Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Basing: a question of style

This morning while doing the tedious if ultimately rewarding job of applying white glue and flock to another 24 bases of 15mm troops I started to give some idle thought to the question of why I have not changed my basing style in any noticeable way in ten years.

Now, I am an admirer of many types of basing (and a silent dismisser of some others), but my own basing falls somewhere on the wrong side of middling. It's not attractive, scenic or dramatic in the way that many schemes are, but (he says defensively) it's not just a coat of paint, either.

It's been suggested that adding some tufts and clumps would help improve my armies, and I have to say that I agree.

So why haven't I yet done anything about it?

Well, the main reason is that early on when getting into wargaming I saw examples of various wonderful basing schemes - dry-brushed groundcover topped with different shades of flock cunningly applied to give the impression of highlighting; others of clumps, stalks, water features; hedges, bushes, flowers; snow; desert flora and fauna; rocky vistas - that look magnificent individually, but mismatched when paired on the table with another beautifully based army that uses an entirely different approach.

I saw that both basing styles might be awe-inspiring on their own, but if they did not match on the table it would be all for nothing.

Right from the beginning then I plumped for boring, easily replicated uniformity over the brilliant and unique. I wanted my Iberians, Gauls, Numidians and so on to blend in seamlessly whether they were fighting by the side of my Romans or my Carthaginians, and I wanted them to look okay with Osaka Luke's armies as well.

To be sure, I had a few false starts (and some of my early armies still have a few white stones that glare rather balefully from their bases, but these are slowly falling off, and given a little more time will be nothing but a memory...), but once I found what I wanted I stuck to it.

The other reason I haven't done anything is that my time is limited (i.e., I am lazy), and to add tufts and clumps to the many hundreds of bases I would need to to keep things uniform seems like a lot of extra work.

So there we are. For better or worse, simplicity is here to stay for the near future.

The drying continues...


  1. Your bases look good. I take a similar approach to you with units, basing them for simplicity and consistency. However, for individual figures, mainly my W40K collection, I do jazz up the bases. I cannot help myself as I put so much more painting and modelling effort into the 28mm figures.

  2. Append tufts on one base is one minute of work ... One free day and the entire army, the collection will look much better. :P

  3. Consistent basing is important if not sometimes difficult when adding to an army over a number of months / years.

    I have just been re-doing my ACW stuff by increasing the percentage of the flock type that matches my Kallistra tiles.

    I wonder whether many of us are ever entirely satisfied with our basing.

  4. I rebased my armies more times than I can mention, like you I'm happy with my simpke sand, paint, flick & flock technique. As long as you're happy, that's all that really counts.

  5. I agree with you, Aaron. All my armies have a similar basing style, though with different colored basing material depending on historical period. Makes it a easy to add new troops.

  6. I'd rather paint more troops than spend more time on basing. Thus, while I do use some different styles, they are all pretty much white glue and flock. In recent years, I'll add some tufts or flowwers to command bases. My most elaborate basing is for my Egyptians and Canaanites - but even that is just gluing down a few tufts, then white glue and a mix of sand and fine railroad ballast. I loathe re-basing - did it once with about 1,000 Napoleonics in the last 1970's, and swore never to do it again!

  7. In the end all that matters is that it makes you happy. Carry on sir, they look just fine.


  8. The biggest reason I find myself spending time basing is because I find it far less of a chore than painting the actual troops! Also, you can be creative basing in a way you can't painting - you paint a figure as best you can to represent a particular viewpoint of reality, and it's not up to you to choose one colour scheme over another when you have an historical prototype to model. But with basing it's up to you if you want to place a little bush here, or there, or not anywhere. Of course, such creativity is basically non-existent when you are using bases that (e.g. WRG ancients bases) have almost no room on them for anything other than figures...

  9. Thanks for your thoughts and comments, all!


  10. I can't remember where I read (and mostly believe) that people judge miniatures mostly on faces and bases. I'm rubbish at faces, so I spend a little extra time on the bases. I can quickly knock out some sand, occasional rock, three coats of paint and some random grass.

    On the other hand, extremely nice details like top notch shields (above picture you posted) make miniatures extraordinarily beautiful.


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