Unlike some parts of the wargaming world, when you build a 15mm sci fi army you have a lot of freedom. Historical periods have set uniforms and force composition. Science Fiction, on the other hand, offers a great deal of freedom varying from the codex-based armies of the 40k universe to the more loosely envisioned worlds of GZG’s Tuffley-verse. With no predominant 15mm science fiction manufacturer (or vision of the future!) there is no pressure to buy from just one manufacturer and, if anything, different manufacturer’s 15mm ranges actually complement each other!
With 15mm sci fi you start with a blank slate. So where do you begin?
- Buying figures – I’m sure most of us have done it; we’ve seen some figures we think look really cool, decided we have to have them, and then wondered what to do with them when they arrive! I wonder what proportion of armies that start this way actually get painted? One of the great things about 15mm is that the chances of actually finishing an army rise drastically when you can paint an entire squad in an evening!
- Reading rules – Some people take a more methodical approach (I confess I’m not one of them), they read a rule set and decide they want to build an army for it. The shine can occasionally often wear off if your army doesn’t perform quite as expected, but this planned approach is great because it allows you to think about army composition and (hopefully) save some money by only buying what you need.
- Books, TV and films – Others take inspiration from a book they have read or from a film or TV show they have watched and build an army based on that background. Books like Starship Troopers, The Forever War and Hammer’s Slammers provide a wealth of inspiration; as do films like Aliens, Avatar and the Star Wars franchise and TV shows such as Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica. The wide (and growing) range of 15mm sci fi figures available means that it’s becoming increasingly easy to find suitable ‘proxies’ for your chosen universe.
- Other people’s armies – Now that there is a healthy and active interest in 15mm sci fi, a common source in inspiration is seeing pictures of other people’s 15mm sci fi armies. Who has not viewed a blog or online photo gallery and thought: “I want an army like that”? Even if you start by emulating someone else's army, as you build and paint your own force it will quickly take on an identity of its own, so don’t set the bar too high, the key is to get gaming!
- Your friends talked you into it – 15mm sci fi may only make up a very small percentage of the wargame hobby at the moment, but I’m guessing there are a few people out there who aren’t still trying to talk their buddies out of buying hugely overpriced 28mm science fiction miniatures!