Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Scale Of War: Part 1 - Basic Measures

Eriochrome here. I want to talk about the scale of the battlefield that we'll typically be fighting on in terms of real-world measurements of weapon ranges, etc.

We are working on a 28 mm miniature battle game where we plan on using the standard 4 by 6 foot board.  Miniatures in 28 mm are approximately 1/64 scale so our 4 by 6 board is equivalent to 85 yards by 128 yards.  This is only about 15% larger than the size of a FIFA soccer pitch.  Now a world class sprinter can essentially cross the between the long sides from a stop in well under 10 seconds and corner to corner in about 15 seconds.  Ofcourse they are not loaded down with 70 pounds of gear and in the middle of a war but you can see the battle field is very small from a free movement point of view.  Free movement is not the name of the game, it is moving from cover spot to cover spot in what must be a congested battlefield.

Why do we know that it must be a congested battlefield.  First compare it to the size of no mans land in World War one which generally average several hundred yards wide.  A deadly zone to be in without cover in the age of modern weaponry let alone futuristic super guns.  What are the ranges of current weapons?  Basic military qualification course list training ranges at 25 meters for small arms (handgun) fire; 100 to 1,300 meters for machine gun qualifications; field fire (rifle) ranges of 75, 175, and 300 meters;  So only pistols do not have basic ranges that are longer than the battlefield.  These qualifications involve pop up targets exposed for 10 seconds so being exposed on this field size is a quick way to get shot.  Now 40K uses unrealistically short weapon ranges for most of the current equivalent standard infantry weapons other than pistol and flamer to force you to close with the enemy.  We will ignoring vehicle mounted cannons whose ranges are measured in thousands of yards and as such should never be out of range (looking at you, autocannon).  We cannot really comment on the range of super weapons like confined plasma bolts and super heated fusion products so those might lose effectiveness or trajectory rapidly.

Battles fought on these ranges are really the close combat actions you need in dense environments with limited fields of fire and plenty of cover and concealment points.  Cities, Woods, Badlands, suburban ruins, etc are the battlefields of this scale.  Mechanized units cannot bring their true value to the field since they cannot move at speed without exposing themselves to hidden enemy and their weapons stand off range advantage is lost.  This is combat close enough that the enemy can be on you faster than you can grab your rifle and must fight with your entrenchment tool.

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