Shrinking down your tabletop wargames

One of the things that has always struck me about the tabletop miniatures wargaming hobby (which I love) is how ridiculously intimidating (and expensive) it can be to first get into (and to keep up with).

I remember buying all the models I needed to build my first Warhammer 40,000 Eldar army in the late 90s. It was 2,000 points of in-game value and it cost me hundreds of dollars. I had a giant mound of boxes and blister packs before me containing 32 Eldar guardians, a squad of Warp Spiders, Dark Reapers, Snipers, a jet bike squad, two grav platforms, and a grav tank. And that was just my army. There was still a battleboard and terrain and buildings to make (or buy and paint). After many nights of cutting out, gluing, and painting just the 32 guardians, I wondered what the hell I'd gotten myself into! This felt more like work than relaxing fun.

Several years ago, I got the wonderful game (now sadly history), All Quiet on the Martian Front, via a Kickstarter. It was the first 15mm mini game I'd owned and I found that I loved painting these units over the larger 25mm WH40K miniatures (currently the most popular scale for miniature sci-fi and fantasy games). I could paints many stands of troops in an evening.

In the past five years or so, skirmish games (using small squads of ten or so 25mm minis) have become all the rage because of the more reasonable time, expensive, and modeling/painting effort. But for many who loved games of large armies, like Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40K, and Kings of War, they began to miss these mass battle games.

Enter 3D printers, especially the now-affordable resin printers. Now, gamers who've missed mass battle games can print, paint, and field stands of many troops with much less work. It's much cheaper (many files for 10mm and 15mm figures are free or reasonably priced), you can paint up an army in a few days, and you play on a much smaller battlefield.

Here is Luke of Geek Gaming Scenics. He spent just a few days printing and painting a mini Kings of War army and terrain elements using a resin printer (OK, several resin printers).

I would love to see a comeback of games like Epic 40,000 (which was 10mm) and 10mm Warmaster (which was to Warhammer Fantasy what Epic 40K was to Warhammer 40,000). While those games were cool, the tiny minis were hand sculpted and the details often suffered. But now with 3D design and resin printing…

I have a feeling that 10 and 15mm mini miniature wargames are going to be an emerging trend.

Image: Screengrab