Saturday, 2 August 2008

Thoughts on basing

Having read Adolfo's musings on basing ( Il Desto Fante at I've been thinking about basing for the Mendelstadt C18 armies. I want games that are quick to set up, play and take down, but I also want an OSW approach, with casualty removal. I don't like "casualty rings" - what's the point of all that time spent on beautifully painted minis just to obscure them with abstract counters?

I could use markers which are more scenic , e.g. bodies littering the table, but this seems a little macabre (I know: the whole idea of a game of war seems rather macabre, but that's no reason to make it look that way). In fact, in my 10mm Napoleonic games, where typically I have 10 figs to a base, I use cotton wool smoke markers to indicate casualty/morale/cohesion. (My rules here are as simple as I can get away with, in the interests of getting 1000 figs on the table yet completing a game in a few hours).

So I think the best approach is to mount figures individually and use magnetic basing for multiple stands: 4s or 8s. Current thinking will build 24 man battalions, in 28mm, with a battalion (or regiment, really) being three companies of 8 figs. Companies can then become independent tactical units (a la Grant and Lawford/Young) and I can use casualty removal, but this approach also means I can:

(a) use occasional figures for skirmishes. I plan to have some pirate games, naval boarding and perhaps skirmish-sieges, as well as full scale battles.

(b) I can combine two 24-man regiments on occasion to build 48 man "brigades" for true OSW big battles. Whilst this won't quite fit the rules of Charge! or The War Game, it'd be close enough to require only minimal tinkering.

(c) As I'll have two colours per regiment, I'll also be able to divide them into 12 man, single rank regiments, each with their own colour, for games where I want a lot of units (e.g. for reasonable simulation of a historical set-up)

(d) I don't plan to have grenadier companies, only grenadier battalions, but with single figure basing, I can always change my mind later, if I want.

However, it does mean quite a lot of work on making magnetic bases and movement trays (or "sabots" as I believe some know them).

Any advice, chaps?


Bluebear Jeff said...

There are "sheet magnets" (sign use them for vehicles, for example). These can be cut with scissors. Use them cut to the size of your "movement trays" and simply glue them on.

You can make the trays themselves out of balsa, cardstock, plastic or whatever you like.

Base the figures on steel (squares, washers, whatever) and you're all set.

Your plan, by the way, seems to be a very good one to me. It makes a lot of sense.

-- Jeff

Adik said...

I never tried magnetic bases, so I cannot be of any help on that issue, but I think you are spot on with (c) and (d). I am also planning on mounting my units in such a flexible way to enjoy standard 24-figure battalions, but eventually split them in two 12-figure units if I decide to play some historical, large battles. This seems to me to be the mbest approach.
And I also like your idea about grenadiers. Never say never, right?

Snickering Corpses said...

I think the magnetic bases is certainly the most flexible option. I intend to do something of the sort myself, when I get to that stage. Magnetic basing by company.

Fitz-Badger said...

I tried the magnetic sheets from office supply stores and from Liyko, but found them way too weak. In the end I settled on using rare earth magnets. You can get some pretty small or thin ones.
I make movement trays out of black plastic card with the rare earth magnets sandwiched inside and base all of my minis on metal washers. It's a bit of work making the plastic/magnet sandwich trays, so I usually just do a few at a time as needed for new units.

An alternative might be to embed the magnets into the bases of the minis (you could get a size that fits neatly in the hole of the washers or, since you can get pretty thin magnets, glue them right to the bases of the minis). Then put metal in the movement trays.