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"Basing for 15mm?" Topic

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Doc Martens from Canada07 Mar 2020 9:34 a.m. PST

As the title states, what are the preferred methods/ways to base 15mm figures for ancients and medievals?

Materials for bases? (ie wood/metal)

Thickness of bases?

Basing materials? (many of the materials used for 28mm make it seem the figures are walking over a field of large rocks)

Base dimensions?

Number of figures per stand? (ie 2 rows of 4?)

Number for cavalry, infantry, skirmishers, chariots? (I am going to guess 1 per base for the chariots.)

I know different rule sets often call for different basing, but I want to have a format that would be more universal and not for a certain set of rules.

Thank you, in advance, for any advice. I am rather new to 15mm and want to build upon the expertise of others, as I know this forum is a wealth of knowledge and experience!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2020 10:26 a.m. PST

If you're going for universal--well, at least "most common"--consider following the WGR/DBA format for base dimensions and number of figures per base. There are so many figures based that way that other rules systems often follow them and almost always allow for using troops based that way.

A base thickness of under 1/8"/3mm is hard to pick up without handling the figures, and a base that thick precludes metal, so probably hardboard or plywood. There are many who prefer thinner metal bases, but I think they're a minority, and anyway, you can't match everyone.

For basing materials, I can't advise in good conscience. I tend to stick to "blended turf," but as you say, there are many very elaborate systems in use. I still think it's a good general rule that as the troops get smaller--and the base necessarily represents a larger area--it should be plainer, flatter and more uniform. But the important person you have to please is yourself. Base dimensions and number of figures per base can be important in play, but no game has been cancelled because the combatants had different base thicknesses or basing materials.

Good luck!

JAFD2607 Mar 2020 12:25 p.m. PST

Salutations, Mr. Myers,

I agree with what Mr. Piepenbrink said.

Myself, I base my 15s on 'mat board' (a heavy cardboard, get it at 'art supply shop' or ask photographer or picture framing shop if they have 'offcut' pieces they won't be using.), with a piece of 'magnetic vinyl' 'Glue-All-ed' on bottom (ask place that makes 'truck signs' for 'ends of rolls' or 'printed out of register' pieces).

But other people do it differently.
Will have some pictures of my latest armies up soon, judge for yourself…

pikeman66607 Mar 2020 2:27 p.m. PST

My figures always seemed to suffer damage in transit, so switched to magnetic sign material. It's not too thick, and some thin sheet stock cut to fit my container keeps them from flying around. I use double side tape to secure the metal liner.

The Last Conformist08 Mar 2020 1:32 a.m. PST

I use Litko's thinnest plywood bases with sheet magnet beneath. DBX sizes because that's what I play.

Then basing grit (any brand, or even properly dried sand from outdors) followed by flock and/or stack grass on top.

mc deli08 Mar 2020 3:07 a.m. PST

I've just got back into 15mm ancients so I've tried to hoover up loads of info ready for some DBMM/ADLG.

Base size: 40 x 15/20/30/40

Double basing: for ADLG you can double base med and hvy infantry, and triple base pike. Pike triple basing can be 40 deep rather than 45. In practice, keeping single basing preserves compatibility with DBx.

Commander basing: ADLG can use separate commanders on circular or square 40mm bases. Aesthetic personal preference.

Base material: 2 or 3mm MDF seems popular with the option of magnetic strip under. I got a load of laser cut 2mm MDF bases from East Riding and I'm happy.

Figs per base: I got confused about a couple of things (bowmen and peltasts). But it seems that 15mm numbers per base haven't changed since WRG so medium inf can be 3 or 4 to a base. If I understand correctly ADLG command bases can have whatever banners/musicians. Also I think that in DBx and ADLG there's no elephant basing with extra light support, which there used to be in WRG.

…and as for rocks… I am so guilty. Having found a really good selection of bird and aquarium sand and shingle, I've used far too big rocks this week on some bases! Thing is, where I live we have lots of exposed rock but the OP is probably right, use with caution;)

At least that's what I've learnt about DBx and ADLG, hopefully accurate, I'm sure any corrections will follow;)

The Last Conformist08 Mar 2020 3:25 a.m. PST

Also I think that in DBx and ADLG there's no elephant basing with extra light support, which there used to be in WRG.
If this means additional foot figures on the bases of elephant elements, DBMM recommends it as one option for distinguishing Superior elephants from their lesser brethren.

Doc Martens from Canada08 Mar 2020 7:39 a.m. PST

I was thinking this was going to be a little simpler.

