Sunday, 28 January 2018

Fastest to table

Lancers. 2mm is now my way to go for mass armies.
I might have written something like this before but no matter as it is a topic that demands revisiting. I often wonder what miniature wargames I would do if I was starting from scratch now. Obviously I would do games that appealed to me historically, but, more generally, I would do games that could be brought to table as quickly as possible. This is partly because I lack time to paint but also because I'd like the fruits of my labour to end up on the table rather than in the lead mountain.

At one end of the spectrum I would focus on skirmish games like Dan Mersey's Rampant series for which 28mm figures have the most appeal. Somewhere in the middle are games that are 'compact' or otherwise economical on figures like Crossfire, Irregular Wars or DBA. For these I would use 15mm, 10mm or 6mm, and these scales would satisfy the aesthetic appeal of playing with toy soldiers.

Any games featuring mass armies, however, would have to be base-orientated so I could use 2mm or 3mm models, and thìs end of the spectrum would satisfy my desire to play large historical battles. I think this is the way I will now go with Bloody Big Battles! if and when I get round to it. The other advantage of these small scales is of course that they put less pressure on storage and carrying.

This  is not an entirely futile speculation as it should also help me to regulate what to do in future. I feel sure I've written that before as well. The difficulty is remembering it.


  1. I've never really understood the logic behind 28mm for skirmish games and smaller figure scales for bigger battles. Is it aesthetics or storage?

    I settled on 15mm for everything from skirmish between individual men through to battling it out between Soviet Fronts and German Army Groups. (okay I don't do skirmish, but if I did it would be 15mm.) Each to their own.

    1. Steven

      In general I suspect there’s some sort of subconscious ‘lead balance’ going on - small numbers of big figures or big numbers of small figures. I have to confess that when planning new projects part of the process involves seeing how many RUB or TUFF boxes the bases will fill. Four A4-ish boxes is the number I usually expect. (I also plan my buildings on a 4”/100mm basis as 6 of these modules fit a 4/9 L RUB.)

      This approach acts as a restraining discipline and stops projects getting out of hand. It’s rather like planning a game from the outside-in, but I see that as a trend, particularly exemplified by the finite parameters of Peter Pig games. In contrast, Old School wargaming and games like X-Wing seem to spiral out of control, the latter, obviously, for reasons of commercial exploitation.

      Wargames are practically limited by, typically, a 6 x 4 table and the ability to deploy and move up to, say, 60 bases a side, so one might as well get realistic.

      There is an aesthetic aspect. If using only a few figures, they might as well be large. Of course, even in skirmish games with a 1:1 figure ratio, the figures are are usually overscale and the ground scale compressed. Chain of Command, however, a game you might like it, is actually true scale if using 15mm figures.

      Conversely, for mass armies, a panoramic view of tiny ‘figures’ can look very real. They also come closer to a true figure scale, though still nowhere near it. They have to be cleverly painted, and there you can't beat Sidney Roundwood's work.

      Making everything the same scale - 15mm or maybe 10mm - is a very good strategy, especially when it comes to sharing scenery. 28mm is a terrible choice for scenery as it’s so bulky. I would never have attempted Stalingrad in 28mm! For Crossfire, 15mm is also a good scale for the hollow buildings we both favour in that game.