Saturday, 15 August 2015

15mm Sci Fi - Task Force Weasel

I actually painted my first 15mm sci fi in years (I overdosed on playing/testing 15mm hard sci fi platoon games - of which there are 10 zillion rulesets) so I thought I'd share.

I named the platoon in honour of Nordic Weasel Games, whose sci fi game Clash on the Fringe inspired me to rummage through my 15mm collection...

15mm is Love, 15mm is Life
It only took two hours to paint everything (probably less if my toddler didn't insist on "helping" me) and reminded me of why I like 15mm so much;

(a) infantry are still just big enough to matter
(b) vehicles look great and are very affordable
(c) super easy, fast to paint
(d) easy to store; terrain is easy to store; small space requirements (4x4' table max)

Whilst 28mm still is nicer overall, 15mm strikes a great balance between affordability, storage, and shiny.  If you have vehicles in any number, 15mm is definitely the way to go.  For example, Bolt Action would be very cheap in 15mm.  And if you are moving soldiers by squad (i.e. in groups, regardless of basing) then there is little point in spending all that extra effort painting every belt buckle on a 28mm model - they're just glorified hit markers, after all. 

28mm looks better. No dispute  But unless you have acres of gaming room, a generous budget and copious spare painting time - 15mm is just more practical on every level, especially if vehicles are involved. 
The troop colour scheme was a test run for doing 15mm US Moderns - i.e. do I need to bother with fiddly camo patterns or not.  For 15mm, at tabletop ranges, it's evident you don't need to bother.

The beauty of 15mm is that you can use minis from all ranges without anyone caring.  The infantry are GZG, the APCs are Antenociti and the mecha are Rebel Minis. 

When painting vehicles, I tend to basecoat, wash, then paint any flat upper surfaces with the base again.  This is not the same as highlighting edges like you might do with infantry minis.  It looks a little dodgy up close (click on the photo to see what I'm talking about), but works well at tabletop ranges.  And it's really fast and easy.

While I cannot abide unpainted minis, I'm a member of the "tabletop standard is good enough" school of painting.  That said, I can make a few 15mm recommendations, thanks to stuff-ups I've made in the past....
#1 - Use light colours (much lighter than 28mm equivalents);
#2 - don't use too many colours/paint every detail (it makes the model look too "busy" and you can't make out fine detail anyway unless you are holding it six inches from your face);
#3  - make any detail colours very bold/contrasting so you can see them.

15mm is very affordable - a complete mechanized platoon costs around $50-60.  Only two hours to paint an army? Yes please.

Due to family being sick, my Infinity project is on hold. I think next up is some of the awesome Perry plastics for my homebrew "Middleheim" rules....


  1. I like your vehicles.
    I wish your family gets better.
    I look forward to those Middleheim rules

    1. The family is recovered enough to hassle me. Especially my 2-year old.
      She's going to be a hobby asset though; she was putting minis into slotta bases for me last night, and she applies my washes when allowed....

      I've a few home-brew rules I constantly fiddle with; aeronef (flying battleships); submarine fighters (think PT boats), space (delta-V). Basically areas where rules are non-existent or bad enough to make me be bothered.

      Lately I'm simplifying Infinity to be a core system for modern pulp; and I'm been concocting a fantasy skirmish based on two blog posts (as Frostgrave is a great idea but the gameplay doesn't grab me...)

      I doubt they will ever be finished enough for me to upload them for the wider world, but if you ever want to have an experiment with them, email me. Just bear in mind I am the only play tester and critic :-/

  2. Lovely job Mick - they look the bomb.

    Heartily agree with you with the 28mm vs 15mm thoughts. I want 28mm where I can (e.g. SAGA) but for anything over a Platoon our with more than 2-3 vehicles 15mm is the way to go. Unfortunately, I have oscillated through a range of scale over the years (as I suspect many have) as you can see here:

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery for all

    1. I have primarily 28mm and 15mm, but do have some 6mm sci fi, and am leaning towards 6mm modern/WW2 tanks, for my proposed "Mordhiem-with-tanks" campaign. I like the idea of upgrading crews a la Mech Assault. (a dated but great Mechwarrior game).

      But I now have Heavy Gear 10mm - which is such a ripoff for vehicles I'm considering using smaller 15mm stuff for APCs/tanks...

  3. Very nice and impressive speed painting. I totally agree with what you wrote: While every now and then Im tempted with (and sometimes even buy) 28mm, I actually lack the time to paint them as well as the storage needed.

    Another thing I learned to love about 15mm is not only cheap vehicles (and fantasy Monsters btw!), but also much better scaled terrain. In fact, I use many pieces I originally built/purchased for my 28mm collection and now that I put smaller models next to them they look much better.

    When was the last time you visited a church where the central door was as high as an average man in combat position - ah yes that was this small French village with the constant Bolt Action battles.

    1. Even the rules scale better; i.e. the "standard" 24" rifle range isn't so ridiculous with 15mm troops. And 2" coherency range doesn't look like they're holding hands.

    2. Indeed. Though I started playing 15mm by converting inches into centimeters, I nowadays often simply use the 28mm ranges. Also movement looks much better now (like all those bikes, buggies and jeeps which in 28mm used to "run" across the tabletop with like 8mph).

  4. Appreciate the naming honours! :)

    15mm is indeed a wonderful scale. Big enough to skirmish and have some really characterful figures, small enough to actually fit on a gaming table of reasonable size.

    An extra bonus is that 28mm ranges can be pillaged for large monsters, robots, walkers etc.
    This can work elsewhere too: I have some old Heavy Gear figures that are perfect as support robots for 15mm infantry. They're about twice the height of a foot soldier, which looks great.

    On the painting front, the smaller the figures get, the brighter the colours should be. Otherwise, they become indistinct grey blobs.

    1. On the painting front, the smaller the figures get, the brighter the colours should be. Otherwise, they become indistinct grey blobs.

      Yeah, I tend to be very drab/subdued in my 28mm colours. A few early armies quickly led me to

      Rule #1 - Use light colours (much lighter than 28mm equivalents);

  5. Indeed! That is one of the biggest advantages. And not only can 28mm orcs & demons make great ogres, giants and demonlords, but also 28mm familars can be easily turned into 15mm demons and heroes!

  6. Scratchbuilding terrain in 15mm is a doddle, too.

  7. Slowly your blog is convincing me to dabble in some 15mm Sci Fi. I have to look at terrain, although I expect much of my aquarium foliage can be used in any scale.

    1. It's cheap enough to "dabble" ~$50 gets you a mechanized platoon worth. And there are truckloads of hard sci fi platoon rules to choose from - most are rather good. Tomorrow's War for "ultra realistic", Clash on the Fringe for more "space fantasy" are probably my top suggestions. Gruntz is well produced but uses the somewhat clunky Warmachine engine.

      If you're playing platoon+, 15mm is far superior to 28mm.

      Terrain is (a) easy to scratch build and (b) cheap to buy - but even better is storage. A full table worth fits into a small tidy tray.