Start Collecting Napoleonics Part 2: Small Scales

So you’ve seen the movie and now you know with absolute certainty where Napoleon went wrong. You can, and will, do better. It’s time to get into real wargaming. Welcome to Napoleonics.

This article is part of our Getting Started: Napoleonics guide.

In Part One of this Guide we covered building a 28mm force for the major Napoleonic nations on a £100 budget. 28mm is a popular scale for Napoleonics, but it’s not the only figure size out there. If you want mass battles, sweeping action that prioritises daring movement, cunning deployments, and artful use of reserves, you want to go smaller. At 15, 15-ish, 10, 6 and 3mm, tabletop battles look ever more Napoleonic, evoking Austerlitz, Essling, Waterloo and Marengo far more than 100 v 100 28mm skirmishes ever could.

As the size of your models shrinks, you’ll note that the budget required does as well. By the time you get to 3mm, the £100/$125 budget set last time ends up giving you several thousand (very small) miniatures. You want that, right? I mean, we all want that – but with smaller scales comes smaller buudgets.

In this guide we’ll recommend a manufacturer (or two) to check out for some of the major figure scales (others are available!) outline what you could get for a reasonable budget and suggest some games that work well with the ranges. Usually, the recommends will be from a single range – much more likely that your models scale to each other by sticking to one set, but branching out brings amazing variety and diversity and is well worth doing once you get started.

28, 13ish, 6 and 3mm Napoleonics


15mm is an extremely popular scale with Napoleonic wargaming veterans, and it’s possible there are more 15mm and adjacent Napoleonics out there than any other scale. It has much of the advantages of 28mm – clear detail, movement and dynamic posing – while lowering the painting, basing, and financial load. 15mm looks that bit grander on the tabletop, allowing you to put a little more strategy into your games and moves you away from statements like “these 20 men are the 3rd Line Regiment” into a grander space. The bounds of 15mm are a little fuzzy, and 18mm is another popular figure size – the above applies to both.

I don’t personally have a lot of experience with 15mm (I’m sorry, Grognards!) but I know some of the key sites from many hours of poring over web catalogues. Old Glory are firm, perennial favourites on the Napoleonic internet, with Essex Miniatures another staple of the scale. Other popular ranges include Alternative Armies, Campaign Game miniatures and Lancashire Games.

Prussian 15mm

A solid Army here using a range of different manufacturers and – unusually for me – a Prussian example! As 15mm is a very traditional scale for Napoleonics, I’m going to go down the traditional route with sourcing individual minis and different packs from different people. They might not all scale perfectly together, but neither does real life!

Old Glory

Musketeers – Advancing – £12
Grenadiers – Advancing – £12
Jaegers – Skirmishing – £12

Lancashire Miniatures

Reservist Infantry x 2 – £6.38
Reservist Command – £2.47

Essex Miniatures

Dragoon Cavalry and Command – £9
Cuirassiers and Command – £9

Alternative Armies

Prussian Hussar Command – £1.60
Prussian Hussars x10 – £6

Campaign Game Miniatures

6lb Foot Battery and Crew – €9.30
Command in Greatcoat – €4.90

Prussian Jaeger from Essex Miniatutes. Credit: Essex Miniatures

Here you’ve got solid blocks of line infantry and grenadiers – with enough command to make 2 battalions of each – with a very Prussian Jaeger screen and a Reservist contingent. Essex and Alternative make up our cavalry, with two big blocks of heavy Cavalry and one light. Campaign Game Miniatures Batallion pack gives a much needed artillery presence. It’ll look and feel as satisfying as a 28mm army, but at a fraction of the time needed to paint – all for under £80 too!

At 15mm, give Lasalle a go. I’ve not got a huge amount of experience with the system, but it’s quick, interesting, fun and feels Napoleonic. At 15mm you can get more units involved and the system copes well with going above and beyond what you can squeeze into a 28mm game.


