Question: for FMG or HBG Micro Generics


  • 2019 '15 '14

    Is something like this possible…?

    Micro Sculpts! generic extra tiny sculpts (following the basic types of a WWII game like Classic, 1942.2, or similar unit rosters) ideally in the following colors:

    Red
    Gray
    Tan
    Yellow
    Green
    White
    Black
    Blue

    Generic roundel flag markers in those same solid colors.
    Generic roundel number markers (values 1-12)
    Battle Bucks

    These could be used with any existing gameboard, or with generic printable game-boards. Or perhaps with newly drawn world projection maps, but featuring the same (essentially familiar) game building components.

    No rules. No manual. No real game. Just a generic issue on the sculpts and markers in one special package. Maybe some generic sample map, with limited markings, that you can print and “build out” using the micro sculpts and simple tools (like a sharpie marker). Would something like that be workable for an independent release?

    I think that would be the coolest thing ever, since it would be like a core toolset!

    I’m very very interested in micro sculpts. I think micro sculpts could be sold in a “build your own game” style package, that many people here might enjoy. It could be used to model favorite games from the past, or create new ones with the same core building blocks. This is at the top of my wish list, and something that I think might be a strong seller. Basically like legos or constructs, except for Area games. Something that came as a packaged starter set. 8 basic unit sets in the colors listed above, in the same starter set box, that would be awesome.

    A project like this, once established could be expanded. A generic micro sculpt “game builder” set, the generic aspect is the key. If grouped by basic colors, you could use the same sets of units for many different potential set ups and games. They could be used in conjunction with other pre-existing game materials, or independently, in a build your own adventure type game. I would happily pay about as much for a strong set of basic builders units, as I would for a separate, boxed and fully fleshed out game. I keep looking around for sites that sell sculpt sets like that. Large combined sets, generic by color, at the micro-scale. But I haven’t found what I am looking for. Perhaps you guys could make it for me? 🙂



  • its called www.shapeways.com


  • 2019 '15 '14

    Ok that is the best thing I’ve seen in a while 😃

    I could sense the potential renaissance for table top micro stuff on the horizon with 3d printing, but didn’t realize it was already basically available!

    So it seems A&A standards are at like 1:900 air 1:1800/2400 ships, inf 1:72 or thereabouts and other equipment somewhere in between? Is there a popular micro scale?

    My preference on painting would be simple generic by color, smaller than A&A standard by say 25% or 33% across the board for all types. I wonder how much it would cost to build out a generic set for 8 basic colors. Say 10 core unit types per (with10 advanced options for each type as an expansion)

    Infantry
    Artillery
    Tank
    Fighter
    Bomber
    Transport
    Sub
    Destroyer
    Carrier
    Battleship

    And then an advanced version or variant version of each of these types featuring a different sculpt for potential expansion sets (to double the totals option.) So special forces inf, mech, heavy tank, Tac, Cruiser etc. Or tech variants for the basics. But in the core set…

    Inf 60
    Art 30
    Tanks 30
    Fighter 20
    Bomber 20
    Transport 21
    Sub 21
    Destroyer 21
    Carrier 10
    Battleship 10

    243 total units per generic color at the micro scale. Multiplied by 8 basic colors for 1944 pieces total in a micro starter set!

    That would be rad, beyond rad!

    Ps. Later a supplement set with 8 additional colors could be made available, for another 1,944 units. Providing 16 total factions, more than enough to do any game in Micro!

    Right now the cost is likely prohibitive,  but this could change fairly soon, as 3d personal printers become cheaper and more widely available.  And once pigment printing replaces the painting requirements, since that seems to be the most involved part in terms of labor. On a 3 or 5 year plan though, maybe Micro will be just the thing and in reach financially. This stuff gets me excited



  • Yes, I bought the Landing craft sets for my D day game. Less than 40 pieces and it cost me as much as an A&A game. It was delivered by UPS, and since I was not home, the total cost would finally reach what I paid for A&A Europe and Pacific together. On top of that, I had to buy paint.

    It didn’t come cheap, but now I got some cool Landing Craft pieces for my D-day game that my friends don’t have.


  • Customizer

    Here are some rough scales for A&A units:
    Infantry = 1/72 or maybe just a little smaller.
    Tanks and vehicles = 1/285
    Aircraft = Fighters are bigger than 1/700, I think they are about 1/600 scale. Tactical Bombers are about the same. Strategic Bombers are a smaller scale, but I’m not sure what it is.
    Ships = Varies from capital ships to the smaller vessels. Battleships and Carriers are smaller than 1/2400. It’s closer to 1/3000 or maybe even 1/3500. I’m not sure about the smaller vessels but they are bigger in scale. If Destroyers and Submarines were at the same scale as the Battleships, we would barely be able to see them, much less play with them on the board.

