NOTE: I am in no way associated with any of the 6mm manufacturers mentioned in this article and advise that the amounts I calculated in this article are based on exchange rates as at 5/10/07 and delivery to my location here is Brisbane, Australia and could vary considerably for your own situation.
It is also based on using Empire V with mods rules which scales formations on a 1:60 ratio. I have expanded this to be a 1:30 ratio in order to create the Mass factor that I think is needed when creating 6mm and Napoleonic battles. This means a 12 figure battalion of 720 men becomes 24 figures.
The prices do not take into account obvious savings when purchasing any of the manufacturers Brigade, Division, Corps or Army packs.
Now where to begin?
Okay, the paper project is dropped altogether. While it was cheap and easy to create all the armies I would ever need, they just look sooooo bad! I even toyed with the idea of using balsa blocks like some of the new boardgame wargames coming out. Blue blocks for French, Red for British and so on.
So I went back to my 6mm miniatures collections. I have a few Adler, Baccus, Heroics & Ross, and Irregular.
What the factors to consider when evaluating the various manufacturers?
Rules: The men to figure ratio as required by the rules
Cost: Price per unit to purchase + Price per unit to paint if outsourcing
Time: Time and effort needed to prepare, paint and base the figures
Comfort: The Mass factor and overall 'feel' the armies make on the tabletop
In the opening remarks I mentioned that I use a set of Empire V rules with a number of modifications made from years of exposure to other players, memoirs and historical writings. These rules require a ratio of 1 figure for every 60 men. This means an infantry battalion of 720 men would be represented by 12 figures. This may be okay for 15mm gaming but the whole idea of 6mm is to get huge armies in battle. I decided to double this to make the ratio 1:30.
COST & TIME:
inf = $0.14 per; 1 x 24 figure battalion = $3.36
cav = $0.31 per; 1 x 16 figure regiment = $4.96
art = $1.69 per; 1 x 4 gun battery = $6.76
inf = $0.13 per; 1 x 24 figure battalion = $3.12
cav = $0.33 per; 1 x 16 figure regiment = $5.28
art = $1.54 per; 1 x 4 gun battery = $6.16
inf = $0.17 per; 1 x 24 figure battalion = $4.08
cav = $0.41 per; 1 x 16 figure regiment = $6.56
art = $2.70 per; 1 x 4 gun battery = $10.80
inf = $0.12 per; 1 x 24 figure battalion = $2.88
cav = $0.35 per; 1 x 16 figure regiment = $5.60
art = $2.78 per; 1 x 4 gun battery = $11.12
Cheapest Infantry is Irregular at $0.12 per man
Cheapest Cavalry is Adler at $0.31 per horse
Cheapest Artillery is Baccus at $1.54 per gun and team
Cheapest Infantry Battalion with 6 companies of 4 (24) is Irregular at $2.88
Cheapest Cavalry Regiment with 4 squadrons or 4 (16) is Adler at $4.96
Cheapest Artillery Battery with 4 guns, crew and limbers is Baccus at $6.16
Based on these pricings, I would build an army with Irregular Infantry, Adler Cavalry and Baccus Artillery. Anyone who has done any research at all into 6mm manufacturers knows all too well that while Adler and Baccus may gell together okay between arms, Irregular will stand out like a sore thumb. And anyhow, what about all the painting that needs to be done. And I don't just mean a quick once over with a few colours. Both Adler and Baccus deserve great paint jobs.
And I hate painting!
So. If we take another look at Irregular:
(purely because they make bigger battalions being 6 man stands, and they are already based quite well, thereby saving a lot of time. The cavalry are also prebased 4 to a stand.)
Infantry Battalions of 6 stands of 4 or 24 figures would be $2.88 with $0.12 per man. The best of the Infantry prices per man! However, they don't come per man. They come in stands cast with 6 men.
So Infantry Battalions of 6 stands of 6 men or 36 men are $4.20 where Adler would be $5.04, Baccus $4.68 and H&R $6.12.
Cavalry Regiments are $5.56
Artillery Batteries are $11.12
This is a major problem when looking at the cost of compiling such large armies.
COMFORT - THE MASS FACTOR:
Let's take a look at the actual figures:
Comparison of Adler and Irregular French Line Battalions
The basing in the above picture is based on the Empire V rules and compared with Mark Aikin's recent release "The Waterloo Companion". Immediately it becomes apparent that Irregular uses twice the figures to get the same unit widths. What does mean? A little bit of Mass!!!! Yay! An infantry battalion in line looks a little better. A cavalry regiment looks a little better. An artillery battery looks way better.
So now we have to balance out not only the Cost and the Time needed to prepare, paint and base, but also the Comfort factor - the Mass look and feel on the tabletop.
And mass is why we turned to 6mm anyway!
So, advantages are now starting to turn towards Irregular. Don't get me wrong. I love the Adler miniatures. I have thousands of them. They look fantastic. I also love the Baccus miniatures. I became aware of Baccus long after my Alder collection had begun and I have a lot of respect for Peter Berry and the 6mm fight he fights.
So what are the advantages Irregular are now showing?
1. They are quicker and easier to paint and based ready for battle
2. They actually look 6mm and are cast nice and close together enabling a better Mass factor
3. The basing used actually is very close to the basing I need for Empire V with a little tweaking
4. They end up to be cheaper than the others when using the 100 strips pack, and when compared to buying 36 figure battalions
Judging the Cost issue based on price alone will not work. Size and the Mass effect will force themselves into the assessment.
So, based on fact that I can't use all 3, and that the Mass factor is a significant factor, I should lean towards Irregular for the lot! Wow! I was not expecting this. Thank the stars I didn't sell all that Irregular I collected during my earlier years of Napoleonic wargaming.
Well, that's it. All done.
Feel free to add any suggestions or comments to this posting. I'd love to hear of others' experiences for similar projects.
Stay tuned for the 6mm IRREGULAR Napoleonics Solo Campaign to come!
David - Ace