*
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 21, 2024, 11:31:21 PM

Login with username, password and session length

Donate

We Appreciate Your Support

Members
  • Total Members: 10482
  • Latest: Veroo
Stats
  • Total Posts: 1694364
  • Total Topics: 118600
  • Online Today: 684
  • Online Ever: 2235
  • (October 29, 2023, 01:32:45 AM)
Users Online

Recent

Author Topic: Let's touch base... or maybe not!  (Read 1082 times)

Offline tikitang

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 610
  • A shadow out of time...
Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« on: April 06, 2023, 01:01:35 PM »
I realise this subject might not be new to most, but it just morphed from a nebulous idea into an articulable thought for me this morning, so I'm writing it down!

The brief discussion about bases that occured in the thread about one's top three priorities in a wargaming ruleset, as well as the basing of some of my own miniatures that took place this week, got me thinking about miniature bases, both in terms of aesthetics but also tabletop mechanics.

For starters, let me say: I am not a veteran wargamer and I've never played a proper "army" game with rank-and-file units. Not once. In the 90s it was the likes of Necromunda that got me interested in this hobby, but it wasn't until much later, about 2012, that I actually took my first tentative steps into skirmish wargaming, and it is within the general field of skirmish gaming that my interests have firmly remained.

The sorts of skirmish games I have played (beginning with Song of Blades & Heroes) have never been concerned about the size and shape of bases. "Use whatever miniatures you have..." has always been the general rule among the rulesets I favour. As such, my instinct for basing my first miniatures was to use a base size that the model (a) fit on comfortably (b) looked good. As I've always been into skirmishing, I have, generally speaking, always gone with round bases.

The only tabletop mechanic I became aware of when using round bases was that the larger the model's base was, the more opposing models on smaller bases could surround it, and thus put the larger model at a disadvantage in that respect (particularly if the rules have a ganging up factor). I suppose the same is true in army-focused games, which is presumably why these base sizes are governed quite strictly in tournament play.

But as time has gone by, I've noticed a few things about bases when used in "base-agnostic" systems:

1. There's a delicate aesthetic balance between the height/girth of a miniature and its base size.

Generally, I would always choose the minimum base-size that a model could fit on, without its feet hanging over the edge. But, sometimes, a model feels like it just needs a few more millimeters of space around it to look "right". Various factors in the model's height and girth seem to play into this. Right now I have before my eyes a human barbarian who has struck a fighting pose where his feet are spread quite wide. I also have a dwarf next to him in a more traditional "heroic taunting" pose, who is standing with his feet at a regular distance from each other. The barbarian doesn't have much room between the edge of his feet and the edge of the base, but the dwarf has plenty of room to spare, given his smaller stature, and yet, both look good on 25mm round bases, despite their physical differences and variance of pose. If I rebased either on a 30mm base, I think the barbarian could get away with it, but the dwarf could not; he'd look "dwarfed" (hoho) by his own base.


2. Sometimes models whose companions fit fine on a certain base size, do not, because of their pose!

This is an annoying one. You've got a gang of miniatures, all the same race and same "outfit", but one of them is leaning forward. I have an example of one of these right now with a group of cultists: they're all generally standing upright, weapon at the ready, but one of them is clearly making a headlong charge into combat and this tilts his centre of balance dramatically to the front, meaning to be on the same size base as his friends, he's actually off balance (I foresee him falling forward on the table more than once). I could have solved this by putting them all on 30mm bases, but this would have made the bases visually too wide, creating too much space around the model for my tastes.


3. Most base sizes—even larger ones—force models too close together when in 'base-to-base' contact.

Before I settled into "trying to wargame" in 2012, my main hobby was HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts). I learned, primarily, how to fight with a Scottish basket-hilted broadsword, sometimes with a dirk in the left hand, based on 17th and 18th century treatises. One of the things you quickly learn is the correct "measure" between yourself and your opponent for combat effectiveness, and let me tell you it's nowhere near as close as most base sizes force miniatures to be when "locked in combat", which most rules say can only happen when models are "base-to-base".

