2D Miniatures for Tabletop Wargaming

Tabletop wargaming is such a fun and satisfying hobby. Whether its for historical settings or fantasy and sci-fi, the hobby is rich, full of wonderful artistic people, and an excellent way to spend an evening in good company. From working out a particular force or battle to hobby towards, gathering the necessary miniatures, painting them up, and then seeing them in action on a table, there’s enjoyment to be had at every stage of the journey.

Unfortunately, miniatures are expensive, painting is time consuming, and the required space is generally quite extreme. From the relatively doable 4′ by 4′ up through the standard 6′ by 4′ to whatever Black Powder tries to get you to play on (I don’t have a 12′ by 8′ table Warlord, be kind!), Setting up a home gaming space can be daunting.

Wargame the Spanish Armada by Andy Callan & Peter Dennis

Alternatives to Buying Miniatures at Retail

There have been some excellent innovations in 3D printing, allowing for relatively inexpensive options for many of the most popular settings, but even that can be out of reach for many.

So I’m here to write about another alternative that I don’t believe gets the same attention as pewter, plastic, and resin do. Paper! There is really no less expensive way to get a fully functioning army on a table than paper miniatures. Now I know that paper miniatures might conjure images of crudely drawn stick figures or a rectangle with the word “Rhino” written on it, but with the right tools, the work of excellent artists, and some spare time, you can have a full tabletop ready to game in an evening or two of listening to your favourite podcast (Ahem! Episode 6: No One Seems To Know What Professional Wargames Are).

Scissors, Glue, a Printer, and time: all you need to get started with 2D tabletop wargaming.

Paper Miniatures You Say? Surely You Jest?

When done correctly, paper miniatures can be absolutely stunning, as I hope some of the better done images in this article suggest. The requirements are also dirt cheap. A pair of decent scissors from your local scissor dispensary, some cheap glue, and a colour printer.

My Favourite Historical Paper Miniatures

For historicals, I love the work of Hellion & Company’s Paper Soldiers Line. Most are illustrated by legendary artist Peter Dennis. If you’ve read any Osprey books, there’s a good chance you’ve seen his work. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a convention early in 2020. He had brought his paper ancients and they were simply stunning. Stunning to the point that I immediately went to the Hellion & Co. booth and bought one of the books myself.

The miniatures can be scanned and printed or, in the case of the book I purchased, cut directly from the pages. I’d recommend going the printing route so there’s always the potential for backups. Although if you’re a little more forward thinking than I was, there are purchasable PDFs on their site which are obviously easier to print.

My Favourite Fantasy Paper Miniatures

In terms of fantasy miniatures, I’m mostly be exposed to the art of One Page Rule’s Patreon miniatures, but I love them. (Again, full disclosure, I’ve done some comission work for OPR). The art style is fun and cartoony and the optional black border makes for easier cut jobs. The campaign I wrote, Darkness Within, pits humans against vampires and their undead minions. I don’t have any miniatures for either army and so I decided to go the 2D route. It’s been incredibly easy to print off two of each sheet and go to town, creating enough for a small skirmish within a day.

There are plenty of other artists out there and a quick troll through wargamesvault reveals dozens of free and paid paper miniatures. Finding an artist or company whose work you enjoy and want to support is another fun part of this avenue of the hobby.

Maybe not the prettiest scissor job, but the first step towards a full army. Now to base her and cut out her hordes of undead.
  • Joe Fonseca

Warhammer Rising Part 1: A Classic High Elf Build for One Page Rules

We haven’t really talked very much about tabletop miniature content on Let’s Talk About Wargames, but we really should be. I started my wargaming career as a bright eyed youngster along two paths. One was dreamily watching Shogun: Total War‘s armies march about at 20FPS on the family Windows 98. The other was staring into the display cabinets at the local Games Workshop.

Tabletop wargaming is every bit as integral to the wider hobby as the other avenues of play, but the amount of time, effort, space, and money requried to make good on it might put some interested players off of the whole thing.

Getting Started with Tabletop Wargames?

Luckily there are some individuals and groups putting in the effort to make tabletop gaming more accessible. I’d particularly like to shout out the following:

Little Wars TV have been working to make historical tabletop wargaming easy to dive into with tutorial builds, a free ‘Dark Ages’ skirmish ruleset, and a series of excellent battle reports with historical commentary.

One Page Rules offers a myriad of fantasy and science fiction rulesets that fit on a single page, are easy to play, and remain model-agnostic. (Full Disclosure- I have been previously commissioned to write Narrative campaigns for OPR. Something I was eager to do because I love the system so much)

A Horror Unearthed: Unpainted Minis!

My wife and I recently helped my parents clean up their storage space and made a troubling discovery. Our Warhammer miniatures, which we had put away at the end of Undergrad and were believed lost to time and space, were just hanging out this whole time down in the basement.

Sacha’s army of Nurgle Chaos Warriors was almost perfectly intact and as beautifully painted as I remembered. My Orcs and Goblins were in a similar state, though less well done and less complete (there are always more goblins to paint).

Beneath them both, however, were the remnants of my high school High Elf army. Realizing that we don’t already have enough projects on the go (we do) Sacha and I decided that we were going to work on building, repairing, and painting this army to conform to One Page Rules’ Age of Fantasy: Regiments, which for my money is the best fantasy miniature game modeled after the classic Warhammer Fantasy.

High Elves Always Have a Plan

So how to go about doing it? Well first things first, we need to figure out exactly what we have as it lines up with Age of Fantasy: Regiments. From there we’ll need to know what models we need to acquire or remove to create properly sized units.

Then we need to get building and fixing. A lot of damage happened to these poor guys as they languished in boxes. I’m primarily the builder here, and Sacha is the excellent painter. Once we know what is what, it’s time to go through and glue, pin, greens tuff, and magnetize everybody. I’ll probably post some mini tutorials on these topics as I tackle them, with pictures.

The last step, once everyone is put together, is painting them up. Sacha has taken on the task of painting the monsters, heroes, and other big flashy stuff, and I’m going to be handling the rank and file.

More to Come: Historical and Fantasy Tabletop Game Coverage

As we work through this project, I’ll be posting regular updates and starting to trickle out more content related to tabletop miniature wargames, both historical, fantasy, and sci-fi. There’s a lot to cover but I’m a big fan (and more importantly a glutton for punishment.)

See you along the way!

Joe