Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Scaling it up by Scaling it down

Oh Post Human Republic, how I love thee, let me count the ways

For a good number of people, at its core gaming is about creating something awesome, cinematic, exciting and imaginative. Something that could easily fit in to our favourite tv show, film or book. A truly epic conflict on a grand scale against all the odds and expectation your forces do battle with their foes. The problem is that sometimes our games of choice do a pretty poor job of really capturing this sort of grand scale of imagination, 40k will in a standard game use at most 180 models per side and while this may look damn imposing on the table top, when you actually consider this 180 orks aren’t actually that scary a prospect for a whole planet. Doug Seacat writes absolutely incredible fluff for all things Iron Kingdoms, its about the fall of nations and mighty armies clashing to decide the fate of gods…A few warjacks, a caster and a smattering of infantry will more than likely provide a brilliant game for you, but will be far less likely to set the imagination on fire.

A pretty cool looking Apoc game....but it has its problems
Here’s my point, 28mm is just too big to really capture that epic feel (that seems slightly oxymoronic but I think you get the point). Transport for them is difficult and if you up the numbers to more epic levels via apocalypse, unbound or some other clever mechanic then you’re forced to spend an awful long time doing it. The problem being that we with lives, significant others and jobs all too often don’t have time to dedicate to these big games, what’s the solution then?

Make the models smaller! Or as I look to put it, scale it down to scale it up

There are lots of smaller scale games floating around the place that one can really sink their teeth into. We have Gruntz, Flames of War, Epic and what I really want to talk about, Drop Zone Commander.

From the moment I laid eyes on the models I knew I had to play this game, the scale is small (10mm) but the model quality is off the charts as well as the realism. In brief one of the key components of the game is moving your units around the board via dropships, so unlike many other games air power is important (not unlike real life). Also combat is based not just on weapon ranges and rolling to hit, but also ranges of potential counter measures that might be employed (like real life, that doesn’t have armour saves).

Another great complement to the smaller scale is the pretty huge scope of the conflict that we’re talking about. I won’t spoil anything too much, but think mass planet and even system wide invasions from space and you’re in the right ballpark.

One of the things that you’re going to need to do when playing a game like dropzone (or whatever small scale game you might be interested in) is really revamp your terrain collection. The most excellent article by Brandon pointed out issues with 40k terrain and it’s importance to a really great game. This is even more so when you’re fighting over whole cities and planets. One must also consider that smaller scale terrain isn’t always going to be readily available for us, so its good call to potentially size up what kind of terrain you’re going to need, how you’re going to construct it and then simply go and do it. If you struggle with this I’d suggest doing it as a group, which leads me on to my next point

Dropzone terrain, made purely of paper
When starting a new game, particularly a small scale game like Dropzone, don’t do it alone. There is nothing worse than killing yourself painting up a lovely little army, making great terrain and then having no opponent. So if you’re making the plunge try and get some friends involved, try and play different factions, maybe organise a terrain building day or even set deadlines for when everyone’s stuff should be ready for. Simple stuff like that can really ignite a new game for you and what’s more if people see you and your crew having fun then it’s a great advertisement for them to pick up the game themselves, meaning more people for you to play with.

So with that in mind, next week in the shack is Dropzone week, we’ve already started cranking out terrain and four of us have each picked a different faction. I’m really looking forward to finally putting my PHR on the board and really scale it up a bit, I want to defend the next step for humanity (READ THE FLUFF)

Anywho, hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings, if there’s interest I’ll post up some pictures of some of the terrain that Mo and this weeks addition Ross/Tom have been working on and some WIP stuff of our armies, let me know in the comments



  1. A very interesting post Paul & one I would agree with whole heartily,when I play fow with Darra we always play it on a 8x6 table & the one thing i really love about it is the panoramic feel you get from the small models on a big table.

  2. Really great read Paul. Looking forward to starting my own PNR force too :) still trying to think of a good colour scheme for them. I do like the gloss white example in the rulebook.

  3. Good stuff Quigglet, Dropzone is good fun, looking forward to more articles :)

  4. really been liking the look of the dropzone commander models myself and the rulebook reads well. Going to be a while before I can afford to start new systems though...