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"2mm, 3mm or 6mm. Help!" Topic

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1,063 hits since 26 Mar 2017
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Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 12:01 p.m. PST

So my armies I use for playtesting are a mess of random stuff, in various conditions and state of paint.

The time has come to remedy that and I want to do a consistent scale for all my black powder needs.

My eyes has fallen upon 3 choices:

2mm (Mostly Irregular)
3mm (Mostly Picoarmor)
6mm (Plenty but Baccus is in mind currently).

Problem is they all seem very exciting.

In particular, I want to base for the needs of games that use single figures (since you can always combine a few to make a bigger "base" as needed).

2mm comes cast in troop blocks which has the distinction of actually resembling a real unit and you can put one or two on a small base and they'll look like a company of troops.

3mm is a touch bigger and more detailed and comes in strips of individual figures.
That means for my purposes, I'd be arranging a few strips on each base to make them maybe 12 men or so.

6mm I'd probably aim to put 8 figures per base.

Of course 2mm and 3mm can share terrain to a large extent.

The real advantage of the two smaller scales is that you can actually have entire villages and towns on the table, without costing a lot and looking great.

Of course, the individual 6mm figures are nicer looking and I've wanted to do 6mm WW2 since forever, so sharing terrain is appealing as well.

So… I turn to you lot: What would you do?

Let's assume for the sake of conversation that:

A: I am familiar with what each scale looks like.

B: All three scales are viable choices (no "Use paper counters instead")

C: It is going to be one of these three choices, not 10mm, 15mm, 25mm, 17.4mm or 0.36277 inch scale :-)

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 12:09 p.m. PST


forwardmarchstudios26 Mar 2017 12:18 p.m. PST

I'm biased towards 3mm myself…


Up front is the cavalry reserve from Wagram minus the carabiniers. 14:1 scale. 480 figures.

In the rear I Korps or II Korp from the Austrian army. 10:1 scale. 2400 figures.

About 3000 figures total.

16 bags of Austrian infantry= $56 USD
480 Curassiers= ~$40
eBases= Free, just print them out and laminate

Lighting in this picture is awful though, ugh. EDIT: Better when i turn the monitor brightness up, haha.
For reference, the table is about 5' x 2.5'. If you added artillery and train, and two more corps, so four per side, you would have enough figures to play on a 9' x 6' table for under $200 USD, and almost 8000 figures. Plus, if you use my mass painting technique you can pint them up in a few weekends.

For the record, you could do the same basing-scheme with 6mm figures if you wanted. They should fit the bases. I've thought about doing this for the Franco-Prussian war since there are no suitable 3mm figures.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 12:37 p.m. PST

6mm. Share terrain with micro armor. Also, huge selection of 6mm troops, eras and terrain. Colonials. SciFi. Fantasy. WW1. etc etc

CATenWolde26 Mar 2017 12:39 p.m. PST

I've been going through similar mental gyrations for the past few years, while I work on other projects and eye my return to Horse & Musket gaming. For what it's worth, here's my take so far:

In my opinion, the advent of the great 3mm lines have really made 2mm redundant. The 3mm figures are just better all around, and serve the same mass/scale purpose. However, there is a lot of neat 2mm terrain (like whole modeled villages and such) that can be used.

The contrast with 6mm is pretty big … so to speak. ;) The Adler figures I have seen are superb sculpts, and I assume that Bacchus does its usual good job as well. You get a much better sense of the individual figures on a base.

(Imagine me resisting the urge to talk about 10mm here.)

So, you have to ask yourself how much being able to paint and see things like different headgear, different gun types, and turnback/waistcoat/etc. secondary uniform colors really matters, because that's going to be the main effect.

For me, right now that makes me want to do Napoleonics in 6mm Adler (because I will appreciate all the detail), but willing to do the WSS/SYW in 3mm (because I would just want to do the main battles and represent the rows of primary color uniforms).

Having said that, 3mm does lend itself much more to one-off battle/campaign projects of the "map scale" variety – I've thought about doing a 3mm Waterloo project for instance.

Hope that helps with the wool gathering!



Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 12:42 p.m. PST

Christopher adds a very good point: I am not a big fan of painting uniforms, which would be an advantage of the smaller scales.

forwardmarchstudios26 Mar 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

The WSS figs from Scale Creep are cool. I haven't done any cost analysis on doing some of the big battles of the Great Northern War though. I really think it would be cool to try that out. I also really wish that MM would resculpt their artillery for that range. The infantry and cavalry look great, and the smaller battles lend themselves to quicker full-scale projects.

EDIT: I just checked their webpage- MM have come out with a bunch of new codes that I wasn't aware of. They now have galloper guns, heavy, light and medium artillery with crew and mortars. It's really difficult for me not to do GNW now.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 1:10 p.m. PST

Everyone is doing GNW right now it seems :-)

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

The MM artillery is still nowhere near up to the same standard as OO Napoleonic guns but the other parts of the range are IMHO. I've got samples to look into doing 1680-1720 period an, so far, I'm encouraged by the result. Not enough yet to show but I may have in a few weeks.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 1:36 p.m. PST

5mm--6mm if you must--gives you a wider variety of figures and manufacturers. There are also difficulties with telling dark green from dark blue, for instance, as the soldiers get smaller. I settled on 5/6mm, keeping only a small "travel army" of WWII 2mm.
BUT if you don't get pleasure from painting uniforms, and you're working black powder, you need to get smaller. 6mm means collars and cuffs. I'd say go with 2mm and record the individual losses.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 2:54 p.m. PST

Christopher and I have to disagree on this one. I have 2mm and 3mm ancient armies, 2mm Catholic and Protestant armies for Brietenfeld, 2mm Union and Confederate armies, and 3 and 6mm SF armies. I much prefer 2mm for map scale games. Painting 3mm is as fussy for me as 6mm. 2mm looks much more like massed formations of troops. I was very surprised by how much 3mm individual figures look like 6mm. An army of 2mm looks like an army. An army of 3mm looks too much like a few battalions unless you decide to do a 1 to 1 presentation. It is much easier with 2mm to see a massed formation as opposed to individual soldiers. Having said all this I have to admit I am a nut about small miniatures. I would take 3mm over 6mm any time I wanted that type of presentation.

Todd63626 Mar 2017 2:57 p.m. PST

Forwardmarchstudios: What is your mass painting strategy?

forwardmarchstudios26 Mar 2017 3:11 p.m. PST


I have a blog post all about it. The trick is to use a foam brush and pain one side at a time.


The end result is better IMHO than brush-painted.

I wonder if there would be a way to use O8 artillery in the MM Age of Reason range? Maybe just use the cannons and add some snipped-free infantry figures to the base.

The nice thing about AoR compared to Napoleonics is that you don't need as many artillery pieces. Those things add up, just like in real life.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 3:16 p.m. PST

I've been told there's more in the MM range to come too, e.g. skirmishers in hats rather than just tricornes.

mghFond26 Mar 2017 4:55 p.m. PST

For the ignorant out there (OK, at least me) what does MM stand for?

Also OO and O8 ?


Crow Bait26 Mar 2017 4:56 p.m. PST

With 2mm, if you paint them as French and British Napoleonics, you can also use them for the AWI and 1812. Painted as French and Prussians, they aslo work for the Mexican American War.

forwardmarchstudios26 Mar 2017 4:56 p.m. PST

MM= Magister Millitum. They do ancients (not as well known as they should be, really nice stuff), Renaissance and Age of Reason in 3mm.

OO and 08= Oddzial Osmy. They do Napoleonics, moderns, WW2, ACW, sci-fi stuff… maybe a few more things.

They are completely different stylistically and in material. MM are made from normal metal. 08 are made from some sort of super hard, brittle alloy, not sure what exactly. I think that O8 are computer designed, although I could be wrong about that. MM are sculpted in the traditional manner.

Oddzial Osmy means 8th platoon in Polish, where the things are made (or something along those lines).

Jozis Tin Man Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 5:00 p.m. PST

You know I love 6mm and 3mm, but for black powder warfare, I'd stick with 6mm if you want to do any individually based type games. I am considering down sizing from 28mm to 6mm for Dark Age Skirmish, specifically using this 3-2-1 basing scheme.

You frankly cannot go wrong either way!

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 5:23 p.m. PST

Jozis – Thats super clever actually.

