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akai
01-11-2015, 17:03
I recently read that Pickett's Charge, one portion of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, had 10,000+ soldiers on side and 6000+ soldiers on the other side. While Battle of Gettysburg is of a different setting and is an extreme example, it does make me think of the general scope of army sizes in a fantasy setting.

What would you consider to be an appropriate size for an army in a major battle in a fantasy setting? When playing a "regular" game of Warhammer (Fantasy or Age of Sigmar) what does the matches represent at minimum for:
1) actual great battle between armies?
2) just a portion of a major battle between smaller divisions of the armies?
3) skirmishes between expeditionary forces, town defense, brigands, etc.?

For me, I think at least ~1000 soldiers on each side to represent a major battle. ~500 soldiers minimum on each side to represent a portion of a major between divisions within an army. Skirmishes there are no real minimum. So for gaming purposes I think a major battle between armies would have to be played out in multiple games (for example representing the left division, center division, right division, etc).

Drakkar du Chaos
01-11-2015, 17:20
I remember something stated in WD a long time ago about this : one miniature on the table represent twenty fluff warriors. So 200-300 skavens on your table are 4000-6000 if you have to write some fluff about that battle.

And Gettysburg is not really "extreme" in size, Napoleonic Wars saw 100K-200K armies fighting each other on regular basis.

Niall78
01-11-2015, 17:26
Players have argued for years about what scale WFB represented. As far as I understand it was never argued that the scale was 1:1 - one miniature = one combatant. More 1:10, 1:50 or 1:100. Same as all other mass combat tabletop games that use 28mm miniatures.

A battle with 500-1000 combatants fighting per side in any real historical era is little more than a skirmish.

SuperHappyTime
01-11-2015, 17:39
A Battle in the new Total War game will probably be equivalent to a 2000 pt battle.

Acephale
01-11-2015, 18:07
Players have argued for years about what scale WFB represented. As far as I understand it was never argued that the scale was 1:1 - one miniature = one combatant. More 1:10, 1:50 or 1:100. Same as all other mass combat tabletop games that use 28mm miniatures.

A battle with 500-1000 combatants fighting per side in any real historical era is little more than a skirmish.

Which is why it was so silly that WHFB still worked on an individual model basis. The game's RPG-influenced roots really made it into a rather problematic "mass battle" game - when every individual model has its own stats and dice rolls, and is removed as a casualty, it's pretty hard to maintain the illusion of thousands of soldiers fighting it out. Not to mention how cumbersome the rules eventually became.

Overall, 28mm is not optimal for representing mass battles imho, but casualty removal and individual stats/dice rolls make matters even worse.

Urgat
01-11-2015, 18:15
A Battle in the new Total War game will probably be equivalent to a 2000 pt battle.

The videos they've released so far are all easily in the 10K pt per side. with dozen artillery units, squadrons of girocopters, arachanaroks, wyverns, giants and biiiig units of trolls in the same armies, etc.

Griefbringer
01-11-2015, 18:43
Players have argued for years about what scale WFB represented. As far as I understand it was never argued that the scale was 1:1 - one miniature = one combatant. More 1:10, 1:50 or 1:100. Same as all other mass combat tabletop games that use 28mm miniatures.


According to WHFB 3rd edition rulebook, the ground scale for the game is so that 1" on tabletop corresponds to 10 yards of actual battlefield (i.e. ground scale of 1:360). This means that a typical human model on 20 mm x 20 mm base actually represents around 8 yards x 8 yards area filled with combatants, which probably equals at least around 16-25 persons, i.e. model-to-combatant ratios of somewhere between 1:16 and 1:25 (median value of 1:20 would probably be quite practical).

As for historical references, I would suggest that a good point of comparison would be medieval battles, as that period tends to be a major source of inspiration for fantasy settings. In late medieval western Europe, major battles tended to be around 10 000 to 20 000 combatants per side, while smaller battles could be just a couple of thousand per side.

