Like many gamers I frequently post pictures online of my miniatures and games. For a number of my collections, most notably MicroArmor, I get questions about my use of seed beads as a unit ID marking system. So I thought I’d write up an overview of how I organize my units. In many ways, this is just a specific kind of Informative Basing.
First, I use seed beads as my markers. These are small, cheap beads available in most craft stores or online. I have an organizer with a dozen or so different colors. I like them because they are consistent in color and shape. They are just tall enough to stick up out of my basing, and are more visible than painted dots.
At one time I tried painting dots on the base edges, but these were too hard to see. And for MicroArmor I use very thin steel bases so there’s really no edge anyway. But even with my 15mm collection, I mostly use washers, and dots on the edge are just not visible enough. So it’s seed beads on top for me!
Now, as I paint and base my miniatures, I use white glue to affix seed beads to the right rear corner of my bases. The color and arrangement of these beads conveys a number of pieces of information. Specifically, they identify the unit the stand belongs to, as well as, in some cases, identifying the type of stand it is.
The overall unit is identified by the color. Subunits are identified by the number of beads. Thus, a Panzer company may have light blue beads. 1st apltoon will have one light blue bead on each stand. Second platoon has two beads on each stand, third platoon three beads and so on. (I play Flames of Awesomesauce so my units are companies made up of platoons).
In addition, the overall commander is identified with added white beads to the left, right and top of the colored bead. The second in command (if any) has white beads to the left and right. Command stands of sub-units (platoons in my collection) have a single white bead to the left.
Here are some examples. Top row: commander and second in command of Blue company. Second row: Commander of 1st Re platoon, infantry stand from 2nd Green platoon. Third row: stand from 1st platoon, red company, stand from 3rd platoon, blue company.
There are a few other things I do as well. An forward observer gets a black bead to the left of the colored bead. A Flamethrower stand gets a bright yellow/orange bead on the left hand corner. For infantry, machine gun platoons are always red.
In general I also try to balance the colors. They need to be visible on the one hand so players can determine which stand belongs to which unit. But I also choose colors that are not too painfully out of place. So I use greens, grays, browns and yellows where I can. Up close they may look a bit garish, but when you look at a game in entire, they don’t overly offend the eye I think: