Monday, 25 June 2012

And the next big thing is......

......not that big at all. Around 10mm to be precise.

Recently I have been keen to take up smaller than 28mm wargaming. My interest was sparked by the rather excellent looking figures of Dropzone Commander, but sadly the start up costs of even a modest pair of armies was beyond my reach. Putting aside that disappointment, I started to look around at other ways to game at small scale (and hopefully small cost).

Warmaster is probably the best known game that can be played at 10mm scale. From my research on the web, it seems to be very highly regarded and has spawned a number of other rulesets, but I have never actually played it myself. I have played Blitzkrieg Commander, one of the spin-offs, and it was my enjoyment of this game which really switched me on to the premise of small scale gaming. But then the question arises, which scale to go for?

Infantry at 6mm are not much more than tiny pegs and detail is really hard to distinguish. Vehicles are just about recognisable, though it can be hard to differentiate a panzer III from a panzer IV when they are both smaller than a fingernail. At 15mm figures are much more detailed and easy to recognise, but it can be difficult to play grand battles, unless you happen to have a ten foot long gaming area available. To my mind, 10mm is a good compromise scale for epic sized battles, offering figures that are just about large enough to have a good level of detail so they are easy to recognise, but small enough to allow masses of them to be used in the standard gaming area of a 6 x 4 table.

The obvious thing to do was to invest in Warmaster. It's consistently available on ebay, at reasonable cost too. There are figures representing the more familiar Warhammer armies like the Empire, High Elves, Orcs and Goblins and the other usual suspects, with even some rarities such as Kislev troops, though these are more expensive. But then, I already have several Warhammer armies and some of them seem to have grown to epic proportions already.

So how about Warmaster Ancients, or Historical, or the new kid on the block, Hail Ceasar? These games can be played at various scales, from 6mm up to 28mm, so any one of them would be suitable. Again, scouring ebay showed that there is a regular trickle of 10mm armies for various historical period, from ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, right up to Napoleonics, with pretty much every other era in between covered by one manufacturer at least. Historical gaming at 10mm is certainly a potential option at some stage. But like so many of my wargaming choices, my ultimate decision came about by accident.

The Battle of Five Armies boxed set was released by GW back in 2004, as part of the mass of Lord of the Rings merchandise. It was one of many, many releases at the height of the Tolkien movie mania, but it never really received much support. I know I dismissed it as a gimmick at the time, but when a copy came up for sale on a forum recently I snapped it up. The box contains a couple of starter forces, with reinforcements in the shape of metal blisters. I think I have at least one of everything that was released, which gives me a couple of decent sized starter armies. All for around the cost of a marine battleforce!

The figures below are part of the boxed set, Wargs and Wolf Riders from the evil army. Fighting on the good side are dwarfs, elves and men, with a few special guests such as Beorn, Gandalf and the eagles. As you can see in the picture, the plastic figures are small but well detailed. I have speed painted them by airbrushing a base coat, then a wash followed by picking out the odd detail. The aim is to get them painted quickly and make it easy to identify what the pieces represent. The effect comes from the mass of troops together, not from the painting of individual models.


Andrew Rae said...

Lovely work on the small guys! Have you checked out Copplestone Castings 10mm fantasy range?

Mr. Lee said...

Very cool.. and great work on such small miniatures as well! Can't seem to be able to do details on things smaller than 28mm at the moment.. no matter how much I try :(

And I remember warmaster.. was a good game back when I started to game seriously back in '95.

Hobby Horse said...

Don't paint the details, just get the basic colours and a wash on them. 10mm figures at arm's length don't have to be perfect!

Copplestone Castings will be my first port of call when I get the BOFA stuff done. I quite fancy the orcs and Rohan (cough, I mean horse tribes), fight some battles around Isengard.

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