Drakkar du Chaos
01-11-2015, 19:06
According to WHFB 3rd edition rulebook, the ground scale for the game is so that 1" on tabletop corresponds to 10 yards of actual battlefield (i.e. ground scale of 1:360). This means that a typical human model on 20 mm x 20 mm base actually represents around 8 yards x 8 yards area filled with combatants, which probably equals at least around 16-25 persons, i.e. model-to-combatant ratios of somewhere between 1:16 and 1:25 (median value of 1:20 would probably be quite practical).

And they have stated the 1:20 later in WD so its kinda official.

akai
01-11-2015, 19:51
And Gettysburg is not really "extreme" in size, Napoleonic Wars saw 100K-200K armies fighting each other on regular basis.
Extreme for a fantasy setting was what i intended to say.


Which is why it was so silly that WHFB still worked on an individual model basis. The game's RPG-influenced roots really made it into a rather problematic "mass battle" game - when every individual model has its own stats and dice rolls, and is removed as a casualty, it's pretty hard to maintain the illusion of thousands of soldiers fighting it out. Not to mention how cumbersome the rules eventually became.

Overall, 28mm is not optimal for representing mass battles imho, but casualty removal and individual stats/dice rolls make matters even worse.
Yeah, I agree about maintaining that illusion, especially if you have to consider command models too. I remember there was a game called Warmaster that was on a smaller model scale. Never played the game before.


According to WHFB 3rd edition rulebook, the ground scale for the game is so that 1" on tabletop corresponds to 10 yards of actual battlefield (i.e. ground scale of 1:360). This means that a typical human model on 20 mm x 20 mm base actually represents around 8 yards x 8 yards area filled with combatants, which probably equals at least around 16-25 persons, i.e. model-to-combatant ratios of somewhere between 1:16 and 1:25 (median value of 1:20 would probably be quite practical).

As for historical references, I would suggest that a good point of comparison would be medieval battles, as that period tends to be a major source of inspiration for fantasy settings. In late medieval western Europe, major battles tended to be around 10 000 to 20 000 combatants per side, while smaller battles could be just a couple of thousand per side.

I remember the back of the 5th edition rulebook also had something similar.

Thanks Griefbringer and Niall on suggestion of army sizes. So in the 10,000+ per side would represent a major battle between large armies and several thousands per side represent a battle between smaller armies. 1000 or less per side would be skirmishes or battles fought between "portions" of an army (not the whole army). This would mean actually collecting 28mm miniatures to represent 1:1 scale the "real-size of armies" is not very feasible.

Voss
01-11-2015, 19:58
I recently read that Pickett's Charge, one portion of the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War, had 10,000+ soldiers on side and 6000+ soldiers on the other side. While Battle of Gettysburg is of a different setting and is an extreme example, it does make me think of the general scope of army sizes in a fantasy setting.

What would you consider to be an appropriate size for an army in a major battle in a fantasy setting? When playing a "regular" game of Warhammer (Fantasy or Age of Sigmar) what does the matches represent at minimum for:
1) actual great battle between armies?
2) just a portion of a major battle between smaller divisions of the armies?
3) skirmishes between expeditionary forces, town defense, brigands, etc.?

For me, I think at least ~1000 soldiers on each side to represent a major battle. ~500 soldiers minimum on each side to represent a portion of a major between divisions within an army. Skirmishes there are no real minimum. So for gaming purposes I think a major battle between armies would have to be played out in multiple games (for example representing the left division, center division, right division, etc).
Keep in mind that during Pickett's Charge, the rest of the armies weren't entirely sitting on their hands.

Depends very much on what period the setting is emulating. The Battle of Hastings probably had about 20,000 men on the field total , Agincourt was likely somewhere between 20,000 and maybe 40,000. Battles of 100,000-200,000 men largely come much later, as they require a great deal of power from the state, or a very functional and supportive balance of power internally.

