6mm, Medieval

A 6mm Crusades Project

Crusades is one of those periods I keep coming back to. Most recently I did it in 15mm, but now it’s become the latest period I’ve decided to convert to 6mm. I started out with 6mm a few years ago as a way to get a lot of figures painted quickly, then with Napoleonics. So I did 24-figure units on 60mm bases for use with ‘Blucher’ rules. That was essentially a cut-down 15mm project, with the same number of figures for units just on smaller bases. A few other 6mm projects later and nowadays I’m tending to use similar unit sizes in terms of footprint area as bigger scales but with the greater number of figures that 6mm allows. This time, the reason for abandoning 15mm in favour of 6mm is that I now think 6mm is a better scale for big battles than 15 or 28, you get units that look more like historical ones in terms of number of figures. Terrain is similarly more convincing, more houses in settlements, more trees in forest areas etc.

Normally for me, projects start with the history, then the figures and then the basing. Only after that do I start thinking about rules. In this case however, I already had an idea of the sets of rules I was likely to use, and they were all based around the ‘standard’ ancient/medieval element bases with variable unit sizes in terms of those elements. But nonetheless, basing would be an aesthetic choice rather than dictated by any ruleset.


I generally try to focus on relatively short periods within larger wargames ones, so for the Crusades I was going to concentrate on the period from the First Crusade through to Hattin. Initially I planned on starting with the Seljuk Turks and playing some intra-Seljuk battles and then move on to the First Crusaders. The politics among the emirs of the Seljuks around the time of the First Crusade are very interesting and very bloody. I don’t know anything about Game of Thrones, but take the most ruthless character out of that series and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t last a week in a Seljuk succession dispute. I’m going to focus on the rivalry between the wonderfully treacherous and ruthless Ridwan of Aleppo and his brother Duqaq of Damascus. Duqaq had narrowly escaped Aleppo when Ridwan came to power. In typical Seljuk fashion, Ridwan began his rule by murdering his brothers. After he killed the first two, Duqaq wisely departed tout de suite. He ended up as ruler of Damascus and the two brothers began a deadly feud.

^ The Seljuks


This was pretty simple, as is usually the case with ancient and medieval 6mm, it’s Baccus. Their First Crusade range is their Norman range, and like most other manufacturers, their other range is essentially Third Crusade. So later on there might be a need for a bit of conversion on some shields etc but with 6mm a lot of the changes in armour that occurs through the 12th century is going to be unnoticeable.

^ The First Crusaders. Banners are necessarily conjectural, but commander bases are Baldwin of Boulogne, Godfrey de Bouillon, Bohemond and Tancred.


Basing involved a lot of lining up of figures on various size bases to see what looked ‘right.’ 6mm lets you go beyond the ‘4 figures in a row’ kind of basing, you can have a lot more space in relative terms on the base. In the end I decided on 50mm frontages and mostly 30mm depth. This would mean I could do the spearmen 3 ranks deep, and fit around 10 heavy cavalry per base, enough for a decent number of figures in a unit, but not too many to slow the project down. The light horse archers inevitably come with one of the figures shooting backwards, so these bases ended up as 40mm deep to make bases of circling horse archers to accommodate these.

For the basing style I went onto Google maps and had a virtual look around the battlefield of Hattin to get a sense of the landscape. I decided to have most of the base covered with parched grass, with areas of rocks and occasional bushes. As usual the grass was 2mm Mininatur and put on with a static grass applicator.

^ The battlefield of Hattin



For some reason all these 6mm projects always seem to lead me to make some kind of town or village. This project will give me the chance to do something with Lazy Forger’s excellent 3D printed buildings. I’ll supplement them with some Leven buildings for churches and mosques. And there’s always the possibility of some castle walls for a siege assault game.

^ The excellent ‘Medina’ buildings from Lazy Forger.

^ Some of the Lazy Forger buildings painted, along with a Leven Byzantine church.

As usual I got sidetracked into making some terrain bits far too early in the project. First up is a farm on a 10cm base. A couple of Leven buildings with some additional stuff from Perfect Six, Baccus and Lazy Forger. Arab civilian types are in rather short supply, so some conversion is necessary. In 6mm that’s pretty straightforwardly done with some plastic putty and creative painting. As ever, it’s the overall effect that’s important in this scale. Which is not to say you can’t add some details, and civilians and the kind of clutter sold by Perfect Six is ideal for adding interest.

Also pictured is an oasis. Pretty straightforward using some ‘N’ gauge plastic palm trees from China. The water effect is achieved by some clear acetate sheet.

Lastly, a crusader camp. The tents are 3D prints from Lazy Forger designs. The base is 10cm x 20cm which is a pretty big relative area in 6mm, so various vignettes can be added to bring the scene to life.

^ Crusader camp with some infantry.


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