New Side Project – 6mm Napoleonics

I’ve been toying with the idea of 6mm wargaming for a long time. I like the scale and what is being done by the very lively community surrounding it. And although I’m a dyed-in-the-wool skirmish gamer, once every two years or so, I feel a slight inkling to try big battles. However, normally two things put me off: the huge amount of work involved in painting the large number of figures and the impression that big battles are nothing more than a line-up of densely crowded figures.

Recently, several events conspired to prompt me to finally take the plunge: First, I read the article “Go Big or Go Home” by Sam Mustafa (in Wargames Illustrated 408), where he enumerates the fundamental problems of big battle napoleonic rules and basically argues that it is impossible to write such rules without huge amounts of compromise and abstraction. I found this really liberating!

Secondly, I discovered the napoleonic games of a French club, Jeux d’Histoire du Ponant (JHP). They played a number of 1809 scenarios (which is how I found them), and their games look very different from what I expect when I think about big battle napoleonics: There are comparatively few units on a large table, with plenty of space to manoeuvre and room on the flanks.

French approaching Ebelsberg in a game by JHP. Source: https://jhp29.blogspot.com/2018/02/la-fuite-debelsberg.html

I contacted them and they were kind enough to share information about their games – a huge thank you to YannD and Denis! They mainly play DBN, but also use Blücher. Blücher has been on my radar because my mates Sigur and Virago have a Blücher project going on. DBN was new to me but it might be just what I am looking for. I realised that I want to use rules that are easy to learn and remember, as I’m probably not going to play this as often as, say, Sharp Practice.

The third and final straw was the discovery of the 3D-files offered by MCminiatures. As I’m a bit on a budget at the moment, I can’t afford a metal 6mm army (which is even more expensive now because of post-Brexit customs) and other 3D files I have seen are also rather pricy. MCminiatures are not only low-priced, but they also come in strips and therefore give a real impression of mass. I like how they look, and the strips fit perfectly on 6mm bases, which incidentally is what JHP uses (and which can easily be used for DBN and Blücher). The range is comprehensive and Marco told me that more is to come. I’m especially keen on the baggage wagons he has promised.

I guess you can see the pieces falling into place! I fired up my 3D printer and made some test figures. It still amazes me that nice looking figures come out of this cheap machine – it feels like living in a sci-fi world… 

Austrian Landwehr, with a hodge-podge of others behind.

My painting approach is very basic. I’m glad I did 2mm figures some time ago, so the whole “paint as a unit, not as individuals”-approach is nothing new to me and is made even easier by the strips. The figures are quite detailed and with more patience and time, one could certainly get more out of them. However, I want to get them on the table soon and I also have some terrain to make, so I’m restricting painting to the basics. Let’s see how they look when properly based.

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18 thoughts on “New Side Project – 6mm Napoleonics

  1. daggerandbrush January 18, 2022 / 9:08 pm

    Looks like a good start. I usually don’t go for big battles either, at least in 28mm. I just don’t have the time anymore to paint a pile of minis. That siad, I really want to get into 12mm Spanish War of Succession, using Van Dyk Minis. So a similar approach to your endeavours, but twice the size. I hope I won’t regret it.

  2. Mikko January 19, 2022 / 12:36 am

    Wow, those 6mm prints look great! Glad to see you’ve got the machine in good working order 🙂

    • Thomas Brandstetter January 19, 2022 / 9:21 am

      Thanks Mikko! Yes, I’m very happy with the printer.

  3. Pete S/ SP January 19, 2022 / 2:01 am

    Very nice- 6mm is a great scale to get the grand sweep of battles in.

    The print are great too.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  4. Jeff January 20, 2022 / 4:59 pm

    Came via your tweet about this project, as I had just been listening to an episode of the God’s Own Scale podcast about 3D printing 6-15mm figures. Is it a resin type printer you’re using? Looks very nice.

    • Thomas Brandstetter January 20, 2022 / 5:05 pm

      Thank you. Yes, it’s a resin printer, an AnyCubic Photon. It has a small bed, but works perfectly fine for small figures and buildings.

  5. James Fisher January 23, 2022 / 3:49 am

    These look really good and will be perfect for the mass effect that you want to achieve. I shall follow your progress with much interest.
    Regards, James

  6. horrid March 11, 2022 / 2:50 am

    Those look wonderful. One of my side projects is painting French at 28mm (I love Perry figures). I guess that because I’m a painter first I’ve traditionally given small figures (15mm<) a wide berth (Unless we're talking ships, or giant robots). I have realized that scaling down is the only way I will ever be able to play a grand battle so I have have been trying to broaden (or minimize) my horizons. I would like to game the Peninsular War, but I'm also tempted by Imagi-Nations. My first project in that department is likely to be set in a 20th century analog, built around a red team vs. blue team scenario. I had been looking at 3 and 6mm Pico Armour pieces as I thought about larger battles. You definitely have me considering 3d printing again. I've been on again, off again close to committing for a couple years now.

    • Thomas Brandstetter March 11, 2022 / 8:23 am

      Thank you! 3D-printing has its advantages, but with a resin printer it’s also messy and smelly, so if you don’t have a room where you can set the printer up, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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