But a lot of fantasy settings (regardless of the technology level, because like warhammer, its usually absurdly mixed and anachronistic) are really operating on the iron age scale, where logistics and population often don't support real armies of more than several hundred to a 1000 or so men. With some exceptions for major states like the Romans (which, given that their neighbors weren't working on the same scale is why the were fairly successful). A lot of this comes down to the availability and production of weapons and the need for food, both on the march, and if you take too many people with you and they get killed, you won't be able to grow enough food for the winter, while the romans had non-combatants (plebs and slaves) for food production.

But mostly I find its important consider that warhammer is a game, and isn't effectively representative of anything, particularly later editions and especially age of sigmar, as the overwhelming factors of terrain, movement and especially psychology are successively stripped out over the course of editions.

Niall78
01-11-2015, 20:11
Thanks Griefbringer and Niall on suggestion of army sizes. So in the 10,000+ per side would represent a major battle between large armies and several thousands per side represent a battle between smaller armies. 1000 or less per side would be skirmishes or battles fought between "portions" of an army (not the whole army). This would mean actually collecting 28mm miniatures to represent 1:1 scale the "real-size of armies" is not very feasible.

At a 1:1 scale 28mm is great for small skirmish type games. Ten to one hundred miniatures on the field - depending on how detailed the skirmish system.

28mm is also fine for bigger battles but you are looking at ramping the scale up to at least 1:20 - more if you are looking at doing really big battles.

Huge battles in 28mm in 1:1 scale are something a multimillionaire might keep in the hobby annex of his mansion. A gamers dream. ;)

akai
01-11-2015, 20:26
But a lot of fantasy settings (regardless of the technology level, because like warhammer, its usually absurdly mixed and anachronistic) are really operating on the iron age scale, where logistics and population often don't support real armies of more than several hundred to a 1000 or so men. With some exceptions for major states like the Romans (which, given that their neighbors weren't working on the same scale is why the were fairly successful). A lot of this comes down to the availability and production of weapons and the need for food, both on the march, and if you take too many people with you and they get killed, you won't be able to grow enough food for the winter, while the romans had non-combatants (plebs and slaves) for food production.

But mostly I find its important consider that warhammer is a game, and isn't effectively representative of anything, particularly later editions and especially age of sigmar, as the overwhelming factors of terrain, movement and especially psychology are successively stripped out over the course of editions.

So in your fantasy setting, 300 to even 1000 or so men, would still be consider an army? Its good to hear different opinions so that I can shape up my own homebrew fantasy setting.

My nephews and nieces were going through my stuffs and books, mentioning how all the models look really cool...but seems not to be as grand of a size compared to the battles fought in the Lord of the Rings. I just told them to imagine that they are not the full army in a battle, but represents a small portion of the full army sent out on a mission.

Niall78
01-11-2015, 20:46
So in your fantasy setting, 300 to even 1000 or so men, would still be consider an army? Its good to hear different opinions so that I can shape up my own homebrew fantasy setting.

My nephews and nieces were going through my stuffs and books, mentioning how all the models look really cool...but seems not to be as grand of a size compared to the battles fought in the Lord of the Rings. I just told them to imagine that they are not the full army in a battle, but represents a small portion of the full army sent out on a mission.

It all really depends on the size and technological level of your setting and the power of the factions within it. A few Iron age tribes fighting in a small setting would have tiny battles with a few dozen men a side. A massive empire comprising of dozens of cities might field a main army nearing 100,000 for short periods of time while having many other large forces in the field at the same moment not actively involved in the fighting. It all depends on the scale of a setting.

akai
01-11-2015, 21:05
It all really depends on the size and technological level of your setting and the power of the factions within it. A few Iron age tribes fighting in a small setting would have tiny battles with a few dozen men a side. A massive empire comprising of dozens of cities might field a main army nearing 100,000 for short periods of time while having many other large forces in the field at the same moment not actively involved in the fighting. It all depends on the scale of a setting.

Looking at Warhammer Fantasy fluff (before it got blown away), you can reasonably have "small armies" for a orc tribe mixed with "large armies" for a province of the Empire?

