Help support TMP

"3mm - Distinguishing between troop types?" Topic

23 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Scale Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board

Action Log

15 Jan 2019 10:45 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "3mm--Distinguishing between troop types?" to "3mm - Distinguishing between troop types?"
  • Removed from 18th Century Discussion board
  • Crossposted to Scale board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Showcase Article

The Amazing Worlds of Grenadier

The fascinating history of one of the hobby's major manufacturers.

Featured Profile Article

The da Vinci Jr. 1.0 3D Printer: Unboxing & Test Print

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian unpacks and sets up an inexpensive 3D printer, and prints a test object.

Featured Book Review

1,642 hits since 15 Jan 2019
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Desert Fox15 Jan 2019 6:55 a.m. PST

I am interested in Oddzial Osmy's 3mm Napoleonic sculpt from Pico Armour but I have a question for others who game the horse and musket era in this scale.

How do you distinguish between different troop types on such small figures from normal tabletop distances?

In other words, how do you tell the difference between guard, line or second rate troops? At this scale, does a black grenadier bearskin look the same as a black shako from about three feet away? Can you really see plumes etc on 3mm figures on the tabletop?

von Schwartz15 Jan 2019 7:02 a.m. PST

My first question would be, "why 3mm, why not 6mm or 15mm?".

RittervonBek15 Jan 2019 7:03 a.m. PST

If I recall correctly there is some advice on this in Horse Foot and Guns by Phil Barker. Perhaps a thin line of colour on the rear of the base e.g gold for guard red for grenadiers etc would be the way to go.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2019 7:05 a.m. PST

That is a good question

For 6mm it is easy enough if you plan your basing/painting right; plus for the rules we use there are a limited number of troop types you have to distinguish

I think some rules were just not meant for 3/6mm

khanscom15 Jan 2019 7:27 a.m. PST

For 12mm figures, Jack Scruby used to paint the topside corners of the bases-- red for elite infantry or heavy cavalry, white for light infantry or light cavalry. Line infantry were left unmarked, while elite light infantry would be marked with a combination of white and red. No limit to the variety of colors if you need more levels of distinction.

Jozis Tin Man15 Jan 2019 7:43 a.m. PST

Some options:

1) Label your bases. What does 1 base represent in your rules?
2) Use Skirmishers in front of your main line to indicate better troops. Maybe use the number of skirmishers to indicate better quality?
3) Add commanders on horseback to the rear of the line, more = better troops?

Let us now how you get on!

Martin Rapier15 Jan 2019 8:48 a.m. PST

For my 2mm stuff (never mind your great big fancy modern '3mm' figures) I:

1. paint coloured strips on the back edge of the bases. Along with nationality, it helps keep them facing the right way.

2. I put different formations on the bases, either in terms of figure dispersion of the arrangement of the blocks. So e.g. light cavalry will have a different arrangement to heavies.

3. Different coloured flags can help.

As noted above, it partly depends what 'one base' represents. Mine tend to be a bit grandiose, at least a battalion per base.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Jan 2019 11:25 a.m. PST

Would the enemy have been able to see which type of troops they were facing at a table scale of 3 feet ? If not then why should a player need to !

Surely it is enough that you can ID the troops on your own side and when the actually get into combat.

Lion in the Stars15 Jan 2019 12:21 p.m. PST

Hats, my good man!

Guards obviously wear bearskins, Ligne in bicorns, Legere are in shakos. Or whatever.

marshalGreg15 Jan 2019 12:29 p.m. PST

If you going to collect and play the period Napoleonics,
it makes sense to be able to distinguish the units.
That was the purpose behind the elaborate uniforms anyway yes?
If one must have markers to tell cuirassiers from Dragoons from CaC then might as well save the time and pain of painting these items that are too small and just play a nice board game.
A cardboard play pc with a 3D flag will give almost the same thing.
My limit was ACW with Grey on one side and blue on the other… but changed to 10mm at the last minute though.
Sorry, I do not agree mfg of 2/3mm was a good direction to go for figure play, especially for 7 yr, AWI & NAPs!

Fredloan15 Jan 2019 4:05 p.m. PST

I'd go blind playing with 2-3mm figures. 6mm would be the bare minimum but, I like the ABs

repaint15 Jan 2019 4:16 p.m. PST

labels work well for me. This is what I do for WWII:


forwardmarchstudios15 Jan 2019 7:33 p.m. PST

I'd recommend my eBases. I'm working on some rules for my 2mm range that'll use these. They work with 2mm, 3mm, and even 6mm.