Most man-to-man skirmishing games in the early days (Rogue Trader, for example), or even historical games involving skirmisher units, would (I imagine) rely primarily on ranged combat, so the chances of skirmisher models actually getting base-to-base would probably be limited, or certainly less frequent than shooting attacks. But as skirmishing has become more popular for fantasy gaming and the definition of "skirmish" has tightened to mean something more akin to an RPG combat encounter, and fantasy in general tends to favour hand-to-hand combat over missile combat, the likelihood of fantasy miniatures getting base-to-base is quite high. But, even if models are on larger than needed bases, they're still a little too close for comfort when in base-to-base.

In a real hand-to-hand combat, which often involves stepping in to make attacks, with a weapon of at least three feet of length (unless you're using daggers), I would say there should be a good base-width of distance between attackers. And yet, most rules I have seen require models to be base-to-base to be considered in combat on a tabletop. This produces some real visual (and sometimes physical) problems in a skirmish. Models in base-to-base often end up face-to-face, which is just too close and can look ridiculous. This is especially problematic with models that are leaning forward, whose outstretching limbs often pass each other in order to ensure the models' bases are touching, which looks absurd!

So, this brings me to my question: do models really need to "touch base" in order to be in combat? I understand in traditional rank-and-file rules like Warhammer (and the like) that this is the basis on which all unit-based combat works, but in skirmish games, is it necessary?

So far, I've only seen two skirmish systems which have not required it:

1. Early Age of Sigmar (2015), which distinctly said that the sole purpose of a base was to hold the model upright, and that combat could occur between any miniatures who touched each other at any point on the model. This was a different approach, and I don't know how effective it was. I never played AoS and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since 2015 so I have no idea what the rules are now in the latest edition.

2. Forbidden Psalm (2021). This skirmish game set in the world of the Mörk Borg RPG actually does what I've been thinking: miniatures need only be within 1" of each other to be able to make attacks. I've not played the game yet (despite making much-delayed preparations for some time) so haven't seen for myself how effective this is, but I can't help but wonder if that should be the norm for skirmish games, and I also wonder if the same rule were applied to older, well-established skirmish games, would they break, or would they still work (perhaps even better)?

What are your thoughts on basing in base-agnostic systems? What have you found works and what doesn't?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2023, 01:26:05 PM by tikitang »
https://a-descent-into-the-maelstrom.blogspot.com/

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

Offline v_lazy_dragon

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1846
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2023, 01:28:42 PM »
A few rules let you engage at 3" with pikes... Becasue headbutting each other with 18ft sticks just looks even more silly.

My main 1:1 combat was dark ages reenactment, and there shield walls did get pretty close - normally about 4 ft apart, so figures on 25mm bases facing off worked pretty well. But having done some looser dueling during that time and during my Elizabethan/ECW/Monmouth rebellion days I completely agree that face to face is far too close. Perhaps we should be aiming for bigger bases for skirmishing melee... (I now have the insane urge to base 3 musketeer characters on 40mm bases...)
Xander
Army painters thread: leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=56540.msg671536#new
WinterApoc thread: leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=50815.0

Offline Redshank

  • Librarian
  • Posts: 178
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2023, 02:06:27 PM »
I suppose the issue/problem is how it relates to ground scale. If scale is much larger than 1"=2 yards or so then, well, you can see the issue with letting figures engage in melee outside base-to-base contact.

I've pondered a similar issue in horse-and-musket. Realistically, musket range should only be equal to about half the frontage of a typical battalion. (Here's my calculation: 300 men in 2 ranks at 4 feet per man = 600 feet = 200 yards; even 100 yards is probably optimistic for effective musket range). But few rules that I know of restrict musket range vs unit frontage like this.

It will be one to confront if I ever write my own black powder rules.

The scaling issue crops up again in small-unit but not one-to-one games. For example in my VSF game the figure scale is about 1:5. Which significantly complicates the figures' relationship to vehicles and scenery objects. So far I have dealt with this by (un)heroically ignoring it!

EDIT: I meant 1"=2 yards
« Last Edit: April 06, 2023, 02:45:30 PM by Redshank »

Offline tikitang

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 610
  • A shadow out of time...
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2023, 02:19:21 PM »
Perhaps we should be aiming for bigger bases for skirmishing melee... (I now have the insane urge to base 3 musketeer characters on 40mm bases...)