Niall78
01-11-2015, 21:17
Looking at Warhammer Fantasy fluff (before it got blown away), you can reasonably have "small armies" for a orc tribe mixed with "large armies" for a province of the Empire?

There's also the issue of proportion of reaction. A small orc tribe might warrant a tiny Empire expeditionary force or even a few town militias gathering a small force together. The Empire isn't going to mobilise a 50,000 man army to deal with a small tribe.

If going for a "realistic' setting size and technology impose maximums but even within a large setting tiny battles might be the norm with massive fights that change history the exception.

Tygre
02-11-2015, 00:16
A Roman Legion around the Late Republic had around 5000 men.

Buddy Bear
02-11-2015, 00:21
The problem I have with a 1:20 ratio is that it makes characters insanely powerful. If your Empire General runs into an enemy regiment and inflicts 3 Wounds, that means he just killed 60 men. That's nuts! That's why I generally favor 1:1.

Lars Porsenna
02-11-2015, 01:03
The problem I have with a 1:20 ratio is that it makes characters insanely powerful. If your Empire General runs into an enemy regiment and inflicts 3 Wounds, that means he just killed 60 men. That's nuts! That's why I generally favor 1:1.

Keep in mind the ratio would also count for characters too. So that Empire General is just not him, but also his hanger-ons, followers, comitatus if you like, like a Late Roman general followed by his Germanic bodyguards, or Alexander with his Companion heavy cavalry...

Edit: I should also add that those 3 wounds or 60 guys are not all troops that have been killed; that also represents troops too wounded to fight, those that ran screaming from battle, or otherwise made combat ineffective due to equipment damage or something similar. So perhaps that band of 20 of the best warriors in the army only actually kill a dozen guys, but the shock of their charge disorders the enemy formation so much, others are simply wounded and more in the back shirk away because they don't want to die this day... :)

Damon.

Dosiere
02-11-2015, 01:25
I've always figured a few thousand at most per side in my mind when it came to WFB or KoW. Never really bothered with worrying about the actual scale but I guess that makes it something around 1:10.

For AoS I usually just consider it WYSIWYG.

akai
02-11-2015, 02:46
Keep in mind the ratio would also count for characters too. So that Empire General is just not him, but also his hanger-ons, followers, comitatus if you like, like a Late Roman general followed by his Germanic bodyguards, or Alexander with his Companion heavy cavalry...

Edit: I should also add that those 3 wounds or 60 guys are not all troops that have been killed; that also represents troops too wounded to fight, those that ran screaming from battle, or otherwise made combat ineffective due to equipment damage or something similar. So perhaps that band of 20 of the best warriors in the army only actually kill a dozen guys, but the shock of their charge disorders the enemy formation so much, others are simply wounded and more in the back shirk away because they don't want to die this day... :)

Damon.

For gaming purposes. that is not a bad way to imagine it for Fantasy Battle.

The_Real_Chris
02-11-2015, 03:24
Scale in Europe was far smaller than Asia. The wars in Japan, Mongol invasions, Chinese wars, Alexander the Great hitting India, etc etc. All big stuff.

Off topic but that is why I couldn't get into the HH books - the conflicts were too small. I expect a skirmish to be something like Kursk, not 'the Warriors'.

Col. Tartleton
02-11-2015, 13:54
Warhammer fantasy is about 20:1. So a solid 50 man "regiment" is probably about 1,000 men which is about right for historical regiments, especially after some attrition. 20 models is like a 400 man battalion, etc. Then I'd assume each warmachine is a battery of like 4-6 weapons. Stuff like that.

I would imagine your typical Imperial Army would be about 30,000 men. About 20 brigades of infantry, a few brigades of cavalry, and a fair number of artillery batteries. If the entire Empire's fate is at stake, against a Chaos Horde or a major Waaagh we could be talking hundreds of thousands. I imagine the Empire would be more ready to assemble large coalition forces than historical nations. The cost of failure is a bit higher in fantasy than in real life.

