Sunday, 6 June 2010

More on Multiple Basing

I have rebased a complete infantry battalion so it is now possible to judge whether the method gives the visual effect that I want. The photos show my Grenadiere-Garde battalion deployed with various august personages inspecting. Just laying out the battlion for a photo would have taken some time with single basing, whereas this shot was prepared in a few minutes and the figures, constrained by card and milliput, are arrayed with a precision that the Erbprinz regiment would approve.

I decided to retain officers and musicians on single bases. They do not represent the same time problem as there far fewer of them, and there is no need for the precision in placement that is required when drawing the rank and file up in formation. So I am happy, for now at least, that I have obtained the compromise between practicality and looks that I was seeking.

As the photos show, the unfortunate 'Oick on a yellow horse' has been found a position. My artillery battery was lacking a CO and this happy coincidence allows me to find a use for the Oick while observing 18th Century prejudices against the lower classes. It is yet to be discovered whether the fellow's understanding of ballistics is any better than his knowledge of horseflesh.

Modern architects like to use the description 'honest' to describe many of their most hideous productions. My basing system uses the opposing philosophy. I no longer have figures that are individuals, they are now mere components of six-man blocks, irrevocably linked together until the end of their days. As this is something I don't like, I'm happy to use a basing method that disguises the fact; that lies about it. I am reminded of something Michael Flanders' description of his revue 'At the Drop of a Hat':

The purpose of satire, it has been rightly said, is to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cosy half-truth. And our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.

Once figures are mounted on multi-figure bases, there are numerous modifications that need to be made to the Charge! rules. The following amendments are intended to cover these.

1. Casualty Removal. Casualties are always removed from the flanks of the unit, the unit gradually shrinking in upon it's centre. If only one base is removed then this is taken from one flank and the remaining bases are shifted half a base's width in the direction of the flank the base was taken from.

We lose the appealing spectacle of gaps opening in the ranks as casualties are taken, but this is not necessarily any less realistic. It would be natural for the men to close in upon the centre as their losses mounted: in bad regiments the officers struggled to keep their men spread out in line rather than breaking ranks and ending up in a formation best described as a huddle.

2. Melee Resolution. The number of figures in contact on each side are counted up. If there are X figures on the side with the highest count and Y figures on the other then we have:

X minus Y = Z combats at 2:1
Y minus Z combats at 1:1

So if twelve figures are fighting ten, we have 12-10 = 2 combats at 2:1 and 10-2 = 8 combats at 1:1.  This isn't difficult maths to do in one's head.  Anyone playing Little Wars will have become accustomed to such calculations.  I find it's a lot easier than working one's way along the figures keeping a careful eye on where we have gotten to in a confused melee.