Monday, 28 November 2011

15mm RPG Skirmish Games

I’ve read quite a bit recently about how 15mm sci fi is for massed battles of vehicles and infantry and 28mm is for skirmish games. With respect to those who hold this view, I think its rubbish.

Currently gamers can chose from some great rule sets such as: Laserburn, Blasters and Bulkeads, In The Emperor's Name, The Department, 5150 New Beginnings and AE Bounty; all of which RPG elements such as player controlled characters and scenario driven games play and table top wargame skirmish elements. And there’s also a rumour Ambush Alley Games maybe working on something as an add-on to Tomorrow’s War.

When we look at some of the first 15mm sci fi figures ever available, the Laserburn and Classic Traveller ranges of 15mm sci fi figures, we can see that 15mm sci fi figures produced were for small scale skirmish / RPG type games such as Laserburn (the predecessor to Rogue Trader edition of Warhammer 40K) and Traveller and it’s skirmish wargame counterpart Striker.

A common complaint is that there aren’t enough character models in 15mm. There are quite a lot of individual character models available in the ranges mentioned above but there are also loads available from Rebel, there's Khurasan's Heroes and Villains of the Sepulvedan Resistance and the DPLS Crew, there's GZG large range of civilians and colonists, ravagers and free trader crew, the excellent Critical Mass Games Mercs, to name but a few. I'm very slowly accumulating 15mm sci fi character models over on my own blog so I know the options are there!

That said, there’s plenty of room for new models with bags of character; there’s a notable lack of “force users” and “psychers” and there’s also a shortage of “evil masterminds” in the style of Ming the Merciless or Darth Vader and “heroic types” such as Commander Sheppard or Luke Skywalker who are suitable to represent RPG characters on the table top.

Of course, rather than waiting round for someone to sculpt and cast the model you’re looking for, you can always convert an existing figure. Some gamers may think that 15mm figures can’t be converted but there are quite a few examples of very heavily and very nicely converted 15mm sci fi figures. A little bit of green stuff can go a long way in 15mm but it does take a degree of modelling skill. Fortunately this is something you can pick up with a bit of practice and a degree of perseverance.

Probably the simplest conversion is a head swap. Just look at all the 15mm heads available from Peter Pig for head swaps! And don't forget GZG’s conversion heads and also Astro Miniatures offerings. Perhaps in a future article we’ll take a more detailed look at converting a few different 15mm sci fi figures.

Small scale skirmish gaming is great in 15mm for all the reasons that gaming in 15mm is great. As I’ve said before; 15mm allows you to build forces that don’t take an age to paint and you won’t have to mortgage your home to fund your obsession, or build an extension in order to house it!

What do you think about 15mm sci fi wargaming; are you into gaming massed planetary assaults on rebellious colony worlds, or shoot outs between rival gangs on the mean streets of the far future? I think 15mm sci fi wargaming has room enough for both, and everything in between!


  1. Some Galatic Knights for use with Blasters and Bulkheads are on the way out from Blue Moon. I don't remember the projected date or where I asked, so soon is the release date I can remember.

  2. Some people claim that 15mm figures are too small to use for skirmish gaming. Tis might be true if you use them on your 8x4' table and atnd 3' away. If you play seated at a table, a 2x2 board full of 15mm figures is just fine, plus you can reach most parts of the battlefield.

    The best reason for me isn't even the figures and their incredibly low price/painting time compared to 28mm.. It's the terrain building and storage is so much easier and smaller.

  3. @ Evyn: According to Scott over at Four-Color Figures they'll hopefully be available by January.

  4. Re SpaceJacker: Amen! Plus with a 2x2 board I use a small turntable and can reach anywhere on the battlefield w/o getting up!

  5. I first took up 15mm thinking it would work better for 40k-sized games than 40k does. But my most enjoyable 15mm experiences have been playing smaller skirmishes. With only a little bit of effort and money, I have a spaceport full of civilian bystanders, buildings, and even a few usable spaceships. In 28mm that would have taken me years to paint and build, and who knows how much money I would have spent.

    @Jay - I'm stealing that idea! I've found myself manually turning my table a few times lately.

  6. I was thinking too to use 15mm for mass battles and 28mm for skirmish (does not seems to be that crazy idea, looks quite rational...) but since I found I love THW games, I noted Ed randomizes a lot the kind and number of figures involved in a game... that drove me to start skirmishes in 15mm: if a Possible Enemy Force is discovered to be "three times your number of figures" and I have a 10 men squad, 15mm is the only solution to play and still eat!! :)
    and... you're right, there's a nice selection of characters also in 15mm!!

  7. Matt,

    I wish I'd have had my current batch of conversions ready for this article. I am currently working on converting a bunch of extras from the load I got from my SHM submissions. These are all conversions off of my first lot of Scifi Alien Civillians.

    I just took some pics of the WIP last night and should be posting them to my blog ( tonight.


  8. I think that the 15mm RPG market is primed to explode. The free and open exchange of multiple figs and rulesets is a wonderful thing. I look forward to many many more personality/character sculpts coming out in this scale.