Tokamak
02-11-2015, 13:57
Off topic but that is why I couldn't get into the HH books - the conflicts were too small. I expect a skirmish to be something like Kursk, not 'the Warriors'.

HH had several huge conflicts, however, they read more like Forgeworld advertising copy. I like the small conflicts, especially because they're so insane.

The_Real_Chris
02-11-2015, 15:09
And why were the marine legions so small... I expected them to be millions strong...


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SuperHappyTime
02-11-2015, 19:38
The videos they've released so far are all easily in the 10K pt per side. with dozen artillery units, squadrons of girocopters, arachanaroks, wyverns, giants and biiiig units of trolls in the same armies, etc.

Sorry, I sound stupid.

What I mean to say is that our 2000 point / 200 model game is the scaled down version, and that Total War simulates a realistic simulation.

So if Total War is a 10,000 point game, WFB is in a 1:5 scale. (I'd actually challenge that and say there are way more than 10,000 points present)

Griefbringer
02-11-2015, 21:41
One way to consider the size of the armies available would be to take into account the total population, and the portion of which would be actually able to participate in a given military activity.

For a human population preparing to repel a local incursion, maybe 10 % of the local population could be reasonably mobilised for a limited period of time. But this would likely be limited to the areas under immediate threat, and significant part of those mobilised might be poorly armed and trained. A longer military excursion, either to support a distant part of the same country or to invade a neighvouring one, might gather around 1 % of the population, though this would likely be drawn from the better trained and armed part of the population. Even longer excursion, like a raid to a distant country, might gather just 0.1 % of the population, drawn largely from amongst the most adventurous or desperate.

Of course once you get into non-human populations, things can get different.

The_Real_Chris
02-11-2015, 22:40
Organisation makes a big difference. Japan in the medieval era could mobilise more troops per capita than Europe I believe due to better farming?

Urgat
03-11-2015, 07:29
Looking at Warhammer Fantasy fluff (before it got blown away), you can reasonably have "small armies" for a orc tribe mixed with "large armies" for a province of the Empire?

Looking at the fantasy fluff, you have chaos armies that spread across the horizon, hosts of thousands upon thousands of elves charging an iron sea of armored dwarfs while dozens of dragons fly overhead, etc etc.
Warhammer isn't about logic, it's about superlatives. You bet a large battle in Warhammer ranges in the millions, not the thousands.

akai
03-11-2015, 13:58
Looking at the fantasy fluff, you have chaos armies that spread across the horizon, hosts of thousands upon thousands of elves charging an iron sea of armored dwarfs while dozens of dragons fly overhead, etc etc.
Warhammer isn't about logic, it's about superlatives. You bet a large battle in Warhammer ranges in the millions, not the thousands.

Maybe those should be called epic battles? Or like how many battles in the real world get embellished over the years in stories and what else, the battles in the millions were exaggerated by the Warhammer bards and historians! :D

Kaptajn_Congoboy
03-11-2015, 15:07
Organisation makes a big difference. Japan in the medieval era could mobilise more troops per capita than Europe I believe due to better farming?

I am not entirely sure on how large a percentage of the population of feudal japan could be mobilized for warfare but as far as I know the percentages were not that dissimilar from recent studies of medieval warfare. However, Japan was quite densely populated compared to, for example, AD1500 England and Wales. Numbers are, as always when dealing with the guesstimates of historical populations before modern cencuses appear, difficult to compare, but in AD 1500 Japan had perhaps 10 million people packed into around 350000 square kilometres against 3 million people on E/W 150000 square kilometres (very roughly). So Sengoku Jidai Japan had more people per square kilometre than late medieval England, which translates to more troops.

Although, of course, some estimates place Japan as low as 8 million and E/W as high as 3.5, which would make Tudor England more or less equal to Japan. Its difficult to get good numbers here. AD 1600 Japan has estimates betwen 10 and 20 million people, which says a lot of how difficult historical demography is.

