Thursday, 25 February 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - basing figures

French infantry in a loose firing line
When attacking, Late Nineteenth Century European armies basically operated in skirmish lines with supports in closer formations. With a large enough base and small enough figures, e.g. 6mm figures on a 60mm x 30mm base, it is possible to suggest both the skirmishers and their supports, but with the 1" bases in Bloody Big Battles! this doesn't really work unless going down to 2mm.

One could, theoretically, just represent the skirmishers, but most Nineteenth Century wargamers seem to opt for the close order supports. This gives a very Napoleonic look and is not IMO entirely convincing for, say, the Franco-Prussian War.

In reality the supports tended to reinforce and merge into the skirmish lines creating a heavy firing line. In fact, this was regarded as a notorious problem for control. But in terms of depicting units on the tabletop, it justifies an irregular, loose line somewhere between skirmish and close order.

For my ACW armies I went for the shoulder-to-shoulder Napoleonic look because I considered that to be the most appropriate, but I think a looser look would be much better for the Franco-Prussian War. But it's not just a question of spacing the figures out but of arranging them with an organic irregularly. This will, I believe, look a lot better aesthetically, though, of course, a 1" base is a very limited stage.

With this in mind,  I find the balance of scale preference moving away from the  6 mm Baccus strips and back towards 10 mm Pendraken figures. My ACW infantry are 12 up in two ranks on 40mm x 25mm bases. The equivalent number for a 1" base would be 8 figures. For the looser look I envisage, 4 or even 3 figures would seem to be optimum.

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