My initial thought if I went 6mm was to replace each individual figure with 4 or 5 6mm guys kinda like old Space Marine.

forwardmarchstudios26 Mar 2017 5:32 p.m. PST


See, I had once thought to do the same thing, by creating a Napoleonic army and treating the battalions like a bunch of Nurgling bases that could shoot lasguns 3 inches and break at LD 6. I see no difference between that and Empire III….

Joe1870 Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 5:34 p.m. PST


I am trying to put together a 2mm army for TYW for Lutzen, and am interested in Brietenfield. Do you have any pictures of your army and if I may ask – what rules are you using?

Lieutenant Lockwood26 Mar 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

Hi Weasel

I went through that decision tree as well….I did the 6mmm thing for quite a while, but it still lacked that true "real" battlefield look. I have dabbled in 3mm, but I do Irregular 2mm at 1:1 AWI I I just love it. A regiment in line LOOKS like a regiment in line, not a 3" square with six beautifully painted figure son it.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP26 Mar 2017 7:21 p.m. PST


Started out with Renaissance Principles of War then tried the SPI boardgame Breitenfeld, Then DBR, then the boardgame Breitenfeld by Decision Games (an update to the SPI game), then GMTs boargame Lion of the North, and finally the old SPI Musket and Pike game. None have really satisfied me. I also have a set of rules from TCS for White Mountain which I have not tried. POW probably worked best but is a bit more complicated than I would like. Am thinking about converting Basic Impetus but not sure. I am not really happy enough with any of the above to recommend them.

Martin Rapier26 Mar 2017 11:11 p.m. PST

If you want something fairly generic, go as small as possible. 6mm is far too detailed, and even 3m is pretty big with individual uniform distinctions etc.

I have piles of 2mm stuff which I use for everything from Henry VIII Wars with France to the Seven Years War. The individual strips are painted correctly (mainly for the WSS) but from 2 feet away, they just look like generuc horse, foot or guns (or pikes).

The same can't be said of my 6mm stuff. The 2mm straps are incredibly easy to paint as well.

It is

Martin Rapier27 Mar 2017 2:40 a.m. PST

Curse tablet devices and predictive text.

I meant the 2mm strips are very easy to paint. The 'straps' certainly aren't!

Ilkley Old School27 Mar 2017 3:40 a.m. PST

I have dabbled with 6mm Baccus figures. These are small enough.

Some images and thoughts on gaming the SYW using Charles Grants the Wargame are on my blog.


repaint Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 5:41 a.m. PST

I have been facing exactly the same questions as you. Here what my thoughts were:

2mm: blocks of figures that nothing differentiate but the splash of paint you throw at them. So basically, in the end, I may have nicer counters with a board game (and for less time & money).

3mm: I was very interested in the scale as the detail is very good and one can paint up very nice units. The thing that deterred me from moving further is that O8 metal is extremely difficult to cut and the anticipation of the hard work to separate the minis simply wore me down even before starting.

6mm: Good detail, figures paint easily, no problem of cutting. Obviously, they make take more space than 3mm but since 3mm was not an option anymore, I settled on this scale.

10mm: the look of 6mm and paint like 15mm. Basically, hard work.

15mm: AB figures are simply a pleasure to paint and look at, I could not give up on this scale.

28mm: Sharpe Practice made it possible to paint only a few figures without dedicating to it two or three lifetimes. So, I jumped onboard.

So here are the three scales I am painting and collecting: 6mm, 15mm and 28mm.

Personal logo BrianW Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 6:06 a.m. PST

If you should decide to expand your publishing empire into something like 1/1200 naval rules (of any period), then the 2mm figures are perfect for land actions in conjunction with your ships.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 7:13 a.m. PST

@repaint – if you're just looking to cut the strips of infantry (say a strip of 8 to two strips of 4) it's easy to do with side-cutters. Just cup your hand around the strip as you cut as one end will want to fly across the room.

Glenn Pearce27 Mar 2017 7:42 a.m. PST

Hello Weasel!

Well 6mm works the best, the others come up short………………………….

All kidding aside 6mm simply stands out more. You can tell the units apart without labels. The flags are bigger, etc.