No, it's not that hard. I guess I have to look at some rulesets to determine between hvy, med and light.

I was trying to avoid asking what rules to use for this post.

mc deli08 Mar 2020 9:22 a.m. PST

I think the way to keep it simple is avoid the double basing of infantry because that will limit you to ADLG.

And a few extra commanders on circular/square 40mm bases for the rules that have separate commanders as an option is not a big deal.

I keep looking at army lists thinking it would be more informative if units stated how many figures per base;)

Doc Martens from Canada08 Mar 2020 11:47 a.m. PST

So a double base could just be made by putting 2 bases together on the table, no? Then just moving them together.

Doc Martens from Canada08 Mar 2020 8:29 p.m. PST

Reading page 7 of ADLG rules, the rules state to use 2 or 3 bases for non light or skirmish troops.

Page 8, though, shows sample bases of double ranked troops on one base. So I guess you can follow the written or the visual. Knowing other systems use 1 rank, I will stick to that, I guess, and just put 2 bases together.

It also shows an elephant with skirmishers on the same base.

TheDaR09 Mar 2020 12:20 p.m. PST

In order to get a more universal setup, I actually went a different route than a lot of the previous suggestions. I play a combination of games which require individual basing, basing neutral, or mass basing of various sizes, so being flexible is most important to me.

My figures all go on metal washers. I use combination of 15.8mm (5/8th inch), 19.1mm (3/4th inch), 25.4mm (1 inch) and 37.5mm (1 1/2 inch), all 1/16th thick with a 1/4th inch inner diameter (less important than the outer diameter).

Generally, I put one figure on 15.8mm, 2 regular foot troops or 1 cavalry on a 19.1mm, 2 cavalry or 3 regular foot on a 25.4mm, and one elephant/artillery on a 37.5mm. Since I do a lot of genres beyond pure historical gaming, so "large" figures like ogres/trolls/battle armor/etc will usually go one or two sizes up. I plan my purchases so that I can have an appropriate mix of 1, 2, and 3 man bases for each troop type. I usually do about an even mix of 1 and 2, with the occasional 3, shading more towards 1 or 2 man bases, depending on if the troop is most often densely formed like spears/pikes/blades, or not like skirmishers/auxilia.

Each base is finished with a "goop" recipe I got from TMP years ago (approximately 1 part each of acrylic craft paint, white glue, Liquitex Acrylic Resin Sand, and fine grit ballast, plus a light sprinkle of coarser ballast). The paint in the goop gives me the rough color I want, which I then dry brush with a few lighter shades of brown and tan. I sometimes add a bit of static grass or flock to the base, but not always.

For games which require individual basing, they're ready to go. For games which use mass bases, such as WRG/DBx style, I have made sabot bases which fit the appropriate washers. I prefer 1/8th inch/3mm deep, as that seems to be the best trade off of not too obtrusive but still easy enough for me to grip and pick up by the edges.

Originally I made the sabot trays out of polystyrene sheet 1.5mm thick cut to just below desired size, then edged with 3.2mm wide flat strips to provide a lip. Once done, they were filled with some form of 2 part epoxy putty or clay around the desired washers to make wells, and once tried, based and finished with the same goop and painting style as the actual bases. Making the tray form takes about few minutes each, but doing the filling longer and was messier than I'd really like.

These days I've got a bunch of STL files for 3d printed versions of the trays, which I intend to use the same way. I can design a new tray model for the exact basing I want in under 10 minutes, and printing them off should take a fairly short period of time.

Sandinista10 Mar 2020 12:50 a.m. PST

As a mostly solo gamer I don't have to worry about what my opponents have used.
I generally base infantry on a 30mm wide x 40mm deep base, varying the numbers depending on troop type. From heavy melee troops as 6 to 3 for skirmish troops. I usually have 4 bases to a unit. Pike I use a 80mm deep base.
For mounted troops I use a 40mm wide x 60mm deep base, with 5 to 3 figures on depending on type. I use 3 bases to a unit, keeping 120mm as the frontage for an average size unit.
I think the deeper bases look better on the table.


Slow Oats13 Mar 2020 7:42 a.m. PST

For single basing, I use pennies/20mm round bases. For multibasing, 3-4 guys on a 50mm×25mm base. Nowadays I go for as thin as possible, I'm not super worried about handling the minis themselves (a good varnish should protect them just fine). I've experimented with card and blister pack, but I'm thinking of moving to steel bases.

