Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

Sur La Table

I’ve had several wargame tables over the years. My first was a 4’ by 8’ sheet of 1/4” plywood that I could place over a table in my apartment, and hide under the bed, or against a wall in between games. My second was a standard folding 5’X9’ table tennis table that I could throw a green felt pool table replacement over. It resided in my first house’s finished basement, A traditional site all my later tables.


My next table was the one I have now which is a 4’X8’ 1/2” plywood sheet, with a strip wood edging and a 4’ by 4’ extension both placed on three saw maple stained saw-horses and covered by a terrain guy 4 X 12’ length mat. My latest space is finished, well lit, and about 10’ 6” by 20’ in size, but only about 14-15’ could be used for a table. It has served me well and seen many a Piquet, Zouave II, and Die Fighting game, plus a few Maurice, and FOB games to boot!

However, as my WSS armies grow, and I hold a certain interest in doing naval games, I think I need a new, bigger, and better table!

I’ve come to several strongly held opinions about the design and dimensions of that table that I’d like to share with you, in the hopes that some of you might offer critique and commentary at the Yahoo! site.

Table Dimensions and Height:

Length (width?)

I would like the table to remain 12 foot in length, but with a fold down extension of about 3 feet in length to allow an expansion to 15 feet or so. I don’t believe a table can be too long, unless space issues force compromise. I like lots of troops on the board, but hate the table edge to table edge shoulder to should lines look of too many games on tables of 8 foot or less. In fact, there may be a formula of add 30-50% of the length of all your soldiers on one side lined up stand to stand to get the appropriate length of a table!


I intend to add 1 foot in width to the table-making it 5 feet “Deep.” The 4 foot width always had the advantage of making sure the troops could mix it up quickly, especially using average moves of 8-12”, but I have always felt that an extra foot would allow a bit more maneuver and finesse to deployments. In truth, length is always more critical, as it is the factor that allows flanking maneuvers, and creates weak points in a line that don’t occur in shorter and more compressed frontages. but I do think a bit of depth would be good. Conversely, going to a 6’ deep table, is a bit too far a reach, especially at the height levels I enjoy.



I like a high table. Perhaps this comes from many a year sitting at a bar, talking with friends with a good drink in hand. My present table is 37” high. This is a good height for either standing or sitting in my new Ikea “Franklin” folding backed bar chairs, or standard stools. A high table I think makes a better display-lessens the god-like peering down from above angles a bit, and is just more comfortable on the back and shoulders than a dining room height table. I would not be adverse to raising it to an honest meter (39&rdquoWinkingin height. In fact, I may do that.

The extra height will also allow for some storage options that I like (Though not what you’d suppose).



My present table is, as a said, two sheets of 1/2” ply-one being 4’x8’ and the other 4’x4’. These are placed on three sawhorses-one at each end, and one at the junction point of the two boards. The longer piece has 2”x1/2” inch wood edging that adds to its rigidity. Because of its thickness and the edging there has never been any warping or bending. The space underneath the table is, other than the sawhorse legs, and a plastic case holding terrain, largely open.

One side of the table top is painted blue and one is sand colored.

My one complaint is that the table top boards are too damn heavy, and moving them is a pain. I don’t do it often but I think they are much too thick, weighty,and substantial for their use. I do want to retain the option of getting the table out of there easily and quickly when needed, but want it to be substantial and a safe support, not easily jostled. On the other hand I have no interest in using cabinets, heavy carpentry, and treat it as “furniture” It isn’t. It’s a functional gaming surface, nothing more. I do want it to be attractive when used-but relatively invisible. Like an empty stage-rather unremarkable until the actors and scenery are in place.

I’m looking at using model railroading techniques in trestle-like construction, as follows.

I intend to retain the three sawhorses one at each end approximately 8 Feet apart, approximately two feet from each of the the 15’ tables ends-one in the middle at 6 Feet, but run three 2X2’s between the sawhorses that will be fastened by removable nuts and bolts. Across the three trestles will be placed three 4’X5’ 1/4” plywood sheets. The long dimension will lie athwart the trestles. This will give a dimension of 5 X12 feet. (I might look for cheap alternative ways to provide support using attached fixed legs on each section.

The last segment will have a hinged drop shelf cut to a 5’ by 36” dimension. It will include some form of pop--down legs or support that allow the extension to safely be elevated and held-adding another 3’ to the table length. This would then be a table of 15 foot length, 5 foot depth, and 39” height. The South end will, as now, butt up against the far wall.

I will have to part with my much beloved 4X12 foot Terrain Guy rubber-terrain mat (Boy, I wish he were still in business!) I may paint and terrain the table top a nice varied medium to dark green rough textured surface that matches my troops stand mountings. Alternatively is finding a creator of mats that are similar to the Terrain Guy’s work. If I can find this, I will then paint the surface a sea-green for naval-and use the mat for land games, as is possible now. The table will not be reversible-but only the two surfaces- land and sea.


I will not be using the under the table space for any fixed shelving or cabinets. I want to keep it open and without obstruction-light and airy. I may roll a storage tray or two under the open end for terrain, etc. and rig my sound system by the wall end, as it is now, but no heavy cabinetry.

I very well may add extendable shelves on both sides for printed materials, QRS, etc, and some cup holders and, maybe, table edge file holders to keep clutter off the table.


The book shelves will be moved to provide the maximum space for gamers on each side of the table. Probably the will be moved to the far end of the room. The room is 10’ 6” wide , so minus 5 feet will leave 5 and 1’2 feet divided by two or 2 and three quarters feet on a side. I intend to have three Ikea Franklin backed bar height chairs on each side with some extra stools for overflow attendees.


Backed chairs are essential for comfort and support.

The floor is already carpeted.

The overhead lights are flourescents-that I may replace with CFLs or LEDs.

The room will be painted in restful earth tones. A separate table for food and drink will be placed at room end opposite the war game table. New art will be placed on the walls, though some “golden oldies” will remain.

This still leaves space for my work table-where I intend to spend many an hour improving my WSS forces.

work table

Time line

It appears that Getzcon II may be a real possibility. It will be held in mid to late August. So that would be the logical end date.

Suggestions, Gentlemen?