What's up with 6mm?
When a gamer decides to play a game they must select a the scale of their miniatures. With the various scales available, why would anyone go with 6mm? We went over to the 6mm Miniatures Yahoo Group to find out.
For some it was the ability to play large battles on a small table. Being able to get eighty or more vehicles per side plus infantry on the board allows for a better battlefield presentation. Terrain could be made from model railroad products and with a bit ingenuity tables representing any season could be constructed. Huge battles where one miniature represents on vehicle or soldier are easier to construct in terms of figures and terrain, something which is likely impossible in larger scales. Storage of four thousand micro tanks and associated infantry do not take up much room. Try that with larger miniatures!
It is also the only scale in which large battles involving highly maneuverable armored forces can be properly fought. Vehicles in other scales can look great, but they serve little real purpose other than serving as a mobile bunker. Players are also encouraged to keep effective weapon ranges maximized. Tank and anti-tank attacks can take place at appropriate ranges, indirect fire can be launched and land on the same table with realistic burst radii. 6mm also allows for the proper use of mobility which can change the outcome of a battle very quickly. Air assaults, parachute drops, scouting and envelopments are now possible and effective tools to be used in the game. Expanding the front to be covered by a defending force makes for more strategy instead of being limited to bloody suicide charges down a narrow front.
Cost is an important factor as well. An entire British paratroop company with extras could be purchased for the same price as a single platoon or squad in larger scales. Entire armies can be got for the price many people spend on a single night out to the pub or local restaurant. Gamers can afford to purchase units in multiple genre or experiment with different rules while investing very little financially.
Most find painting in 6mm much faster than with other scales, the main downside is smaller units or infantry stands can form a challenge. A player can choose to be impressionistic, and paint only what you can see from arms length, all the way up to fanatical, and paint the moustaches on every face. There are several techniques one can utilize:
Some paint things like canteen straps or other items which stand out on the minis. By accenting one or two features the human mind assumes more painted detail than what was actually attempted. The use of an ink wash helps to add shadow (and weight), bring out the detail of nooks and crannies, and help equalize bright colors. The main secret is to paint the unit to look good at arm's length - don't paint it if you don't have too! Another suggestion is to base the unit first before you paint them. Group the miniatures in appropriate sized units (platoons, companies, brigades) suited for your genre. Using all of these suggestions a gamers can crank out an entire army very quickly.
When asked what they play in 6mm, gamers offered up both time periods as well as rules. Common time periods covered are Ancients, Punic Wars, 8th Century, 9th Century, 10th Century, Medieval, Renaissance, American Colonial, Napoleonics, Victorian Colonial, WWI, WWII, Viet Nam, Moderns, Futures and Sci-Fi. Rules used for play include Space Marine, Epic: Armageddon, Battletech, Dirtside II, OGRE, CAV, Future Commander, Cold War Commander, Blitzkrieg Commander, Flames of War, Volley & Bayonet and a giant monster attack game. A recent revival in Advanced Squad Leader circles has again found 6mm infantry used in conjunction with 1/285 scale vehicles.
What's to love about a game in 6mm? A series of historical War of Spanish Succession scenarios played with a friend using Baccus miniatures and Volley & Bayonet rules. A club competition based on Thermopiles where each club member commands the Spartans for a turn against hordes of Persians played by the other club members with the goal of seeing how long they could hold out. Quickfire II games of planetary invasion on a twelve foot table or an alien infested city six foot in diameter. Space Marine played at the very first GW North American Games Day (1993) on a very cool table with a huge tower in the center where all of the players brought their own painted units.
A 1944 game at Salute with fantastic sculpted hills and covered with outstanding German and Allied miniatures. A large Napoleonic game put together by a fellow club member. Fantasy Warhammer with over two thousand Orcs battling six hundred Dwarves. Hamburger Hill scenario gamed with GHQ troops and Piquet Forgotten Heroes rules resulting in a similar feel from the movie of the same battle. The German retreat column, during the collapse of Army Group Center, had to travel the long length of the table across 2 bridges while Soviets poured in from the flanks and sky. A spectacular D-day game run at a convention. What's there not to love?
© 2010, Gabriel Landowski