Some background: I’ve been playing wargames for the last 25 years or so. I remember when I was young piling books on the dining room table and then throwing a sheet over it to get pleasing hills. Then we’d drive too many Airfix 1/72 Tiger tanks all over it. I bought Hinchecliffe figures, one at a time, by sea mail. In my youth a never managed to build a complete Ancients, Napoleonic or pike & shot army because of this practice.
I’ve seen and played on many playing surfaces and the one thing that strikes me again and again is the juvenile belief that bigger is better. A bigger table. A bigger playing mat. 6’x4′ not big enough? “We play on 12’x’6′ ” Oh yeah? I’ve seen games on this sized arena. The figures still interact in a zone roughly 4′ wide in the centre anyway, and where there are sufficient figures to fill a very wide zone the game either takes tooooo long (too drunk after 3 hours play, me), or it is a multi-player affair. In which case your particular command zone is this restricted area anyway.
So I have concluded that 4’x4′ is all that you need. Or at least: all that I need. You please yourself. It allows defense in depth, and about as much lateral space as experience has taught me you ever use anyway. Now, naturally, this may depend on your scale of figure. But I swear, if you have really big armies in 28mm so that when you lay them out they occupy a table footprint wider than 4′, then half your luck.
So anyway. Here is a phot of the finished board, cut in four 2′ squares and then screwed to baseboard. It is marked in an 8 x 8 grid, suitable for Poor Bloody Infantry, for example. But even if they are not used to regulate movement, they give a nice and immediate visual appreciation of the relative position and distances of the playing pieces.