A disadvantage of 3mm & 6mm wargaming figures is how marking them with 1/2″ boardgame counters, pipe cleaners and other typical items look overwhelmingly large by comparison. So for my Great Battles of World War II troops’ stands, I use small chits that are cut out or punched out to be quite small. I had to order the tiny 1/8″ paper punch from an office supply store. It cuts much more cleanly than the cheap ones that are typically sold.
The chits are actually made up of UK’s Magnetic Displays/Coritani’s Ferro Sheet aka “steel paper” or what USA’s Litko’s Flex Steel, then either spray painted a color on both sides (to match the stands’ color while the reverse side a different shade to indicate suppression), or sandwiched between printed IDs or symbols. I should also mention that my GB stands are steel from Wargaming Accessories with adhesive backed magnet attached. The magnetic attraction facing up allows me to place my Command Decision stands on the “sabot” stand sized for GB… and also hangs on to the steel paper disks/IDs etc.
Here’s a description of the various chits, with the numbered key below referring to the circled numbers in the photo to the left of the stands:
- The AT gun has 3 chits, starting from the top: a 1/8″ disk dark green means limbered, the ID chit (D5) Just means Regiment D 5th Battalion. These IDs are generic and if I have the actual OB unit IDs, I just write the generic equivalent next to that on their OB*. The 1/4″ olive colored disk means the stand is “normal” whereas when flipped, shows that the stand is suppressed.
- The Heavy Weapons stand (from left to right) has a normal/suppression disk, ID (D2) and a flipped 1/8″ disk on its brown side to show that it’s unlimbered can’t move but can provide the bonus die roll modifier to fire for the battalion it’s attached to.
- The little Stuart’s stand is my own invention, an armored battalion’s HQ. The stand has absolutely no game impact and can be placed anywhere near its companies. It only serves 3 purposes: is a place to put the square chit to show the “IAG” status: Inactive, Activated or Gone To Ground (the Letter “I” when perpendicular to the front means Inactive), Action marking and looks cool. Of course, it has an ID marker (D3) that is identical to its companies’. It has no Normal/Suppressed disk because the stand has no game value at all. I used to have an Action Chit for each battalion but it was just an eyesore. (I will mention the Action marking at the end of this section.)
- The single guy laying down is an Infantry Battalion’s HQ and has the exact same purpose as the armored Bn’s HQ in #3. IAG (standing for each battalion’s 3 statuses: Inactive, Activated & Gone To Ground) status, the letter “I” parallel to front means Activated, ID (E1) and Action Marking (again, will be mentioned after the numbered section).
- The jeep represents a regimental HQ for infantry and this is a GB stand although the rules say that a regimental HQ cannot be suppressed so no 1/4″ disk. The ID (E2) shows that it is attached to battalion E2. And the IAG, Inactive/Activated side flipped to the brown “G” side, means that this battalion has Gone To Ground. Action marking will be mentioned after the number section. A battalion with the regimental HQ attached needs no battalion HQ then. So, what if you choose to attach the regimental HQ to a different battalion? Just switch the ID chits so, for example, the E1 battalion HQ chit moves to what was the E2 attached regimental HQ and vice versa.
- Is an ordinary infantry company that is normal, not Suppressed. The only other chit is the ID. When we started playing big games where none of the stands were marked by battalion, it got very confusing. So I made about 6-8 chits per battalion ID, not that there are that many companies but because of attachments.
- Another ordinary infantry company that has the disk flipped to the Suppressed side (dark green). Originally the suppression side was a very contrasting color and I didn’t like that. It doesn’t take that much contrast to be noticeable and I might mute the dark green down with some stippled olive and brown. Or I might use a naturalistic marker instead, see below.
I promised to explain how one can use these battalion/regimental HQs to mark the number of actions a battalion gets each turn. It’s pretty simple really. The IAG status marker when at the left edge of the HQ stand = 2 Actions, in the middle = 1 Action and when at the right edge = 0 Actions. Now you know what the white numbers 2, 1 & O in the photo are indicating: Actions remaining.