See an entire refight of the Katzbach with O8 miniatures and my bases here:



My bases are also free to download if you follow the link. Just print out and laminate and you're ready to go.

von Schwartz15 Jan 2019 8:08 p.m. PST

Used to game micro-armour but my club was doing 15mm and some 25mm Napoleonic. I chose the 15mm because the guys doing 25s didn't get into the shop much. Good thing too, my eyes started going to hell around 40 and have gone from a 1.50 to a 2.50 in the intervening years and I currently use a 3.00 or higher for painting. Now 25s were an option but no one in my group were doing 25s or 28s so, there ya have it. I tried some Biblical Libyans in 25, I generally suck at painting so that experiment did not end well.

Scott MacPhee20 Jan 2019 7:44 p.m. PST

I can tell the difference. link


forwardmarchstudios20 Jan 2019 9:05 p.m. PST

Looking good!

freecloud21 Jan 2019 5:30 a.m. PST

I can barely see to paint my 6mm, never mind 3mm!

I think some armies are easier than others, to tell apart. I deliberately did all my Russian line in greatcoats, but Jaegers in green to tell them apart.

Cuirassiers are white, Dragoons are Green and Hussars are colourful. We also only use caissons for the horse artillery so you can see who they are.

Also agree with colour code the back base strip for info, also the flags help (if you are Russian, anyway – others not so much I guess).

ScottWashburn Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Jan 2019 5:34 a.m. PST

For those with good enough eyesight to see them, all power to you. But for me, the manufacturers of 3mm or 2mm figures might as well label their products: "Small metal lumps we are calling French Infantry, Small metal lumps we are calling British Infantry, etc." :)

von Schwartz21 Jan 2019 6:00 p.m. PST

Agree 100% with Scott, "wait till you get old sonny", he said as he tottered on his cane.

Elenderil29 May 2019 6:03 a.m. PST

So if I'm reading this correctly as I paint and game in 2mm for ECW I can't be old. I'm going to be 64 in a month's time. Thank you, its the nicest thing anyone has said about me all day! :-)

4th Cuirassier29 May 2019 6:10 a.m. PST

Why bother with figures at all if they're only 3mm tall and you can't see what they are?

Why not just use the bases?

forwardmarchstudios29 May 2019 1:05 p.m. PST

Because you can do stuff like this in 3mm/2mm:


Another angle:



And I can tell what these are:


(actually the flags are wrong on those Russians, those are Prussian flags which is easy to see!)

And these…


In my (very subjective) opinion, the larger scales are played out; the future of the hobby is in smaller scales. Younger people live in small apartments, lack a large amount of space, need portable armies, and don't have room for the mess of the hobby. Small scales solve a lot of those problems.

I have tens of thousands of 3mm O8 figures and could use them just as easily on the same terrain.

Telling troop types apart is not an issue; organizing a gigantic army by a historic OOB is the problem. in teh H&M period you only really have a few "troop types." As far as troop class goes, in the majority of games troop quality can be by division or even corps, and in any event kept close to a baseline. That's possible with a simple color-coding technique drawn onto the backs of the bases. The fact is, even if a body of troops performed well in a historical battle, on another day they may not have faired as well for a myriad of reasons. Pinpointing which units are going to over-perform above average is sort of lame, IMHO; but then, I like hidden information during games because I think it adds to realism. As far as actually organizing stuff goes, I have a system of three colors that lets me organize hundreds of battalions in just a few minutes.

sonicblue09 Oct 2019 12:27 p.m. PST

Hi Desert Fox

I just stumbled across your question. I distinguish my troop types with the number and formation of battalions and the number of skirmishers on my bases.

My Austrian Line Infantry for example is based 3 battalions in column each 4 lines deep, the Grenzer and Tiroler have got the front battalion in line formation and the Avant Garde brigade some horses mixed in.

The grenadiers are based 4 battalions 4 deep. Heavy cav is based in 2 squadrons per base while light cav only one.

Also I consider the order of battle of some battles I want to play.
The british guard brigades only had 2 battalions each at Waterloo so I 2 took lines. The british line brigades mostly had three and I put the first in line formation to show the firepower trait in the Blucher rules. Dutch and Hannover militia brigades had more battalions per brigade so 4 x 3 deep. The Nassauer and Braunschweiger had three if I remember correctly. But all in column as they don't have the firepower trait. Units with skirmish bonus get 8 skirmishers models no bonus gets 4.
This system works very well from playing distance. I can also easily tell apart the french green dragoons from the blue cuirassiers although they are based the same way. The only problem is your opponent is not familiar with your coding system if that matters.
This is my Quatre Bras allied army.

The French line is mostly 4 x 3 deep, light Infantry has the front battalion in line formation, and the guard infantry is all 4 x 4 deep to show some oomph. Hope this gives you another view.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.