Four Per Base or 6 Per Base, That Is The Question
In my last musing, 10th November 2014, I mentioned about basing figures. The dilemmas of basing are one which I think are common to all who "push lead". A new set of rules, a new unit type or combat system arrive or we venture into a new "old" ruleset and the question of basing raises it's troublesome head.
For many years I have been fortunate in as much as I only really dabbled with Warhammer; a simple basing system of one figure per base, with base dimensions neatly given in a vast plethora of rule and army books pushed out by Games Workshop (the same being obviously true for WH40K). No need to worry, the basing is simple, no ground scales to worry about in the Games Workshop camp.
However, venturing out of the comfy unreal world of Elves, Goblins, Chaos Warriors and even Space Marines gives rise to a whole heap of troublesome problems when it comes to basing. Some rulesets. such as DBA, are extremely straightforward. The unit type tells you all the basing you need to know - although those of us with 4Bd units, for example, may curse the version 3 rules, a new basing dilemma emerged with the abolition of 40mm x 15mm basing and standardising on 40 x 20 - but as pointed out in the new rules, either is fine. Others, such as Flames Of War, are equally straightforward, once you get your head round the unit listings.
However, if like myself of late, you enter the scary world of Napoleonic Wargaming (or any "proper" war games genre) where the world is, from an outsiders perspective at least, full of anal retentive boffins (this is not actually the case once you actually get in to the whole thing) to whom having the wrong shade of blue on your Imperial Guard is punishable by, if not death, at least extreme derision; basing can seem terrifying! It seems, as a newcomer, basing is on a par with the secrets of a masonic lodge, guarded and only known to the few trusted within the inner circle and definitive answers are elusive. It becomes a mystifying affair, keeping us newcomers awake at night with fret and worry, ok a bit of an exaggeration but it is true that I did spend many a long hour quizzing Google on the matter.
After long searching I have come to, not a conclusion, but a state of happy mind. It seems basing is a personal affair in the main. What seems to count in most cases is the frontage of a unit - in fact, in Warlord's Black Powder rules, frontage is the basis of unit distinction. I know people anguish about 1:20 or 1:40 or whatever ground scale they seek to represent but, in my happy state of mind, as long as the units frontage is within the given size for a standard unit or whatever then it's fine. Whether it be 4 figures per base, 6 figures per base or 8 figures per base to me it matters little, nor I think should it. It is a game we play, not life a death. A game with toy soldiers.
I don't mind if the person opposite has 10 figures on a 60mm x 40mm base - a bit of a squeeze at 28mm you have to agree - to my 4 on a 30mm x 40mm base. At the end of the day they are there for the fun of the game and to play it with their lovingly painted army. That, to me is the point.