Size Does Matter: A Note on Scale

In a game like Pride and Glory, that tries to simulate historical warfare, something as seemingly dull and straight-forward as scale can become a huge dilemma – something that the game designer has to spend hours poring and obsessing over until they either nail it, or give up and move on to an easier project (a Chutes and Ladders knockoff maybe, or flicking a marble against a wall, or slap fights). If the game is to be a true simulation then the space that units take up, the distance soldiers and cavalry are able to travel, and the speed at which they are able to travel there, all have to be accurate to the historical reality, and to the reality of the game. All this has to be accomplished while still making the game fun, engaging, and re-playable. And to compound the issue, Pride and Glory in particular utilizes two sets of maps – a Campaign Map and Battlefield Maps – that each have to achieve these goals while utilizing the same unit stats between the two. That Chutes and Ladders knockoff is looking better and better...

Pride and Glory does this by dividing areas of terrain into hexagons, each representing a segment of land or sea that units, cities, and buildings occupy. The Campaign Map and the Battlefield Maps obviously work on a different scale – as the Battlefields are “zoomed-in” sections of the Campaign Map – but each work by the same basic principle.

On the Campaign Map it works like this: the map is 36x23 hexes, while the area it represents is approximately 660x420km (yes, we work in kilometers not miles, because Canada). Therefore, each hex is about 18.26km from one side to the other, and takes up about 333.5km2. The smaller islands on the Campaign Map are an exception to this rule as they had to be blown up to make them playable. But for the most part, it works.

With this scale in mind, we can do some “reality checks” by testing different areas and distances against the real world. For example, the actual distance between Athens and Sparta – the two main foes in the game – is 213km. In the game, the distance is 11 hexes. So, using the calculations above, we can figure the distance to be 200.86km (11x18.26). Pretty good so far.

In real life (#IRL) the distance between Athens and Thebes is 89.8km. In the game, it is 5 hexes, so 91.3km (11x18.26). Better! #IRL the distance between Athens and Naupactus is 215.8km. In the game, it is 6 hexes, so 219.2km (6x18.26). Awesome!

We can use this same principle to calculate and compare the areas that different cities controlled. For example, Ancient Attica, the region controlled by Athens, occupied about 2,500km2. In the game, Attica takes up 7.5 hexes, so 2,501km2 (7.5x333.5). Lacedaemonia, the region controlled by Sparta, occupied about 4,000km2. In the game, Lacedaemonia takes up 15 hexes, so 5,002km2 (15x333.5). Sweet.

Now, when we get down to the Battlefield Maps, we work on pretty much the same principle, but now we need far more detail. After all, now we’re working with not just distances between two points, but with the space that individual soldiers occupy, with their speed across the field, and with their speed relative to one another. Complicated stuff! So let’s start with the basics: it was decided early on that the hexes on Battlefield Maps would represent 50 yards across (yes, now we’re working in yards, just to make things confusing), and while that can’t be true for everything, like city gates (which need to be at least one hex wide for the purposes of the game, but certainly wouldn’t have been 50 yards wide in reality), it works for the most part. Therefore, our Battlefield maps, which are 14x26 hexes, are 700x1,300 yards (or 0.64x1.2km).

Now, a single unit of hoplites in the game represents about 250 soldiers. The “phalanx” formation in which these men fought was typically 8 men deep, so a unit of 250 soldiers would be 32 men wide. Also, when these men were in the phalanx formation while engaging in combat, the distance between each man was somewhere between 180cm and 45cm. This means that our single unit of hoplites would between 60 yards and 20 yards wide (so averaging at 50 yards, and close enough to a single hex for our purposes). Units of cavalry, archers, and peltasts, while only consisting of about 100-150 soldiers, take up the same area as they would be much more loosely spaced.

Hoplites would have to march rather slowly into battle in order to maintain their formation (Thucydides describes the Spartans in particular as marching to the pace of a flute player to keep order). We can estimate their marching speed at about 120 steps per minute (a military “Quick March”), so approximately 100 yards per minute. As hoplites move at a speed of 4 hexes per round of combat, we can approximate the duration of each round as being 2 minutes, and the hoplite’s speed as being 5.5km per hour (the pace of an average human in real life).

Skirmisher units like archers and peltasts are able to move much faster, due to their lighter equipment as well as their looser formations. Therefore they are able to move at the faster pace of 5 hexes, or 250 yards per round (or 125 yards per minute; 6.9km per hour, or the pace of a light jog). Cavalry move at the much faster pace of 6 hexes, or 300 yards per round (150 yards per minute; 8.2km per hour). This would be a fairly slow trot for modern horses, but we have to remember that the horses of the ancient Greeks were quite small compared to ours – perhaps somewhere between a modern horse and a modern pony – and their riders did not use saddles or stirrups. This combined with the fact that riders would be trying to maintain formation over the rocky Greek terrain accounts for the somewhat slower pace.

With all this in mind we have a reasonable idea of the scale of battles. Soldiers move about 50 yards per hex, so between 5.5km/hr to 8.2km/hr, depending on their type. Each round lasts about 2 minutes, so battles can last up to 36 minutes (if they go the full 18 rounds that the rules allow). This aligns with scholarly estimates that actual close-combat between hoplites could last about 15 minutes before the soldiers became exhausted (most close-combats between hoplites in the game result in one unit retreating after 6-7 rounds, or 12-14 minutes, not counting the time it takes to march into combat).

So there you go: a bunch of math that we’ve been tearing our hair out over while designing the game- math that most players will probably never think about, but that we hope you appreciate while having fun playing the game. Now to design that Chutes and Ladders knockoff...