Historical War Games

Historical, Fantasy, SciFi, Steampunk, and Pulp War Games

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Historicalwargames.net is a site devoted to the hobby of historical wargaming. Now, our definition of history is a bit broad and we will venture into areas such as fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, and pulp gaming, but overall the focus will be very firmly ensconced in the area on tabletop historic wargames and wargaming.

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The State of the Game – August 2013

Posted By on August 2, 2013

It has been awhile since I updated here. Despite appearances to the contrary, this actually has been a very busy year for the historical miniatures hobby for me.

Right now, my city has a total of four gaming stores. There were two new gaming stores that opened in 2012, in addition to the two long-standing comic/gaming stores that have been around for years and years. Since one of the stores was geared more towards the historical miniatures bent, I found a lot of my hobby budget going to support purchases at this store.

In addition, my brother got involved with Warhammer 40K, and this ended up bringing a whole new level of participation to the miniatures gaming hobby. He plays Eldar, and I’ve been looking at playing Tau, although I’m not inclined to purchase any of the games workshop miniatures and would instead field proxies.

Looking back at the projects that I have underway previously, some have progressed, others have not.

Successes:

Flames of War and the Desert Rats project have undergone some very significant progress. The recent arrival of new Canadian vehicles as part of the Flames of War D-Day releases meant that I was able to actually finish off a unit of the South Alberta Regiment, as organized both shortly after D-Day as well as their operations in the Netherlands in 1945. I have also substantially finished off the Desert Rats project with German and British vehicles assembled, painted, and ready to go. I’m still working on infantry for both sides. I also managed to get in some games among the growing numbers of Flames of War players in the city. My win loss record wasn’t great, but I had fun.

I also received the present of an airbrush and compressor for my birthday, so I have spent a lot of time learning how to paint with the airbrush and I have finished off some of my German armor in camouflage patterns appropriate to Northwest Europe. Previously, when I want to camouflage patterns, I either had to paint them on using a dry brush method, or use blue tack to mask off the camouflage patterns for use with spray paints. I will get some photos of the camouflage patterns up on the blog as soon as possible.

The Stargate project is complete. I’ve painted up and gamed with all of the Stargate figures that I had acquired a few years back, and I’m really looking for a suitable modern rule set that will let me do not only the fast and furious action, but also the cinematic aspects of putting Stargate on the tabletop. I’ve got some ideas that I’m kicking around. Expect some after action reports in the future.

The Boxer Rebellion project is complete. I don’t plan on acquiring any more figures for the 28mm game, and I have had the chance to play a few games, but with all of the interest in Flames of War, there really hasn’t been the time to bring the Boxers out and play.

The 28 mm Pulp Adventurers project is substantially complete. With the Sudanese figures, I can set the games in Africa and with the Boxers, I can set the games in China. While I would like to add some more figures – such as interwar British and Germans, and maybe add in some other adventurers, this is something best left to the future.

 

Backburnered Projects:

The Sudan war project is on the back burner at the moment. I’m trying to find budget for Perry figures for the British, Egyptians, and Sudanese. Unfortunately, a lot of that budget went towards 15 mm World War II forces in the past year. Still, I do have a unit of British infantry painted up in Sudanese gray, as well as about 40 plastic Perry Sudanese figures, which were a lot of fun to assemble and great fun to paint. I’m looking forward to actually getting the Black Powder rulebook and deciding which forces I want to build. Expect the Sudan project to come back online within another year or two.

20 mm modern Africa has also been put on the back burner. I have an excellent collection of figures from Elheim that I can use for modern US or Canadian forces, but unfortunately, I’m not seeing a high quality set of 20 mm African militia figures as yet. Elheim certainly is releasing some, and I’m waiting for that range to expand a bit more before going any further with this project. I have looked at liberation miniatures as well, and long-time readers know that I do have liberation figures in my collection. However, it’s become a bit more difficult to obtain liberation figures lately since you can only order from the manufacturer, and he doesn’t have an online store. This makes it a bit difficult to flesh out the collection.

