The logs of another dice chucker
Gaming, ranting, bitching, and moaning

The Right Scale Means Everything

Let me start this week’s entry by offering my condolences to the people and city of Boston after yesterday’s attacks. My family is originally from the Boston area and I’ve been many times, so I do feel some connection to that city despite having grown up in Maryland. Still; it pains me that this sort of thing has happened again, and if any of my readers are in the area I hope you stay safe in these dangerous times.

So scale; it’s something I touched on once before I ever really got into smaller scale games. Now I find myself playing Flames of War every week, and it has sort of shown me that scale is much more important that I had previously considered. It really came to my attention with my watching more games of 40k played at the studio and the discussion of fliers, and also with having a few titans come through recently. It made me realize that things like titans and fliers…they just don’t work at 28mm. It’s much the same with DUST and their fliers; they just don’t work very well at that scale.  Fliers work well in Dropzone Commander, Tomorrow’s War, Heavy Gear Blitz and Flames of War(just to name a few) because they don’t take up nearly as much space. Fliers in 40k have a pretty big footprint on the table, and titans have even bigger ones.

You also have to consider the purpose of them; a strike fighter isn’t ever going to be seen on a 28mm game because they would, realistically, kill you before you ever saw or heard them. So you basically have a giant, expensive model that, if the rules are any good, will only be on the table for about 30 seconds each game. If they were all VTOL type gunships a la an Apache Attack Helicopter then it may work, but even then it’s kind of sketchy.

It’s even worse with things like titans because those models cost hundreds of dollars each. Small walkers work just fine, but something that’s supposed to be the size of a small skyscraper just doesn’t work at 28mm. Why do you think Battletech is a 6mm game? Because it doesn’t work if the infantry are 28mm and you need to make the Mechs in scale.  Now I get that titans are only for apocalypse games, but even then I don’t really think they work all that well just because they take up too much damn space.

You know what the worst part is? Games Workshop has a way to deal with this issue; it’s called Epic 40k. But no; they figured they’d be better off axing the specialist games department in favor of giving every army in Fantasy and 40k increasingly bigger models that eventually everything with be the size of titans anyway. Epic, for those of you not familiar, was a 6mm 40k game with titans and entire armies rather than little contingents like the standard 40k game. The rules now seem a bit dated(then again so don’t all of GW’s rules), but it was the perfect scale for massive battles with things like titans and fliers and massive tank armies.

Now I had mentioned DUST with having fliers and it not working at 28mm, and the reason I haven’t gone into more detail is because I honestly have no clue how fliers in DUST work(I have yet to get around to grabbing the expansion books for Warfare). Still; that scale just doesn’t lend itself well to vehicle heavy games I think. Small vehicles like jetbikes, small walkers and the likes? Sure. A tank or two? Sure. It’s when you get into 5th edition Imperial Guard tactic of “turn your deployment zone into a parking lot” that things start to go horribly wrong. That’s why the walkers in DUST work so well; you’ll generally only have 3 or 4 of them in a game, and that requires to to really skimp and go the bare minimum on your infantry units.

Another comparison could be Bolt Action and Flames of War. Bolt Action, as far as I know, doesn’t actually have rules for airplanes because…well they wouldn’t ever really be seen. Flames of War does because at 15mm scale you’re actually covering a massive amount of land on a 6×4 table. At 28mm not so much. You can do an entire armored company in Flames of War because the scale allows for it to work, even at larger points. Bolt Action? Not so much. There are allegedly rules in the works for doing armored company combat, but I suspect that those will probably be 4 tanks per a side or so as opposed to Flames of War were an armored company can have 4 tanks in a single platoon.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that large vehicles and large quantities of vehicles just don’t work at 28mm scale, and I don’t get why games keep trying to cram bigger and bigger models into that scale; I’m looking at you Privateer Press.

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