Saturday, February 18, 2017

3mm Gaming at 1:1

I'm thinking of moving into playing some lower level games in 1:1 with 3mm miniatures. By 1:1, I mean those rules where each base represents a single vehicle, or infantry fire-team or squad. Examples include Team Yankee (or Flames of War), Sabre Squadron, FiveCore Company Commander, or my favourite Fistful of TOWs (using the 1:1 Play Chapter).

In 3mm the bases would have a single vehicle on them, and I'm thinking for infantry of basing as fire-teams (or weapon teams) of 2-5 men. So just like Team Yankee basing, but using smaller bases and 3mm minis. The games could consequently be played on much smaller tables, or alternately the ground scale could be reduced. For example:

  • When playing Team Yankee I'd substitute centimeters for inches in any measurements; so a 6'x4' table (72"x48") would only require a table space of 72x48cm. Alternately use a bigger play surface, but it gives you the equivalent of a much bigger table than when played in 15mm. Using centimeters and the small scale minis and retaining a 6'x4' tabletop provides the equivalent playing surface of 180"x120" table (15'x10')!! A playing area this size would be the envy of 15mm gamers, but it's eminently do-able in 3mm using centimeter measurements.

  • The other alternative for TY is just to play as-written, using inches. This would mean there is just a much more realistic looking spatial relationship between the minis and movement and firing ranges.

  • Likewise for FFT play at a ground scale of 1:1000 by substituting 10cm (100mm) for each 1" in the measurements. So 100mm (tabletop) = 100m (real world), or if you'd prefer 1mm=1m. A 6'x4' table still gives you a play surface of 1.8km x 1.2km - big enough for company sized actions common in 1:1 level rules.

  • Playing at *exactly* 1:600 (where 1m on the table = 600m in real life) is do-able for smaller scenarios in closer terrain  - eg. up to about company sized forces in urban or wooded terrain where LOS would not extend beyond about 1km maximum. I would actually prefer to play at 1:1000 scale using 1:600 minis for realistic looking spatial relationships, but with just a little compression/abstraction for increased playability. 1:1000 makes converting real-world distances to the tabletop VERY easy; it's simply 1m on the tabletop = 1km on the ground, or 1mm = 1m. On a normal 6'x4' table (1.8m x 1.2m), equating to 1.8km x 1.2 km, this allows play of slightly larger games - probably up to battalion level in close terrain, or company level in more open terrain

I'm currently experimenting with basing ideas to get the 'look' right. I've bought some sample bases (all in 1.5mm thick clear acrylic) in different sizes, shown below:

The first is a custom base from Litko, 10x20mm, with rounded edges (so 'pill' shaped) I quite like the look of this one as it's distinctly longer (for vehicles) or wider (for infantry). To me this would provide some nice linear formations on the table - for example vehicles in column, or infantry in line-abreast.

The next is from Gamecraft. 1/2" x 5/8" (~12x15mm). This one is maybe a little too small (not long enough), even for 3mm minis. It's not quite long enough for the T-80U on it, and the T-80U is only a medium sized tank, so a large tank like M1A2 SEP would be even worse. The 5x infantry minis also look a bit crowded.

The final one is also from Gamecraft. 5/8" x 1" (~15x20mm). This is actually marketed as a Flames of War (medium) half-scale base. Because both the width and length of the base are halved, the area of the base actually ends up being 1/4 of the size of the equivalent FOW base (do the math!).

This one doesn't look bad, but is maybe a little too big? There is quite a bit of free space around the miniatures, but this could be good if I decide to go for a more scenic look with grass clumps, etc. They also may not get 'lost' on the tabletop as easily, and would provide space for a label if I go that way (haven't decided on this yet).

I think number two is probably out (except maybe for two-man teams), but will continue to ponder the other two since both have merits and deficiencies.

Big decisions to be made! More to follow...


  1. 1:1 scale 3mm could be a LOT of fun, and it would give a great sense of scale distances. I'd be done for some of that.

    Quite like the pill shape for vehicles, but not sure transparent bases would work well for the tiny scale infantry on their block bases?

    1. Yeah, I bought the transparent bases mainly for the acrylic material (strong, doesn't warp). There is the option to leave them clear, but I think I'll be flocking / texturing them.

  2. I just got interested in GHQ WWII Micro Armor. 1/285 tanks etc. I play on a 30" square board (I'm also a DBA'er) I mount everything on 1"square lilko bases.

  3. and it would give a great sense of scale distances. I'd be done for some of that.\

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