Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Basing thoughts for Bosworth




Those lingering quiet thoughts of how to base for my Wars of the Roses project are now having to give way to practical application as figures start rolling off the painting sticks. 

I have been running some test games with Never mind the Billhooks (free rules from wargames Illustrated) and Sword & Spear (from Great Escape Games), each time putting a few representative figures on 80mm bases, with a base equalling a single unit to see how that might work and so far, as a compromise for the smaller table, the basing is working out okay. 


It is now time to actually create a couple of permanent bases to test out the practicalities of look and function. So far, two units have been put onto 80mm bases, a mercenary crossbow unit, based at 50mm deep to represent a skirmishing unit and a retinue bill unit based at 60mm deep.



The crossbow are Perry plastics from their mercenary box and have been done in Burgundian colours with just four figures to the base (in Never mind the Billhooks rules, a skirmish unit has 6 figures). Pavises and a couple of arrows stuck in the ground have been added to help dress the base and give a little more bulk.


I tried hand painting the pavises. It was a brave attempt, I wept, swore, gave up wargaming forever and then ordered the rather fab decals from Steve at Little Big Man studios - it seems to have taken me too long to ‘discover’ these!



Anyway, I think they turned out rather well and will eventually sit nicely in the front of the pike unit that will be representing the French long spear contingent at Bosworth.


For the billmen, we have Perry plastics from the basic WotR infantry box, providing a retinue bill unit for Lord Clifford, a Lancastrian contingent from 1460. The base takes 10 figures that closely resemble two lines but are placed to show a little bit of depth and the disorder of closing to action (Never mind the Billhooks use 12 figures in two ranks, with casualties removed as individual figures). 



The Lord Clifford’s flag is from the Perry plastics box and I have only just realised that there are different flag sheets spread amongst these same plastic boxes. This box has the Wakefield 1460 flag sheet and I know from amongst my other boxes, I also have Towton and Bosworth flag sheets, what a great idea. 



There was also a bit of room left at the back to fit a single 10mm die holder, which will no doubt become useful and I should have thought about that for the crossbow base. Perhaps my friend ‘The Dremel’ can correct that!



As an aside, I have also been trying some different varnishes. The crossbowmen are done with a matt spray varnish from a rattle can (Winsor & Newton professional), which is very flat and the helmets and metal bits needed repainting afterwards. The billmen were sprayed with Vallejo satin varnish from a cheapo airbrush and the satin did preserve the armour better without adding too much sheen to the clothing.



Next sitting on the painting sticks I have a retinue body of archers to add to Lord Clifford’s force. I will probably just use 7 or 8 figures on that to distinguish their function from the melee bases. My Bosworth army commanders (Richard III and Henry Tudor) and associated standard bearers have had their primer and beg for some early attention.


Anyway, the next game will have a couple of ‘real’ bases to help evaluate whether 80mm single basing is the way that I want the project to go ..... and hoping that they survive all through the game and have lots of victories as the tough nut, posh units of the army!


Resource Section.


Here is a Wiki link with a bit of information about Lord Clifford. LINK

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Clifford,_9th_Baron_Clifford


40 comments:

  1. Lovely looking crossbow and bill! Nice basing, the billmen look suitably dense!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks Iain, probably too close to properly use a bill, but aesthetically a pleasing sense of grouping.

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  2. Nice work norm.

    This is a problem I've been wrestling with for two decades so you have my sympathy.

    I think you have struck up a nice balance for the Crossbowmen and Billmen. They look quite natural on the stands and with the layout in the pictures so if you're personally happy with it then I say go for it mate.

    https://justaddwater-bedford.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks, though my basing in a new project seldom survives a few stands before I decide there is a better way! :-), but overall, I think I will be sticking with this.

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  3. The units are looking splendid, and the bases look good too!

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    1. Thanks Peter, they are close to several of your own basing systems.

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  4. Thanks Norm really timely and interesting post. I have been pondering for some weeks starting a wotr project. Thinking about figures and my mind had turned to basing options. (I don’t even have any figures yet let lone painted any !) however I am thinking of taking the same approach as my more recent Al Andalus figures where by a unit is 18 figures split between three bases each 60 mm square bases. This gives a nice solid feel and look without 36 man units ! admittedly they wouldn’t work where you are trying to play on a smaller table size. 6 to a base is generally good as it allows games like lion rampant with wound markers etc...food for thought for ma anyway. By the way the shields and figures look great πŸ‘

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  5. Thanks Matt, I did consider 3 x 50mm, but table space was a strong arguement. Plus I have based close to the edge on the flanks so that 2 x 80’s could sit side-by-side for a single 160mm frontage (if my armies ever get big enough :-) )

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  6. I think they look fine based like that. Nice painting too. A job well done Norm.

