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"My Theory of Basing" Topic

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684 hits since 29 Jun 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian29 Jun 2020 1:54 p.m. PST

In my opinion, basing for wargaming is completely different than basing for display.

For display pieces, I completely get it that they want a decorated base, lots of vegetation, rocks, maybe a small tree, skullz and a dead body.

But for wargaming, I think it looks silly. "Here comes Sir Fred and the rock he drags everywhere with him."

For wargaming, I prefer basing treatments that are simple and effectively blend into the tabletop. I don't want to "see" the bases on the wargaming table. I want to see figures, I want to see armies.

Your mileage may vary. grin

Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:05 p.m. PST

thumbs up !

Doug MSC Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:06 p.m. PST

Yes, I agree with that. The amount of time I put into painting the figures should be on display. The basing should be nice but not overdone in such a way as to draw the attention to that before the figure. Others may have a different view and that's ok too.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:09 p.m. PST

For me the size of the base and figures determine what I do with a base – at 15mm and smaller I tend to do a basic stand with some static grass – for 20mm and larger I tend to like to add to the base

Just my 2 cents

Yesthatphil29 Jun 2020 2:13 p.m. PST

I think contemporary basing styles are just about right … rocks and tufts and the like where appropriate. I've been through several evolutions on basing … none … plain … flock … and variations of where we are today. I like where we are today.

But it does also matter to scale … the bigger the figures the less you need to worry about basing. 54mm figures work fine with no real landscaping at all (and are OK individually based) … but each scale down, the basing becomes more essential to the usage, and the landscaping becomes more part of the presentation. 10mm really is much better with 'realistic' terrain, and 6mm needs it.

'Tufts' have really improved the whole look of the wargame table in my opinion – and, as an experience, wargaming is all the better for it.


Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:40 p.m. PST

I'm with Bill on this distinction. Because I don't do anything for display, everything gets fairly minimal bases.

I'm now using clear plastic (like from blister packs) to give models stability, and painting the original bases in grays and tans so that they'll blend in and be ignored on any of my game tables.

That's my real work as a camofleur: getting the bases to disappear.

Personal logo mrwigglesworth Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:51 p.m. PST


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

Bill, I absolutely agree. I will also generally use the smallest base I can get away with. I've been using nickels lately. Just a simple sand, glue and paint mix. I will sometimes use a s8ngle stone or two To mark special figures.

Stoppage29 Jun 2020 3:09 p.m. PST


Generalising (US:generalizing) like mad (US: crazy): In the US you have enormous houses with plenty of spare space – double garages, basements, attics, etc, etc.

You can have huge tables and many, many miniatures to play with.

Good for you. Green with envy.

This side of the pond we live in miniscule houses – try two cramped rooms on the ground with two further storeys.

A small dining table might have to suffice.

This is the land of 75mm square bases (US: 3inches). If you don't have many then you make it beautiful – like a diorama.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 3:34 p.m. PST

Agree it is size dependent (i.e. my 6mm Napoleonics don't get much more than a whiff of flock) but for 28 mm I mostly do what Yesthatphil suggest – tufts, rocks, the odd bit of flowers; but for my command stands I do tend to the mini-diorama thing, especially for my medieval/SYW "big hats" – a few hangers-on, some extra colour and for a few, a pet dog or two

Demosthenes Of Athens29 Jun 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

I use a table painted a flat grass green. I base my figures on thin 1mm thick bases which are also painted flat green. No flocking just green paint. When the figures are on the table the bases merge into the background so all you really see is the figures marching. I like the look.

Here is an example. This is a close up of my 20mm figures. At normal table viewing range the bases are not very distinct.

20mm Horse Archers

Yellow Admiral29 Jun 2020 4:24 p.m. PST

For display pieces, I completely get it that they want a decorated base, lots of vegetation, rocks, maybe a small tree, skullz and a dead body.
For wargaming, I prefer basing treatments that are simple and effectively blend into the tabletop. I don't want to "see" the bases on the wargaming table. I want to see figures, I want to see armies.
For me, these are the same thing.

I also want my bases to blend into the table, which means using grass, dirt, bushes, rocks, etc. to hide the lumps of individual soldier's bases and geometrical base edges – or for naval gaming, a pattern of colors that blends into the sea surface and breaks up the geometrical pattern of the ship's base.

Fire & Fury long ago spoiled me for printed information as well – now I prefer written information to be out of sight on the underside of the base, and markers to be aesthetically appropriate miniatures in their own right. I don't like to see colorful knick-knacks, words, labels, chits, stickers, etc. (My land gaming has lots of crafty bits for markers, but my naval gaming still depends on an oversized collection of Litko items which I consider "temporary", though in a dozen years I have still never quite gotten around to replacing them with nicer crafted items…)

- Ix

Sgt Slag29 Jun 2020 4:57 p.m. PST

I've gone through different iterations on basing techniques over the past 25 hears: simple, flat green; all black; clear plastic, frosted, not shiny; to my current version of green sand mixtures with some gravel/rocks mixed in; on 50mm and bigger, I use random patterns of brownish red sand with greens, to make it look like mottled grass and earth.

I found that the green sands with gravel bits really improved the looks, overall. My tabletop is Tee-Time outdoor carpet: really nice, tightly woven, soft 'grass'. I really love it: no patterns, low mat, quite nice looking, really. Not planning to change base styles ever again… YMMV.

