Sunday, February 5, 2012

Formations, revisited

In a comment on my recent post about unit sizes, Ross mentioned that most of the time his units average three stands, for his Hearts of Tin games. Something about that comment got me thinking, and I believe I've struck on a revelation.

For infantry, at least, I'd like to be able to keep a consistent unit size throughout a game. Removing stands, with its resulting reduction in frontage, just feels and looks strange to me. I mentioned in that previous post that I might form my units as four stands of six, and place individuals at the back in order to indicate unit strength. For Heart of Tin, this would be 1-5 figures. For The Portable Wargame (using Ross's mod for unit quality) it would be 1-3 figures.

I had planned to use units of thirty figures, in five stands, including a command stand. For most of my units that command stand featured a mounted commander, a standard bearer or two, and a drummer or two. So suppose I did something like this:

Reduce the command stand to the standard bearer(s) and perhaps the drummer(s), filling in the other spots on the stand with musketeers. Form each unit in four stands of six figures, including this command stand. Mount the commander and four musketeers on individual stands.

The mounted commander and up to four musketeers would be placed behind the four main stands of the unit, denoting unit strength. As strength points are lost, individual musketeers are removed.

In the end, the unit will still consist of 25-29 figures on the table (this is the realization that suddenly struck me as I read Ross' comment, for some reason), and will only shrink minutely as morale degrades and casualties are taken. For The Portable Wargame, I can still field the figures as two units of two stands each, and use the individuals to represent unit strength (though I'd need an additional musketeer if, by chance, both units were rated as elite, with three strength points each). And, I can use the individually mounted musketeers of skirmish games.

I'm going to have to attempt to put a unit like this on the table next to the other options and see which I prefer. And, I'll need to decide what to do about cavalry and artillery. But this sounds promising.


  1. Since it was common for the drummers to form up behind their regiment and since officers and senior NCO's would fall in as supernumeries behind the formed ranks, it might look better to use officers, nco's and drummers for the extra figures.
    Check out Conrad's system:


  2. You know...I do believe I've read that post of Conrad's before. It certainly looks familiar, and I'll bet it's been bouncing around my subconscious while I thought this unit organization problem through. He's doing exactly what I had in mind. Or rather perhaps he placed in my mind exactly what he's doing.

    Thanks for the additional information about just whom could be found where in a formed regiment. That's very useful. Taking this approach will mean I need to paint more musketeers for skirmish gaming (as I can't see many useful scenarios featuring skirmish lines of only NCOs, officers and drummers contesting with each other), but that's fine. Besides, now that I think of it, I'll want twenty or thirty individually based figures from one or two regiments for skirmish games, not from four to six regiments.

    This whole puzzle is quite an entertaining puzzle, I must say.