Saturday, November 27, 2010

A question of tables.

Overhead was the day nursery, with a wide extent of smooth cork carpet (the natural terrain of toy soldiers), a large box of bricks—such as I have described in Floor Games—and certain large inch-thick boards. It was an easy task for the head of the household to evict his offspring, annex these advantages, and set about planning a more realistic country. (I forget what became of the children.) - H.G. Wells, Little Wars.

The forced march that is our housebuying carries ever onwards, inch by struggling inch through the mud of official indecision, redtape and incompetance, heedless of the howling storm of national financial catastrophe.

In the meantime, I've had some of our very best men working on the problem of what sort of table to put in the wargames room. As you can see to your left, they are deep in discussion and are in no way wondering if this is not putting the cart somewhat before the horse.

In brief, I have (or hope to have) a room that is approximately twelve feet by forteen and wish to put as large a playing surface as I may into that space while still having space for books, toy soldiers, terrain, smoking & drinks cabinet and all the other necessities of a civilized existance. There is the other, entirely secondary concern, that the room may also on occasion have to be used for social events that do not involve toy soldiers so it would be best if whatever playing surface I adopt can be folded away to allow the passage of guests, wives and other harmless persons.

The Command & Colours series (Napoleonics, Memoir '44 and Battlecry) have made up the majority of my wargaming since 2005 and that is unlikely to change, so it worth bearing that in mind. I have two mats for that style of game which measure six feet by three feet and nine inches. My prefered method of play is a six to eight player game where two of these mats are placed side by side (known as "Overlord") making a playing surface nine hexes deep by twenty six wide, unfortunately this would require a table twelve feet long by four or ideally five feet. This is unlikely to fit and even if such were possible, is unlikely to leave room for much else. However, the game can also be played in "Breakthrough" format where two mats are placed one atop the other forming a field of battle thirteen hexes wide by eighteen deep. This would need a table six feet wide by seven feet deep and ideally a little bigger to allow for dice, casualties, gin, etc. This is probably achieveable and could certainly big enough for whatever other games I take it into my head to play.

I've been looking at folding ping pong tables as the basis for this putative battlefield. In their favour, they are sturdy, fold up and measure nine by five feet, a noble size for a wargames table in any man's language. Counting against there is cost, 200 euro for a solid model and the fact that even five feet by nine is a touch too small for my purposes, nine by six would be ideal.

I'm sure even a chap of even my limited skills could add a foot to the width of the table without too much trouble, but until Chateau Kinch is a reality this will have to remain an entirely theoretical exercise.

Still a very pleasent theoretical exercise and one that helps make the hard business of getting through the house buying forced march a little easier.


  1. You have overlooked the other obvious benefit of a ping-pong table; one can play table tennis on it should the mood take you. Mine has proved very popular with the nephews and nieces.

    The disadvantage is that it is a bit lower than is ideal for one's back.

  2. Two thoughts..

    A friend of mine built a model railway layout for his little'uns; to keep it out of the way when not playing on it he had it on rope and pulleys so that it could be hoisted ceiling'wards...

    Two 3.5' x 6' boards hinged in the middle and at one end, a wooden batten on the wall to attach one set of hinges to so that the entire affair can be folded up against the wall when not in use... providing it's the right height you should be able to reach the middle of a 6' table...

  3. IM - I can't say I'm a very ping pong sort of character, but stranger things have happened!

    Steve - the rope and pulleys idea is superficially very attractive, however my innate ability to get myself tangled in things could lead to Norman Wisdom like hijinks with Kinch being suspended from the ceiling by a number of ropes surrounded by broken soldiers and terrain.

    The folding idea is I think a better plan.