Saturday, 19 February 2011

The vinyl chessboards: What do some more figures look like on them?

Whilst I was waiting for the final coat of paint to dry on the square foamcore hills I have made to use with my vinyl chessboards, I decide to see how single figure bases looked on the chessboards.

The first figures I used were some 20mm-scale World War II Russians ...

... followed by some 15mm-scale Colonials.

What immediately struck me was that 20mm-scale artillery mounted on bases do not leave enough room for the individual crew figures to fit easily into the same grid square on the vinyl chessboard. The groups of three 20mm-scale infantry did not look too out of place, but the groups of four 15mm-scale figures looked somehow wrong ... and I am not quite sure why.

Perhaps it is because the only way I could get them to fit into the grid square was in two ranks of two figures. What is interesting is that when I added two extra figures to each group to create two ranks of three figures ...

... they looked much better.

I cannot explain this phenomenon, but I assume it is all to do with the way we perceive things within an obviously limited area – such the size of a grid square – in relationship to the size and number of figures within that area.

I am left with the feeling that if I am going to use 20mm-scale figures on my vinyl chessboards, they will need to be mounted on multi-figure bases … but that the bases will need to be as small as possible. My feelings about the 15mm-scale figures is that they too should be mounted on multi-figure bases … but that there is potential for me to create a version of the rules whereby single figure bases can be used, thus allowing Units to become degraded as a result of combat in the same way that they are in Richard Borg’s BATTLE CRY! and MEMOIR ’44.

Notes on the figures and weapons:
  • The 20mm-scale Russian World War II figures are from ranges manufactured by Dixons and Britannia, and the 76.2mm Gun is made by Skytrex.
  • The 15mm-scale Colonial figures are manufactured by Essex Miniatures and the Krupp Field Gun was made by Peter Laing.


  1. Bob,
    I agree that two ranks of three figures look better than two ranks of two figures. Apart from the fact that six figures look more like a formed unit than four, there is also the case that most tactical formations - even French attack columns - were wider than they were deep [though many early wargames rules by such authors as Don Featherstone strangely made columns far too deep in proportion to their frontage!]. Even the famous British square was often rectangular...
    With 10mm figures, I shall be able to have even more files within a chessboard square.
    Then, there is the question of exactly what unit/number of men the occupants of a chessboard square represent. Perhaps your three 'modern' period soldiers look right because they portray relatively few troops, dispersed to take cover/avoid presenting a target &c., not in closed ranks; whereas the British redcoats, who would often have fought in close order, look better in a 'thin red line' two equal ranks deep. Troops of earlier periods still, such as ECW, might look better in three ranks.
    The problem with your artillery pieces, in my opinion, is that the base of the piece is too small to accomodate the bases of the crew without an unsightly overhang. Three possible solutions: increase the base of the piece; decrease the size of the crew's bases, or do away with the base of the piece altogether.

  2. Arthur1815,

    As usual, you seem to have found the answers to my questions! Everything you have written makes sense, and as a result I will probably not base my artillery in future if I am going to use it with single based crew figures.

    All the best,