Home Forums General Game Design How to handle combat in built up areas in 6 mm

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    Question for all you 6 mm gamers out there. How do you handle combat, especially infantry, in a built up area. I am primarily looking at areas like the center of cities, multi story apartments, offices, stores, etc.. Games like squad leader are easy as there are usually only one building per hex and units can have markers indicating which story they are on. In larger scales you can have buildings which come apart so each level can have the forces deployed placed on that level. Here is the best ideas I have seen or thought of myself.

    Small scale buildings which come apart at each level. Impractical as by the time bases are included each story would run 10 mm in depth. Plus what material would you use to make them sturdy enough to hold based infantry? Maybe someone has made this work.

    Ignore the building and assume infantry in the adjacent area is in the building. Treat the infantry as in SL and give them a marker to indicate in the building and further which story they occupy. Outside basing becomes difficult when exact position(s) become important, such as which side of a building they are on, what is their facing, etc..

    A variation is an external “holder” for the miniatures which gives info such as level by how many “layers” up on the holder the mini is. I have seen pictures of SL where the forces in a building are on something akin to pizza box plastic holders. The ones put in the middle of the boxes to keep the lids from sitting on the pizza. Again unless they become quite unwieldy showing exact level and position is awkward.

    One idea I have, but consider it a poor substitute is a separate map or chart where the forces in the building are placed off board and show their exact location. I do not like that as they are not on the game board and in the case of a game where most of the board is built up like a down town core, it would be as large or larger than the game board itself.

    For now my last idea is never do combat at the miniature level in built up areas not able to be handled by your usual procedures. Not an idea solution but perhaps the most suitable. The troops enter the central city block, roll on this table, chart or have a dice duel for control and loses.

    In the Conflict of Heroes game system they just consider the entire hex to have the terrain of the central image. So all figures in hex “X” are treated for all purposes as being in, say, brick buildings. Then if extrapolated to a game board and hexes where retained all forces in that hex are treated as having the same defensive or offensive limitations and benefits of that terrain type. Since I personally like hexes for a number of reasons, including this one, I lean this way but am interested in how others have solved, ignored or by passed this issue in their games. Thank you.


    Just Jack one of the members here has a lot of AAR’s using 6 mm forces that he posted here. He is MIA right now but just check some of his old threads for ideas.

    Norm S

    The hexes make life much easier, but without, I would still just say a building is a building , anything in there is defending the who building from any face and place the unit adjacent to it. On one side of the building for ground floor and on the other side for an upper floor. Or, place units on the sides that you want them to face if that is necessary and don’t have upper floors. It just has to be abstract enough to work rather than painting oneself into a corner, design wise.


    I use BUA templates representing a block or so, instead of individual buildings and am in the process of downsizing my 6mm buildings to the ones from Brigade Models’ small scale scenery range because that looks more like what each template should be, and makes it easier to stick the infantry on top of them. The rules I use are aimed at battalion level and higher games. Each stand represents a platoon and occupies one sector of the BUA template. I don’t have any high rise buildings so height is not an issue yet. I just assume that part of the platoon is on each level of the houses represented. With high rise buildings, I would be inclined to allow for each template having several levels and just use counters to mark which level the stand is at.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.



    Might be me but at 6mm I play them very abstractly. I’m taking the role of a company or battalion commander and has to assume each squad/section are using terrain as best they could. I use buildings in blocks and units placed on the block is assumed to move and reposition to secure the entire zone.

    Ever simce I’ve moved to single model basing I’ve avoided FIBUA as best I can.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    Darkest Star Games

    Really I think it comes down to what you are trying to portray with your rules.  If it is important that opposing sides can occupy different floors within a building across multiple turns then it might be best to handle it with a chart off to the side, especially if you’re thinking that a building could have more than 4 floors.  Or, have model buildings designed with balconies or roofs at different levels on which you can place the figure stands.  Or, put all of the stands on the roof stacked on each other to show who is higher than whom in the building.

    If that’s not important then you can literally just resolve combat and leave the victor in possession of the building.

    In my mind 6mm is really too small of a scale to worry about fireteam level tactics as most games use a base of infantry that is squad sized at a minimum.  If you’re wanting to portray the tactical problem of capturing a building I’d suggest a larger scale and skirmish rules, using print floor plans.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."


    I remove the base(s) occupying a building and place them just off the edge of the board, in line with the building they were in.  If it is important which story they are in, I put a small marker with the number(s) on next to the base.  This seems to work fine, but I haven’t ever done a ‘Battle for Berlin’ type FIBUA battle.



    Please keep in mind the following is my interpretation of the responses from three different groups, The Miniatures Page, The Wargames Website and the 6 mm game group on Yahoo groups. I am also coming at this from an infantry centric point of view for gaming purposes but still trying to consider vehicles in built up areas.

