Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Basing for Rules Rant

 Things have been slow in the hobby area of my life. I have had little time between moving my daughter to college, starting the semester at my school, and the ramping up of all my son's activities. I have been working on various things, but in piecemeal fashion. Projects make some headway but then come to a grinding halt. There really has not been anything blogworthy to report on.

Even though I have nothing visual to show for, I have been thinking a lot. And what I have been thinking a lot about is figure basing. It has become my pet peeve that every new rule set I encounter seems to wants different basing. Let's take ancient/medieval/fantasy rules for example. One set still has you base your figures following the old WRG format (40mm length x Xmm depth, depending on troop type), which is fine with me. Then you have rules where figures have to be in squares. Then you have rules where the base dimensions are odd so that you have to special order them from some company. Finally, you have rules where each figure is individually based.  You have rules where the commanders are based independently from the units they command. Then you have rules were the commander must be based among the rank and file troops. The variations seem to go on and on. 

One one level, I do get the point of having bases of a standard size, but I have read through enough rules to conclude that the justification of basing troops a certain way did not seem to be all that critical to the rest of the rule mechanics. The rules would work fine as intended so long as you keep things consistent.

I read a lot on the various Facebook groups, particularly those that center around a single set of rules where posters rebased their figures to conform to this latest rule set. So in a year or so, when the new latest & greatest set of rules come along, are you going to rip off all of those figures from their current bases and rebase them? What if it ends up that you don't really like the rules?  Sorry, but I am not going to rip up all my figures and rebase them for a rule system that is relatively untried, nor do I have the money to duplicate units to match the various basing systems ("...and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules A, and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules B, and here is my unit of Orcs for Rules C...."). It would not be that big an issue, but some rules seem to force you to use a particular basing system. I will not name names, but the wording of the first edition of a particular rule set seemed to shame the reader if they dared to have multiple figures on a single base. Recently, I read some reviewer of rules state that those who insist on using the WRG basing conventions were old dinosaurs and need to get with the picture....really? 

I cannot put my finger on it, but I blame the rise of the Games Workshop mentality of rules. Not only must you buy and use only our miniatures to play our game, but you have to base them according to our conventions. Heaven help you if you do otherwise (even if it doesn't really matter so long as you are consistent). Again, a certain unnamed WWII set of rules seems to insist on basing your infantry on a particular sized base (which they are happy to sell you), even if it does not really seem to matter that much as far as I can tell. This mentality has permeated among a lot of rules that don't have their own line of miniatures. 

As a wargaming child of the late 70s, I am going to continue to buck the system and fight the Power, even if it means I will be using these rules solo. I will ignore their iron-fisted basing rules or adapt my already based miniatures to the rest of their system. I will make it work! 


  1. Just base as you want to and ignore the naysayers!

  2. Chris -
    A cautionary tale. A zillion years back - well, late last century - I began building up plastic 30YW armies (Imperialist and Swedish, almost all Revell figures and pieces). I decided to write my own rule set for them. As I sort of favour 'individual bases', I wrote my own rule set (as always) very 'old school'.

    At about that time the WRG rule set De Bellis Renationis (DBR) enjoyed a surge in popularity locally. After a great deal of dithering and hesitation, I based my armies up for DBR. Lo and behold, it was like magic: local interest in the rule set died a death more or less unlamented.

    Although I had (and have) no quarrel with the DBx family of war games, DBR always struck me as 'unfinished', underdeveloped. I think that - and the move away from DBx into other rule sets (with fancy books and what have you) - had led to my doing almost nothing with my 30YW armies for almost 20 years,

    Having said that, my solution to the 'bases' problem: I never buy them. Instead I get sheets of thickish card - not so thick as to make scissors cutting problematic, and not plastic - and, apart from using DBx conventions when convenient, please myself.

    Fight the Power! Long ago figuring out that where I want my war games to go is not where the main stream(?) does, I have largely 'gone solo'. However most of my armies can easily slot into more popular commercial rule sets whenever a social game beckons...

  3. Ion,
    Thanks for the feedback. I have never been wedded to the DBX system. of rules. It was more that the friends who I gamed with used those rules. After awhile, I got to a critical mass, so to speak, of my collection being based on the DBX convention, that I didn't feel inclined to switch to a different one.

    I have often thought of rebasing them using the sabot method, but I'm too lazy to do so.

    People to game with are few and far between where I now live, so most of my gaming is either solo or with my son when I can get him off the computer. So, I guess there is no one to squawk at me if my figures are not properly based for a particular rule set.

  4. Ion has it right, no doubt the best option will always be to base them the way that looks best to you, for the kind of game you want to play. Unfortunately, at least in my case, what looks best to me, and what kind of game I want, changes from day to day and I rebase as the wind blows.

    1. John,
      Looking over my medieval/fantasy collection last night, I noticed some infantry units that I might seriously rebase as singles.