Planning to glue same carpet to open cell foam pieces cut on my Proxxon, covering the sloping sides with carpet strips. That way the hills will match the table top.

I have never been a fan of diorama-like basing. My gaming style is all about compromises. Basing is one of many compromises in my hobbies. Cheers!

evilgong29 Jun 2020 5:08 p.m. PST

My wargame armies are (for some at least) on display when not on the table.

There's something to Bill's idea – no matter what style you do your bases it's unlikely they will be a close match for the table-top.

For a while I did flat back and undecorated bases, and when asked mentioned the above. It also made bright colours on 15mm figs pop.

After a while I relented and decorated them with the usual treatments.

David F Brown

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 5:15 p.m. PST

This side of the pond we live in miniscule houses try two cramped rooms on the ground with two further storeys.

Lap of luxury, that is. In San Francisco, someone starting up a hedge fund or a softward company would love to have one of those rooms for a live-work space, instead of having to share it, and neither of them can afford parking spaces for their BMWs, and they have to use the other storeys for the servers for their businesses.

I'll urge them to move to Europe and get some space to live in, but they'll never believe me. Also, as Californians they probably won't be able to stand the overcast and rain.

Syrinx029 Jun 2020 5:18 p.m. PST

Size and number dictate the style of basing for me. Rpg and skirmish figures get a more developed base. Larger armies get sand & flock and an occasional tuft to break it up.

john snelling29 Jun 2020 6:37 p.m. PST

+1 for me

Personal logo Cormac Mac Art Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2020 8:10 p.m. PST

I was just considering this today. I've got a couple of original copies of Space Hulk and I'm finally painting the Terminators and Genestealers. I plan on using some screen material glued to the base and dry brushed to make it look like metal grates.

As for my FOW miniatures, I'm still figuring the basing out.

My 25mm-28mm miniatures I go pretty simple, but I still can't decide if I should flock the sides of the bases or not.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2020 1:53 a.m. PST

Simple flock on the base & maybe a tuft.

Personal logo PzGeneral Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2020 4:38 a.m. PST

I use just flock. I have a couple different shades / styles. I stay uniform to the game, but they may very game to game. But lately if there is an edge to the base I don;t flock that. I paint it brown or green…


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2020 7:54 a.m. PST

Actually, I can see the point of extensive terraining of bases in the smallest scales. 24 5mm castings on a 1x2 base leaves room enough, and skirmisher bases--maybe six castings on that same 1x2--almost seem to call for it: otherwise, they look like clearings in the woods the skirmisher occupy.

It's the same lame joke over and over which keeps me from following through. There's always someone in the group who not only thinks "they're carrying the tree with them" is funny in the first place, but goes on thinking so, even when it's used multiple times in a game and multiple games. Better to have a less satisfactory base than to put up with it.

MajorB30 Jun 2020 9:21 a.m. PST

It's a personal gripe of mine. I just can't stand wargame figure bases with rocks, bushes and other stuff that doesn't move on the base. Just looks silly.

Dagwood30 Jun 2020 11:17 a.m. PST

I build up the wooden bases to the level of the metal bases, then add small amounts of flock and large amounts of sand. (Most of mine belong to dry, Mediterranean countries. For Ancient Brits there is more flock and much less sand.)

Rocks and tufts are generally limited to light infantry bases (there is no room on close order bases) but in any case I limit them to less than four per unit, so most bases do not have any. Rocks are small and tend to be inconspicuous, not too easy for the troops to trip over !

dapeters30 Jun 2020 12:28 p.m. PST

I agree with Bill. I don't like it when stuff is model into the base by the sculptor.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2020 2:40 p.m. PST

Alas, MajorB, almost all my bases have grass, which doesn't move either.

Rick190505 Jul 2020 12:03 a.m. PST

For my individually based stuff I've started using circles punched from ultrapro top loader card sleeves. Here is a picture from Pulp Alley that shows the idea:

Sgt Slag06 Jul 2020 8:57 a.m. PST

I tried clear bases. I found the clear acrylic was too shiny. So I used a matte clear coat, and that was OK.

Then I tried cutting the mini's feet off of their molded bases, such as what Rick1906 shows: too much time, and labor for my armies of mini's (800+ mini's)… I also found that the feet glued to the clear acrylic had a weak bond to the bases, and it was too easy to snap them off of the bases (1mm thick acrylic, unlike Rick1906's). I then tried leaving the mini's attached to their molded bases, which I simply painted black.

In the end, I switched to textured bases. No matter what style/approach you take, there will be trade-off's, and compromises. Pick your options, and live with their shortcomings and failures. Cheers!

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2020 12:24 p.m. PST


What glue works best for the bases you use with metal miniatures? Thanks.

Rick190506 Jul 2020 12:47 p.m. PST

I've found that my metals stick to the thin card protector plastic better than my friends' stuff that is on acrylic.

I use a good quality super glue (basically not dollar store super glue or gorilla glue's brand of super glue-- both of those fog a lot) and dab off excess on cardboard before sticking. I learned how to do it from Pulp Alley's youtube videos:

Attaching to bases:
YouTube link

Making thin clear bases:
YouTube link

I use the same punches and use the ultra pro premium top loader card protectors. They're not perfectly clear but have an ever so slight grey tint to them. They reflect less than acrylic.

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