thoughts.

Now according to the Soldier's Companion, a unit on foot in good terrain can make one hex or about 10 miles per day. According to canon, from Crocea to the swamps of Gorklimsk is about 200 miles which is far enough to make things interesting for the Imperial side.  However this raised the question of where exactly any given encounter will take place in that hex.

To address this, the first question is how much area does my 4x6ish table represent ? After poking around with some complicated math, I re-read SoC which said that 1 foot on table is one Sky Galleons of Mars hex and Sky Galleons is compatible with Ironclads and Ether Flyers, and I&E says that 1 hex = 1 cable or just over 200 yards. so a 4x6 table is 800x1200 yards or .45 x .68 miles so breaking down the 10 mile campaign hex into 1 mile sub-hexes means I can fit 2 tables per mile with lots of wiggle space.  So now I have an idea of what level of detail I need to provide before setting up each battle.

As a side effect, I got to thinking about scale. I may have missed it but SoC doesn't say much about ground scale. With the information above we can nail it down. 1 foot = 200 yards so the ground scale is 1:600! Our 25 mm figures are comparatively massive. Or are they? The Soldier's companion makes two things clear: the figure scale is 1:10 and infantry should be based on 3/4" washers (or equivalent). How well does this tie in with ground scale? Three quarters of an inch is 37.5 feet on the table. Divide that by 10 to get space per man and we get 3.75 feet, or just about spot on for arms length dressing. In open order that's 7.5 feet per man - again not too bad for open order. These two figures are a reasonable compromise between Napoleonic and modern practice.

However, it breaks down a bit when we start looking at artillery. Your bog standard BL 12 pounder has a range of 6 feet in game which translates into 1200 yards; much less than the actual maximum range of  5,000 yards. That seems to be a large discrepancy but  makes sense in light of direct fire artillery practices of the time and supports the common gamers' desire to get toys on the table.  Besides, who has space for a 25 foot table?  The Lee-Metford range of 32"is fairly close to ground scale (1600 yards vs 1800 yards actual). This means the guns are a little more vulnerable than they should be, but not by much.  Oops made a math error here. 32" on the table translates to 500 yards. This is quite  bit under even the historical 800 yard effective range, but not enough to worry me. As a side effect, it makes the artillery a bit more effective. Interestingly, the rifle musket at 12" is bang on for effective range of a Baker rifle and the 8" range for a smooth bore musket is quite a bit more than the 6" one would expect for a Brown Bess. It looks like the Earthers have been nerfed a little and the Martians buffed.

If a wonky ground scale good is enough for Flames of War it's good enough for Soldier's Companion.

So what does all this mean? Despite initial appearances, the ground scale has been well thought out and is accurate but artillery ranges have necessarily been truncated. Some method must be created to figure out where in a 10 mile campaign hex a given encounter occurs but raises the possibility of flanking movements or actions within a hex and large multi-table battles.

I assure you that I find all this math very interesting and not the least bit boring as I expect some of my readers might.


Clive G said...

I'm afraid I obsess about ground scales/frontages/ effective ranges. It's nice to meet a fellow traveller :-)

Artillery will always pose problems, and maximum ranges are rather theoretical unless you're firing at a fortress or similar. You could easily house rule a doubling of range for firing against material targets (or stationary ones like artillery batteries), always assuming you can see them.

Paul O'G said...

As long as the relative ranges of different weapons are correct and align with movement rate, you'll get an effective representation on the tabletop. Remember too that there was a big difference between effective and maximum ranges for weapons, especially when it came to artillery engaging moving targets.