A Lot of Gaul15 Mar 2020 8:11 a.m. PST


Please find responses to your questions below. My 'large 15mm' armies are based for the Age of Hannibal rules by Greg Wagman of Little Wars TV: link

Materials for bases? (ie wood/metal)] Laser-cut 2mm MDF from Minibits: link

Thickness of bases? To me, 2mm bases look better than 3mm bases, and I have no trouble picking them up. Your experience may be different.

Basing materials? Brown Battleground Basing with patches of Green Field Grass, both by The Army Painter: link

Base dimensions? 40mm x 40mm

Number of figures per base for cavalry, infantry, skirmishers, chariots? In Age of Hannibal the number of figures per base has no effect on game play, and so is entirely up to the preference of the player. My own personal basing scheme is as follows:

Skirmishers – 3 per base
Archers & Light Infantry – 4 per base
Warband – 5 per base
Handweapons & Spears – 6 per base
Pikes – 8 per base
Rabble – 4-5 per base
All Horse & Camelry – 2 per base
Elephants, Chariots & Artillery – 1 per base

This basing scheme allows me to play Age of Hannibal, Hail Caesar, Impetus and Milites Mundi. As you mentioned, If one also wanted to play some of the other rulesets mentioned in previous posts, one could simply base for those rules, and then place two of the smaller bases ranked up on a 40mm square sabot base for AoH and the others I listed.

Ultimately, the best basing scheme is the one that allows you to use all of the rulesets you wish to play. Best of luck to you in your search!


Doc Martens from Canada15 Mar 2020 10:56 a.m. PST

Thank you Scott. Yes, I am thinking 3mm (1/8) is a bit thick for 15mm. (I bought a sheet of 1/8 hardboard at HomeDepot.) That thickness would be good for 25/28mm figures.

I do have a lot of metal bases, but I think 2mm with a magnet attached may be the best (just drill a couple of holes and insert the magnets – I have a lot I bought of ebay).

I am going to have to call around and see if any of the local suppliers have 2mm (5/64" or even 3/32").

catavar15 Mar 2020 11:58 a.m. PST

I have a few DBx Armies. I started basing my figs on metal (<1mm thick) then moved to precision cut plastic (1mm). When that became unavailable to me I went to MDF/Masonite type bases (3mm). I have found they're easy to pick up without touching the figs themselves. I base all my 15mm figs on them now pre-cut. Good luck with your search.

Albus Malum29 Apr 2020 5:56 p.m. PST

Single Base!!!! Base on washers!(Or magnetic coins if you live in Europe) they are magnetic, single base and use magnetic movement trays of what ever scale fits your game, most man sized figures, I put on 5/8" fender washers, goblins ect go on 1.2" washers and bigger things on bigger washers as needed. Most calvary I am puting on 1/2' x 1 1/8" metal bases from Wargame Accessories.

Really you get the most versatility this way.

John Edmundson29 Apr 2020 6:37 p.m. PST

I too felt that 3mm looked too thick for my own personal preference but there is a guy in NZ (where I am) who makes them in 4mm MDF so I split them in half! It means they're about 2mm thick but already a bit uneven, which I like. I then, as others have mentioned, got the thinnest magnetic sheet I could so they can stay in place in transit.

I have looked admiringly at a lot of the basing I've seen here and in other online locations. They are beautiful, but, other than when I'm down at one of our Canterbury braided riverbeds, I've never seen an actual an area of ground that has those little areas of silvery grey stones, alternating with grass, about one person wide, that this current trend so loves. Caveat – these people are infinitely better modellers than me.

So I used to just flock with a mix of green and brown to get the shade I want and my 'table' is 600mm square and 600 x 300mm 'tiles' flocked in the same mix. Recently, I have been allowing myself some sand patches on some bases. Mine are based using DBx conventions.

John Edmundson29 Apr 2020 8:08 p.m. PST

mc deli wrote:
"Double basing: … In practice, keeping single basing preserves compatibility with DBx."

DBMM allows for 'making change' so if one of a voluntarily double based pair is destroyed you can substitute a SBE. That gives more scope for figure placement but has a swings and roundabouts consequence in the game; you can't choose to separate them when it suits.

"Figs per base: I got confused about a couple of things (bowmen and peltasts). But it seems that 15mm numbers per base haven't changed since WRG so medium inf can be 3 or 4 to a base."

Regular Bd(F), Pk(F), Bw and Ax are 4 to a base, Irregular are 3 to a base.

"Also I think that in DBx and ADLG there's no elephant basing with extra light support, which there used to be in WRG."

As someone pointed out, this is integral in El(S).


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