Friday, December 6, 2013

Life in N-Gauge

1/60 or 28mm Battletech is playing with the big boys in a big way. The models are huge, the terrain needs to be equally huge, and your infantry and vehicles need to be in scale to make it truly work. While my current project- the 1/60 scale Catapult from Scott- is stalled due to lack of legs, I thought I would address the slightly less bank-breaking, slightly more easily-acquirable, slightly less-of-a-pain-to-paint scale of Battletech: N Scale.

N-Scale (also called N-Gauge) is approximately equivalent to 1/100 scale or 15mm miniatures. For Battletech, we have a wealth of options- and even official ones- thanks to Mechwarrior: Dark Age/ Age of Destruction. These miniatures were (for the most part) in scale with N-Gauge, and, when combined with some truly excellent sculpts from members of the community, a player has a ton of options for building up a force of ‘mechs, tanks, infantry, and even air support.

Mechwarrior: Dark Age, later called Age of Destruction, gave us hundreds of miniatures representing
‘mechs, battle armor, infantry, vehicles, and VTOL air units, all of which can be used for N-scale gaming. At roughly 15mm scale, a truly massive range of other miniatures is available as well, which can be used in this light. I plan on making Battletech: Combined Arms scalable for both 28mm and 15mm, so expect the new rules up on my site officially, very soon. Among the stand-out sculpts from Mechwarrior: Dark Age were the Mad Cat (…you all know what i’m going to say about Wizkids Games and how they don’t know the difference between a Mad Cat and a Mad Cat Mk II), the Atlas, the Locust, the Kodiak, the Raptor II, and the Tundra Wolf. A great deal of their designs were “original” at the time, and have since been absorbed into the greater Battletech canon as we reach TRO: 3145 here.

Now, Mechwarrior: Dark Age used Wizkids’ “clix” system, which means each model is glued to a hard plastic clicky dial base. Some people don’t mind these, and simply base over this with sand or static grass. I can’t stand these bases, and instead I tear or cut my miniatures off the clix base and glue them to a standard wargaming base, generally one between 40mm and 60mm, flat beveled-edge.

Medium and heavy ‘mechs generally fare better on the Wizkids scale creep, all of the industrialmechs are light on tonnage, and the miniatures the right size to reflect this. Meanwhile, light battlemechs like the Wolfhound stand full inches over the 65 ton Catapult (which is a fantastic model in its own right, the original Dark Age one, not the crappy Solaris pack one).

15mm miniatures for infantry are easy to come by. The infantry of Dark Age are….a bit small, flimsy, and lacking detail. I much prefer 15mm miniature soldiers such as Flames of War for both infantry and some extra vehicles. These are extremely detailed, beautifully cast miniatures that fit very well alongside Mechwarrior/Battletech models. Luckily, most of the battle armor from Dark Age looks fantastic and is detailed enough to paint, rebase, and use as well!

Also available are Gruntz miniatures, a small start-up wargame that features its own ‘mechs in 15mm scale, designed by the excellent David White ( Antenocitis Workshop, one of the best miniature games companies right now, has also recently started casting vehicles and scenery in 15mm, which perfectly fit the near-futuristic aesthetic of Battletech.

Lastly, for those Unseen fans out there, you’re in luck! Much easier to find than 28mm or 1/60 scale versions, the Nichimo 1/200 scale model kits of famous Valkyrie, Destroid, and Glaug models makes finding an N-Scale Marauder, Archer, Stinger, etc. a breeze. These regularly sell for $20-30, making them a steal compared to their larger versions. 

So where do you get your Mechwarrior: Dark Age and Battletech N-Scale sculpts? eBay, Troll and Toad, and secondhand sites (try searching “mechwarrior dark age singles”) will net you tons of results with (usually) cheap prices. For the awesome resin-cast sculpts of N-Scale Battlemechs though, head over to Lords of the Battlefield and check their trading and selling section. LordNth, Spaceman Spiff, Orko_one, and Elfbait are the big names in N-Scale there, and will likely set you on the right track.  And of special note, Ironwind Metals produces a small line of “museum scale” Battletech models, which, conveniently for us, fit near-perfectly in scale with  1/100, 15mm, or N-gauge models! Check out the comparison below. 
Ironwind Museum Scale Vulture on the left, Dark Age Vulture II on the right, both courtesy of Spaceman Spiff

Rest assured, rules for Battletech: Combined Arms are coming soon, and by god, if I can’t get 28mm approved for publication, I will at least push for N-Scale. It functions as a good middle-ground between size and price, offering exquisite detail at a much lower cost, and, when painted well, looks simply stunning on the battlefield. Don’t believe me? Check out Spaceman Spiff’s blog and see his years of awesome work.
Spaceman Spiff’s painted up Bushwacker, sculpted by Orko_one, accompanied by a Dark Age Saxon APC and two Kinnol main battle tanks

Until next time,

Nostra, signing out


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