Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Great Basing Debate

One of the annoying things about wargaming is that almost every rule set uses a different basing convention. How to base my figures so that they can be used for multiple systems has always been one of those frustrating issues that never seems to get resolved.

The DBX/ WRG standards are popular for ancients gaming still but I never really got it especially given the size of modern 28mm figures- they simply don’t fit on the traditional bases, at least not if you want the correct number of figures per base and to me 4 figures in a single rank does not look like a military unit.

Years ago, I started basing all my 15mm infantry on 20mm depth bases- blasphemous I know, but the sky didn’t fall down and nobody has walked away from a game, or refused to play a game because of the “illegal” basing conventions. Funny thing is, the figures fit better and don’t fall over so much, it also means they are about right for Warmaster too.

I play DBA in 15mm (and now 25mm scales) and the single rank of figures always dispels the illusion of a massed formation of troops for me, they appear rather more as chess pieces, and for me wargaming is all about the visual appearance. With that in mind I’ve been searching, for years now it would seem, for a basing system that looks right. Tried FoG but it didn’t grab me, tried Basic Impetus last year and loved it- and as a result re-based most of my 15mm armies to their conventions- at last I’m starting to get the right look! Unfortunately, my local gaming community have taken a dim view to all rules Italian (suspicious bunch of wargaming dinosaurs that they are- change takes time!) and refuse to budge from DBA. The end result is I’ve some great looking armies but have to revert to using the few DBA legal(ish) forces I've left to play other local gamers as none have given Impetus ago.

Recently I started looking for a game to get my son into, we’ve had a few 15mm DBA games and he quite enjoys them, but I thought the new War of the Rings from GW might be a good way to get him into gaming as he loves the LoTR movies. We tried it but the game didn't appeal to him due ot the number of dice rolled. DBA and HoTT are nice and straight forward with one die and simple addition and subtractionso we'll be sticking to those until he is a bit older.

However, my dabble into WoTR got me interested in 28mm figures again (after saying not a month earlier to one of my gaming mates that I’d never get into that scale as I’d have to build a new set of terrain and tables). That’ll teach me- memo to self, never say never! That and the emergence of Warlord Games and Wargames Factory 28mm figures made 28mm gaming more financially viable for me- one of the reasons I got into 15mm gaming was that 28mm figures were prohibitively expensive at the time I originally started looking at getting into ancients many moons ago.

Anyway, with this new found enthusiasm for 28mm figures I dug out a DBA Pre-Feudal Scots army I’d started about 7 years ago and the unpainted Anglo-Danes opponents I’d also bought (all Gripping Beast figs) and set about resurrecting a project I had started but never completed- create forces for the Anglo-Danes, Vikings, Welsh, Pre-Feudal Scots, Norse-Irish and Normans for a 1066 campaign. Last year I managed to assemble them all (except for the Anglo-Irish) in 15mm and had a great round robin campaign with my mate Ian over the Christmas holidays! So time to do it again, this time round in 28mm.

Of course this meant the same old issue as last time- how to base! I wanted something that looked right and so immediately discounted the DBA/WRG basing. I liked the ranked up 15mm Impetus forces I'd builts but decie that 12cm width (in 28mm) was praobly too unweildy. A couple of websites caught my eye for basing ideas: Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog using a deeper than standard DBA depth to get two ranks of figures (but still the standard 6cm wide basing for 28mm) and the Little Wars suggestion for Big Base DBA using 8cm wide bases with and extra 3cm depth.

I based up a few stands for both versions and liked the 8cm width better- it just simply looked visually better to me and was starting the get the right look for what I was after. so have decided to go with this system. As a bonus it means I’ll be able to use the same basing for a 28mm version of Warmaster (again using the Little Wars suggested house rules- yet to try them though), Basic Impetus and also DBA/HoTT, and even, if I put them on a sabot tray WoTR, so as far as I’m concerned it is the best solution to meet my needs- now to convince the other local gamers to follow suit- and to dabble in 28mm!

So my conventions are:

Width (all): 8cm


  • All infantry: 5cm
  • All Cavalry: 6cm


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