Thursday, June 2, 2011

Basing Woes

Example of Impetus style basing from the Saxon Dog blog (

I spent a lot of time digging up information on the intricacies of basing for ancient and medieval wargames, only to find that there is no single good solution to the problem. Here's the deal. Decades ago, wargames were designed primarily as simulations. Each figure represented a certain number of soldiers, each inch of the board corresponded to a precise number of real world yards, and the bases the figures were affixed to were supposed to take up the proportional amount of area that those troops would take up on the real battlefield.  During the 80's bases got standardized to fit the most popular set of rules at the time: DBM/DBA. Since then most of the other games that came out to compete with DBM/DBA used their conventional basing for multi-figure stands since nobody wants to rebase all of their figures just to try out a new set of rules. Recently several rules sets have been published that play a little looser with the sizes of multi-figure bases, either using larger or smaller bases, or getting rid of explicit base sizes altogether in favor of proportional bases sizes. 

I want to avoid having to rip my figures off their nicely textured bases in the future, but settling on a single type of base size has been tricky. I really like the look of very large bases, 120mm x 60mm that use fewer figures and allow the miniatures "to breath". I've seen this referred to as "Impetus basing" after the popular Impetus rules that use it as their standard basing. I've also been reading the new Hail Caesar rules, and while the authors state time and again that any basing type will work, they use 40mm x 40mm bases and group several of those into units. Because units need to disperse into open order (usually shown by spreading the bases apart so there is a gap between the various bases within the unit) in order to move through woods or rough ground, I think this is something I'll need to take into account. And then there's the venerable DBA/DBM rules that use bases 60mm wide that are still suggested in wide range of rules.

I'm pretty pysched to try out Hail Caesar, so currently I'm leaning towards 40x40 basing but I'm not quite settled on it. I may need to just stick the figures to temporary bases to try out the rules and see how it actually feels moving the various base sizes around during a game.

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