Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The portable wargame: Is slightly bigger a lot better?

I recently bought a new chessboard from the local branch of the John Lewis Partnership with the intention of possibly using it as the basis of a slightly improved version of my portable wargame. This evening was the first opportunity I have had to take it out of its cardboard packing and to set it out with some 15mm-scale figures on it (in this case, some of my Austro-Hungarian and Prussian Peter Laing figures). The results were – to say the least – interesting.

The first thing that struck me was that the darker squares were a lot darker than on my original chessboard ... but I can live with that. The second thing that struck me was that the slightly larger squares meant that I did not need to re-base a lot of my figures. Thirdly, the slightly larger squares meant that I could use some of my wooden 'Town in a bag' buildings instead of having to build a whole new set of buildings. The fourth – and to my mind the most important – thing that struck me was that the slightly large squares made the whole thing look a lot better.

To illustrate what I mean, if I compare what the Peter Laing 15mm-scale figures looked like on my original chessboard ...

... with the same figures on my new chessboard ...

... they look a lot better in the second photograph. Not only that, but there are nearly twice as many figures on the larger chessboard than on the smaller one, but the former looks less crowded than the latter. The only conclusion I can come to is that it is the height of the figures relative to the size of the squares that makes one look better than the other.

It is an interesting lesson on how we visually perceive things … and it is something that is worth keeping in mind in the future.

8 comments:

  1. You realize of course that as soon as your wife finds out your single "recycled" game board has already morphed into an additional, bigger, newly purchased gameboard, she's going to fire up that blowtorch....

    Best regards but my condolences,

    Chris

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  2. Looking sharp squire - what do you plan to use for forestry and hills and such?

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  3. Chris,

    I would normally agree with you but ... since I repaired the old chessboard, my wife has commented that the space where it used to sit on the table in the conservatory looks a bit empty.

    It looks like it is going back where it came from ... and that means that my 'replacement' is already in place to take over from it!

    A stroke of luck, I think!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Conrad Kinch,

    I must admit that I have been wondering about how to construct the necessary terrain I will need.

    The wooden trees that come with the 'Town in a bag' set might do for wooded areas, and hills could be easily cut from suitably thick pieces of basswood, of which I have a reasonable supply 'in stock'.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Looking good. Have you considered the possibility of staining the board a shade of green so that you end up with light/dark green sqs?

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  6. Jfidz,

    You make an interesting point ... and it is a good idea.

    At present, my answer would be 'No' ... but it is certainly something that I might consider doing in the future.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Chessex used to make (and I suspect still does) roll-up vinyl chessboards with green and beige squares . . . in various sizes too.

    Just a thought.


    -- Jeff

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  8. Bluebear Jeff,

    I had heard about the Chessex chessboards (I already have several of the Battlemats) but could not find a UK supplier when I looked for one.

    If I find one, it would also be ideal.

    All the best,

    Bob

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