Napoleonic British Line Battalion in Warlord Games’ “Epic” scale (around 15mm). Credit: Lupe

Releasing into the Napoleonic Wars-over-the-right-scale like a thunderbolt last year, Warlord Games made a major play for the small scale market with Epic Battles: Waterloo, a plastic and resin line of debatably 13mm Napoleonics. Epic Battles plays much like Black Powder, at a much better scale for the game than 28mm. Here at Goonhammer we tend to prefer 6mm for Black Powder, but it’s undeniable that the Epic Battle line looks great, and the massed ranks of plastic make for an impressively epic battle on a standard 6×4 table.

Warlord 13mm Army Sets

Picking up an army in the Epic Battles line is easy – Warlord have a number of starter sets that give you an absolutely enormous army you can get built in record time. The British, Prussian and French starters give you nearly 1000 Infantry each, in addition to solid cavalry and artillery contingents. Terrain and rules accompany the models, making these a really complete package.

Expanding out from the starter sets, Warlord have built up the range with boxes of plastic and resin reinforcements – the French have the entire Imperial Guard, the British have Highlanders and Cavalry and the unfortunate Prussians have the contents of the starter again!

These are undeniably good deals, but it’s a slightly awkward scale to work with – nearly all the detail of 15mm (even of 28mm!) but in numbers you’d only attempt over the course of years if not decades at larger scales. It’s a major time commitment – but if you’re determined to do it, it’s going to look amazing.


10mm starts to get into the scales where the games you’re playing substantially change. While you can play all sorts of rule sets with 10mm – Black Powder, Valour and Fortitude and Soldiers of Napoleon all play well at 10mm – the size difference is now enough that you can really scale out. What was once ostensibly a Battalion could now represent a regiment and games designed around 10mm move more into command and control territory, giving a different feel to your battles.

ESR Miniatures – French light and Neapolitan Line

There are two recommends for 10mm miniatures – Pendraken, popular masters of the scale, and ESR Miniatures. Both produce exceptional, highly detailed and highly characterful models at a 10mm scale, which prove just chunky enough to paint recognisable national detail but small (and well designed!) enough to make them a pleasure to paint. Which one you go for probably depends on which side of the pond you’re on – New World miniatures gamers may find it easier to pick up ESR, while in the Old World Pendraken are a slightly more available prospect.

Pendraken models are made for a more true-to-life figure scale, where you’re still thinking about 20-30 models per base, while ESR are less representative, with ten models to a base representing a regiment. You can see our reviews of the French and Russian ESR Corps packs for ESR here.

ESR French Corps Pack

The ESR Corps packs give you a full army right out of the box, and can be bolstered by Pendraken to give you additional army options. For $99/£96 they’re a good deal for everything you need to play ESR (except the rules!), including bases and stat cards, and provide a ready to go French/Russian army for the Mid War period.

1 Général de Division with additional Staff
3 Sub-commanders (Brigade and Division Commanders)
3 Wagons/Cassions
6 Light Infantry Battalions
18 Line infantry Battalions
2 Foot artillery with horse train
2 Horse artillery with horse train
4 Line Cavalry squadrons
2 Sapper units

If I was going to expand this with Pendraken – and I will, christmas is not far away! I’d pick up more cavalry, going with Lancers or Carabiniers for the exuse to paint up some different colours!

ESR Miniatures – Cantiniere’s Wagon

For 10mm gaming, I’m going to recommend trying out Et Sans Resultat, almost entirely because the more people that play it, the more games I’m likely to have!


There’s a reason 6mm is commonly referred to in the Goonhammer Historicals team as the “King of scales”. Models are large enough to be immediately identifiable, but still small enough to put hundreds if not thousands onto a reasonably sized table. Models at this scale are quick to paint, losing much of the fiddliest detail of Napoleonics without losing any of the character. 6mm games involve lots of movement, positioning and planning, involving multiple battalions, mass batteries and wheeling cavalry. Most games that are scale-agnostic work very well at 6mm, and in particular Black Powder probably plays best at this scale.

Ayti Cherie! A 6mm Haitian army. Baccus 6mm

There are a couple of major 6mm manufacturers worth checking out – Irregular Miniatures has a very popular line with a lot of movement, Heroics and Ros are wonderful and Grumbler Miniatures are pushing the limits of what 6mm can do with exceptional detail. It’s also a popular scale for terrain, with wide ranges of resin terrain – Battlescale are a great example. For this recommend though, we’re going to go with an old favourite – Baccus 6mm.

