Friday, May 6, 2011

GWG Troop Scale

Council of War: William and his generals 1688
First things first, GWG stands for Goulburn Wargames Group. For those not familiar with Australian geography, Goulburn is a small inland city in the New South Wales central tablelands. As this Blog is specifically dedicated to Williamite Warfare and associated wargames armies, I thought I'd share one of the significant considerations surrounding the armies we intend to build first ... the representative troop scale and model scale.

Troop Scale

Troop scale is the representative ratio of models to real life soldiers or numbers actually fighting as far as we know. To begin with, my good friend Matt and I will begin with French and United Provinces armies for the late Dutch wars period - for around 1675-8. Normally for a shot or musket army of almost any period we look to the size of the infantry battalion as our main collecting indicator. Later regarded as the 'Queen of the Battlefield', the infantry or foot(e) arm (if you excuse the irony) generally constitutes the main collection with artillery and cavalry in support. For this period; however, the cavalry or horse play a much more significant part in battle presence, numbers and cost for a miniature army. It is to the cavalry, therefore, that we have looked to in order to establish both our troop scale and model scales.

Model Scale

The GWG has had a long standing preference for 28mm figures (we'll settle of that definition) but for a time we dabbled with the idea of going smaller this time. Getting back to the cavalry question, the principle tactical unit for this period was the squadron and there were lots of them. It was also common practice for squadrons to attack in three ranks - particularly for the French whose cavalry tended to dominate. How then is this to be represented in 28mm or any other scale in terms of model numbers?

A Question of Cavalry

Bearing in mind that Williamite Warfare is also an adaptation of the Warhammer ECW system, the GWG have also always tended toward wargaming in 'Big Battallions' - something started in Napoleonics using the Grand Manner rule system and a habit from which we find hard to break. This generally relies on a 1:20 troop scale and makes for impressive looking units on the table-top. So then, how should the cavalry appear?

We agreed that the best representation of three ranks would be units of twelve (12) cavalry figures but if this was to represent 150 cavalry (an average squadron) then we have a troop scale of 1:12. Translate that into an infantry battalion of 550-750 soldiers and we had ourselves collecting sixty (60) figure battalions. This prompted us to begin looking at alternate figure scales.

Other Scales?

I spent an evening browsing the Internet and looking at the best 15mm had to offer and even looked at plastic figure ranges which were poorly represented in this particular period. My problem was that in comparison to the new ranges on offer from Coppelstone Casting Glory of the Sun Range, the new Front Rank releases and the classic Dixon figures, even the best 15mm miniatures paled in comparison. 'No' we decided, 'It will just have to be 28mm!' So, back to the cavalry issue.

Wargaming Doctrine

We finally hit on the idea of perverting reality for the sake of art and have struck a table-top compromise. Whilst the basic tactical unit of the cavalry squadron needs representation both in models and rules mechanisms, we have determined that a new concept should be permitted - the demi-squadron. It follows thusly ... if a squadron is represented at 1:20 troop ratio (six to seven figures) then the infantry battalions will number from 30 to 38 figures - far more manageable. BUT, what chance does one squadron of six horse have in combat against infantry, charging through a simulated hail of musketry and into pikes? Perhaps more important still, how paltry does a unit of six horsemen look before an array of three dozen pike and shot?


By providing for the notion of a demi-squadron, or two squadrons in combined attack as one unit, we hope to better represent the cavalry arm both visually and in terms of game mechanics. In three ranks of 12-14 troopers they should look the part and have a likelihood of getting the job done. Therefore, two squadrons may combine at any time in the game, testing as one unit to charge and fighting as such. Other squadrons may join the melee but they are not of the same unit for rules mechanics.

Building armies will remain a matter of collecting squadrons and nothing prevents single squadron attacks, though they might be better off chasing down fleeing troops or matching up against other singe squadrons.


So, in summary, after much thought it's back to 1:20 troops scale and onwards with another 28mm army thanks to the adoption of the demi-squadron as a table-top concept for cavalry action in Williamite Warfare.


  1. Huzzah and may my Glorious Sun Kings Cavaliers, and may they run down your protes(er)tant peasants!


  2. Not everybody in Goulburn follows this 1:20 dictum I might add..