    So a few new ideas and lots of opinions. No one answer held sway but the least used was hollow buildings and put the minis where they would be. The closest split seemed to; be just consider the built up area as area terrain and give a general defense bonus to units there, and; bypass that concept, abstract it out of game play at the scale you are working. Converting it to a 2D or different scale for built up areas was somewhere in between, it was done but rarely. Putting miniatures against occupied buildings and coming up with some method of displaying their locations was also somewhere in the middle.

    An interesting discussion came up on the 6 mm yahoo groups about having entire games in built up areas but no real approach of resolution was put forth. I like that idea but back to the drawing board with respect to method of making it work. The ideas put forth were variations of those already expressed.

    So for limited terrain in an otherwise larger battle I guess I will go with built up areas being given a general terrain bonus, in my case given to both the attacker and defender if in the built up area. Since ranges between units BOTH engaged in the combat will be much reduced from combat in open terrain close in weapons such as grenades, shotguns and SMGs will up the effective fire power making attacks also more dangerous. Perhaps, in the real world, there would also be more combat occurring so that would also increase the leathality. As for vehicles I can see them getting a defensive bonus as well but no offensive bonus. My opinion is they can use better defensive positioning but their main weapons would not be any better closer to the action, commanders MAY be more likely to be buttoned up so reducing any sighting benefits and the sights of weapons such as bow mounted and coaxial MGs would be poorer in close combat. Yes the external weapons would be more effective but in my opinion that would be negated by a reluctance by crews to expose themselves.


    All of the following comments refer to WWII to modern games using 6mm figs.

    For my first experiences with 6mm infantry, back in the early 1980s, I used to build hollow buildings with interior detail and lift out floors.  The infantry were individually mounted on plastic stands maybe a little smaller than a quarter inch square.  Combat was resolved as per a typical skirmish game.

    When we had a few more dollars, we were able to afford 20mm and then 15mm figs and got our infantry gaming fix with those.  At that point, 6mm was rebased at fire team and section level, again on small bases up about 3/16″x 3/8″.  Buildings were hollow, and sometimes we used the lift out floors, with infantry still being placed in the buildings.  It looked right, and left no question about where the infantry were, but sometimes they were forgotten and left behind during the game.

    Several years back, when I started making my original Mid-east buildings for Arab-Israeli wars, the buildings were hollow, to allow infantry to again be placed in the buildings, but rather than lift off roofs, They simply had no bottom, and the building could be lifted and set over the infantry placed where the building stood.  I thought this would be easier for people to manage, but realized that manipulating the roof, lift-out floors, or the entire building seemed to be equally challenging to a lot of gamers.

    More recently, I’ve simply accepted that solid buildings are easier to make or master, cast, and use, than the hollow buildings, and gone to methods that indicate troops are in a building.

    Infantry are mounted on 1/2 to 1/4 inch plastic squares , depending on whether it is a squad, smaller section , or individual scout, etc. If in a building, the stand is placed on flat roofed buildings, where they might fit, or flush against the backside of a building, facing inward, in the direction of combat.  Infantry can fight from the building, only if there are doors and windows on that face of the building.  in my rules, there are three levels of cover, with buildings affording one of the upper two levels (depends on the type of structure), which modify (reduce) the chance to be hit by their enemy.   Infantry conduct fire as they would in open ground, otherwise.  If opposing sides both enter a building, it is assumed that they meet such that both sides get the middle level of cover as minimum range.

    The actual placement of the infantry in the building is not of concern, as the combat is simply resolved with dice, and the infantry firepower/hit values modified by the cover. It is assumed that both sides generally know what to do and simply do it.  Green or veteran troops can get bonuses to their attack values or defense/cover modifiers.

    The fact that the figures are based on multi-figure stands indicates that individual position of the figs is not a component of the game, and that aspect is considered in the abstraction of the offensive and defensive values of the infantry.

    Positioning the figures on the outsides of the buildings makes keeping track of them much easier, when using battalions, regiments and larger formations of infantry.  Given that the game represents a squad with a single multi-figure stand, the level of detail that I am looking for, is achieved with this methodology.


    My method (used with 15mm figures) is to use a template of felt (yellow for villages, grey for towns) to represent the outlines of the BUA. Model buildings are placed on the template but moved as necessary to accommodate figures. The template gives defensive bonuses and towns block line of sight. I don’t bother with lift off roofs. The closest I get to that is Paper Terrain houses. After combat has gone on for a while, the finished version of the house is taken off to reveal the wrecked version underneath. For skirmish games, the occupiers of individual structures are placed on the side they are firing from.

    This too shall pass


    These days whatever the scale of action (team sized bases up to battalion sized bases), I use some sort of template (felt, hexes, denoted by walls etc) and a classification of BUA type (reinfirced concrete blocks are very different to a wood built village) to determine the effects on on movement, visibility and combat.

    So, essentially it is abstracted. I haven’t bothered with putting figures inside buildings since the 1970s.





    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

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