Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thoughts on The Great War


I really want to game the First World War and I have for a long time.  The release of the the stunning Renegade WWI models several years ago first got me interested in gaming the period.  Then came the The Great War rules from Warhammer Historical.  The combination of beautiful figures and rules has been very hard to resist.

One of the major roadblocks to moving ahead with this project has been interest of other gamers in my local game group.  The lack of interest has been due to a few different reasons but mostly I think that the period is thought of as dull trench fights and machine gun slaughter.  The fact is that WWI is almost as diverse of a game setting as WW2.  The other factor as been the perceived expense of 28mm figures.

A couple of years ago I started to think of using The Great War rules and 15mm miniatures.  It is actually pretty easy to do as TGW uses a three to one figure ratio so I thought it would be cool to use three 15mm figures in place of one 28mm on the same size base.  This would allow the rules to remain unchanged and would actually look more like a battalion on the table.  I also thought it might be cheaper.

A few of my friends have expressed an interest in this approach so recently I start to look at the idea more seriously.  On the plus side there are some nice figures available for the period.  This is particularly true of the new Blue Moon range.  The down side (at least for me) is that most of this coverage is for late war (1917-18).  This really isn't that bad even though I prefer the early (1914) period.  The late period seems more popular so I started planning a 1918 German Assault Battalion.

Using the army lists in the book, and just looking at the minimum for a legal army (Battalion command and 2 companies of three platoons each), I came up with a force that comprises 63 bases and 189 figures.  This is a three figures to a base configuration.  I planned this around Flames of War small bases rather than 25mm round bases.  I think the FOW bases look better.  This about a 500 point army.

With this basic army plan I was able to determine the number of figures it was going to take to build the army.  I started by looking at Blue Moon as these are the cheapest and easiest to get.  They are also pretty nice looking figures.  For Blue Moon it takes 4 bags of infantry and 1 bag of command totaling $112 (I did not count the member discount as this will not give a fair comparison to the other companies).  Next I looked at Peter Pig.  It takes 24 packs of infantry and 1 pack of command to build this army at a total cost of $117 (priced from Brookhurst Hobbies).  Neither of these includes shipping.  So, using 15mm figures at a near one to one figure ratio will cost me about $120.

Another item I need to consider is that I have no terrain for 15mm European games.  All my FOW stuff is for North Africa ad would be of no use for this project.  This means starting from scratch on terrain.  Not sure how much this will cost but it is a factor I have to keep in mind.

After doing all this research I thought it might be fun to price out this army in 28mm using the TGW standard army build.  This will require 63 figures.  I started with Old Glory 25mm late war.  For this I would need 6 bags of infantry and one bag of command for a total of...$112.  Exactly the same price as the Blue Moon 15mm project.  OK, now I have a problem.

That had to be a fluke.  No way there would be no savings by doing 15mm, even with the increased figure count.  So I checked Renegade, my favorite WWI figures.  This would take 4 regiment boxes and 1 command blister costing $114!  AAAggggHHHH!!  What the hell?  How about Great War Miniatures?  These figures might be better than Renegade but they are expensive.  This would require 10 packs of infantry and 1 pack of command for a total cost of $119.  This is just wrong...

Once I realized that this project would cost the same at 1 to 3 ration for 28mm as it would for 1 to 1 ratio for 15mm I was in trouble.  You see, I have lots of usable terrain for 28mm and I am adding more all the time for my 28mm WW2 games.  This means that total project cost for me is cheaper at 28mm. 

I must apologize to my friends who would like to do this period in 15mm but I cannot join you.  I will be moving ahead with this project but it will be in 28mm.  I know of one person who will join in but I am afraid that will be it.  Oh well, once they see it all painted and on the table they might change their minds.

11 comments:

Curt said...

As a suggestion, check out Maelstrom Games in the UK as they carry the Great War miniature line. They often have sales of 15-20% AND they ship post free overseas (they just had a 20% promotion). If you're a little patient with their variable stocklists its a great deal. I've used them for coming onto two years now and have had no issues.

Tenzing said...

You'll want to buy copies of the books while you can- Warhammer Historical stopped trading about a month ago.

Scott said...

If you were going to do it in 15mm, coulntd you just do it as a variant of FoW anyway, they already have a 'trenchfight scenario'... I guess you'd just ahev to come up with Stats for the troops and equipment, which I would have thought would not be too far removed fro the Early armies in Blitzkreig - you'd just have to tone done the armour accordingly...

If you want the 'skirmish feel' then 28mm would be better and I agree Renegade make some nice figures...

Its not a period for me I must admit... though some of the local guys tried it... I think there were some misgivings about the dominance of HMGs cutting down swathes of advanceing infantry, but I guess thats what the period is all about!

Da Green Skins said...

I had an interest in this game at one time, that is why I purchased the rules. It still sparks interest when you talk about it however my frustration with GW keeps me from getting into the game. Since they closed the historical arm of their company I can't purchase Over the Top. This means I can only play early war. Any chance of playing a different rule system that we can purchase and has some support in the gaming community.

Drunken Samurai said...

@Curt - Thanks! I just took a look and they do have pretty good prices for Great War miniatures. They are on my list.

@Tenzing - I have the both books and most of my local group as the basic rules.

@Scott - I thought about FOW but there are some issues that would take a lot of work to address. There are some folks who have tried (See the FOW1918 Yahoo group) but so far I am not liking what I have seen. The big difference between WW2 and WW1 is the ration of support to core troops. FOW is already a little to much support for the scale of the game and the WW1 conversion make this worse. You also need to get the troop classifications just right as this the core of the FOW rules. Just seems like too much work but I would love to see BF tackle this.

@Da Green Skins - You can still get the Over the Top book from some online retailers but you need to act quickly. I do not see this as a requirement for playing the game as the core book has early and late armies. OTT does have Americans and more trench detail. My dastardly plan now involves creating TGW armies and then switching to Black Powder...

Jerry said...

I'm glad you did the foot work on this. I was wondering if the costs would even out. You need three figures to every one in 28mm. Did you figure in the cost of bases? In 28mm you can use washers. A FoW base would cost more. I'm still game for 28mm btw. I thought 15mm might've been cheaper, but no.

Drunken Samurai said...

Yeah, Jerry there is not much savings with 15mm. There is clear savings with Old Glory when you are a member but it does not matter what scale you go with.

Tom O said...

Interesting cost breakdown Robert. I've been interested in WWI on and off for a few years now...I even had a 28mm German force but ended up getting rid of it since at the time no one else really seemed to be interested.

I like TGW rules and have them along with Over the Top; I'm not sure about using Black Powder for WWI as I don't think it's the answer for all periods. Unfortunately it will be next to impossible to get new players interested if using TGW as they are no longer available.

I'm not ruling 28mm out...but I'm not going to commit to WWI at this point either...too many other project ideas bouncing around in my head.

Tom O

Drunken Samurai said...

Hey Tom, at this point I am not worried about 'new' players just any players. ;-)

Tim Kulinski said...

Rob,

Nice breakdown, I guess I need to start looking at Germans than huh? I really want to do a Late War British (so I can do a Tank!). Great, something else to look for one we head to Brookhurst!

Sander said...

If you'd consider 15mm why not 20mm plastics? They're dirt cheap and there's heaps of choice see http://www.plasticsoldierreview.com/PeriodList.aspx?period=11

I have 6 armies all of which have not cost me more then 75 dollars a piece...

Cheers Sander