Sunday, 10 January 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - choosing a scale

Baccus 6mm FPW Imperial French
Bloody Big Battles! can be played with any scale of figure and 1" square bases are recommended, though they can be a little bigger. Although I'll be using my ceramic blocks to play BBB for the time being,  I've been giving a lot of thought to the relative merits of different scales.

I've long thought about using 2 mm figures for grand tactical games. Well painted bases and good scenery can begin to make things look like a real battle, but I wouldn't get much satisfaction from the figures or their uniforms which is the point of using 'toy soldiers' in the first place.

10 mm is my default scale of choice for mass armies and besides the Franco-Austrian, Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars, Pendraken also cover the Crimean and Russo-Turkish War.
However, I am also considering 6 mm for this game, partly because of the representation of towns and villages. These are 3"-4" square with one or two buildings which doesn't leave much room for 10 mm buildings. I could use 10 mm figures with 6 mm or smaller buildings but I prefer to keep figures and buildings in scale if possible.

While the 6mm Baccus ranges do not cover as many wars, their ranges for the 1859, 1866 and 1870 wars are more than adequate. I've already got some 6 mm buildings suitable for 19th Century Northern France, but it would be nice to accumulate more because I enjoy collecting them, and I'm currently looking in particular at the 6 mm ranges produced by Timecast, Leven Miniatures, Total Battle Miniatures and Baccus.

Anyway, I've been trying to list the pros and cons to help me decide. Firstly, the issues that don't matter:

  • Painting will present more-or-less the same challenge for both scales.
  • Cost isn't a determining issue.
  • I already have scenery in both scales.

In favour of 10 mm:

  • 10 mm figures are easier to see and have more individual character. This would definitely incline me to 10 mm for two other projects on my wish list - 10 mm Dark Age armies for Dux Bellorum and various 20thC armies. But it seems less important for troops in ordered ranks which is what I'm planning here (except for the skirmishers).

In favour of 6 mm:

  • Buildings can be in scale and will look better.
  • Marginally easier to store and transport, especially the scenery.
  • The greater mass effect seems more appropriate to a grand tactical game.

This is a hard choice, but I'm currently inclining towards 6mm.


  1. IDK- your reason for rejecting 2mm/(3mm?) is the lack of uniform/"toy soldier" appeal. I think you are much more likely to scratch that itch with 10mm than with 6. To me, 6mm only comes into its own when the figure/man ratio is very low (1:5 or less).

    1. Hi Stu

      I'm delighted to get some feedback on this so thanks very much for your response. If it were just a question of the figures, I would agree. In fact, I already have a box of unpainted Pendraken figures for the 1859 war which I bought a few years ago. In this particular case, however, I'm also concerned about the scenic environment and how it all looks on the table.

      In typical wargames the scenery is very abstracted and basic - a few woods and hills positioned in isolation. In contrast, BBB attempts to represent real topography - rolling hills, river valleys and so on. The result is a very busy and crowded topography littered with towns and villages 3-4 inches square. IMO 6 mm buildings will render the latter just a little more convincing, but perhaps I'm getting too fixated on that single factor. If I could find enough 10 mm buildings with small enough footprints the issue is solved.


    2. Fair enough, however, I, even though the doors only come up to their waists. regularly use 6mm buildings with 15mm figures and never really had a disconnect due to the scale difference.
      Maybe you should glue some of your 10mm figs to a couple of bases and put them next to the 6mm buildings and see how it looks to you. If you can make yourself happy on both fronts...

      Years ago I found a bunch of little houses that are basically 10mm (they are "artistic" rather than scale perfect) being sold as curios/chachkies in a dollar store. Their footprint is small, maybe 1.25" square. So you might want to check those sorts of places.

      Good Luck on getting the way you want it to look. That's the most important part (well gameplay, but you've already chosen BBB).

    3. It might be fun to try scratch-building some 10 mm buildings with small footprints...