Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Basing Conundrums

I thought I was fairly well set with how I was to proceed with basing and organising my Napoleonic infantry units for the Peninsular. Now, having done some 'blanks', I'm not so sure any more.

Here are some shots of the possibilities using British figures in 'firing line' poses.
This shot shows the three basic possibilities and shows the relative frontages quite nicely.
24 figures on six 40mm x 40mm stands. This was the original plan. Thing is, they look a bit skirmishy with this frontage.
24 figures on four 50mm x 50mm stands. Now this looks better to me, but four bases means a loss of formation flexibility. I'd do six stands with this spacing but, I feel, little stands (32 mm width) might be a pain to move about.
36 figures on six 50mm x 50mm stands. This is the pricey option. The tactical flexibility of six stands with good figure spacings. Downside, apart from cost and painting time, this unit has a one foot table frontage - you're not going to get that many units on the table and big battles become much less viable.
From the side the difference in the spacing looks even more stark. I do like that 24 man unit on 50 by 50s but four stands doesn't give much variation in unit formation and 12 figure cavalry formations will be 50% wider.
I like this too. But one foot frontage? It would allow for 12 cavalry to have the same frontage I suppose, and that makes good war gaming sense. But, would 12 figure cavalry units look a bit small next to 36 man infantry units? 
 Well, there is food for thought. What do you think?


Phil said...

I mounted my 1812 Saxon's, 4 line figures or 3 light infantry figures on 30mm x 40mm bases,

60mm x 80mm for cavalry (3 figures per base) and artillery (1 gun model and 4 crew figures)

My Infantry battalions are 24 figures (6 bases) cavalry 4 bases for each regiment and my artillery batteries will represent gun sections (6 gun battery - 3 gun sections)


Major Wittering said...

I like the look of your six figs a stand, but think 36 fig units unwieldy. I made a different set of decisions, though, ending up with battalions of only 16 figs on 4 stands of 4. I agree that they look a little "skirmishy", but less so at a distance, and even less so when there are multiple battalions on the table. My critical factors were: to get as many battalions painted as quickly as I was able; to maximise the variety of uniforms on the table, whilst keeping close to historical OOBs (my focus is the 100 days); and the fact that I've a table of only 4' depth (though up to 12 feet wide). Because this tends to cramp formations somewhat, two "small battalions" like this brigaded together give me a decent looking mass as well as the variety. There's also the cost - even with plastics, and skimpy version of the OOB, the target of Waterloo will cost a few hundred pounds. My compromises work for me. With your larger table, I'd say that battalions of 24, based on 4 bases, is the best compromise.

Presumably, if you're worried about formations you're thinking primarily of small battles, about a Divisional level, or at least no larger than a Corps per side, so that battalion level control is meaningful. In my case, I treat a battalion as a brigade - essentially, units are in line, column or square, and that's it, a la Black Powder - so any finer level of control is lost.

How are you going to handle skirmishers? Replace fixed bases with duplicate individual models, simply move LI bases into a notional position, or use some sort of sabot for the light companies? This might affect your overall decision, too, especially if cost is a big factor.

AKI said...

6 figs on 45 mm x 40mm is the convention with older rules (e.g. grand manner) and the Perry plastic bases; so I think 4 on a 30m frontage could work. Personally all mine are 4 figs on 40mm square and I think it's ok but not quite the historical 'shoulder to shoulder' effect.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Since your figure count remains the same either way then I would for sure go with 4 stands of 6 figures as Napoleonics always looks better packed in tight. Cavalry will often fight in mass forming a square block rather then a line as it's easier to move around so won't extend beyond your infantry's front all that often.


Anonymous said...

For my British battalions I have gone with 6 x 4figure bases. I usually use 2 (and sometimes three) figures at each end for flank companies.

Dave Gamer said...

I like massive bases and I like to minimize the number of stands I have to move so I would go for the 50mm wide, 6 figures to a stand, 4 stands per unit configuration. For my 28mm ACW collection and Piquet FOB2 I plan on doing 45mm x 40mm bases since mots of my figs are Old Glory 1st edition and they are running forward so a 20mm per man spacing is too much. I also want to keep the frontage down so I can fit more units on the table!