The Eastern Renaissance project is moving slowly. I did support the kickstarter for the By Fire and Sword historical wargame and I picked up as part of that a very attractive rulebook and a set of 15 mm winged hussars. There are also the Pike & Shotte rules from warlord games and they have also started coming out with some very nice looking 28 mm Polish winged hussars. Right now, I face a bit of a choice. Either I continue down the 15 mm route and build up an army that will work with the By Fire and Sword rules, even though I know that it would not be a game readily accepted by the local gaming community. Or, I can build up a 28 mm Army for use with the Pike & Shotte rules which are starting to get some traction in the local area.

New Projects:

Even though I’ve back-burnered a number of projects, there have been a couple of new projects that have risen to take their place.

With the recent kickstarter from Empress Miniatures, I have ordered some 28 mm modern US Marine Corps figures. Empress Miniatures make some stunningly attractive 28 mm figures, and I’m looking at building up a decent modern fighting force. For the 28 mm modern gamer, there are a lot of options available, including figures from Black Scorpion Miniatures, The Assault Group, and others. Empress Miniatures also picked up the Imprint Models line of 1/50 scale vehicles, so there are a lot of vehicle options as well. The 28 mm modern figures would mesh well with the Stargate project, as well as with the next project that I’m working on.

I have decided to get bitten by the Zombie craze that has been working its way through the gaming community for several years now, and I’m looking at building up a zombie force in 28 mm. I’m still kicking around ideas for rules as well as miniatures, but the zombie onslaught is something I’m looking forward to.

It Would be Nice:

Finally, we have the category that I’m going to call “it would be nice.” This is the category where I’ll let myself get into impulse buys because it’s a field I’d like to develop, but I’m not going to go into these with any intent of getting a complete project done. Right now, there are two areas.

28 mm science fiction. Mantic Games have produced some very nice looking 28 mm science fiction figures as has Defiance Miniatures with their UAMC and Panzer Grenadiers, which will flesh out some of the 28 mm science fiction forces I’ve had from Copplestone Castings for years.

15 mm science fiction. The 15 mm science fiction ranges have been undergoing tremendous expansion over the past couple of years. Makers such as rebel miniatures, CMG, Khurasan, and others have been using rapid prototyping to create some amazing looking hard science fiction vehicles. The 15 mm science fiction figures and vehicles are small enough to allow company sized actions on a 4 x 6 tabletop while still having enough detail to allow for eye-popping paint jobs. Every time I visit some of the online websites that talk about 15 mm science fiction, I get really tempted to pull up the credit card and order some stuff.

How are your projects going? Let me know in the comments below.

As for me? I need more lead.

Building the Desert Rats – Raw Materials

Posted By on September 15, 2012

A few weeks ago, I had shared some images of the German forces for my DAK (Afrika Korps) project, and I had mentioned that there were some more Battlefront items en route to provide them with their adversaries – the Desert Rats. Well, thanks to Dave at Neutral Ground Games, my Friendly Local Gaming Store, I got my Battlefront order in today and there were tanks aplenty.

 

In all, there are some 6 Crusader III’s, 4 Crusader II’s, 2 x 6 pdr Portees, and 3 x Humber Armoured Cars. That is enough to get my Desert Rats off to a fighting start. I already have a squadron of five Sherman IIs from Plastic Soldier Company to provide some later-desert “heavies”–and believe me, they are tough. I took my PzIIIs in a fight against a squadron of Shermans and got very badly mauled in the process.

I have always liked the look of the Crusaders. Looking at the stats, I can see that they’re not the greatest tanks out there, but they still will look cool racing across the desert to do battle with the Germans — and eventually the Italians.

I do plan to include a platoon of Honey Stuarts in due course, and I’m just waiting to see what the Plastic Soldier Company ones are like before going too much further down that road. I have really liked the look of the Plastic Soldier Company kits (and the cost is a really nice factor as well).

I also have a pack of Desert Rats infantry from way back when Flames of War was still in its first edition, so they will be painted up and put into service as soon as I can get through the tanks.

Finally, I picked up a pair of Crusader AA tanks that will help flesh out my “South Alberta Regiment” project in the coming year. That, combined with some 88′s and a SdKFz 233 Radio car have given me enough fodder for Flames of War for the next few weeks.

As we go along with the assembly, I will be putting up photos of the units, so keep checking back to see the progress.  Overall, I must say, it has been a very good Flames of War Day.

Movies for Wargamers – Starship Troopers Invasion

Posted By on September 8, 2012

When I first watched the original Starship Troopers movie, I thought that I had found the worst movie ever made.  Everything in the movie was gratuitous and it bore only a superficial resemblance to the original subject matter.  While the Starship Troopers: Roughnecks animated series helped redeem the franchise a bit, I still was not a fan of the franchise.

At least, I wasn’t, until I saw the Starship Troopers: Invasion Blu-Ray.

I had originally purchased the movie just to look at the computer animation. Being a fan of CGI films, I thought that it might be an okay way to burn a couple of hours and see what I could learn for techniques, or maybe even play around a bit with some scenarios for science-fiction wargaming. What I saw was some great military SF brought to the screen and some excellent science-fiction design work in terms of power armor, ship designs, and space action.

The movie is self-contained, but has characters from the novel and first movie/Roughnecks. Jonny Rico, Carmen Ibanez, and Carl Jenkins are all in there but aged a bit and there are new troopers who appear to fill out the ranks.  Director Shinji Aramaki does an excellent job of helping distinguish all of these characters with distinct personalities and mannerisms.

Starship Troopers: Invasion gets right into the action with a Hot Drop to rescue some grunts on the besieged Fort Casey, an asteroid-based space station orbiting a bug-infested planet. The station has been overrun with the arachnid-like warrior bugs made fam0us in the movies and the survivors and their rescuers soon find themselves on the wrong end of a bug stampede as their ride takes off without them under the orders of the disturbing Carl Jenkins, now Minister of Paranormal Warfare.  What follows is lots of Mobile Infantry action inside the fort and the ship, as well as planetside where the Marauder heavy armor makes an impressive debut.

Fans of the Heinlein novel will find much to like in this movie, seeing familiar characters and plenty of power armor action. Fans of the movies will see the bugs and MI in action.  Be warned, the body count is high in this one, on both sides.

Wargaming ideas from Starship Troopers: Invasion

If you are looking at this movie for wargames fodder, there are a couple of areas for inspiration.

First is the production design.  The digital camo patterns on the armor are very nicely done and–well, let’s just say that my next set of SF wargames figures will likely have patterns based on that. The vessel surfaces do have a well-maintained look to them, but also have some wear and tear. Wargames painters will want to pay attention to how the animators did the texturing on everything from the armor, to the shipboard surfaces.

The second area is in the scenario elements.  The bugs are no pushovers and, even though they die by the score, they always take multiple hits to go down.  This is something that any scenario designer as well as storyteller should look at–the idea of a credible threat to the heroes.  While the “space-based bug-hunt” has been a well-trod path ever since James Cameron came out with Aliens in 1986, Starship Troopers: Invasion has managed to refine the scenario to make it more interesting.  The storytellers give the troopers a reason to expose themselves to danger and crawl through the environment rather than just locking the door and waiting for rescue–which would be the smart thing to do.  Any wargamer looking at designing a “bug-hunt” scenario should also look towards giving the bug hunters a similar reason to go through the bug-infested area and giving a time limit as well to push them forwards at a riskier pace.  Since many bug-hunt games on the market have bugs controlled by the rules, rather than an opposing player, this ticking clock element adds a lot more tension–and fun to the game.

Mongoose Games used to have the license for the Starship Troopers franchise up until a few years ago.  If you look on ebay, you can still likely find some plastic bugs from their 28mm product line as well as MI and power armor and other kits for the game.  As an alternative, you can use pretty much any sort of science-fiction figures, such as Mark Copplestone’s Future Wars line to provide the troops, and there are bug-like figures out there from other games compaies such as Games Workshop’s Tyranids.

My recommendation: See the movie, and get inspired to do some bug hunts.

Click here to buy the Starship Troopers: Invasion [Blu-ray] at Amazon.com

Project Update: Afrika Korps in 15mm

Posted By on September 3, 2012

Time for gaming, modeling, and building is always at a premium, but lately, with the opening of a new games store in town - Neutral Ground Games – I have been able to find time to get a real kick-start on some project that I had been wanting to do for awhile. Now, there’s a place in Lethbridge, Alberta that is able to stock Flames of War, Plastic Soldier Company, and other games.