But there comes another issue, which slipped my mind earlier:

If you increase the base size to allow for a more reasonable combat distance between models while still being in base-to-base contact, you also limit the amount of terrain your miniatures can physically stand on. Try getting through an appropriately sized doorway, or hiding behind a wall, or standing on a narrow ledge, with a 40mm base! Denser, especially urban terrain is a popular choice among skirmish games (see Mordheim for example), and to effectively move around it, your models really need as small a base as possible! In fact, arguably, square bases work more effectively for urban terrain navigation than even round ones.


I suppose the issue/problem is how it relates to ground scale. If scale is much larger than 1"=10 yards or so then, well, you can see the issue with letting figures engage in melee outside base-to-base contact.

I have to admit, "ground scale" is something I never think about at all. I have never come across a game where that is important. I usually assume that if most models on the table represent beings which are between 5-6 feet in height (e.g. humans), then 1" is probably equal to about 5 feet, which I'd say is a fair distance between yourself and an opponent in a one-to-one duel.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2023, 02:24:28 PM by tikitang »

Offline Redshank

  • Librarian
  • Posts: 178
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2023, 02:56:41 PM »
I have to admit, "ground scale" is something I never think about at all. I have never come across a game where that is important. I usually assume that if most models on the table represent beings which are between 5-6 feet in height (e.g. humans), then 1" is probably equal to about 5 feet, which I'd say is a fair distance between yourself and an opponent in a one-to-one duel.

How about ranged weapons? At 1"=6 feet (to make the maths easier for me), even a musket will be firing say 30" or 40". Modern or scifi weapons will cover any practically-sized table from the word go.

That said, effective range for modern weapons might well be shorter as we're not talking about firing-range conditions. I am not very up on modern firearms or combat. (Or you might just not care about ranged weapons in which case I should shut up about it!!)

On your other point, and sticking with figure scale=ground scale, personally I wouldn't see the need to use larger bases to indicate melee range - as you say it will hinder interaction with terrain. You could just say a figure has a melee range of 1" or whatever around their base. You could use an appropriately-sized burst marker or something for ease of checking in play.

Offline v_lazy_dragon

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1846
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2023, 03:09:12 PM »
You could use an appropriately-sized burst marker or something for ease of checking in play.
Much too sensible! I did describe my basing urge as insane! But yes, this is a better option

Offline Hobgoblin

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 4949
    • Hobgoblinry
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2023, 03:38:27 PM »
I think the 1" combat range (or one hex/square away) isn't terribly unusual - I'm sure I've seen it a few places (perhaps sometimes just for polearms).

On your point 3., I'd agree on the range of real hand-to-hand fighting; I used to do a lot of fencing, and the "attack range" with a lunge or flèche was quite considerable. I still do a bit of Chinese martial arts, and the ranges when spears are involved are obviously greater still. Against that, some of the sabre stuff involves very close-quarter fighting once spears or arms have been grabbed - which matches the sort of grappling you see in European fighting manuals from the Middles Ages and Renaissance.

The opening and closing of range is hard to model on the tabletop, though, and base to base at least gives you clarity. With 28mm figures on 25mm bases, you could assume about 8' between them (if each is standing at the back of its base) at some points as the combat ebbs and flows. But I don't think you're going to break most rules by allowing a 1" 'attack radius'. On the other hand, you might end up with less clarity on who, precisely, is in combat with whom.

One thing that many skirmish games get wrong, I reckon, is the inability to move away without exposing vulnerabilities (it's the one major flaw I'd point to in SBH). It's very easy to retreat from combat - though, of course, it's easy for the other party to follow up. 'Free hacks' against someone who's calmly retreating (while still facing their opponent) don't really make any sense. In most games, it makes sense to allow combatants to retreat at half movement (or a shorter stick in SBH, etc.) without penalty; the opponent should have the option to follow up or stay put.

If you have rules that allow this - or if you tweak them so that they do - you get a more dynamic game with much more to-ing and fro-ing.

On your other points, I'd say the following:

1. Yes - but if you're going with round bases for skirmishes, there's no need to have models on the same size of base, even if the figures are of the same type. Put the dwarf on a small base and the barbarian on a big one!

2. As above - just put the guy with the wider stance on a bigger base. It'll look better and effects on play will be minimal and marginal.

One thing to consider is that in many (or most) traditional war-games, one figure did not represent one man - which is where questions of ground scale come in.

