Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Counters, blocks or 2mm?

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.


  1. I've just completed 2mm SYW armies for Maurice - based as single blocks onto 20x20 bases (1mm plasticard) - I'm really quite pleased with them & much prefer them over counters...

    I'll be bunging pics of them later on my blog

  2. Here you go - pics now up:

    1. Hi Nik and welcome to the blog. Your modelling is always an inspiration. I've come close to going 2mm on more than one occasion but will probably now hang out for 3mm, although I'm a little concerned about its fragility.

  3. Apologies for the delay in responding! I am also looking forward to Rommel and plan to use 1/600th models. Tumbling Dice have a small range of generic infantry for the 20th century and they come up nearly 5mm in height. As they are generic one can take all kinds of liberties with them. I have some of Oddzials WW1 vehicles and they come up truer to 3mm than the TD types but you use them alongside with no problem.

    As far as my block armies are concerned I used Jenga style blocks from the Works and got a local carpenter to chop them in half for me. The labels were made using MS Paint and printed on self adhesive labels and cut to fit the blocks. Using around 7 shades meant that most major armies were covered. Easy to put together, cheap as chips and very effective in use.

    I hope that helps yourvthouts around Rommel.

    All the best,


    1. Hi David

      Counters and blocks are always worth consideration!

      I already have 10mm WW2 armies and even 15mm WW2 armies (though the latter are used for Crossfire and don't include much armour), so I probably wouldn't use blocks for this project. Counters are a possibility but little improvement on just using the unit cards.

      I have also decided on 1/600 for any new armies. My painting plan (blog post to follow no doubt) will be absolutely minimal though I'm hoping the bases will look OK. This means that there will be very little work in this project which is a sine qua non for me just at the moment.

      Kind regards