Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 3: Irregular Wars - 30mm vs 40mm basing?

Galloglasses. Left: 3 figures on a 30mm x 30mm base.
Right: 5 figures on a 40mm x 40mm base.
Basing choice is a major bane of planning wargame armies. Irregular Wars calls for square bases. 30mm x 30mm is suggested for 15mm figures but 40mm x 40mm (using sabots if necessary) is allowed to accommodate figures already based for other rules, e.g. DBR. As I don't already have any finished 15mm pike-and-shot era figures I'm faced with a choice.

The figures in the illustrations are all from Khurasan's excellent new Irish Renaissance range. I'm planning to publish better pictures in a future instalment.


Using 40mm bases shouldn't have much impact on the game though the battlefield will become a little more crowded.

Pike: 8 figures on a 40mm x 40mm base.
The standard is 6 figures on a 30mm x 30mm base.

This is the main reason for considering 40mm. Artillery will look less cramped. Other bases will look very marginally more like 'units'. There will be more opportunity for adding supernumeraries – officers, ensigns, musicians.


This isn't really an issue as I don't know anyone locally who plays this (yet), I collect armies in matched pairs, and if any of my playing companions do want to cobble something together from existing figures they are more likely to have them on 40mm DBx frontages than 30mm Peter Pig ones.


Irregular Wars is a super-compact game which is one reason why I'm attracted to it. Larger bases will mean more cost, more painting, more inconvenience (re-ordering), more storage and more weight to carry.

Shot on 30mm base, shot on 40mm base, pike on 40mm base,
galloglasses on 30mm base, galloglasses on 40mm base.

These are the increased numbers of figures I'd use if moving from 30mm to 40mm bases:

Cavalry, skirmishers: 2 -> 3
Kerns, Galloglasses, Bonnachts: 3 -> 5
Shot: 4 -> 6
Militia half-pike: 5 -> 7
Pike: 6 -> 8

I've included non-Irish types here in anticipation of other planned armies.

I've not come to a firm conclusion but I'm tending towards 40mm despite the downsides. At the end of the day these armies are still very small so increasing their size is not really that significant.


  1. Excellent discussion. It is a big decision and not one to hurry into. I personally prefer 30x30s and based all my original armies that way. I am redoing my Irish wars at the moment and need to take into account potential opponents who migt already have forces based 40mm wide.

  2. I feel very privileged to receive a response from the author of the rules!

    I've got a pair of 15mm armies for Bloody Barons on 30mm square bases and lots of armies which were based for DBM on 40mm frontages. Maybe I should try them out to get a feel for the difference. Some of my mediaeval DBM figures will even make quite good stand-ins.

    1. Another day, another view! I've been using a drawing program to see how 40mm bases would look deployed in a game, and I think they would make the battlefield significantly more crowded. I'd be reluctant to increase the playing area as I like the compactness of the game as designed. Some armies would also require a lot more figures.