Painting all the armies I'd like to have for all the rules I'd like to play is too demanding on time and space, if not pocket, and I find myself thinking more and more about counters, wooden blocks or Irregular Miniatures' 2mm strips.
I began with making some counters for Maurice (pictured above). Counters are very cheap and straightforward. I adapted some top-downs from the Junior General website and printed the designs onto labels which were then cut with a scalpel and applied to smart laser-cut MDF bases from Pendraken.
I think this works for Maurice because the bases in this instance are a reasonable size. For my 19thC Grand Tactical project, I would probably want rectangular 30mm x 15mm counters and for 20thC games, 30mm x 30mm ones. I think MDF pieces of this size would be very flimsy and fiddly.
Wooden blocks were used in the original Kriegspiel and would provide a more tactile experience, although it's noteworthy that historical Kriegspiel blocks were relatively small. David Crook has used labelled blocks to produce Red and Blue armies with universal infantry, cavalry and artillery symbols. This represents the ultimate in flexibility.
Sourcing such blocks is not as easy as one might imagine. Is there a gap in the market here? David Crook made his 30mm by 20mm x 12mm blocks from cut-up Jenga games but I'd prefer to avoid any woodwork. I found some 35mm x 25mm x 5mm wooden tiles at an online craft store but I'm still looking for a cheaper alternative. Lego bricks would work quite well as a stop-gap and could also furnish some buildings, but I'm hoping to come across some cheap domino sets.
The final option is to use the Irregular Miniatures' 2mm strips which I would put on my usual MDF-and-steel combination bases. These would work for 18th-19th Centuries and could be painted in any two colours and used generically. I'd probably choose Blue and 'White' (very light grey) as my starting interest in this period is the Franco-Austrian struggle of 1859. But I wouldn't personally bother with 2mm for anything later than 19thC. 3mm could be a slightly more demanding option if Oddzial Osmy expand their pre-WW2 ranges.