And we’ve even gotten some Flames of War games going at the store as well, which makes this project update especially sweet, since some of these models have had the chance to get out and get blooded on the store battlefields.

Afrika Korps in 15mm

This was tank country, with a lot of the early-war and mid-war vehicles being deployed in fights that ranged across hundreds of miles. Add in the legendary commanders Rommel and Montgomery, and you have an epic setting for many battles.

Flames of War came out with a couple of books that gave organization charts for these battles, and that, combined with the presence of Neutral Ground in town, gave me the impetus to see what I could do as far a building up a force. So, here’s the first look at the force as it stands at the moment.

Not surprisingly, the force is tank heavy and is based on a Flames of War Panzerkompanie but with a little reorganization can also work as a Mittlere Panzerkompanie for mid-war, although I am very tempted to try to build up a Panzerspahkompanie of armoured cars as a side project. That’s the thing with this hobby. You never really “finish” a project. There’s always something else that you can be doing to add to your existing forces.

Currently on the painting table are a set of PzIVF2′s from Plastic Soldier Company as well as a platoon of PzII’s. Once they’re done, I’ll try to add some pictures of the force in action. And I have a SdKFz233 radio vehicle on order to complete the first Panzerspah platoon, as well as a DAK Flak26 battery to give a lot more long-ranged punch. Those should be here in about two weeks, give or take.

The force as it currently stands consists of PzIII’s as a core. Ten of these are from Plastic Soldier Company and three are from Battlefront. There are some PzIVD’s as some “heavies” until they get replaced by the PzIVF2′s. The lone PzIVf2 in the pictures is from Quality Castings, the SdKFz 251C’s are by Plastic Soldier Company.  I have to admit that I really like the Plastic Soldier Company vehicles. Though they take quite a bit more time than the Battlefront vehicles to assemble, they have a crisp look to them that looks really nice on the tabletop. And, as you can see from the photos below, they mix quite nicely with Battlefront.

Check out the photos below:

Here are some books available at Amazon.com for those interested in getting into Flames of War in the Western Desert:

Hellfire and Back!: Early War Battles in North Africa, 1940-1941 (Battlefront Minatures)

Burning Empires: Battle for the Mediterranean (Battlefront Minatures)

North Africa

Hobbies and Clutter

Posted By on October 9, 2011

Flames of War: Hellfire and Back I had a couple of things happen in the past week that made me start thinking about the hobbies I have in my life, and whether they are actually augmenting or detracting from my life.

In the past week, I:

  • purchased some Flames of War miniatures and the new Hellfire and Back sourcebook,
  • finished off and based a Colonial Fleet for classic Battlestar Galactica gaming, and
  • Cleaning out my garage and sent no less than a thousand comic books to recycling, while at the same time shedding at least a third of the books that I have collected for nearly three decades (those will be donated to the local library, which can sell them for fundraising). I also sold about a hundred DVDs to a local pawnshop.

Yes, I am that guy—the one that bought and kept comics in the 1980s and 1990s, and then held onto them for years just keeping them tucked away in boxes in my garage. While I was getting rid of all of these comics, I started looking at the cover prices and mentally tallying everything up in my head.

I went through these books and came up with a total cost of my acquisitions and let’s just say that the money I spent would have bought me a pretty decent used car, or a lot more soldiers for use on the tabletop. I resisted getting angry at myself, because I had undergone a similar purging of roleplaying games years ago and got really angry, comparing the row of books that I had on the shelf there with the price of decent computer hardware. This time, I was a lot more relaxed about it.

As historical gamers, we tend to be collectors and pack rats. We collect books about our hobbies, whether these books are rulebooks or historical reference materials. Those of us who are miniatures gamers also collect a lot of lead and resin for building up our forces. In a lot of cases, the miniatures that we have dutifully collected and painted and based end up sitting in storage or on shelves and gathering dust because we’re pursuing our latest project in the hobby.

And when we start to tally what our hobby is costing us, do we start thinking in terms of opportunity costs? In other words, do we look at our pile of hobby “stuff” and think about what else we could have done with that money?

In my case, I have started coming to terms with the collecting mentality of the hobby. Collecting for the sake of collecting and completeness is pretty hard-wired into me, and I’ve decided that I’m okay with that as long as the stuff that I’m collecting is a source of fun for me. As long as I get to play with my troops and deploy them on the gaming table every now and then, I’m happy to make the investment in time and money to build up my forces.