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    1. Thanks and very much looking forwards to your new armies hitting the table.

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  7. Some great looking units there Norm and somewhat timely, as I'm still trying to decide as to which base size to go for for my 10mm figures. Ideally I'd like 1" squares as they work well with my other rulesets. However they don't look nice on their own, so it's either four 1" bases per unit so I can use them with Neil Thomas' rules, Lion Rampant etc, or say 3" or 4" bases per unit for a better visual aesthetic. Given a recent Facebook post on how small a 100 point force can be, I'm tending to favour the letter option. Either way I want something that works nicely on my 2' x 2' table.

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  8. Thanks Steve, for a smaller figure, I might have considered 60mm, but this is a strange size for me because if I use hexes, which are 100mm from side-to-side, 1 x 60mm would look too isolated and 2 x 60mm would spill outside the confines of the hex. getting basing right seems harder than painting :-)

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  9. I like your basing very much, Norm! The labels on the pavises are terrific. To fit within your 100mm hex requirement, 80mm base frontage sounds good. Nice work!

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  10. Thanks Jonathan, the 80mm hits several areas of usefulness for me. The Little Big Man Studio decals are superb. I dirtied the lower half with a bit of ‘muck’. I also tried to put an arrow shaft into one of them, but it became the weakest part of the base and I removed it before the inevitable happened!

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    1. I looked at your opening photo again and find it captivating. Great painting and photography on this one.

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    2. Thanks Jonathan, I like photography, but for miniatures I typically feel that it seldom delivers the same degree of satisfaction that the eye gets. I wonder whether it is the unforgiving sharpness and resolution of the modern digital camera .... but here, like you, I find this particular result pleasing.

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  11. All looking very good, I had started using ' paper soldiers' scaled down to 15mm then I saw your piece NMTB and I've succumbed to Peter Pig 15mm full of character and easy to paint - I've gone with 60x30 bases and have around 8 figures to a base slightly more for the Archers - Bills need space to stab and chop πŸ˜† I had contemplated basing on 80mm so they could be used for Impetus but decided to go smaller, likewise small dice for casualties. I shall watch your progress with interest and borrow any suitable ideas.

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    1. Hi Graham, I have some PP that I put to the PP 30mm x 30mm plastic bases, but would very much agree with your 60mm x 30mm approach as being an ideal solution.

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  12. I do like your gorgeous crosbowmen...great basing!

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    1. Thank Phil, I did them first and that ‘success’ spurred me on to do the second base. Those decals help a ton though.

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  13. Lovely work on these very nice Perry figures Norm...looking forward to seeing how you do Richard and Henry.

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    1. Thanks Keith, I am using the Perry Command pack, which have mounted leaders. You get a leader, a standard bearer and a herald. I will likely just do the leader and standard bearer to the base, but since Richard charged with his cavalry, had wondered whether to do a bigger base for him and have a couple of heavy cavalry figures - that might look a bit clumsy or even take the eye away from the splendid Richard figure, so I will give it some more thought.

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  14. The 80mm base looks spot on, but who am I to say having just re-based my first Byzantine unitπŸ™„
    LBMS are a god send arn't they?

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  15. Thanks Phil - I used superglue on the crossbow bases, but changed to the easier to remove Copydex for the billmen .... just in case! :-)

    LMBS certainly came to the rescue, amazing what sort of support we gamers have these days.

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  16. Lovely figures there. LBMS saved my sanity when it came to putting shield designs on my Dux Brit. figures.

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  17. Hi, thanks. The decals look great, but I was surprised that these are not water slide transfers and there is a new ‘peelable’ technique to learn. A slightly more awkward process, but a superb result.

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  18. Fine looking work, Norm. Each stand is an attractive vignette in itself.

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    1. Thanks Ion, at 80mm, you can just about start doing that, though I have always thought that GDW's Volley and Bayonet with their 3" square bases would have been ideal for such things.

