Tuesday, 15 February 2011

3mm ACW: Some quick thoughts on base sizes

Having completed a few more 3mm ACW Infantry strips, I've been giving thought to how I might base up this new size of figures. I think to give meaningfully-sized units without having enormous bases, as well as factoring in as few cuts from the strips as possible, I'm going to be looking at Regimental level gaming. This should give enough room on each base for a few skirmishers out front as well as some mounted officers to the rear, with hopefully a nice vignette style look.

The simplest cut I've found so far, given the slightly fiddly nature of chopping up such small strips, is to be some surgery on the Command stands with integral flags - it is relatively easy to lop off two pairs of standing Infantry from one end, these can then be added in to the front and rear ranks, evening them up, whilst a whole Command group strip is then centred in the front rank of the unit, giving a total of 36 figures. (8-8 +2 and 8-8 +2)
I'm letting these practicalities dictate the way the project is to shape up, rather than getting bogged down in too many attempted rationalisations of the depiction of historical formations and units - normally the bane of most of my nascent projects!

This means a total of two Command strips and three standing Infantry strips are required to create each unit, therefore making good use of the fifteen strips per pack, without making each unit look too small, thus undermining the point of using small scale minis.
The length of this two whole strips plus two-figure line comes out at around 48mm, so dictates the width of the base at 50mm wide.
I've found a similar measurement in depth allows enough room for the skirmishers and mounted Officers, giving therefore, a nicely square base.

So with 50x50mm bases sizes, I can represent a whole Regiment of around forty three figs on each, whilst I'm thinking of using a conveniently half-depthed base for other units such as artillery:

I've found that the separate crew figures mean that for even just two guns, you need quite a lot of width on which to mount them; you could cramp them in tightly around the guns, but I think visually, some space around each cannon will allow a more natural-looking random application of the individual crewmen, as well as perhaps avoiding a less realistic muzzle-to-muzzle deployment for the guns.
The current lack of limbers, horse teams and caissons in the range neatly solves the problem of needing more depth to the base, and having two-gun batteries will mean I can get quite a lot out of the pack of thirty cannon!

I was also thinking that this half-depth base of 50 x 25mm would be useful for a Sharpshooter type unit, with a random application of approximately fourteen individual skirmisher figures, whilst also giving a use for the standard bearer side of the Command Group strips that have lost the four Infantrymen at the end:

So, how will all this fit in to rules and game-play? I must confess, I haven't thought too far in that direction, having in typical fashion been more enamoured with the figures themselves rather than thinking in overarching Project terms, but it occurs to me that something like Polemos would fit the bill...

Whilst I'm at it, I must just point out that Fighting 15s here in the UK now have their stock of the new miniatures, alongside the new Cavalry releases, and say that never fear, as soon as my order arrives, I'll be posting my thoughts on the mounted and dismounted figures.

As to the making and modelling of the bases themselves, I'm going to have to experiment a bit with that, as following some useful advice from Thaddueus of 'Lead No Bleed' and others, both on this Blog and elsewhere, I've got a number of options for making this as relatively stress free as possible, or at least effective in turning out a relatively large number - so check back for some updates on this to come...


  1. If you have a copy Land Ironclads works as a pure historical set if you strip the VSF units out. Matthew uses it to play his 2mm Zulu Wars. This would also mean you could play ACW VSF with Aeronef/LI and double your figure use! :-)

  2. Ooh! Good catch Steve - that's not something I'd considered at all yet (still ferreting through various orders of battle etc for unit ideas) - but would be absolutely brilliant and v. thrifty - excuse me whilst I go put my thinking hat on... :-)

  3. Looking good! Look forward to seeing them based up! Hope you'll be purchasing some of my ACW buildings from F15's? ... Ian should have them in very soon.
    Enjoying this project, keep up the good work.

  4. Thanks Steve, glad to hear about the building range being available soon - they were the very next thing on my list of to-dos - was looking at using some Monopoly buildings, but yours would be so much better - just keep cranking them out, and I'll buy 'em!

  5. Those are some sharp looking regiments, man! I wait for the postman every day, breathless in anticipation, but still no joy in Rio. :/

    You're setting the standard!

    My big doubt is this: do a Union regiment for my first project or a Brazilian regiment from the Triple Alliance War?

  6. Thanks for your comments guys - Thaddeus, the Brazilian regiment sounds interesting - what sort of uniforms are we talking about? It's got to be better than those d*rned Bluebellies!

  7. Land Ironclads and Polemos (available as a pdf now too) would work well, my 2mm ACW do double-duty with LI. I like your gun crew poses, I'm still trying to figure that out myself. A nice set of free rules are "Republic and Empire", available here: http://hmwrs.com/

    Look forward to seeing how these go. Mine are still in my painting queue.

  8. Hey there, thanks for the tips -that's a good website link with some interesting rules - I'll definitely give them a go.

  9. I'm thinking of either doing the 54th Massachussets or the Zuavos da Bahia, an all-black Zouave battalion made up of the free abolitionist elite from Bahia. It was a crack regiment in the Brazilian army.

    The Brazilian army wore blue uniforms like the Union, only darker. They also had white cross-belts and white trousers (some of the time). Ocassionally, they war all-white duck cloth uniforms as a summer field expedient.

  10. Wow! The Brazilian Zouaves sound really exotic - the only slight problem might be the cross-belts at this scale - but the summer uniforms would look nice, I should think - look forward to seeing some pics on your Blog.

  11. You can see the Bahian Zouaves relaxing in camp in thei paiting by Cândido Lopez:


  12. Looks good. With 2" per square base, you could play Volley & Bayonet in 2/3" scale on a 4x6' table. I made rulers just for the ACW era that can be printed in various scales (like 2/3") at http://www.g-design.us/vb/ ...where there's a Game Reference Chart for either ACW or earlier eras.

    I am planning to do cm scale and 3-cm bases with each rank being a strength point. Not as diorama-like but avoids having rosters.

  13. Hi Bill, thanks for the comment, I was all for letting the minis themselves dictate the base sizes, as it was the lure of the little men that got me started on this project - but the more I come to think about it, I should have put a bit more thought into just how these would play on the tabletop, so your suggestion is a very welcome one - I'll have to follow up on that, and thanks for the link to the rulers-could come in handy!

    I like your idea about ranks/strength points - I'm all for getting rid of as much paper as possible - I just find that smaller minis on small bases can get a bit fiddly with all the individual units....