I have had a lot of fun over the past year playing with the 15mm WWII miniatures, and also 20mm moderns. Once I get the Cylons finished for the Battlestar Fleet, I’ll get them out on the table and have a few games—I’m already coming up with rules for them. And I still have a lot more projects I look forward to doing for the coming year.

But I know that like the comics, if I have kept the elements of my hobby—any hobby—there merely for completeness or collecting, then it’s no longer a hobby and has become clutter. That means it has to go. Period.

Somehow, tossing the comics into the recycling bin was pleasantly cathartic.

Fistful of Tows WWII War Game Battle Report

Posted By on July 16, 2011

After we had a chance to try out the basic Fistful of Tows rules some time ago with just a tank vs. tank battle, we decided it was time to upgrade the fight with some infantry and artillery. The infantry worked out well enough, but the artillery…let’s just say that we felt that we both needed a lot more artillery.

Admittedly, it was a house rule that we used instead of the artillery rules in the free version so that’s something that we will address in a future game. The free rules say that each artillery template is 2 inches diameter and we get 1 template for every three units. We decided that as we were gaming in 15mm, that the template would be a single CD (approx 5.25″ diameter) and that we would be able to drop a single barrage per game turn each. As normally happens when you try to mess with a war games rule set, things often go awry. In retrospect, it would have been simpler to specify that an artillery barrage template affects a single unit and calculate the number of templates according to the rules. Oh well, live and learn.

That having been said, the artillery rules are a really nice update from the older ones found in FFT2000. Artillery lands fast, exactly where the player wants it, and the die roll is used to abstract the effect quite nicely. This is much better than the old rules, where you would designate the position at the start of the enemy’s turn and wait for it to land at the start of your turn.

The game was a clash between Canadians and Germans during the breakout from the Normandy beaches. The addition of the infantry did not slow anything down and the infantry showed a nice resilience when they got into combat. Action was fast and furious with players moving through turns very quickly and the tactical situation was quite precarious throughout–only in the last few turns when many of the tanks had been reduced to smoking wrecks and the Canadians were holed up on the objective did the outcome really be apparent. Let’s just say that many tactical lessons were learned that night.

Among the key lessons learned: aggression is your friend. Being cautious with my PzKw MkIVs resulted in a lot of losses early on in the game. However, launching a charge with my StugIII’s was enough to shatter the Canadian rearguard and allow the envelopment of the Allied forces on the objective. Likewise, overwatch is also your friend if you’re on defence. Had I tried to charge with my Stug’s against the dug-in troops on the objective, this would have gained me nothing more than turning some of my last AFVs into scrap metal.

The game was a lot of fun, very fast to play, and encouraged a very tactical mindset when gaming. Here are some photos from the game showing off the terrain, models, and action:

Donald Featherstone’s War Games

Posted By on July 5, 2011

Donald Featherstone’s War Games

Donald Featherstone’s classic wargaming book, War Games, was first published in 1962. It was largely responsible for turning a somewhat obscure hobby into a popular pastime across the world. This revised edition includes new material including a foreword by Paddy Griffith, the full version of the Lionel Tarr Modern Wargaming Rules (modern being for Wordl War II) and a timeline of wargaming. It is published as part of the History of Wargaming Project at www.johncurryevents.co.uk

 

List Price: $ 17.55

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The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes

Posted By on July 2, 2011

The Games of War: A Treasury of Rules for Battles with Toy Soldiers, Ships and Planes

Here’s a Hobby for those who love: toys, games, role playing, military history, action movies, science fiction, paintball, and having friends and family over. This book has it all, from gladiatorial combat to space warfare. Test your skills and luck as you re-fight famous battles or explore the world of “what ifs.” Here’s your chance to “be” Alexander, Saladin, Cromwell, Washington, Napoleon, Nelson, Lee, Grant, Pershing, Rommel, Patton, Nimitz, or any of the great military leaders of history. “Lead” a patrol in the Ardennes or in Afghanistan. It’s paintball without the pain! You can “fly” your Wildcat against a Zero, your Phantom against a Mig. See if you have what it takes to be a “pirate” in the Carribbean. Can you “conquer” a galaxy or “master” magic? The rules contained in this book cover all this and more. They are easy to learn, fast to play, and contain background information for anyone who’s not a historian. You can get started on any budget and with whatever space you have available. Rediscover reading for fun! Teaching History? There are sample history “labs” included. Have your class “experience” the past! Watch their interest and enthusiasm grow!

