Want to get started with A Billion Suns, but a bit baffled by what size miniatures to use. This article is for you!
A Billion Suns does not have a set of official miniatures. You are free to use whatever spaceships you choose, and there are a lot to choose from! The game rules allow you to use spaceships in any scale and mount them on any size bases you like.
For some, that’s an awesome amount of freedom. For others, that’s an unhelpful lack of clarity. If you are struggling to figure out how to assemble your first fleet for A Billion Suns, I hope this article helps you.
To help you get started, here is a brief guide to ships classes and miniature sizes. I will stress though, I only wrote the game: once you own the rulebook, you own the game, and you are free to ignore or modify anything I suggest below.
Note: In the photo above, you will see some examples of ships I have used during the playtesting and development of the game. I feature these miniatures here without permission (excepting the ones from Brigade Models) but with great love.
During play, you measure to and from the centre of the ship (often meaning the ‘flight peg’), so the size of the ship doesn’t affect things like movement or shooting ranges. In practice, the size of the ship does matter to some degree, because you don’t want too many situations where you can’t fit your models into the right tactical spot due to the miniatures being larger than is practical for the game rules, and you want the game to look cool during play.
Some game rules in A Billion Suns require ships to be within 6” of other ships, even within 3” in the case of Jump Ranges for larger ships, battlegroup coherency, scan range, etc. This means you probably want the majority of your ship miniatures (other than the largest ship classes) to be under 3″ long. I would recommend you choose miniatures under 1″ in length to represent the smallest ship classes (mass 0 and 1).
Relative Dimensions (In Space)
Here are two tables that provide guidance for the sizes your ship miniatures and their bases. These tables are provide for guidance only, to help you get started. Not every ship I play with fits this guidance, and the rules of the game do not specify these sizes.
If you want a REALLY simple approach, just use these base sizes (in squares, circles or hexes) as guidance.
Mass 0 = 25mm base
Mass 1 = 30mm base
Mass 2 = 40mm base
Mass 3 = 60mm base
Choose spaceship miniatures that occupy these base sizes reasonable comfortably. The ships don’t need to stay completely within the edge of their bases. In fact, most of my ships (particularly those of mass 2 or 3) tend hang a fair distance (10-20mm) over their bases.
Ship Class Version
I took a look at the vast array of spaceship miniatures in my personal collection, and grouped them according to what I would personally class them as. Based on that, here’s some rules of thumb (some rule-of-thumbs?) for the average length of an appropriate ship miniature, and an illustrative base size I would look to mount them on, for each ship class. You can download a summary of all the ship classes here.
As the “length” is an average, and spaceships come in a lot of wild and wacky shapes, some of the ships in my collection are 10-20mm longer or shorter than the listed value above. These are just illustrative.
How many ships do I need?
Please check out the Getting Started guide.
When things get crowded
Regardless of what size miniatures, or what size bases, there are bound to be times when you can’t put a miniature exactly where you want it.
Having your ships mounted on pegs or magnets so that you can temporarily remove the ship allows you to leave the base and flight peg in play, but remove the bulk of the miniature until it can again fit. Having a marker on the base that identifies the heading of the ship allows you to rotate the ship to a place it can fit without losing game state information.
Basing your ships on a variety of different heights of stem can also really helps, as well as providing a pleasing 3D effect. It makes sense that all the miniatures in a naval battle need to be in the same plane (sea-level), but starship battles actually look way cooler if your ships are at a variety of heights.