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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

15/18mm Napoleonic basing (rules)

So I am getting back into modelling, I have lots of models to paint, lots of units, but how should I base them? I buy AB, Campaign Game Miniatures, Warmodelling, Eureka and Napoleon at War. All of which are closer to 18mm than the old 15mm standard model. On top of that, even though I live in a regional part of the country of Australia, which is already a regional part of the world, I still hold out hopes of having some wargames. What to do?

So the next question is what set of rules should I base towards? I did a survey of what rule sets are the most popular and came up with some suggestions. Lasalle, Black Powder, Napoleon at War, Field of Glory and General de Brigade are the most obvious rule sets I have found.

So back in the day I started wargaming with my dad. First in 25mm and later in 15mm. he got interested in 6mm but that was too small for me. I like the new 18mm/15mm maxis, I like the combination of quality, price and detail. I have been tempted by the 28mm model available now, there are some very nice models. But for now I am sticking to 15mm/18mm. We also used 12 men to a unit and roughly a 50/1 ratio.

Many systems rely upon the length of a unit along its face for gameplay.

What is nice about Lasalle is that you can buy Lasalle battalions packs from from AB, WarModelling and Campaign Game Miniatures make varied size battalion packs.

Lasalle units are broken into Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. Infantry and Cavalry can be either Small or Large units. Large units have six bases and Small units have four bases. Each of these bases can be of varied size and numbers of figures but there are some recommended base sizes (although not dimensions). These are:

Infantry: 4x2 (40mm x 25mm) (Small unit is 4 bases ~ 24 figures, Large unit is 6 bases ~ 40 figures)
Cavalry: 1x3 (40mm x 25mm) (Small unit is 4 bases ~ 12 figures, Large unit is 6 bases ~ 18 figures)
Artillery: (40mm x c 25mm) (circa 4 figures plus 1 gun)

Figure 1 Lasalle basing guide from Sam Mustafa's rule book (link)

Black Powder (BP)
From what I can tell this rule set is very popular, it is also quite flexible when it comes to base sizes. They do have a guide to unit sizes with Standard Size being what most units should be, with Large Small and Tiny being exceptional. Units can also vary slightly from these in number.

Infantry: 24-30 (Standard), 36-40 (large), 12-16 (small), 5-6 (tiny)
Cavalry: 12-16 (standard), 18 (large),  6-8 (small), 3-4 (tiny)
Artillery: 1 gun and crew

There is no set size for bases or even recommended for 15mm figures. The 25mm recommendations are Infantry (2x2, 40mm x 40mm) and Cavalry (2x1, 50mm x 50mm).

Napoleon at War (NaW)
I like this system because it is all done for you, unit size and bases already sorted out. Also what I don't like, combined with the odd sized bases making it hard to work with other systems. Also, why the four skirmishers separate from the rest of each battalion? Which countries actually had skirmishers that acted like skirmishes and kept them attached to each battalion?

Infantry battalion - approximately 28 figures: 6 infantry stands (2x2, 26mm x 32mm), 2 skirmish stands (2x1, 30mm x 15mm)
Cavalry regiment - approximately 12 figures: 4 cavalry stands (1x3, 45mm x 40mm)
Artillery battery - 4 figures, 1 gun (45mm x 40mm)
Commander - 1 figure (26mm x 32)

Figure 2 Napoleon at War basing guide by FleetfootMike @ troubleatthemill.blogspot.com.au/

Field of Glory (FoG)
Very good review by John de Terre Neuve. They also have a quick start version so you can try before you can buy.  As John points out there is a nice compatibility between Lasalle and Black powder. The major difference in approach is that as opposed to a ratio of 20-25/1 the units represent higher order formations with one base in theory equalling Infantry (300-500 men), Cavalry (125-200 mounts) (that is roughly 40-60/1), Artillery (6-9 guns) and in practice even greater variation.