 

List Price: $ 32.95

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A review of Fistful of Tows 3rd Edition – Introductory Version.

Posted By on May 22, 2011

Well, it’s been a long time since the last update on this blog. Basically, over the past winter, I have not been able to do any wargaming or hobby related stuff for several months. That’s changed this week when, after suffering from gaming withdrawal, I invited a friend over to try out the Fistful of Tows free version of their World War II miniatures rules.

We decided, to keep things simple, to have it as a clash between tank forces. So, we put together some late war British and German forces and fought out a simulated German counterattack on a small village. We used the downloadable vehicle artillery and infantry data spreadsheets to build up the rosters and to come up with a points balanced force for each side. I took the Germans with a force of King Tigers, Panthers, Mark IVs, Jagdpanthers, and Stugs, while my friend took a force comprised of Shermans, Achilles, and Fireflies.

One of the first things that we found out about this rule set was just how quickly it played. Now, keep in mind that we did not have any artillery or infantry to gum up the works, but even so, we were able to play through a pretty good-sized battle in less than two hours with neither of us really having played this version of the rules before. Now I have played an earlier version years ago, but it’s been a long time since I had taken Fistful of Tows out for a run on the gaming table. The combat system was lethal and quick, with units being destroyed either by enemy fire, or failure of a quality check. It will be really interesting to try a scenario with more artillery and infantry in the mix the next time around.

The things that we liked about this rule set were as follows:

We liked how the vehicles all had their own movement rates, which gave a really nice contrast between the speedy Panthers and the lumbering King Tigers. It also forced me as the German player to manage my advance so that I would have vehicles in the right place at the right time especially given the different movement rates.

We also liked how the game had fairly short ranges for its weapons, which forced a lot more maneuver. Neither of us, whether attacking or defending, was able to simply sit back on a ridge and rain fire down on the other player. Instead, we had to maneuver to get in close to be able to get effective shots against frontal armor, or flank armor. My opponent even commented how the short firing ranges made the rule set play more like an old school micro-armor rule set than one of the more modern rules like Flames of War. Overall, I’m a player that likes a lot of maneuver in my games, so this set of rules is right up my alley.

We also liked how the data was kept very straightforward and organized in the rules, with every vehicle or unit basically given a single line of statistics that covers everything you need for gameplay.

Finally, we liked how weapons have different effectiveness at different ranges. At close range, weapons can penetrate more armor, while at extreme range, they have more difficulty in doing so. This makes it important to try to get in close to an enemy, which again encourages more maneuver on the part of players. I have seen far too many games where the super tanks basically sit back as immobile pillboxes and dominate one segment of the board. In this game, if the Shermans are able to get in close enough, even King Tigers need to be worried.

One of the things that we did not like about Fistful of Tows was that there sometimes did not seem to be enough distinction between the effectiveness of different weapons types. Now, we recognize that this is a result of the game covering everything from the 1930s up until modern day, and so there is some necessary compression of the weapons data, but even so it would have been nice to have a wider spread of values between some of the weapons that were being used.

Fistful of Tows 3rd edition has been a long time in coming, but personally I think it makes a great addition to any historical wargamer’s library. I have played previous editions, and have been really happy with them. I’m looking forward to trying out more and more options with the newest edition.

The newest version is available as a watermarked PDF download at the Wargames Vault. Free versions of the modern and WWII rules are also available for download.

Click here to purchase the full Fistful of Tows rules.

Click here to download the free modern introductory rules.

Click here to download the free WWII introductory rules.

How to get started in WWII Historical War Games – Part Two

Posted By on December 16, 2010

Choosing a Figure Scale for WWII War Games

Once you have settled on the level of game you want to play, the next step is choosing the war games figure scale. Figure scale for miniatures war games will either be expressed as a ratio or as a measurement in millimetres. Before we get too much farther, we’ve already mentioned the idea of a unit scale where a single soldier figure could represent more than a single solder on the battlefield. Figure scale, on the other hand represents the actual size of the war games miniatures themselves.