    In general, this would be right however there is some variance in the tanks. For A&A, all nation tanks are roughly the same size. However, the tanks represented vary greatly in size. The German Panther tanks is quite a bit bigger than the US Sherman or Russian T-34. The Japanese Type 95 is downright tiny for a tank. If it were the same scale as the Panther, it would probably be the same size as one of the Mechanized Infantry pieces.
    However, it occurs to me that you want to make a set of more generic units, so the different tank types wouldn’t hinder you. I think 1/285 would be a good scale to use in that case.


  • 2019 '15 '14

    Thanks knp! This is all good information to have at the ready.

    I should say, I am not opposed to national sculpts on principle, if the right sculpts are selected. I think you could still make a functional game at the micro scale with Nationals. But at the same time, I do think Generics are optimal for gameplay ease of use. This is something I learned very early on back in like 2004 when we were making Revised for TripleA and deciding which type of unit graphics to use. Many many different graphic types were suggested. Including standard Generics, Generics by side, Nationals differentiated by color, Nationals with realistic colors but differentiated by a flag marker, and various combinations along those lines. Orientation likewise was an important factor. In that case I always did and still favor a left/right orientation by side, but that issue is less relevant here since everything is 3d and can be positioned in any direction. But back to the nationals vs generic aspect on the physical board…

    One thing we noticed right away was that, when players opened a new game with Nationals, confusion almost always resulted and the grab-and-go gameplay immediately suffered as players had difficulty “comparing units.” Even if they knew what all their own units were supposed to look like, they had difficulty recognizing which of the opponent’s units paired up against their own 1:1 (even with units differentiated by flags, the issue persisted.) In tripleA this had to do with the way the purchase screen unit images, at the time, were not available for everyone to view, only to the player controlling the specific nation. This is similar in its way to a Face-to-Face multi, where players are typically familiar with their own units/set up cards, but not necessarily familiar with those of the opponents, especially if it is a new board. This was not the case with every unit, but it was definitely the case with Ships.

    To me this indicates that certain unit types benefit from being Generic, whereas others are more flexible. For example, we have seen a marked preference for National units with Infantry, Fighters, and Tanks. This is likely because such units are seen to be especially Iconic.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum, Warships done National were particularly likely to be confused for each other. Especially those which looked markedly distinct from other units of the same or similar types of other nations.

    This all leads me to think that the best would be a hybrid system, where some units (all ships) are generic, whereas others can feature national flare. But I do think the problem is compounded when the roster is made more complex. For example, Infantry are well suited to National distinction so long as they are the only type of infantry. But if Marines or Paratroopers are introduced and also made Nationally distinct (especially if they are on the field at the outset) then you end up with players confusing 1 type for another. Similarly the more air or tank types you have, the more they are likely to be confused for one another, if a generic scheme is not adopted.

    At the very least, I favor Generics by side for ships. Tanks have not proved particularly confusing if done National, unless you are playing a game with multiple Tank types, in which case I definitely favor at least generic by size. Despite the fact that, as you noted, the real tanks varied wildly in size, it just makes at a glance recognition much easier. Still a lot of this has to do with how many unit types are in the roster.

    Generic by side (as in the 1941 game) seems fairly reasonable, if you wanted to find a middle ground, at least as far as ships go.



  • Black Elk, I see your point. But this can be solved. When you play A&A Revised or 42 online at GameTableOnline, and you are confused what icon you see, just point your mouse at the icon and text will come up, like (Destroyer) etc…


  • 2019 '15 '14

    Well tripleA now offers similar solutions to the one you mentioned at GTO. I was referencing the situation a decade ago when we were porting revised, since I think it illustrated a more general confusion that can enter into things in Face to Face games on the physical board. When you go full national. The analogy in this case would be “well you can always open the manual to check the unit silhouettes” but by the time you get to that point, it’s a strong indication that there is unit confusion at a glance. So I guess my point would be that for certain units, ships especially,  I favor generics for simplicity, at least with certain units. 🙂

    To me the critical factor is how many basic unit types there are in a particular category of unit. So Nationals for infantry are fine because there is only 1 type of basic unit in the category (but might be confusing if there were say national sculpts for marines and paratroopers that they could be confused with.) For Ships you have 6 basic unit types in the category. That’s why Nationals work well with infantry (there is no comparable unit to confuse it with),  but generics work much better for ships (since there are so many different units in the naval category.) Does that make sense?

    Basically I think there is a ‘sweet spot’ somewhere between all generic and all National, but if I had to choose just one I would default to generic for simplicity.