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  19. Great looking troops and I like the way they are arranged on the bases. Kinda in formation but not. Looks cool and dynamic. πŸ˜€

    If bill hooks uses 12 men per unit could you just make your units 6 (3x3) and count each figure as double?

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  20. Thanks Stew, Billhooks uses individual figures to calculate shooting values and also when taking losses, so ideally for their rules, you need individually based figures moving on a sabot, so once you stray to fixed multi based figures, you have the same problem of having to record remaining numbers next to the base, regardless of how they are based. Also losses are taken from the rear rank, while the front rank is kept full and fighting numbers can sometimes be calculated by the front line, so there is some mental visualisation of maths needed. It is not too onerous, but it is present.

    So for Billhooks I will have some extra admin, even for Sword and Spear, which will be fine with the basing, you still have to record hits against a unit (usually just 3, then they are off!), but are not having to mentally think of how many units are in the actual front line because the base always fights as a single entity of 'the unit'.

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  21. Hi Norm, those figures are superb, great painting and lots of interesting things happening on the bases. I also really like the basing textures, can I ask what you use to do that? It's really hard to resist new periods when you see blog posts like this Norm, like Graham I have been very tempted by the peter pig WOTR range in the past! Looking forward to seeing more.

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  22. Thanks Lee. For basing, the major elements are; mix artists modelling paste with a couple of drops of brown paint and a bit of flock and apply to the base to hide the figure bases. Then a dry brush to highlight texture, though pretty much all of this now gets covered in flocks etc.

    Apply thinned PVA almost everywhere, sprinkle in one area a pinch of stones, then a few partches of bright grass flock (from Kallistra) and then generally drop over the whole base a sprinkle of my bits and bobs flock, which is a tub of different grasses and fine turfs that I have used over the years, it is forever changing content as I do all of my sprinkling and shaking over that tub.

    Then apply dobs of PVA here and there and add woodland scenics Course Turf Burnt Grass, not too much and fix it down with the back end of a paint brush - finally add some tufts, some of which are home made.

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  23. Great looking figures and bases - looking forward to seeing the game

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  24. Thanks, initially, the games will need to have some mostly empty bases with a few representative figures on them, but over time, increasingly, each army will be putting out more proper painted and based units. I find that a good way to keep painting motivation going.

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  25. I suppose traditionally gamers tend to step up the size of their game, which can put rules under stress. I know I have been playing Never mind the Billhooks with larger forces than 100 points. Anyway, tonight I went the other way .... small and was pleasantly surprised at how much of a good game that it gave me. The system survived! :-)

    Basically I set up a 4’ x 3’ space and had just 30 points of Yorkists defending a hill. That only gave them, 1 x archer, 1 x bill and 1 x skirmish x-bow. The Bill was a ward, with the army commander and the archers were a ward with a leader and the skirmishers were independent.

    Below, the Lancastrians on the left had a ward with 1 x archer and 1 x bill and to the centre another ward the same. On the right they had artillery for a total of 62 points. So the card deck just had two leader cards per side.

    Obviously the Lancastrians did all of the manoeuvre in the initial phase, with the Yorkist x-bow putting a stop to that.

    The Lancastrian artillery did quite well, playing their shot against the high ground.

    The Yorkist archers and x-bow put a lot of harm on the advancing Lancastrian formations with their archers out in front.

    On the Lancastrian left, their archers ran away due to VERY effective x-bow shooting, on their right, they got up the hill and engaged the Yorkist archers.

    Two things of note. Firstly, I was surprised that the hill didn’t offer a significant defensive advantage. I think perhaps making the slopes ‘bad going’ to an attacker going uphill might be preferable in the future if the feature is meant to have a defensible character.

    Secondly, just for a bit of good visual, I had put a small hamlet on the Lancastrian right. As time went on, the Yorkists got a Special Events card ..... it was the Ambush card, which I have never come across before. Essentially it creates a new skirmisher unit that emerge from a building, So suddenly the Lancastrian right that were attacking up the hill, had Yorkist skirmishers in their rear - what a superb bit of narrative play.

    Anyway, the Lancastrians ended up losing both archer units and that ended the game, which I found to be totally engaging and it gave me a good weekday evening game. Billhooks is looking increasingly versatile.

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  26. Very neat paintwork Norm! Especially like those muddied pavises - they look the real deal!

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  27. Thanks Mike, I am pleased with them.

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