Tag Archives: unit trays

The Quest for the Universal Soldier

A somewhat disjointed rambling set of thoughts looking for ways to not rebase

What follows now is a completely unstructured rambling set of observations without any real conclusion. It may get edited at some point, or more likely just added to.

I suppose that I’m like most wargamers in that I’d rather not have to rebase my figures each time the next best ruleset comes along, because given the erratic nature of our club rules seem to come in and out of fashion fairly regularly.

It’s not as if it is simply a matter of basing your figures individually. Even in that reasonably safe space each rules writer seems to take delight in establish new base sizes, or even shapes!. In 25mm or now 28mm, or as most seem to now acknowledge 32mm (or the undefined ‘heroic’), the once 20mm square base is insufficient. Apparently corners seem to have been an issue, or perhaps it was the straight edges? Now bases tend towards being circular, I suppose helped by the demise of Warhammer Fantasy Battle as players evolved to its new off-spring as Age of Sigmar. OK, I can appreciate that circular bases have been the normal for most skirmish games for a few decades now, but it now seems to have become an option within historical and unit fantasy games, oh, what joy. So, getting back to the old 20mm base size which seems to have bitten the dust, most likely due to the constant figure scale creep. Now figures seem to fall into either the 25mm base, or a 32mm base, or dare I say it, even larger?

So, where do we start?

I recently got involved with Mortal Gods (it’s a consensual relationship), and wanted to reuse figures from my existing ancient armies. I did try sabot bases involving mdf bases, magnetic sheeting and steel paper, with 25mm circles with 20mm square sockets, but it was very clunky and not very satisfying (OK, the added depth from the sabot base meant that the figures looked like ancient statues raised up on plinths). So I ended up looking at rebasing. OK, I admit the headline was about looking at ways not to rebase, but this is where the dilemma started. I resigned myself to rebasing a component of my figures to play the game, but it started me thinking about how I could re-use these figures going forward without the need for rebasing again (or even worse, buying a second set of figures to base in the different way!).

With the plethora of mdf laser cutting companies in the war-games universe larger unit trays are an easy solution. New game system, just get the necessary mdf unit trays to take the figures. This has worked for me to re-invent my Lord of the Rings armies to play using the A Song of Ice And Fire rules from CMON. By simply having a series of unit trays in the appropriate size cut for me by Blotz, I now have armies of Gondor, Rohan, Mordor and beyond to fight using the new rules. A far simpler system than rebasing, and cheaper than buying a new set of armies. Unfortunately this solution only really works one way; going from small bases to larger bases. Don’t ask me for my solution for going the other way.

But what to do with individual figures? With rare earth magnets being fairly cheap, they offer opportunities to the more capable members of our cohort. I’ve seen solutions using thin 20mm bases which could be discretely put onto larger bases for other systems without any appreciable increase in base depth. Others have gone even further by applying small rare earth magnets to the actual feet or hooves so that there was no actual base as such, but relied upon a more engineered solution for the unit trays having hidden rare earth magnets for the figures to attach to. This facilitated figure removal in game, but also allowed the figures to be ‘reapplied’ in other game systems with the simple (OK, maybe not quite so simple) expedience of a new unit tray with magnets in the appropriate places.

The other elephant in the room with war-games is the actual base cover itself. I believe that wargamers become ‘base blind’ as we see the beautiful figures on their level bases, but ignore how incongruous the army looks upon the wargames scenery. Even when the figures have beautifully textured rural bases it would be a rare even that they actually looked similar to the wargames table which they were being used upon. Even when they do for one table, on the next they will look completely out of place. This was apparent which I first started playing sci-fi games because the extremes of basing style were increased significantly. Now were weren’t just seeing traditional Earth flora, but now we had any colour or texture imaginable as players sought to apply the full might of their artistic capabilities to their imagination. So what to do?

Figures from the Siege of Barwarie where none of the figures seem to have suitable bases for the terrain which they’re standing upon.

I play Star Wars Legion, or rather I have collected a fair few figures, painted them up, and had a very limited number of games. From the onset I wanted my armies to be for Hoth. I loved The Empire Strikes Back and wanted to collect the figures for the battle. Whilst it would have been a simple matter to use the provided bases and have a snowscape battlefield at home, I would forever be playing on a variety of battles capes when I played elsewhere. I didn’t want my armies to look so ‘wrong’. So it was that I took advice, and along with Phil, my comrade in arms, we decided to go clear. We sourced clear acrylic bases cut to the various required sizes and shapes (the larger bases have indents for the measuring rulers to slot into). Our figures are now all based in a similar standard. This means that my figures have fought in the streets of Mos Eisley, the snow fields of Hoth, the city streets of Theed on Naboo, as well the more generic wargames generic plains and farmland. And on all of them the figures have looked like they belonged there.