Infantry: 4x2 (40mm x 30mm)
Cavalry: 3x1 (40mm x 30mm)
Artillery: 4/4 figures, 1 gun (40mm x 30+mm/whatever fits)
Skirmishers & Irregular: less figures per base.

General de Brigade
I don't know much about GdB rules but there are plenty of discussions, reviews and an General de Brigade blogspot to check out. The most obvious place to start is Deep Fried Happy Mice, awesome as is usual. The rules have a 20/1 ratio for figure to troops making it compatible with most of the other rules.

General de Division: 40mm x 40 mm – two to four figures.
General de Brigade: 30mm wide x 35mm deep – one or two figures.
Infantry: 12mm-15mm per figure. Single rank.
Cavalry: 10mm-12mm per figure mounted in pairs, threes or even fours.
Single rank.
Artillery: 30mm-40mm per model gun. One gun per base crewed by
four figures

An example of basing from JCMiniatures Blogspot called The Waterloo Campaign in Miniature has multiple plates suggesting basing for the Battle of Quatre-Bras.

What is clear from this review is that all basing systems are similar and although the ratio for units varies (20-25/1 for most to FoGs roughly 40-60/1). However, the sizes do vary slightly with 40mm x 30/25mm for FoG and Lasalle. Black Powder is flexible, but is compatible with any of the other systems in base size. NaW is the odd one out and I really dislike the odd size of their infantry bases because they would appear to have done this just to make it harder to use other model brands. Having said that I actually like the larger bases of NaW.

I think the main issue is that basing systems beside NaW are for 15mm models, whereas NaW, AB and Campaign Game Miniatures are all closer to 18mm. I know this is all just rough but that is a 20% increase in size (one of the reasons I love the maxi 15mm models, I wish 20mm were the norm, hence my temptation by 28mm). The 40mm x 25mm bases look far too small and cramped to my eye for 4x2 infantry or 3 cavalry. 40mm x 30mm is little better. 50mm x 30mm, very close to NaW looks much better aesthetically.

There is a further issue and that is what do you use to base your models. In the past I have used think cardboard. It is easy to use and lasts quite well. When I was a kid we used plywood, way too think, but lasts great! Today you can buy plastic, metal, wood, magnetic all pre-cut. But these come in many sizes from what I have been able to find but normally in 10mm increments. You can also buy NaW bases so you can theoretically use them with any models, but again the times I have checked the NaW webstore and a reseller I found on the web from England they have never been in stock.

there is really no way to have your basing all compatible with each system, unless of course everyone simply uses the same basing system. However, it would seem that 40mm x 30mm as a standard basing size for infantry and cavalry with more depth for artillery would give the most versatile system (it is easier to pretend your line is longer, say with a marker, than if it is shorter). The odd sizes of NaW bases are a pain, especially if it becomes popular. I suspect it was a conscious choice to make their system incompatible and force you to buy models and bases. I like to be able to pick and chose my models from different companies based upon what I am looking to put together. 52mm x 32mm (2x 26mm x 32mm) for infantry and 45mm x 40mm for cavalry are just a pain to replicate. I do have a box of NaW, but I think I will base them to match my other models.

Having put this together I am not sure of what to do. I am very tempted to follow the 40mm x 30mm standard to make sure I am the same as most others. But as I said it looks cramped to me with the 15mm maxies on them.

Infantry: 40x30 or 50x30?
Cavalry: 40x30 or 50x40

PS my next post is on Cossacks! Get a peek at the prints I have collected together here :)

Last updated 5/14


Stuart Williams said...

The eternal question on basing ! Thanks Richard, you have summed up the options very nicely. Can I add that General de Brigade runs at 8 to 12mm width per infantry figure, (based 3 files by 2 ranks, so 36mm(w) x whatever depth or 4 files by 2 ranks. This is pretty close to GoG:Nap and Lasalle.
My preference is Lasalle, so going by your excellent blog entry and the common 40mm frontage, basing here we go.


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