Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Small Space Gaming

This post over on SoloNexus got me thinking about gaming on a small space.

I typically game on a 3' x 3' or 2'x2' space although I'm fortunate that I can expand to 3' x 5' if I really want to. Traditionally, in a hobby of 6' x 8' tables as the heralded standard, my playing area is already pretty small.

But what if I went smaller? What about a single sheet of paper small?

If this looks vaguely familiar,
 yes you've seen it before
It may seem absurd, if you're approaching it from a figure gaming paradigm, but many map-and-counter wargames are played on a single sheet of paper (as I did with my own diy "map" - a grid-ed surface more properly speaking - and counters in this post)  and I have owned at least one that was 8.5 x 5.5" for the map (on the downside, in this case, the counters were terribly tiny).

So, yes I can play a wargame on a single sheet of paper - combined with the magnetic dry erase board idea (see the SoloNexus post, although similar products are available in the back-to-school supplies) and making the counters magnetic-  I could easily play a game on the train in the morning, using the dice app in my phone for my rolls.

From a figure perspective, obviously bases of several small figures would work for larger battles - 2mm and 6mm come to mind

But what about very small scale skirmish gaming - almost rpg-like even? I know some people do 1:1 character based games in 6mm, I don't own any 6mm to do that with. I do own a decent amount of 15mm figures though.

So, I figured, what the heck? Let's give it a go.

Admittedly, it looks like the kind of thing a GM hastily scrawls on a dry erase mat during an RPG session, but ignore that for now: what matters is, was it fun and would I do it again? Yes and yes.

I played this scenario twice: a small band of rebels are raiding a Control facility. They have to search as many rooms as possible and then get out. I used THW's CR3:FV for the first go, and home-brew set for the second.

Firearms and long range weapons were easily handled by a reducing the length of possible fire lanes - in this case, the twists and turns of the corridor, but cover of any sort would do. Indeed, I should have done more -the hallway my squad entered from was too long and put us at the mercy of the overwhelming numbers of Control troopers. Another sharp turn would have been a good idea. Ditto for the other long corridor.

Next time, I'll keep that in mind.

Since the figures are 15mm, I treated the ranges in CR3 as if the unit was centimeters instead of inches. For my home brew rules, I set base movement to 6cm and used the ranges from Use Me SciFi, but treated as cm.

In this case, the accurate range of their rifles was 10cm - but depending on the game you want, weapons ranges can be much longer than the "table". In my opinion, shorter ranges feel a little more cinematic, while longer ranges feel more realistic but will require a lot more cover to give a fun game in a small space like this.

Getting away from blasters and firearms, the dungeon makes a perfect environment in this situation. With most everything using melee weapons, the twists and turns of corridors aid escape and ambush, as much as they aid in reducing the power of those armed with range weapons.

3d objects and walls would take it to the next level - which would be great for playing at home, but not so much for the train (when I say train, I really mean subway. Hard plastic seats and a general odor of urine and sweat. Not cushy clean Amtrak cars with seats with tables and power outlets). Not as fancy, but a lot cheaper, is to spend a few minutes in a presentation app like PowerPoint or a drawing app like Google's to make a nicer looking surface to print out.

My plan is to visit this idea again for a Space Hulk / Aliens type game - rather than downloading, and being restricted by, somebody else's maps/tiles.

And in the meantime, I'll consider picking up an inexpensive magnetic dry erase board and some magnetic strips to make some counters. I look forward to the stares from the other passengers on the train.


  1. I recently purchased another pack of magnet paper to make more top-downs for RRtK on my refrigerator, but all this talk of magnetic small spaces and whatnot is making me reconsider the use of those magnet sheets.

    Could one 8.5x11 sheet be a battlefield?

    I downloaded Bob's Portable Wargame rules and glanced through it. Is it solo-friendly? A small wargame without charts to cross-reference might be fun to keep on the fridge!

    (BTW, I dare you to play on the train during rush hour.)

    1. Hey Jf,
      I like to use the SoloDBADevelopoment group's "Solo DBA for DBA Version 2.2" rules (starting in section 4.7) to control one side since Bob's rules aren't solo specific. They do require a chart to figure out what action the non-player side is taking however.

      I also tend to replace the dice for initiative method with card activation by unit, as I like the randomized activation sequence. Combined with the above, I then have systems telling me which enemy unit is activating and generally speaking, what action they are taking. I believe, perhaps incorrectly, that it reduces the effects of any unintended bias for my own slide.

      Btw, re playing on the train: challenge accepted! :D

  2. Im about to dust off my 45cm square board for some playtesting. If you have enough cover, a 5 on 5 game is comfortably accomodated in 15mm.

    6mm skirmishing using printed interior layout modules that fit in a VHS case is another idea Ive been toying with.

    1. Your 45cm board is too awesome!

      I defy anyone who balks at games on a table less than 4 x 6 to look at that board and not want to play a game on it.

      Love the VHS case idea too, a true wargame in a box idea.