  • Customizer

    Black_Elk,
    I think I am understanding what you are saying. At the A&A scale, a lot of the ships can get confusing, especially cruisers and destroyers. We have had confusion at times because in some cases, the cruisers and destroyers are nearly the same size. With some of the older nation sets like UK, USA, Japan, Germany and Russia, the destroyers were squared off in the aft section while the cruisers were not. However, with the new ANZAC and Italian units in 2nd edition, the destroyers are no longer squared off and it can be a little difficult to tell them apart at a glance.
    Therefore, it would be a good idea to have rather generic ships where all battleships were one size, all cruisers were one size, all destroyers were one size, etc. so you could tell them apart with just a glance.
    You mentioned using different types of tanks (heavy, medium, light) and perhaps having all units on each side have the same units like in 1941. I imagine you would use Germany for the tanks and Italy and Japan would simply have German tanks so they could be easily recognizable. For heavy tanks, the Tiger, medium tanks could be Panzer III or Panzer IV and light tanks would be the Panzer II. There is plenty of size difference between those models so recognizing which type of tank you had on the board should be no problem.
    As for the Allied tanks, I would imagine for heavy tanks you would use the Soviet IS-2 or KV-2, medium tanks US Sherman and light tanks US Stuart.

    Frankly, I think if you plan to go totally generic, or even use a national model but all for one side with the ships, you should do that for all units so there is continuity throughout the whole set.


  • 2019 '15 '14

    It makes sense, to me at least.

    Also from a collecting standpoint, I think even a good set of Generics or Generics by side can be desirable. It was rather novel for example in 1941 how the sets were done, because many people have uses for certain units in certain colors which might not come standard in other national sets. For special forces units, or a lend lease feel, or to include minor nations somewhere. In the same way that some people enjoy getting their hands on Lime Green Brits, or the nice cool Grey germans from Revised, because they have a color scheme that works for whatever purpose; similarly, the units from 1941, because they are generics, could potentially be included in other scenarios.  Basically 41 gives you an incentive to pick it up just to grab a few of those special units for the arsenal in a nice color spread. The Japanese Tigers for example, or the nice Warhawks.

    What you are discussing with ships is exactly on point. The sort of confusion that arises between cruisers destroyers and the like, because of the shapes/sizes used by different nations for the same basic type. I think you could do a lot just with size on the length dimension.

    If for example all destroyers were exactly the same length, and there was a reasonable spread between the length of the types. For example, start with the cheapest combat capable units and develop some exact ratio that is consistent for all nations.

    So, using normal A&A size units, maybe something like…

    Subs are 1 inch
    Destroyers 1 inch and a third
    Cruisers 1 inch and two thirds
    Carriers 2 inches
    Battleships 2 inches, since its fairly easy to distinguish between the carrier and battleship by shape.

    So the sub is the baseline (whatever its length is determined to be) and all other warships build off that.
    Sub x 1, x 1.333, x 1.666, x 2 etc to keep it all visually simple and immediately recognizable.

    Or in the case of micro, you could make the base sub length smaller by 25% or 33% or whatever seems to make it feel visibly more micro, when compared with the normal scale A&A. With the ships listed above, plugged into set length ratios by type, I think it would be pretty easy to tell them apart, whether generic or national in shape. I do agree, squared vs rounded is very important for differentiation of units (more than width in many cases) so I would try to use that to differentiate if I could. Likewise height features also help to differentiate units provided they are markedly different.

    That just leaves you with the Transport unit, which should be generic for all players, and (critically!) should be able to “seat” any land unit capable of being transported. In other words the ship should break relative scale to be more in line with the land units it transports rather than other ships. Because this requires a flat topped transport (no smoke stacks!) I would suggest a very different visual shape from the carrier deck. So elliptical transports and squared carriers for example. The transport should likewise have a well balanced and flat bottom so that it “slides” easily with units aboard, or stacks well atop a chip in the case of large unloaded transport stacks. The Transport unit is highly abstract to begin with, and so I think its sculpt should be more functional rather than decorative.

    Carriers, Transports, or any unit on which another unit can can be loaded or “parked”, should have a good center of gravity, flat bottom, and no wobble. Likewise, any unit which can rest on other units should have a good center of gravity and a flat bottom to minimize wobble while atop the other unit.

    It would be nice for example if units like Mech, or Artillery were designed to sit more snugly on top, or alongside of units they are paired with. I think micro has the potential to do this, and provides a nice opportunity, since you’d have smaller infantry and fighters etc, but by introducing a really strong relative scale by ship type, you could still have pretty large Carriers and Transports. I think that with Tanks, as long as they were paired exactly by size, you could probably find a nice way to scale it using Nationals. But I do agree that if you wanted to do generic by side, the models knp mentioned sound pretty solid to me. I think I’d be happy with those.

    The only unit that seems to really call out for Nationals is infantry, but this also has to do with how large the infantry currently are. At a smaller size helmet differentiation becomes a little less significant, and that is the main distinguishing characteristic of infantry. If you did do generic by side even for infantry, I think I would more readily accept German helmets on the Japanese, than I would all the same helmets for the Allies. You have to go down pretty small before the differences become negligible, I’d say something along the lines of the 40th anniversary Risk units, before people wouldn’t be all sad that the Brits and Americans and Russians look too similar with their helmets.


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