Base Metal!

Having got my US Army stuff out of the way for the September painting challenge, it’s been back to more mundane things! At the beginning of the month, while I was on holiday for a week, I tried out a set of 19th Century rules and thought they were pretty good. Although they say re-basing figures isn’t required, I found that playing the game by moving representative unit markers about was way quicker than moving loads of individuals, so I thought I’d buy some unit movement trays.


I’m not sticking strictly to the bases used in the rules, but I reckon I can make a reasonable compromise. By using rectangular bases that take four infantry in row and are three rows deep (i.e. 12 figures on the base) I can use them one way round to represent units in line and turn them through 90° to represent the same unit in column formation.


Anyway, I’ve bought all me bases and have been thinking about how to paint them. To keep them durable I don’t want to texture them and use static grass on them, and those things would also make them harder to store, so I’ve gone for a simple approach (for now at least). Won’t look as good, but practical.


I’ve tried green movement trays/bases in the past and not been happy with how they look. So I’ve gone with basic Humbrol dark earth bases, because that’s the colour I use for individual figure bases. For figures I add static grass to the bases, but for the movement trays I’ve stippled/blotched on patches of Vallejo golden olive paint, highlighted with golden yellow or flat yellow. This gives a 2-D representation of grass tufts and I think it looks not too bad. It also means they can be stacked easily.


I think the bases look OK on either the plain green cloth I’ve got, or on printed battlemats. I’m using skirmish bases for deployed artillery – these are designed for five figures, but I’ve filled the central position flush to sit the gun on. Most of my infantry battalions have ten figures, so there will be two unfilled spaces on the movement trays, which is why I’ve blotched green paint in all the figure spaces. I’ve got some mdf discs to make that need to have numbers on them to show the strengths of the units as they take casualties, so they will fill one space for each unit.


Figures shown are a mixture of metal 20mm and plastic 1:72 Prussians for 1866 to 1870. These were painted about three years ago and have individual bases typical of most of my figures these days. Just to be on the safe side, I’ve ordered some extra movement trays though, just to cater for extra units being added to armies that are already “finished”!


  1. That works really well. I have to do a pile myself for my French and Indian Wars, I did some 28mm Lion Rampant sabots with sand and flock, I think this a much quicker and to be honest an effective way of doing them. Big thumbs up mate, saved me a load of time. I hope I can match the effect 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like them! Normally I’d texture and flock but leaving them plain means they’ll be easier to store and (hopefully) a bit more hard wearing! I’ve stuck a few more together, but not got any more painted yet! At least they’re quick to do though! I’ll be interested to see how you get on!


  2. Sweet, those are pretty cool! I haven’t delved much into mini-wargaming, but I remember having to move all my units and using different formations. This appears to remove that tedious part quite well. Also like the colors you used for the trays, smart choice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Faust, glad you like them! On the one hand they don’t look as good as textured bases, but they speed the game up. If I’d textured them and used static grass they’d have been more difficult to store, so I’m happy with the balance. I agonized over the colours, since I use green felt mats as a game surface (and I might try a green tray to see what it looks like) but I think the colours I’ve used works not half bad. I’ve actually now caught up with bases for units, so any new units get a base done along with them.

      Liked by 1 person

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