Monday, February 7, 2011

scale creep

There was some discussion on one of the boards I am on about vehicles “in scale” to figures. With the prevalence of ‘heroic-scale’ 28mm or 30mm figures compared to the old-school 25mm figures with which I started. Games Workshop was a big reason for this. Their figures were 28mm – about right for 7 foot tall Marines and Orks but the figures were bulkier than your standard figures. This made them slightly larger than the 1/72 figures that are 25mm but they were about as wide as 1/35 figures. 1/35 accessories looked the right size as 1/72 accessories weren’t bulky enough.
The bases were another issue. Each figure was effectively standing on a soapbox which made doorways and vehicles look shorter. A lot of people recommend using 1/35 or 1/38 vehicles with the 30mm figures but they are just too big to me.

Again, I come out on the other side of the scale issue. I don’t mind if the buildings and vehicles look a tad ‘undersized’. You have to think of the game as a whole. Which is more important to the game? The buildings? The vehicles? Or the characters?
If the characters are a bit ‘larger than life’ compared to the rest of the game world, I’m okay with it. Since the figures are the most important part of the game and even still they are tiny compared to the rest of the scenery and tabletop.
In fact, I’ve even cheated the scale further (dynamic foreshortening) when I did Heroclix builings – with the ground floor of buildings being 3” tall and upper levels being only 2” tall. But then, to scale with the figures, streets would be wide open spaces and boring – both visually and game-wise.
Even when I upsized Car Wars to 1/32 scale, 1/35 figures (who should be smaller) wouldn’t fit in the cars without major surgery – like removing feet and torsos and filing heads flat. But, in that case, the cars were more important, with the people as a seldom-used component.

So, while most of the people tend to want to use even bigger vehicles to go with their over-sized figures on soapbox-height bases, I still like using vehicles and buildings that are closer to what the scale should really be – even if it looks a bit smaller when a figure is actually standing close to a vehicle or doorway.

I’ve seen a Doctor Who Miniature game from an UK convention – SALUTE that featured an oil rig. The pictures looked stunning and, even though I didn’t see it firsthand or play it, I’m sure it worked fine for the game.
But, if it was in ‘true scale’ to figures, the rig would have almost filled the entire table, leaving little room for the town.

Ultimately, do what works for you. But keep in mind the costs and practicality of both use and storage as well as transportation as need be. You may find that having a town with over a dozen slightly-smaller buildings may look more impressive and play better than having a town with only six or eight over-sized buildings made to accommodate the bases. That said, even in cheating size, you have to make sure that the vehicles and buildings are going to work with the figures you have and the space to set them up.

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