Been working with the "One-Hour Wargames" rules for a couple years now, including the positive effects those rules have on basing. My exploration of this popular topic began in OCT 2015. If you'd like to review those four posts, and see the pics and diagrams, they are HERE.
Now, after extensive thought, planning, and actual playing and experimenting, I've some definite thoughts on Basing:
- Basing and Rules must be directly related, and to the physicality of playing the rules.
- Basing in larger groups looks great!
- Basing in large groups is more practical - better for durability, handling, safety, everything.
- The only thing one loses is the ability to "change formation" shape with the bases.
Point 1: Rules and Basing.
- The base itself should make game play easier, not harder. Mine have a 2-1 ratio Front to Side, and that Base Width v. Base Depth ratio is used for my rules, for all measurements.
- This has the pleasant side effect of making the rules more universal - regardless of the scale or present basing of someone's collection, they can use my RAW as long as they have a sabot to put their little bases on.
- The Purpose of the Rules can be better served. If you want a faster playing set of rules, then fewer bases is definitely the way to go. It gives players a lot less fiddling time and keeps things moving, something more and more important in younger people - they like a quicker pace of entertainment!
Point 2: Large-Group Basing looks great!
With a larger base you can create little dioramas on every base, or on certain special bases [perhaps with commanders, etc]. With a little thought, the larger grouping of the army's bases can have a net large-diorama effect, also. This increases the "gee-whiz" factor of the army, an important part of miniatures gaming, anyway. If you aren't into this, why not just use a boardgame or big counters with nice graphics??
Point 3: Group Basing is more practical.
- Small bases result in figs banging into each other, with spears, horse tails, etc, getting damaged especially with metal figs. Single-rank 25mm figs on WRG / DBx size bases fall over especially when interacting with terrain pieces like Hills.
- A single larger base has the same appearance but all figs are completely within the base edges, protecting the figs.
- If the base is 3-5mm / 1/4" high or so, people can just handle the base itself. With most plastic figs, and with the softer metal figs, this is important for durability! I will say that many of the expensive pewter-mix "white metal" figs are much stronger than the Old Glory type figs.
- A big base is easy to pick up, and prevents big fat fingers from squashing your figs, or at least reduces handling.
- Reduced handling is also safer, depending on what you make spears out of and how pointy they are! You can put a flag on the base which increases depth perception ability of players, also, reducing chance of a stabbing incident.
Point 4: You only lose "formation changes"
- First of all, very few ancient armies used formations, anyway. Granted, these are some of the more popular ones [mostly b/c they are both better documented and b/c gamers usually are seeking an advantage over other players by using them - bleh!] but smart rule-writing can abstract these "formations" anyway.
- Also, during a battle, there would rarely be "formation changes" anyway. Heck, changing formation in the face of the enemy [what a game battle is, right??] wasn't popular in the Seven Year's War, so they sure as heck aren't doing it in ancient times!
- Rules that feature small-base movement have a strong tendency towards a-historical actions by players, and waste a lot of time as players try to fiddle about with their little bases. Sometimes, they even do that on purpose [avoid those players!] but many gamers are just overwhelmed by the fiddliness of the rules and the options available.
With all this in mind, I've been working on some re-basing:
First up, an experiment to figure out how vulnerable these bases are to wet - whether sitting in spilled beverage or as a result of rain / flooding damage in storage. Below, I soaked a trimmed piece of the basing material in water for a day:
Note some curvature and curling at the edges - not the end of the world, but still...
Another view, different lighting.
I'm hopeful that if allowed to thoroughly dry, these bases would be OK on their edges. However, I think it is best to seal the bases I've already made, and flip over the ones on which I'm working now.
Sprayed the bases on cardboard outside, put them in the furnace room [very warm and dry] overnight, then let sit in my cool office for another 24 hours before storing them away:
Note that I'm now flipping over the bases, so this spray-painted side is now the bottom.
Project overview: heavy scissors to cut the corrugated cardboard, cheap white glue / PVA, and Elmer's Wood Filler to shape the ground on which the figs will stand.
Flipped bases. The "Make it Suade!" spray paint will now be on the bottom, thoroughly protecting the base. The white floor covering will be covered in Wood Fill anyway, so it will also be sealed. You can see how the cardboard shapes the ground of the base, giving it more depth and realism.
Below, 3-step process [right to left]. Prepared Base, figs glued on with PVA glue, base sculpted with Wood Fill.
Below, the old WRG/DBx basing system. This is a Unit of Gothic archers in loose order [I actually used them for Terry Gore's "Medieval Warfare"]. They aren't bad - I tried to give them some dynamics, but it puts them near the base edges.
Next to left is the new base, then with some Foundry cross-bows on it, then sculpted with Elmer's Wood Fill at the left.
Below three pics show the greater depth on the big bases:
They're also a mm or so taller, easier to grab.
I hope this is useful in helping your thinking about basing your armies, whether you agree / use my suggestions or not!
More figs and basing will be posted soon.