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Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Question of Scale

From the beginning, I planned to cover all of my wargaming interests in Xenophon's Ghost: Ancients, American War of Independence, and Napoleonics (for now).  I also aim to explore factors in the historical wargaming hobby that are entry barriers for new players, particularly youth.  I happened to start playing DBA simultaneously with the blog start-up, so my posts have focused on DBA almost exclusively.  It's time to turn to a new topic: Napoleonics and the entry barriers of cost and initial painting time required to start playing.

Returning to Lasalle

The end of painting my Macedonian Morph Collection is within sight, and the recent release of Maurice, by Sam Mustafa, prompted me to peruse my Lasalle rulebook.  Mr. Mustafa's Lasalle rules are designed for tactical level Napoleonic games.  I picked it up as I finished painting and playing American War of Independence games over the first 18 months of my wargaming life.  See Sam's website, www.sammustafa.com for more information.

Sam's rulebooks are reknown for photos of well-painted miniatures, and he recommends infantry basing with double rows of figures.  The units look great, and I decided to give it go, fielding an Austrian Avante Garde Division and a French Infantry Division.  I made it through two Austrian large infantry units before burning out.  The painting effort and investment to field two Armies is significant as a new player. DBA was appealing because of the limited number of figures needed to start, so I set the Napoleonics aside.

Considering a Scale Switch

Nonetheless, I do want to complete two Lasalle Armies, and I began pondering a switch to 10mm figures for my Napoleonic collection for multiple reasons.
  • Cost - I estimated that I might save quite a bit of cash.
  • Time - I might be able to paint more quickly, given the limited detail.
  • Variety - my AWI and Ancients figures are 15mm.
Before jumping to 10mm, I have decided to perform a cost analysis and a painting time test.  I did a similar painting test for DBA, trying my hand at two 6mm Elephants to compare the scale to 15mm. 

6mm Carthaginian Elephants
I decided to stick with 15mm for DBA, but I might use 6mm in the future for the American Civil War or Seven Years War.

Green Eyeshade Analysis

For the cost comparison, I planned for the reality that two Armies won't be the end of the story.  I expect to continue growing my collection over time.  I planned for expanding my collection in the following phases:
  • Two Armies to get started
    •  French Infantry Division with Cuirrassier Bde
    • Austrian Avante Garde Division with Infantry Bde
  • Two Extra Brigades
    • French Infantry Bde
    • Austrian Hussar Bde
  • British Guards Division with Dragoon Bde
  • British Infantry Bde
  • Russian Grenadier Division with Reserve Artillery Bde
  • Russian Dragoon Bde
The chart below compares the cost of this collection for two different 15mm basing approaches and 10mm figures.
The figure counts used for the analysis follows:
  • 15mm single row basing - 4 infantry or 2 cavalry figures per base
  • 15mm double row basing - 8 infantry or 3 cavalry figures per base
  • 10mm double row basing - 10 infantry or 3 cavalry figures per base

I used pricing from several websites:

Although I really like the look, the cost analysis helped me to decide against 15mm double basing.  I cannot afford the investment given my other interests and limited hobby budget

Excluding Sunk Costs

Making a decision between single row 15mm bases or 10mm bases won't be as easy.  I have already invested time in painting up two double row-based units, and I have purchased and primed enough 15mm figures for several more units.  I decides to compare the costs of my additional purchases, excluding sunk costs.
As you can see, the switch to 10mm will initially be more costly.  I'll need to spend $264 instead of $192 to get two Armies fielded.  As my collection expands, 10mm will save me money in the long run, but not by much. The cost difference for the entire collection is only $86.

The Painting Test

Given the minor cost difference  (not to mention the psychological cost of not using the already purchased and painted 15mm figures), I am proceeding with a painting time test before making my decision.  I definitely like the look of double row basing, a plus for 10mm.  I'm still unsure if I will like the look of the smaller figures.  I bought a 10mm French Flank Company pack from Old Glory, and it was primed up today.  I'll try to post the painting test results soon.  We are in the midst of a major overseas move, but I'm trying to finish this little project before my kit is packed up.

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