To have any sense of presence you need a large number of figures on a base for 2 or 3. So oddly enough the footprint of the smaller bases is not that different from 6mm.

As you know the detail on Baccus 6mm figures is amazing but you don't have to paint it if you don't want to. Put the detail on some officers or special or crack units if you want to. You can even get them painted for you at a fair price. Collars, cuffs, facings, etc. can be painted and do stand out to allow easy recognition of different regiments. Different hats and coats can also be seen from a distance.

Baccus has established a standard basing system for its horse and musket lines that has grown to become common place for a number of players and some clubs. So finding other players is a lot easier.

My informal survey from about 3-4 years ago put 6mm as the third most popular size/scale in the world. The first was 25/28, second 15/18.

Baccus is also matching your dream with their new WWII line.

6mm covers pretty much any type of gaming from massed battles to skirmish.

Seems to me that 6mm ticks more of your boxes then the others.

Best regards,


Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 10:30 a.m. PST

IMO board games are better than 6mm. There certainly plenty to choose from and you don't have to paint or make terrain.

Glenn Pearce27 Mar 2017 11:10 a.m. PST

I assume your talking about the new editions. The ones that come with surgical masks so you avoid knocking all your little counters onto the floor with hot bursts of air.

sjwalker38 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 11:30 a.m. PST

Joe1870, take a look at Sidney Roundwood's blog on how he approached TYW games , including Lutyens, in 2mm

Dave Crowell27 Mar 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

I have painted substantial armies of Irregular 2mm. While the detail is not as fine as more recent 3mm quite a nice effect can be achieved.

I love my 6mm Baccus figures, and they have become my preference for army level games.

I have some 3mm moderns, and must admit that if MM had just a couple more troop types I would probably do AWI/FIW in 3mm too.

My recomendation is for 6mm, as you can really see the distinctions between different troop types easily at table top distance. 3mm look like masses of troops, but I find that at tabletop distance it is harder to see what is what.

Oredr a sample of each and see what you prefer.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 2:33 p.m. PST

I appreciate all the varied advice and strong statements on the benefits of each scale :-)

I'll mull it over and make a decision.

John Thomas8 Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2017 7:54 p.m. PST

I've watched sub-15mm games being played, and there's just something… about them. I don't know if it's the terrain folks used or what, but the massed troops don't seem….tall enough to make them….believable? Not sure what it is and bless y'all for playing them, but I couldn't paint them or play them.

CATenWolde28 Mar 2017 2:09 a.m. PST

Yes, even as a fan of smaller scale figures, I know what you mean. I think it is because the smaller the figures, the more important the integration with the terrain is. With 25mm figures, the eye is so drawn to the individual figures that terrain very often plays a minor role in the visual effect (which in turn seems "off" to me), but as you go down the scales the eye is drawn more and more to the overall effect of the terrain and figures together. The challenge of balancing those two elements is one of the things I like about using smaller figures.

boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2017 6:43 a.m. PST

Here's a shot of one of Glenn Pearce's 6mm games (with my annotations), I think he gets the terrain and figures integrated well!


Glenn Pearce28 Mar 2017 8:17 a.m. PST

Hello John and boy wundyr x!

Thanks boy wundyr for your kind comments. Does this have anything to do with who actually won that game?

Anyway that's an old picture as the terrain has been upgraded a bit since then. Part of our continuous drive to improve our games.

No question though, poor looking terrain makes all scales of figures look bad.

However, I think the key to Johns comments were:

"but the massed troops don't seem….tall enough to make them….believable?"

So in Johns case size matters. I think that's simply conditioning. The vast majority of wargamers joined the hobby with figures that are 15 to 30mm in height. Those figures show off the uniforms very nicely and some people associate that with their level of believability. Reduce the size of the figures and their level of believability drops accordingly.

Most people who game in scales below 15mm look at that in the reverse. They are out to play the game first and the figures themselves come in second. They see a mass of figures in any scale as believable. This will never work for John unless he is actually able to play in a number of smaller scale games and lose himself in the game itself. That's the secret of enjoyment that is known to all small scale gamers and is generally lost by most larger scale gamers.

Best regards,


boy wundyr x Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2017 9:16 a.m. PST

The important thing was how awesome the Russians were in that game…

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