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Commanders, a wargame digest


Basing Once!

One base to rule them all!

Can we base up our new army in the total confidence that we will not sooner or later travel down the road of re-basing?

Thankfully these days, rules seem to avoid being prescriptive about base size, instead suggesting that both sides should just be similarly presented.

Even so, sometimes our own aesthetic fancy urges a re-base, good examples being to create those lovely Impetvs diorama type bases or going for single basing for the increasingly popular skirmish style games.

As I embark on the ‘from scratch’ Pocket Armies project, there is the opportunity, tinged with apprehension of getting it wrong, to base in a way that can stand the test of time.

My approach is to be less concerned about a particular rule set, but give more weight as to how a unit will need to function and how it looks on the table. With that in mind and the caveat that none of this may be right, good practice of even be permanent, here are the plans for the first few proposed pairings of armies. 


The infantry are based on 50mm x 40mm. This allows each base to have two ranks of three to give 6 figures. Three bases will give a regiment. So standard regimental strength is 18 figures, with a line having a 150mm frontage, which is probably enough to still give the 28‘s a linear look, while keeping the unit footprint down for my small table.

Three bases allow for some symmetry with the middle base being a command base with the flag, so this will look right when the unit is in line and also when in column. Since column is used for marching (rather than fighting), three figures by 6 ranks will look fine.

The cavalry and artillery

The artillery is mounted as a single gun with 3 crew on a base that is 50mm wide and by 70mm deep or a little more if necessary. This keeps the footprint as tight as possible and if even if two guns are placed side by side it still only takes up a 100mm frontage.

For cavalry, I am going with units of just 6 mounted soldiers on two bases. Each base is 60mm wide by 50mm deep and again, allows for both column and line to be reasonably represented, with the latter only taking up 120mm and the horses don’t look too spaced, which they did when trying 80mm bases with three horses. 


The basing here has been driven by the need to represent both attack column and line. If I went with the 50mm bases used in the ACW, I would need to represent the unit with four such bases, so that an assault column could be represented with 2x2 bases.

Some downsides are that it would use 24 figures instead of 18, it increases the number of bases that have to be handled and if the formation goes into line, it would be 200mm wide, which would be a stretch on my small table - although I could just say that when in line, the formation is represented by three bases, a nice idea perhaps, as it gets the command stand back into the centre of the formation.

A helpful alternative is to go with is two 80mm x 50mm bases for each unit, with two ranks of 5 figures on each base. The advantages are that it uses 20 figures and they still get to look to be in close order, it drops the number of bases that need to be manoeuvred on the table, it can still represent other formations such as square and if the unit goes into line, it will only occupy a frontage of 160mm, but looks equally well while in assault column.

Granted, there are some visual issues when using road movement and bridges, plus the command figures are off-set by being on one of the two bases, but in a world of compromises the advantages seem to win the argument.

Cavalry and artillery work fine with the ACW basing described above.

Wars of the Roses

With nothing based yet, I am inclined to go to 80mm frontages for all units. In reality this is a frontage that many rules would reserve for 15mm, but again we are influenced by the smaller table, so the smaller footprint will allow for more units in the game.

Overall, the bases need to be a little deeper to accommodate the animation that often accompanies these troops.

The 80mm ‘block’ does help represent the ‘contingent’ nature of the armies, allowing formations to be built up of multiple mixed bases, making deployment and deterioration of a force a little more nuanced.

The armies are going to be built around the Bosworth period, so only the King will have an artillery piece and cavalry numbers will be limited, so working with the bulk of the troops on 80mm frontages should bring quite a bit of continuity basing.  

World War Two Tactical

An easy start is the decision not to base vehicles. The obvious down side is that the based infantry will look slightly too big by comparison, but it’s not a big deal and the vehicles are not being transported around, so there is even less argument to do this and of course, if I ever change my mind, it would be easy to base up (it is the unbasing that is the headache).

I prefer my infantry to be mounted in small group to represent sections and for them to be treated as though they have an inherent light machine gun and leader, whether they are physically represented on the base or not. I think this goes back to old Squad Leader (Avalon Hill) days, when extra firepower and flexibility were represented by a couple of separate LMG’s.

As well as junior leadership, such things like panzerfaust can be present, just to help dress the base for visuals, while actually rolling for panzerfaust availability At the moment of need, regardless of whether they are on the base or not.  

Weapon teams are best mounted singularly. Some support weapons from Zvezda already come with a thick base, thicker than the 2mm MDF I use, but I am okay with the visual difference as the bases are generally nice.

For the moment, I am testing round bases, but spaced out men in a linear style seems a better representation to me, so it is likely that the infantry section move to 60mm x 40mm, with heavy weapons going on 50mm rounds or whatever basing the manufacturer provides.

To be continued ......