Monday 15 May 2017

Basing My Napoleonic Figures

When I started my Napoleonic collection one of the first things I needed to decide was how I was going to base the figures. A chat at NBHW confirmed that the club mainly used Shako 2 as the ruleset for it's Napoleonic games and the clubs members' collections were based with this in mind. Myself and another member who were looking at expanding the club Napoleonic games into the Peninsula were looking at using Black Powder as our rules of choice. As these rules don't really mind what basing sizes are used, as long as both sides are roughly the same, we decided to base our units to match the Shako 2 basing to allow us to make use of other players' collections in our games. One variation I have made is to basing light or rifle battalions. I have halved the depth of and doubled the number of bases I use, while keeping the same number of figures, as I think this makes skirmish order easier to see on the table as well allowing them to still be used in more formal formations.

Infantry basing

Cavalry, Artillery and Command basing

When using this basing in Black Powder we tend to equate the number of full size bases to the unit size so:

Tiny         = 1 base
Small       = 2 bases
Standard = 3 bases
Large       = 4 bases
A Tiny unit ie Rifle Company is sometimes represented by one half base of 3 figures

With this sorted it was time to think of materials to use. After attempting to cut uniform size bases out of plasticard I decided life was too short and switched to pre cut 2mm thick MDF bases from Warbases.
As for the actual texturing of the bases one of the club members had a video on his Blog showing how he bases his figures and after watching this I now use the same method.

I also decided to identify my units with labels whilst trying not to ruin the aesthetic of the units. To this end I printed stickers which are placed on the underside of the bases along with another placed on the rear edge of the base. This rear one utilises the Arial font at size 5.

Example of rear label

Hopefully this explains how I came to my basing decisions.


  1. For hardcore Napoleonic players, Shako II is a bit more palatable than a game system like Black Powder. When you're doing a historical simulation such as Quatre Bras, Shako II has a lot of the command mechanics worked out for a larger game than Black Powder. Then again, the scope of both systems is a bit different in what they're trying to capture for game play. Might be a challenge getting converts, but it could happen. Your basing idea seems solid, though you may consider magnetizing the bottom of the stands and using steel paper with stiky labels printed so that you can just swap out the labels for different scenarios. The magnetic stands also assist in protecting the figures during transport. I switched over several years back - best investment in time and money I think I've made in the hobby yet. Crackerline Miniatures' B Company Bases aren't overpriced and come in about any size you could want.

    1. The bottom of the bases are already magnetised with self adhesive steel paper in the bottom of the storage boxes.
      I had originally planed on only labelling the command stands as I have not painted any identifying number marks on the figures equipment so a yellow faced group could be any unit with the substitution of a suitable command stand. I may go back to this idea as the collection grows.
      As for converts, the club already uses Black Powder and similar rule sets for several other periods and we have played the Battle of Talavera twice using these rules. Our three day Waterloo and other battles in central Europe are still mostly fought using Shako II though.

  2. This looks like ole Fred Vietmeyer's basing system from the 60's

  3. I am somewhat late to the party, but I am grateful for the information in the post.