Tuesday, March 15, 2011

HYW Basing Upgrade

Good basing can go a long way to making units look great on the table. We've all seen nicely painted figures based on bases that don't look as good as the figures. For many years, I focused too much on the miniatures and I saw the bases as a necessary evil that just needed to match the table and made the figures easier to move around.

I recently decided to re-base my Hundred Years War army. When I first started painting the army, I wanted to have my figures based individually so I could play Piquet and still use them to play Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB). I put magnets in the individual bases and used larger, green metal bases to create the bases for my Piquet games. Unfortunately, the metal bases really looked like crap on the wargaming table and the figures would shift around on them.

I chose to convert to a 40mm/2" square base system. I used the 3mm thick wooden Litko bases. The basing was largely decided by what would fit on a base:
  • 4 close order spearmen/pikemen on a stand.
  • 3 dismounted men-at-arms (MAA) on a stand.
  • 3 missile troops on a stand.
  • 2 skirmish infantry on a stand.
  • 2 horsemen on a 2" square stand.
This basing will make the figures easier to move and allowed me to get rid of the ugly metal bases. The 40mm square bases can work for a lot of different game systems. It also still technically can work for WAB with some adjustments, but my friend Adam, who plays WAB, interpreted my re-basing as a final divorce from the WAB system. Maybe. Maybe not.

Initially, I plan on using 3 bases for my Piquet units. As my army grows, I'll increase the unit size to 4 bases each. The bases will also allow me to model the longbowmen's chevron formation better than my old basing.

Since I planned on re-basing the figures anyway, I thought I might put a little more work into them. After seeing the great bases on James' blog, I thought I would try the Silflor grass tufts to add some vegetation and color to my bases. I ordered three shades of the tufts. They sell sample packs of them at Scenic Express for $5.99 each. They look great. I initially didn't like the bright green ones, but they actually show up much better from a distance than the more natural shades which tend to blend into the ground cover.
My basing process is:
  • Stick adhesive magnetic card backing to the bottom of the base.
  • Spray paint base brown.
  • Hot glue the figures to the base.
  • Glue Woodland Scenics dirt ballast to the bases with watered-down white glue
  • Glue Woodland Scenics static grass to certain areas of the base.
  • Crazy glue Silflor grass tufts to the base with a pair of tweezers. I place three tufts on each base to hide bare spots or just to fill in open areas.
I think the new bases turned out nicely.

(ABOVE) My longbow unit in chevron formation. Old Glory figures with a lot of great character. An excellent value for the price. (BELOW) One of my units of dismounted MAA desperate to come to grips with wealthy opponents. Also Old Glory.

For comparison, I posted some pictures (BELOW) from a battle last year with the old basing system. The new basing really makes a huge difference.


  1. Now that's a difference. Basing can make or brake a unit IMO.As Larry said: Lookin' good!

  2. After looking at the pictures again, the improvement in the basing is pretty dramatic.

  3. Those look great Dave. The older ones were, well, kind of unlovely, but in part a necessary evil for you to keep flexibility for different basing systems. You use Hot glue to attach the figures... if you ever want to change the basing inn the future, won't that make it very hard to get them off? I have to say that rebasing is one of the great evils of our hobby - I've done it several times, and I simply refuse to do it again, ever. With your upgrade, though you made a tedious chore into a blessing. Good work!

  4. Peter,

    The figures usually pop right off of the base with a little pressure. You have to make sure the pressure is applied parallel to the legs so you don't bend the legs. 10% are on tight enough that I need to pull the wood base away with pliers. It's not that bad.

  5. Basing looks much better..well worth the effort

  6. Very nice, where do you get the static grass?

  7. Gregory,

    I think it is:

    It's available in bags from most online sources. I also get it in person from the Train Shack in Burbank.

    It has a nice bright color.

  8. Very nice, I totally agree with your comment, decent bases make the units look 100 times better. You've done a great job!!