Baccus produce fantastic, accessible and widely varied 6mm models for a number of periods, but their Napoleonic offering is among their best. They’re fantastic miniatures but mainly we’ll recommend them because of their accessibility – the online shop works (not always a given in historicals!) and they’ve packaged up their offerings in easy-to-recommend bundles. The Baccus Army Packs are a great deal – a substantial Napoleonic army in 6mm for under £50.

Baccus Army Pack - French Army Pack 1806-1812

10 Units of Foot, each of 24 figures
4 Units of Cuirassiers, each of 9 figures
4 Units of Dragoons, each of 9 figures
2 Units of Hussars, each of 9 figures
2 Units of Chasseurs, each of 9 figures
4 Artillery pieces
3 Command strips

The French Army Pack. Credit: Baccus 6mm

If we use the French 1806-1812 pack as an example, you’re getting a massive army of Infantry backed by Heavy, Medium and Light cavalry and an artillery park. It’s everything you’ll need for your army and not just in starter games. You could conceivably stop here with a complete army, but once you’ve got some painted up you’ll want more – pick up some Grenadiers, Skirmishers and Lancers and you can play at tiny Napoleon to your hearts content.

The true Historicals experience is painting both sides to lure potential opponents into a period – if you’re thinking of this route pick up the Matched Pair French/British pack – two armies for £90!


3mm isn’t quite the smallest scale that anyone plays Napoleonics in, but its the smallest where your individual models are still distinct enough to have individual national identities. Beyond this, you’re into the world of appropriately coloured blocks – a depth of Napoleonic grognardism I sadly don’t have experience with. 3mm games are likely to play out major high-level engagements where a single base may represent a full Battalion (or several) or even a Regiment.

There’s only one place I’d recommend for 3mm – Oddzial Osmy. These are absolutely incredible models that really must be seen to be believed, with incredible, almost impossible detail. A painted and based set of Oddzial Osmy miniatures is an amazing sight, and there’s little else in (land) wargaming that gives you the God’s eye view like they do. Oddzial figures are variably available – depending on when you read this one of the most accessible ways to pick them up may be closed. A quick google should find sellers local to you – Pico Armour if you’re in the US and Magister Militum in the UK.

3mm French from Oddzial Ozmy

As at this scale many nations troops end up being relatively interchangeable, we’ll give an example list rather than break it down nationally

Oddzial Osmy British Waterloo

All of the below have 15 strips of models – basing will determine how many units you get out of it, but mine are usually 6-8 strips to a large base.

British Line Command – £3
British Line Belgic Shako – x3 £9
Belgic Shako Skirmishers – £3
Artillery Crew – £3
British Artillery Crew – £3
Heavy Cavalry (Bearskins) – £3
Chasseurs a Cheval (use for Hussars) – £3
Command Figures – £3

With the above you have enough line infantry for ten Blucher-style bases, three rifles, an astonishing 15 cannon (why not, eh?), 3 Heavy and 3 Light cavalry, with Command figures for senior leaders and to sprinkle through your line bases to represent less prominent officers – at this scale still a General or a Major! – and all for £30.

You can expand with Horse trains for Horse artillery, Wagons, Allied Prussians, more cavalry, infantry or light infantry – anywhere you want, really!

For 3mm gaming, try Blucher. It’s fast, strategic, tactical and interesting. Blucher is one of those all-popular systems, and while its a rare group of Napoleonic fans who can agree on what “the best” rule set is, everyone who’s played it at least enjoys Blucher. You can play it with cards, but it looks exceptionally good on the table with 3mm miniatures. When you try it, and love it, try out the campaign system Scharnhorst with a regular opponent. You won’t be disappointed.

You can keep going smaller and smaller with Napoleonics until you’re playing hex and counter with Kreigspiel. But those games are another story for another time – get your tiny soldiers out and start playing!

Questions, comments, suggestions, can’t believe we left your favourite range out of the discussion?, or leave a comment below.