Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Borodino Tabletop Beta Test

Napoleonic megalomania strikes once again!
Very happy with the the big game we had recently and now encouraged by at least three of the guys joining with promises to paint up specific corps of Russians, I wanted to see if we indeed could pack it all onto a regular convention sized table of 8 x 5 feet, be proportional to the actual field of battle, have enough room for all the terrain it in glorious 28mm!

The battle of Borodino (bor-rod-nee-yo) has always been on my war gamer 'bucket list' but I was not going to get involved in the usual uber-game which we all come to expect, with hundreds of battalion.  Be they large or small, these are still units which firing and melee calculations must be dealt their hundreds .  And so a very slow game and with only limited time in the day they end with the typical, "well you kinda won over there; we are beating you over here and if I can march my guard over to the redoubt, and with some good rolls I might be able to......."


   As you can see only some 64 elements for the Russians which will be handled by many players.  The combat rules and firing rules are very easy to pick up and players start quoting the numbers by the fourth turn.   But it seems to work and feel like you the player are a corps commander whose job is to time the deployment of your reserves. And surely numbers will come into play as the photos will attest.
I have listed the main terrain points as reference to the actual battle.  Maps abound but I have used primarily that of the well known expert Christopher Duffy which I had for, well, forever.  Obviously with such high ratios and specific base size [ which has no known size ratio/calculation! but simply cause it looks "right"] I found it all worked well to create the proper dimensions.

I used about 2/3 my collection, merely grabbing elements out of boxes to position them, so you ignore the uniforms, troop types and even nationality all you 'button-counters' out there! Grin. But cavalry will be a cavalry element, infantry is infantry if not of the correct type.

The whole field of battle / the whole tabletop of Borodino in our scale anyway. 8 x 5 foot table.  The view is from the south, looking north with the French to the left, Russians to the right.

The battlefield's centre showing the Russian positions of the Grand Redoubt, Fleches and the destroyed village of Semenoskaya in the center.  Davout's Corps nearest on the right, Ney's and Jerome's Corps to the left.
Raevsky's Russian Corps in the middle 
The Russian right flank.
The French left of Eugene Corps with cavalry supports
From Kutusov's view of his army and the French columns in the distance
The Fleches will need to be modelled as they had a smaller footprint on the tabletop but not of lesser importance. And yes, Davout's Corps will start only inches away in the game. As historically, no manoeuvre; just straight at it!!  
The southern end of the battlefield with Tuchkov's Corps defending against Poniatowski (at right) And who said there was no room?

 Yes, it is a "tight" tabletop but then again, it was historically.  I believe we wargamers spend too much real time merely marching our figures to action. Three or four turns lifting up and placing back down bases which have moved a few inches moving in a roughly straight line towards the enemy.  Heck, we generally don't have too much options where to fight the combats on the table anyway.  All that manoeuvring should have occurred before getting on the field anyway.  Much like for Borodino when Davout's wide flanking move was rejected by Napoleon. So now just up the middle.  All the tactical moves of regiments are not of our concern, only the bigger picture.
 So in that respect I must say this Beta test was a success, now just to paint up a few Russians, eh?


  1. Good luck. I must admit your bases look great. In the games of Borodino I have done using Napoleon's Battles and in both 6mm and 25mm (still to tackle in 15mm), the figure density to the table top - tightness you called it - has always been a problem.

    1. And it may have well been a problem for the soldiers themselves, eh Mr. York?!

      However it wouldn't be Borodino without the density. Probably its 'appeal'. I have made the conscience effort to make the battle as big as possible - using 28mm mind you - by getting rid of that unnecessary table space along the edge and between the armies. It is either that or make the units smaller or the commands smaller to give one that room and then you have all the silly pseudo -manoeuving wargamers tend to do with very little gain but waste of time.

      Oh dear, here I go on ranting again. Apologies from an old war-game veteran who thinks he has seen the light.....

    2. I must learn to put smillie faces after some comments. Apologies my Son from my first line. Humour was intended.

    3. :-)

      Wargame units have a bigger depth to frontage ratio and that creates the problem on the table top, plus Borodino has a heap of artillery. After our games we looked at coming up with an OOB that had artillery and cavalry at a reduced ratio to infantry.

      I also recall we had problems getting the fortifications to be the right size when properly scaled to the table top. Same thing happened with Waterloo and La Haye Sainte - ended up being the size of one infantry stand (four figures). Not very visually appealing. Possibly part of our obsession was moving between scales - 6mm, 15mm and 25mm.

      Regardless we had fun games and the table really groaned under the weight of the 25mm troops.


    4. all of miniatures wargaming is compromise. Vertical scale vs horizontal, representation, heck, even how "realistic" should we paint the darn things. Mud and dirty, or bright and colourful. Choices, choices
      But in terms of terrain vs "realism" I tend to only go with if ease of play will result. So perhaps the Great Redoubt will be only a small affair on a same size base with a small gun model and a few crew. Our artillery is very representational anyway, so the actual number of models is unimportant. I will model these field fortifications on as small as area as possible but still have a bit of the "look" of the real thing.

      Thanks for interest and your comments.

  2. Cramped? Perhaps.
    Striking? Definitely!

  3. I actually had fun doing all that set up. Must be a wargamer thing......