Saturday 28 February 2009

Basing Dilemmas

I was out with the girls from the office last night. It was one of those "thanks and goodbye" events. I had a great evening and not too merry by the time I got home, even though my body seemed to be suffering varying gravitational effects every time I stood up.

Today, whilst I gave my hangover a chance to clear I thought I'd take a look at the options available for basing my new figures. I should say from the start off that basing 15mm figures singly - other than principal leader figures, heroic or powerful types such as SPARTANS - is anathema to me. I simply don't want to push 80-100 miniatures 3-4" across the table every move, no matter how nice the figures look.

Rather than go for cheap and plentiful 30mm or 40mm square generic bases I prefer the FOW style of wargame base. Not only are they more pleasing to the eye but I personally find they work particularly well where the base is to represent a larger unit, 2-4 figures being a squad or platoon or even company.

I've tried round bases. Hearther prefers these and thinks they are better for Sci Fi but I feel they take up too much overall space.
I know some of you use coins. Having worked with handling money over many years, I now find the idea of basing my own miniatures on coinage repulsive. So let's take a look at the options I personally prefer:

2 Figs per small FOW base

2 of these 2 figure small FOW bases can make a fireteam or 3-4 bases together can create squad. In platoon level skirmish types games where 1 figure represents 1 man, this gives the tabletop squad tactical flexibility, allows for support weapons or specialist troops within the squad to be represented individually and for casualties to be removed. This gives the game a more graphic and dare I say, 'heroic' quality as you can visibly see the squad absorbing damage as bases are removed.

For me there are two issues with the two figure base. Firstly, I still have 40-50 bases to push round instead of 80-100 individual figures. Secondly, I have difficulty visualising it as anything other than two blokes. And a big measure of the enjoyment that comes from any miniatures based game is the suspension of disbelief.

3 Figs per medium FOW base

3 figures on a medium FOW base? The medium base is great for representing elements that are squads, platoons or above. 3 figures don't clutter a base, any merchandiser will wax lyrical about the 'power of three' and if you like a dioramic base, there's plenty of space to go to town. Put two-three of these bases togher as a larger unit on the tabletop and they look great.

4 figs per medium FOW base

4 figs? This looks like a 'unit'. It's a fireteam, it's a squad, a platoon, in fact if you want, a whole gorram army! But something nags at me as they are so closely packed that a single breath from a Kothian 'Stinkmeister' will wipe out every man, and it also smacks of the Hollywood 'column of mob' portrayal of units in action. In fact whilst it looks good on it's own, I found that if you put three bases together they look somewhat Napoleonic and not at all the effect we are looking for.

Now, it's traditional to mount miniatures along the wide axis of the base as per above pictures. But what if we mount them differently, along the short axis? This gives the element depth and some greater practicality in street fighting, room clearing and space corridor guncrawls!

2 figs on a small FOW base
facing the short edge

4 figs on a medium FOW base
facing the short edge

This works quite well for me. Especially the 2 figure small base. Some food for thought and as the sun has passed the yard arm and then some, I'm off for a Magners. Cheers!

All miniatures are the forthcoming 15mm resculpted NAC Marines from GZG.



  1. Mark,

    I enjoyed your post. Having made my fair share of FOW infantry stands, I personally like the 4 man/wide side to the front makeup. I am considering using the Peter Pig 30mm square basing method for a FWC army. I would put three castings per base, which would be somewhat of a compromise between the two and four man stands. Keep posting; you have some really neat ideas and pictures on the blog.

  2. I also go with the FOW basing. I am familiar with it and it works well enough for representing the relative position of the element.

    The number of figs I put on the base really depends on the doctrine of the military being represented. For my Chinese forces, it is 4/medium FOW base. This represents a fire team.

    I use the smaller FOW bases for the Command sections of Platoons and Companies.

  3. I have always been a skirmish gamer, so I like individual based minis. Coins and washers are my base of choice and almost always round. I don't much mind moving the minis and it allows flexibility and the ability to remove wounds. I understand why everyone else does theirs on the larger bases, just not my thing.


  4. Skirmish for me to, so single figure basing is fine. Especially true for battles in sci-fi corridors where you could not fit the larger base. I do like the convenience of the big base though.