Over the years, I like many have struggled with the issue of wargames figure basing, deciding on a basing strategy for a favourite army and then a new set of rules comes along and your mates get into a new rules system and you end up re-basing your beautiful miniatures!
This years new wargames interest is Medieval and Dark Age gaming. Last year we started playing Black Powder and Hail Caesar and love the Warmaster style simplicity for large scale games with loads of figures on the table. However my Son and I also like skirmish gaming and have started playing Saga with Normans and Angle Saxons. Dux Britaniarium has also caught my attention from Two Fat Lardies as I love the way that it integrates its table top battles with an on-going campaign.
Painting time is at a premium theses days, as I am also busy designing new buildings in multiple scales for multiple periods so I am not going to have time to paint sets of figures to be based in different ways. The way that I have solved this is to use a system of Laser Cut MDF bases combined with movement trays.
I have mounted my medieval and dark age miniatures on individual 20mm round laser cut mdf bases 2mm thick. Mounting figures on individual bases makes it very easy to texture and paint the bases. I have glued the miniature to the mdf base using Bostick adhesive. When the glue is dry I have applied some Polyfilla to build up terrain to hide the plastic or metal figure base. Once this has dried I coat with pva glue and dip in a pot of basing sand / gravel mixture (which is mixed Woodland Scenics medium and fine buff coloured ballast material).
When the glue has dried I use a cheap mahogany wood stain to paint the whole base, wait for it to dry and then drybrush using Vallejo Flat Earth with a touch of White added. Foliage is added by spots of pva glue and static grass. Once the 2mm mdf bases have been textured they can be combined into larger bases by using custom laser cut movement trays.
Having a combination of different movement trays to drop the individually based figures into is the key to getting the best use out of a set of figures. All movement trays are made out of two thickness of 2mm laser cut mdf. The movement trays are painted and textured in exactly the same way as the figures bases, i.e. woodland scenic ballast, wood stain, Flat Earth and then clumps of static grass.
For Saga I have made irregular shaped movement trays, which give a better feel for the informal nature of dark age skirmishes. My Warlord is mounted on a double base with a non combatant standard bearer, the Hearthguard have 4 hole movement trays, Warriors have 8 hole bases and Levy are mounted on two, six hole trays.
Here units can be in either a mass formation or a shieldwall formation. I have made rectangular movement trays to represent shieldwall and irregular trays to represent mass formations, both with holes for 6 figures on individual bases.
For Hail Caesar I have made two sets of rectangular movement trays, one set that have holes for 3 bases and another that has holes for six bases in two ranks. The idea here is that eventually I want Hail Caesar units to be 24 figures strong, deployed 2 ranks deep on the 4 element bases, but while I am building up my armies I want to be able to play with half the number of figures, so I have made element bases that are the same size but only have three holes in a single rank. As I paint more figures, I can swap the trays for double ranked trays, unit by unit.