Gonsalvo said...

Many different ways to do it. I use 18 figures on six stands, 1.75 x 1 inch (so roughly 25mm deep and 40mm wide). My cavalry have 8 figures on 4 stands, all 1.75 " square so about 40 x 40mm.

Nikephorous said...

Try 5 bases of six. Command sits in the centre then. Also each base can represent two companies.

Looks vs practicality is difficult in Naps.

Simon Miller said...

Yes 24s on 4 bases appears the best compromise to me. IMHO the bigger units are magnificent but too unwieldy for regular play.

Paul Robinson said...

For me bigger is better. Being of the peter Gilder generation my Napoleonic units were always based around "In the Grand manner" so British in 30 man units and french in 36. simple. I wasn't quite so keen on the 16 man British light cavalry options but that was the price you paid for the rules.
Nowadays we have plenty of choice and we make our own decisions.
Yet somehow I'd still go back to 30 figures for the British - it looks right on the table when lined up against 36 figure French units. it also provides for some of that flexibility you were talking about.


Thanks guys,

I'm still totally undecided about this. I'm leaning to six bases on 33mm-ish wide stands, though I always get the willies with stands that narrow. For some reason 'figure clash' always feels it will happen more - but, does it?


DeanM said...

I have my Napoleonic line based 4 figs per 40mm squares. That said, looking at your 6 figs per base example seems pretty good too. It would speed up movement of troops IMO, and still be able to keep most formations. Column of three figs instead of two, of course.

Gustavas Travels said...

I would increase the basing width to 60mm and have 4 stands per unit. Base the Cavalry on 60mm frontage should allow for 3 figures if slightly staggered. By having the infantry on 60x50 bases a square would also look better.

Unknown said...

My 28mm Napoleonic infantry are all 4 figures on a 40mm square base.
Seems to give the best mixture of practicality and appearance.

World2Dave said...

I suspect it would be unhelpful to simply suggest that however you base them, they will look stunning! I'd keep with 24s for the reasons you've given, and make a test base or two to try out the stability issue.

Anonymous said...

What about basing in as near a company strength as possible?
At 10 companies /battalion James I'd be opting for 5 bases of 6 figures for British, 6 bases/battalion of whatever number you have planned for French with each to represent a company for the latter. I suspect 20 figures/ British battalion will be too weak

You could weaken some of the British bases to save on figures but I'd still be tempted to go with a base = 2 companies of same size

Unknown said...

6 man bases for 28mm figures don't work so well - they are too big and heavy.
I'd definitely stick with 4 man bases.

Anthony Miles said...

Which rule set are you planning to play with, do they specify base sizes? Who are you playing against, what size do they use? Some rules don't care about base sizes as long as both sides use roughly the same.


Hi Anthony, a mix of rule sets including classic Piquet, Field of Battle, Black powder and Lasalle. I'll be collecting all of the troops for both sides. I've already made a purchase to this end - I bought my first 35 battalions, 8 cavalry regiments and 6 artillery batteries from Front Rank a couple of months ago.

Simon Miller said...

Big bases can work- I often put 24 ancients minis on a single 18cm wide base. Of course, though, ancients don't need to form square! I thnk 4 bases a unit would make great sense.

andy said...

I would be interested to hear what you are taking from Black Powder, speaking as someone who is moving to Piquet from BP.
Mostly because of reading your blog might I add, so much that I'm also contemplating Italian wars next too


I will probably never leave Piquet. I'll use the basic mechanic for just about everything, even if I write amendments for everything to suit me. I'm just in the mood for something different and popular (BP holds no more sway with me than Lasalle). Usually, these feelings leave me after one or two games and I go back to Piquet for the nervous excitement:

Piquet and sex would equate, as going to bed with three hookers at the same time and not knowing which one (if any) is holding a very sharp knife, and what her motives are (if she is).

What could beat that!