So at the end of the turn all HQ stands’ IAG markers are at the right edge. Then when Actions are rolled, all are set to left or middle if they got actions. Then if a battalion spends an action, move the IAG marker rightwards.
The photo exaggerates the difference between the felt and the stand. So the color difference is not as extreme as it looks here. I could probably blend in a better stippled green. But I’m more of a gamer than a modeler! My original stand color was a rather bright green and the ID letters/numbers in white were an overly-strong contrast. So when I got a beautiful Hotz Mat in Euro Fields, I sprayed over the stands with an olive color. But what to do about those now even more garish bright green IDs? Finally I realized that a ochre magic marker (as shown in the photo) would likely convert the bright green to olive and cut back the contrasting ID letter/number. The problem then was just finding such a specialized color in a magic marker style pen. That took me to a dozen stores! Stores catering to artists are more apt to have wider selections of colors than a stationary store.
I get on a pedantic rant on Facebook groups every so often trying to brainstorm ways to use bushes, rocks, twigs—natural items—as markers. And actually not just the item or its color, shape or size can communicate game status. But the positioning, which corner, laterally so left/right/middle (so through the axis of advance, front/center/rear also means there are 9 positions on each stand) can each indicate different things—a bit like the number of Actions Remaining positioning of the IAG markers.
So far, I have not developed much “naturalistic” for GB since I did these stands a long time ago but my mad scientist mind may yet think of something. So this section is a challenge to myself!
One the weak points of the magnetic system is that it’s harder to make the stands modeled with terrain and still have surfaces for the various Flex Steel items to adhere. But perhaps with a bit of creative dry brush work I can improve the look a bit.
What I particularly don’t like is flags, primary colors and large print. To me, all of those are jarring “left brain” symbols and I prefer right brain natural patterns and terrain-like items. With the latter, the table looks like a diorama with a subtle “code”. But the former starts to look like a boardgame. I think that the left brain dominant gamers’ tendencies toward using garish symbols come from having to learn and use complex wargame rule sets! And also the illusion inherent in a desire for control and avoiding blue-on-blue mistakes. But then as some become more into modeling, that’s when the desire awakens to make their wargame table more like a diorama. Indeed, wargames palely simulate combat, a barely controlled chaos.
Why even have a suppression marker already on the stand? Two reasons: to save a little time during the game having to find then place a marker, and lets players know which stands cannot be suppressed. For your first games, I’d instead suggest a “naturalistic” solution: having a pile of “bushes” for this purpose and place one on each suppressed stand as you need it. The troops are then “hiding in the bushes”! Then on recovering from suppression you could flick off the bushes. But not too far, you may need it again!
Likewise, one can get away without ID markers by using a natural marker like a rock, twig or bush, different colored (from suppression) placed at specific places could mean something like: left edge=1st battalion, middle=2nd battalion, right edge=3rd battalion. Obviously combining just a few colors can create a variety regimental “IDs”. Green/brown, brown/tan, green/tan=3 regiments and one color (green, brown, tan) regiments, another 3 for a total of 6. And since each side could have the same color scheme that’s enough for 2 divisions per side. That’s a really big game in GB terms. If you think the bushes are going to fall off the stand, you could tiny (1/8″) hole-punch a self-adhesive magnet, peel off the backing and stick on a bush.
Something similarly natural could be done for the “IAG” marker but this might take a bit of puzzling since it’s used for 3 different statuses and 3 different Action Point amounts. Obviously, I haven’t cracked the code yet so I will leave that up to you!
Get me to the battle on time
I had an old cookie sheet tin which we were going to throw away so instead I stuck on some self-adhesive backed magnet sheet, cut into about a battalion “footprint” of stands and sprayed them just so it would blend in. The whole point is that then Bn Tins would adhere in a magnetic bottomed box and yet one could quickly set up a game by pulling out the complete battalions as needed and slid off the Bn Tin into action!
The goal of many of my marker or storage “systems” is to speed the game set-up and play. Time is better spent preparing systems in spare time than to waste game play looking through boxes for just what’s needed. Then you can finish more games with less hassle!