Offline Easy E

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1966
  • Just some guy who does stuff
    • Blood and Spectacles
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2023, 03:41:44 PM »
To off-set the face-to-face I typically use a 1-3 MU (Measurement unit) zone of control.  Once you are in it, you can engage in melee.  I usually also have people measure from the torso of a model or mid-point of it.

However, in most base and scale agnostic games, precise measurements are missing the point.   lol
Support Blood and Spectacles Publishing:
https://www.patreon.com/Bloodandspectaclespublishing

Offline tikitang

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 610
  • A shadow out of time...
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2023, 04:35:28 PM »
To off-set the face-to-face I typically use a 1-3 MU (Measurement unit) zone of control.  Once you are in it, you can engage in melee.

I like this idea very much. I'm going to give it a bash with every skirmish game, even ones which specifically state that combatants have to be "base-to-base", and see how I get on.

On the other hand, you might end up with less clarity on who, precisely, is in combat with whom.

Certainly worth experimenting with!


One thing that many skirmish games get wrong, I reckon, is the inability to move away without exposing vulnerabilities (it's the one major flaw I'd point to in SBH). It's very easy to retreat from combat - though, of course, it's easy for the other party to follow up. 'Free hacks' against someone who's calmly retreating (while still facing their opponent) don't really make any sense. In most games, it makes sense to allow combatants to retreat at half movement (or a shorter stick in SBH, etc.) without penalty; the opponent should have the option to follow up or stay put.

Agreed. I've seen you criticise the concept of being 'locked in combat' elsewhere, and I agree, it's a silly notion. Even a fast turn about and dash away is perfectly doable at a normal real-life combat distance (unless of course you're engaged in a hand-to-hand grapple, when you literally have to tear yourself out of an opponent's grip).

Quote
One thing to consider is that in many (or most) traditional war-games, one figure did not represent one man - which is where questions of ground scale come in.

Makes sense why I have never considered it, as I've always thought in terms of 1 model = 1 man; I'd never want to play any other way.

Offline Elbows

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 9487
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2023, 06:32:09 PM »
I think, for me, this is a simple case of "choose your battles".

Are there better or more realistic solutions to base-to-base?  Probably.  Is it worth extra rules/measuring/arguing?  Not in my book.  Base-to-base is simple, easy to illustrate, easy to observe, easy to measure and helps "limit" models outnumbering another model, etc.

Finding a better solution for this would just be at the very bottom of a long list of concerns in designing a game for me.
2024 Painted Miniatures: 203
('23: 159, '22: 214, '21: 148, '20: 207, '19: 123, '18: 98, '17: 226, '16: 233, '15: 32, '14: 116)

https://myminiaturemischief.blogspot.com
Find us at TurnStyle Games on Facebook!

Online syr8766

  • Librarian
  • Posts: 100
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2023, 08:51:22 PM »
Warmachine and Hordes from Privateer Press historically had a .5"-1" melee range, with increases of 2-3" depending on the type of weapon/unit. Sometimes it didn't make a lot of sense (that giant steam-powered robot the size of a train with an enormous flail? Can only hit things half an inch away) but it both allowed for figures with more complicated poses being able to actually 'fight' and interesting tactics as well.

Offline Dolnikan

  • Librarian
  • Posts: 143
    • Dolnikan Games
Re: Let's touch base... or maybe not!
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2023, 01:21:48 PM »
I prefer melee weapons having a range of sorts because vase contact comes with some issues. Especially with more dynamically sculpted figures I really don't like lining them up base to base because that's an excellent way to damage them. And it often looks like they're hugging each other which also is a little bit silly.

So, I think that many systems would work better with a bit of defined no man's land between units. Even things like Warhammer fantasy could easily be modified to have this spacing so you're not trying to fit spears through the other unit. It also prevents all sorts of nonsense about thin obstacles that somehow block melee and the like.


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
25 Replies
8994 Views
Last post September 05, 2008, 12:58:41 PM
by Argonor
6 Replies
2002 Views
Last post July 23, 2010, 02:42:10 PM
by Operator5
3 Replies
3152 Views
Last post June 23, 2013, 03:56:42 PM
by Shawnt63
7 Replies
2282 Views
Last post November 17, 2013, 04:23:26 PM
by The_Beast
32 Replies
12661 Views
Last post February 04, 2014, 08:09:03 PM
by AndrewBeasley