Tuesday, 27 April 2010

In the Man Cave: Abstracting the Abstracted Abstraction

Yesterday evening saw me tackling the first job in the new Man Cave: cutting out card bases for the War at Sea ships and aircraft. Due to time constraints I was only able to get the bases cut for the twelve aircraft. These are 40mm square and are painted the same sea blue I use for the ships – Humbrol Matt 25. I print off identifying labels for these as well; merely numbering them by type e.g. Stuka 1, Stuka 2 etc. I shall tackle the ships this evening with a view to painting and finishing the whole exercise in time for the weekend. Preparing these bases is not difficult, merely time consuming but it does have a certain therapeutic value. The aircraft have been duly stuck to their bases and are awaiting the brush. In the interests of economy I will mount all the ships on their bases before getting the paint out and so tackle the whole lot in one fell swoop. I will need to get the ships and aircraft labels ready as well as putting the names and ensigns on the bases is my favourite part of the process – primarily because that is the last step and it means the models are ready! There will be a photo shoot when the models are ready and now that I have a new camera I am keen to give it a thorough work out!

In all I have a further 32 ships to be based – 17 for the Royal Navy, 7 for the Italians and 8 for the Germans – with no prizes for guessing the nationality at the top of the list! As mentioned previously I am really pleased to have a couple of models of HMS Repulse (one will be used for HMS Renown – although the two ships were slightly different to look at) and have bitten the bullet and acquired an additional copies of HMS Warspite to serve as Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. The War at Sea ships are variable in quality and accuracy but as representations of the vessels in question they are ideal for use as wargames models. The only downside is their size – realistically I can only use them at the club as the table size required is well beyond anything available in my house!

I have considered how best to make use of my War at Sea models at home and have come to the conclusion that the only way I would be able to achieve this would be to dispense with movement entirely and merely concentrate of the combat side embracing the concept of relative positions. I have seen a set of fast play naval rules kicking around on the net that use a system of zones for relative positions and whilst I was initially wary of such a concept I have revised my opinion somewhat. Although such a system will serve to further ‘abstract the abstraction’ I think it may well have possibilities.

The biggest problem with this approach is how best to represent the effects of manoeuvring (course and speed changes etc) on the table top. Consider two warships sailing parallel at a distance of 10,000 yards at the same speed of 20 kts. Their relative positions will stay the same although they will carry on moving on their current course. Ships following these two at the same heading but at, say, 30 kts, will pull ahead and this separation will continue. Similarly, a slower ship will fall behind. As long as the two ships in the centre of our example maintain their course and speed then the faster and slower ships will eventually disappear into the distance. There would no reason then why the two ‘middle’ ships in the above example could not be static on the table top with the faster and slower vessels are placed accordingly until either changing speed or course or exiting the combat area.

Simply put, a ship will either attempt to close or open the range of combat by a combination of speed and course relative to the enemy. Unless one ship has an advantage in terms of speed then, all else being equal, the enemy should be able to maintain the status quo and be able to conform the other ships movement – in other words, stay the same. The trick will be to allow for such tactical manoeuvring without actually moving the models but still showing the same on the table top (after all, that is why we are using models rather than cardboard counters!).

I will look at this in a little more depth as I would dearly like to be able to fit an action using the WaS models on a standard dining table. Much to ponder methinks (yet again!).


Anonymous said...

Hi Ogre, abstracting movement/relative positions is something I've long contemplated..but unfortunately not come up with anything I'm happy with...would be ideal to fight a Jutland at 1/3000th without having to hire a dancehall...good luck and here's hoping for inspiration!

Ogrefencer said...


I am sure it must be possible but it will need careful consideration!

I will crank up the brain cell and see what comes out!