This article shows how I base my ancient 28mm armies. This allows me to play with several systems, including Warhammer Ancient Battles, Warmaster Ancients and Field of Glory.
The basing scheme is not that unusual, and several people have very similar basing schemes in their armies already. Of course not everyone is interested in playing Warmaster in 28mm, but basing figures like this it is possible.
It´s good to note that Field of Glory uses the standard DBx basing system, so this makes your figures available for many many rulesets.
We´ll first deal with infantry and cavalry, and then with some special troop types like chariots, artillery and elephants. Officers come at the end, for they are pretty much player´s decision.
The basic base sizes I use are: 20x20mm, 40x20mm, and 40x40mm. This are all pretty regular bases and very easy to buy or make. Consider that I will talk about WAB units, and FOG and Warmaster stands (several stands make a unit).
For infantry, I´ll put mainly a figure per 20×20 space. This means I´ll put one figure in a 20×20 base and two in a 40×20 base. Easy, right?
For WAB you just build your units mixing them as you like. I recommend about half of the unit in singles for casualty removal.
For FOG, each stand measures 60x20mm. You can put three singles, or a double base and one single. You are probably thinking that some troop types in FOG require you to put 4 figures in a 60mm wide base. Well, try to do that with 28mm figures and tell me how you do. Seems like the authors STILL don´t know they do not fit.
For Warmaster I use a conversion, of course. Each stand measures 80x40mm. Here, same as WAB, just put the figures in any combination you like. Casualties are not removed in singles so just use a movement tray representing each stand if you like. Actually, this has it´s advantages. In Warmaster, each stand can take three hits before being removed from the table. So, if you put at least 2 singles in a stand, you can remove them to show hits and won´t need to use markers of any kind.
You can see that this base scheme allows you to base them as pike for Warmaster as well, because you can just as easily make a unit 80mm wide or 40mm wide (just change their facing).
Special case: Skirmishers
You can use skirmishers just as regular infantry with no changes whatsoever. You may be in trouble if you base your skirmishers in 25mm squares or round bases for WAB. I have seem some people base 2 skirmishers in a 40mm round base. It looks nice, but not THAT nice compared to the game play complications that arise.
If you are like me, you´d like to make the skirmishers look different from the heavier troops. You can do this in two ways.
You can base some (a few actually) figures one to a 20×40 base. Inside a unit this will give the effect, but it´s not that useful for WAB.
The other thing you can do is create artificial gaps for FOG and Warmaster stands. This is nice and very easy to model.
For WAB, just use the skirmishers in their 20×20 base, spread them out and take down some elephants.
For FOG. We established that there are 3 figures to a stand. Well, I´d like some stands with 3 but about half of them (or more) with only two figures. You can just put a 20x20mm base between the figures, and flock it like you would a regular base. This will unify the stand leaving the space in between empty. Or you can also create two 10x20mm “fillers” so every stand is actually different, and the skirmishing effect is even better.
For Warmaster. I said I put 8 figures to a stand. For skirmishing infantry I´d like about 6 or so. Same as before, just build your filler bases, put them anywhere to maintain the stand original measurements, and you are done. You can even put 5 figures with another filler, representing very spread infantry. Ok ok, the “mass combat effect” of Warmaster goes through the window, but I have 28mm figures. I´d love to get a huge amount of 6mm (yeah, I´m a 6mm fan) ancients to play proper Warmaster, but you gotta do with what you have.
I admit that if you play WAB, specially coming from fantasy, this will be a bit of a hassle. Most people base their cavalry in 25x50mm or 50x50mm bases. This is nice, but it´s not that good for Warmaster or even FOG. And you know what? Most historical cavalry figures are smaller than fantasy horses.
That´s why I fit them in the already mentioned 20×40 and 40×40 bases. Same bases as for the infantry. Two mounted figures fit nicely in a 40×40 base and keeps them knee against knee when representing heavy or medium cavalry.
For WAB, again, build your unit as you see fit. Many people already bases cavalry in twos for ease of transportation, moving them on the table, and even modeling opportunities. Again, I recommend about half of the unit in single 40×20 bases.