Here is an image showing a comparison of some of the more popular World War II historical war games figure scales next to a one inch square for scale.

The ratio indicates how many scale inches are represented on the figure for each inch in the real world. So, a ratio of 1:72 means that each real inch on the miniature represents 72 inches or six feet. If wargames scale is expressed as a measurement in millimetres, then this refers to the size of a standing figure from the soles of the figures boots to the eyes. This is also referred to as the Barret Measurement scale after wargamer Toby Barret who proposed the scale years ago. Measurements are made to the eyes to take into account the different possible sizes of headgear of figures and to ensure that figures are somewhat compatible across different manufacturer’s ranges. For World War II war games, these are the most popular miniatures scales:

6 mm scale or 1/285th scale or 1/300th scale: Also referred to as micro-scale, 6mm scale is designed to allow players to field large numbers of forces in a very small space. Tanks are typically one inch long, and infantry stand approximately one quarter inch tall. This scale works best for games set at the Company level or above, and can be used to play battles like Kursk or Tobruk very easily on war games tables the size of a typical ping-pong or billiards table.

15mm scale or 1/100th scale: This is the most popular scale for WWII gaming right now as a result of the success of the Flames of War rules. Battlefront, the publishers of Flames of War, have produced a very extensive range of of 15mm vehicles and infantry that covers almost every vehicle that fought in WWII (as well as a few that never made it off the drawing boards). Other manufacturers, such as QRF, Quality Castings/Old Glory 15s, and Peter Pig and many others also produce their own WWII-era 15mm models allowing players to field any force that was involved in WWII. The tanks tend to be approximately 3 inches long, and figures are three-quarters of an inch tall. Flames of War is a Company-level game, but the 15mm scale is versatile enough to allow you to play at any level from skirmish to division level without difficulty. Flames of War standardizes its battlefields on a 4 foot x 6 foot table, but larger or smaller battlefields can be used depending on the scope of the scenario.

20mm scale or 1/72nd scale: This scale was quite popular in the 1960s and 1970s, when the best supply of model vehicles and soldiers came from plastic model kits. Even today, these kits do allow for an inexpensive means of collecting and fielding a substantial force. While the range of kits and troops is not as vast as that of that in 15mm scale, there is still a very good supply and much of it would be less expensive than the 15mm white metal or resin units. The other advantage to 20mm scale is that it is very easy to customize the look of the vehicles as 1/72nd is a popular vehicle modeling scale for plastic armour model kit builders, so there are lots of aftermarket accessories for stowage, tracks, and conversion kits. There are also several companies offering prepainted, die-cast collectors models of popular WWII vehicles in 1/72nd scale, with more coming out every day. 20mm scale is excellent for skirmish gaming and you should be able to do games up to Platoon level without really needing to abstract the unit scale too much. Games at the Company level can be done without abstracting the unit scale, but you need a pretty good-sized area for them.

28mm scale: This very popular war games figure scale also has an extensive range of infantry in 28mm. Interestingly, very few people agree what 28mm scale actually is as a ratio and arguments rage regularly that 28mm can be mixed with vehicles everywhere from 1/48th scale (also known as “Heroic 28mm scale) to 1/64th scale, with the most popular choice being 1/56th scale. Resin kits can be found in 1/56th scale, and plastic kits exist at 1/48th scale. Even drawing from these two sources of kits, there is not a great selection of vehicles and what resin vehicles there are tend to be very expensive. 28mm scale is typically used for skirmish scale engagements, as larger engagements take up far more space than many war gamers would be able to access.

Another figure scale that is starting to gain popularity is 10mm or 1:160th scale. This scale is supported by a few manufacturers, such as Game Figures Inc., and is designed to be compatible with model railroad N Gauge and allows gamers to take advantage of model railroad building kits and rolling stock to scenick the battlefield. It is worth mentioning this scale because of its relative novelty, and it remains to be seen just how much support it receives from manufacturers in the industry.

Next time, we’ll start taking a quick look at the theatres of conflict for WWII war gaming. World War II is a massive conflict with several distinct periods and eras that give gamers a lot of options.