The_Real_Chris
03-11-2015, 16:48
I think the study I read relied on old records of mobilisation, with all the caveats attached. Bigger standing armies in Japan too of course at this time which would give a bigger command structure to build off.

Griefbringer
03-11-2015, 20:11
Notice that medieval Japan covers quite a lenghty period, and the military organisation did not remain stable during this period.

For a good while, warfare remained primarily the domain of the elite warrior class (samurai), which would limit quite a lot the number of men that could be mustered. Fielding commoners (ashigaru) in large numbers starts to become more common at the end of the medieval period, allowing significantly larger armies to be fielded.

Major limitation on the size of armies that could be gathered in one place historically was logistics. Road networks often leaved plenty to be desired, and feeding large armies for extended periods was always a challenge. Also devastating epidemics might break out when large numbers of people were gathered onto one spot with questionable sanitation. With shorter campaigns - such as those seen in the Wars of the Roses - logistics could be somewhat easier to arrange.

scruffyryan
03-11-2015, 20:22
I always considered major battles to be between 2500 and 3000 points.

eron12
03-11-2015, 20:39
Due to being heavily influenced by the Hoodling's Hole blog, I would put climatic battles in the 20,000-25,000 range. Major battles would be around 10,000 points.

de Selby
03-11-2015, 22:05
I don't think there's a linear scale because of the nature of fantasy wargaming. We collect models of things that are fabulously rare or unique in the setting (dragons, legendary heroes) and things that are fabulously numerous (skavenslaves, zombies, goblins etc.) and we want to play games where we can follow what all of them are doing. So the scale is fudged.

I say: take the points value of the model. Divide 100 by that points value. Round up. The result is how many of that thing are 'really' on the field in its place. If you want low fantasy then round down ;)

Col. Tartleton
06-11-2015, 18:27
Well if its 20:1, I'd think about 6,000 points of infantry, 3,200 points of cavalry and a few thousand whatever else. 10,000 per side seems right for a pitched battle. Then maybe like 50,000-100,000 per side for the huge battles.

Rogue
07-11-2015, 00:17
For starters I would say that it would be very contingent as to what edition that you are playing, as the more recent editions experienced an inflation of models for the same size of the army in points. Likewise how the units performed and interacted with other units makes a big difference as well. I would say that units in the 8th edition were getting close to interacting like a battalion, but exactly there yet. Whereas back in the 6th the units acted more like they were company level units. Older editions felt like the 8th but in the opposite direction.

I thought about this back in the 6th and 7th edition or so, and I always come back to the same estimate that felt comfortable in those editions which was 4:1. I got that number two ways. One I look to what was published in Warhammer Ancient Battle which basically is the 5th only in a historical setting. There you can have a full standard cohort plus axillaries for about 3K or so (over 600 troops in the command). That is basically a battalion before there was a formation called a battalion. Remember that back in the 5th a full army was considered to be 3K in Fantasy due to the high point count of models back then, thus the comparison. Tack on that leadership for each unit was a centurion, and you have a bunch of company level units under one command. So 4:1 to me is a reasonable ratio using this logic.

Another way that I look at it is that my main army is Dwarves, and I am sure that most remember that the host of Dain numbered 500 in the Hobbit. That would be about 125 dwarves representing that figure in a Warhammer army using 4:1. In the 6th/7th edition I can make a reasonable dwarf army at 2K using 125 as a target for model count. While not as potent, I can also make a Dwarf army from the 4th/5th for about 3K using 125 as the model count. If 500 is good enough for Dain and Co., then it is good enough for me.

The_Real_Chris
07-11-2015, 00:56
My young self in 3rd always thought the models were my warband..

Col. Tartleton
09-11-2015, 19:08
If we look at historical formations they're maneuvering in wide units.

An individual Macedonian Taxis (battalion) would be about 96 wide and 16 deep. Alexander had more than 20 of them...

Napoleon's Battalions advanced 80 wide and 9 deep. He had hundreds.

Karl Franz should be able to put a few dozen battalions in the field just to make a point.