For FOG, just use a double and a single, or three singles. Easy.
For Warmaster, use them as you see fit. Two double bases make a stand, or any combination of singles and doubles. You can see that this base scheme allows you to base them as shock cavalry for Warmaster, because you can just as easily make a unit 80mm wide or 40mm wide.
Special case: Skirmishers
Again, you can just do with the above suggestions. But I´d like to have some different looking skirmishers.
For WAB, use them as they are. Just remember to have enough single based figures for your skirmishing cavalry. One double stand will not endanger your playability.
For FOG, I put one single, and then one double base with only one figure on it. Of course you can just create fillers like I mentioned above, but the opportunity to model the skirmishing horsemen in different positions, facing the side, or slightly to the other trooper, is tempting.
For Warmaster, same as above. In fact, something that looks really nice is to put the troop in the double base in different positions throughout the unit. A unit is 3 stands in Warmaster. Imagine the unit in line, with the bases arranged like this:
Each stand has 3 figures and measures 80×40, but the effect is quite chaotic.
Now for the next types of units, you´d need some special bases. Of course this units are pretty rare in almost all armies. The special bases are 60x80mm for chariots and artillery, and some round 60mm for commanders (this bases vary for every army and every player, so don´t take it too seriously).
This are only guidelines, and you will see I have some models already based differently, but it´s no big deal.
No big problems here at all. Just put your chariots in a 40x80mm base, ready to use with all three systems. For FOG just add some fillers to the sides to make them 60mm wide, or just put the chariot on a 60mm wide movement tray. Personally, I have some celt chariots based in 45x85mm bases. They work perfectly for WAB. For Warmaster, well… 5mm extra facing per chariot (a chariot unit is 2 stands) is not that much of a problem. I can live with that.
In the case of heavy chariots, with four horses and such, Warmaster says to put them in a double sized base (80x80mm). So just use the 60x80mm base (ready to use with FOG) and add some fillers or a movement tray for Warmaster.
Artillery is really your choice. The most important thing, maybe, is to keep them in the 60mm wide zone just to be compatible with FOG. But I have some catapults based 80mm wide, and you know what?, I don´t care. Artillery won´t actually move much, and when charged they´ll probably be destroyed. Make them as deep as necessary. Small artillery like bolt throwers can be put in some of the regular bases mentioned above without too much trouble. I keep the troops that operate the machine in removable bases, so they can fight (WAB mainly).
Elephants are awesome. They are the focal point of an army. Just base them in these 40x80mm bases and you are ready to go. Two of these will make a Warmaster unit, only one is a WAB unit, and you can put fillers or a moving tray for FOG´s 60mm width.
Now this is the complex one. You just need to make up your mind once and for all and just stick with it. I did, and decided to put my leaders in round 60mm bases, but the minis can actually be taken off the base for transportation and play purposes.
The 60mm round base is excellent for modeling. You only have one general, so work a little extra on him. Here´s what I do.
I base the minis in a regular fashion. A mounted officer in a 20x40mm base, and foot officers or aides in 20x20mm bases. I then create a mini diorama for them in this 60mm round base. You can have all your officers in their diorama base, but you can also detach them when necessary. Specially useful for transportation.
So, the general would be something like a mounted figure and a couple of foot troopers, probably with some standard or flag. Maybe with a fixed figure, one that doesn´t need to be removed for play (this is just aesthetics) For other commanders I´d have 2 mounted officers, 2 foot officers, or one of each.
For WAB. Just move your officers in their bases and detach them when getting inside a unit to fight.
For FOG, same. Just move the officers in their scenic bases (after all they do measure 60x60mm).
For Warmaster, just move them around and put them next to the unit they are fighting with. If there´s little space, detach the smaller officer from the big base and that´s it.
And that´s pretty much all I have to say for this. It´s a nice and simple system, it let´s you try 3 of the most popular ancients rulesets available (and probably the best to date) and will give you lots of modeling and painting opportunities.
Hope you can use at least some of this advice.