God of Battles Designer’s Notes: Basing

GoB_LOGO on white webOccasionally, even designers of fantasy games have to face up to reality.

Nice as it might be to imagine everyone dropping their current game system and flocking to your latest work of (undoubted) genius, in the real world this probably won’t happen. Some will be intrigued, others may dabble and a few will take to it entirely. This is simply the way of things and applies to everything, not just games.

This being the case, I thought that it seemed like a really dumb idea to try to enforce a new and rigid basing policy on people. And what is the need anyway? The more I considered this the less important I thought the basing was. In the end God of Battles has such a freeform and open system that pretty much any basing system can be used.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t an ideal basing method. Far from it. It just means that you don’t have to feel like you have to rebase anything to play.

The Ideal

As a statement of basic principles let me first say that I think bases are mainly there for two purposes: (1) to stop the model falling over, and (2) to look good. I am personally experimenting with using clear bases on my new orc warlords army, which takes care of 2. For the rest, the bases just have to be big enough to keep the model upright. How big that is really depends on the make, type and pose of each model. There is no reason why every model has to use the same base size, even within the same unit (though variations may make ranking up Formed models more of a fiddle).

Apart from that, this is the way I would recommend you base things if you are doing it purely for GoB. Assume, to start with, that all models are based individually.

Formed units: as the unit needs to rank up, the obvious thing to do is base them on squares. This also makes it simple to work out the 90 degree arcs (front, flanks, rear) when you need to.

Loose units: as the models never rank up, I’d suggest putting them on round bases. This acts as a visual reminder of their 360 front arc, but is at least partly due to a personal preference for round bases on skirmishing units. It’s also useful because this is different from the Formed ones and makes them stand apart. Great for sorting the models out quickly when it comes to packing away.

Multiple bases: these are only really useful for Formed units where you could include some 2, 3 or 4 model bases for speed of movement, casualty removal or to make a cool looking mini-diorama. Even here they are not necessary if you have a movement tray for the unit.

Base sizes: in some ways you might think that I have been a little foolish here in assuming that people are going to behave like grown ups. By not listing exact required base sizes am I not leaving all this open to being horribly exploited? Well, perhaps not as much as you’d think.

To start with the real extremes of two foot wide bases are just stupid and anyone who expects a game with that sort of nonsense would be in for a nasty shock round here. Normal social graces should ensure that this sort of nonsense stays in the scope of amusing “what if’s”.

On a more practical scale, what if people just push things slightly? Well I don’t think that matters either. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the norm is the old Warhammer standbys as that’s what most people will be familiar with: 20mm squares for humans and 25mm for bigger things like orcs. If that is what works for the rules as is, what happens if I was to put my humans on 30mm bases? 40? Does the game creak? Actually, no. For Loose units this makes no real difference at all. For Formed units, when you weigh up the pros and cons, I think that it’s more of a problem than a help.

On the positive front it allows you to cover more of the tabletop, which reduces your flanks. It gives Formed units a wider Threat Area, and so you can potentially control your foe a little better. So there would be a few benefits. The downsides are more problematical.

Bigger Formed units still have no more movement or manoeuvrability – they just get in the way of everyone more. This is probably more of a problem for your own side than the enemy (who tend to go through your troops rather than round them).

Bigger Formed units have no more combat power, but now have to hold a greater area of the battle line simply because of their size. In effect, this just weakens your line, allowing the enemy to more easily focus several of their units onto one of yours. If you want to do the same thing back then focussing two of your bloated units on his normal sized ones becomes very hard.

When I was playtesting with various army basing systems I learned to instinctively go for the smaller bases when I had the choice. Is that a problem? Well if we assume that you’ve got to fit a model on the base then again, not really. You can only squeeze a 28mm model down so much. Of course, if you wanted to play this with 10mm models then you’d need to think about this a bit, but I don’t intend to and this isn’t really what GoB is for. That’s something for people to house rule if they want to play with other scales.

Many & Various

During playtesting we used all manner of armies and models pinched from a wide mixture of fantasy and historical armies – many for different games with different basing conventions.

Formed units are uncaring as long as they can all huddle together. Skirmishers looked like they might have more trouble, but in the event we used units with models based on 4 figure stands, other times they were in twos, singles or whatever. As long as you can tell where the Leader is then it doesn’t really matter.

It’s actually quite liberating to be able to forget about basing from a rules viewpoint. Build your models from a “what looks best” perspective and they’ll work fine.

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6 Responses to God of Battles Designer’s Notes: Basing

  1. Howard Fielding says:

    Clear bases are not invisible so I am not entirely convinced “2” is actually taken care of. Surely you can still see the base?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Yes you can. However, they are not nearly as obvious as solid, textured bases. The main benefit I can see here (if you’ll pardon the phrase) is that they show the table through them. Not perfectly, but to a large degree. This means that the impression is of them matching the terrain they are sitting on at all times, regardless of what that terrain might be. If half the unit is on stone flags and the other on grass then that is what they look like. The patterns and edges of the terrain continue under, and are visible through, the bases.

      Contrast that with fixed, solid bases. Almost every army I have ever seen had bases that did not match the terrain they normally fought over, let alone what they fought on when the army went to a friend’s house or a club. I really like nicely modelled bases, especially themed ones like snow or desert. However, if I did that then it would make my models look even more out of place in almost every situation. the army ends up looking at its best in a display cabinet and not on the table.

      I’ve ordered a bunch of clear bases in various thicknesses to destruction test and experiment with. They may not work as I imagine – but I think it’s worth a try 🙂

  2. Kristian says:

    Will be interested to hear about the clear bases. Painting especially.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      They are on order. Just waiting for them to arrive so I can experiment with them.

      As far as painting was concerned, I wasn’t going to mount the models on the bases till after I’d done all the painting. Otherwise keeping them clean will become a headache.

      • Kristian says:

        Not sure why it’s not been tried before. I guess few groups are more conservative that wargamers.
        Historically there may have been technical reasons why transparent bases wasn’t possible. Don’t think we have that excuse today.

        Of course messing around with sand/flock/etc can be fun! But sometimes you want to use your time and energy for other things.

  3. How did the clear bases go?

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