TYW - Infantry Basing experiments

Three different formats for my Pike and Shotte units

I am finally tackling the most difficult portion of rebasing my Thirty Years Collection - The infantry.  The massive mixed pike and shotte units of the time period is what actually drew me to this time period.  I am interested in transition points like this where pike blocks slowly gave way to the musket armed infantry of the 18th and 19thC. The epic scale collection from Warlord allows for representing these massive formations with some suitable mass on the tabletop.  My issue, however, is that my limited space, game opportunities and general philosophy on wargaming continues to push me towards single unit basing.   

I gave up ideas like figure removal long ago, and much keeping models on the table for as long as possible.  I have to sacrifice representing specialty formations (Square and column for example), but found those to be outside the scope of what I wanted to simulate anyway.  I started with my Dragoons, there really seems little point in painting up two different units to represent them mounted and dismounted as they already have a limited battlefield role.  (More on that in a later post.)  I opted to simply put both mounted and dismounted figures on a larger base to separate them visually from either dedicated cavalry or infantry formations.   

As alluded to in December I was inspired by Steve's efforts at downsizing over at Sounds Officer's Call.  I've opted to move to a single 3"x1.5" base for all of my cavalry, commanded shotte and mob style infantry units.  I am keeping the Warlord bases for my artillery, but dropping the units from 3 guns to 2 guns on the table.  

The pike and shotte infantry continues to vex me.  I want to keep the stands to no more than 4" in width, but still get the overall sense of "mass" from the mixed formation.  My first attempt used a 3.5" x 2" base using the new Scottish frames

These look alright for the these models, but I still wanted a little more heft.  Next up I tried a 3.75"x 3" base for a new unit from the Swedish Black Regiment.  This included a line of individual pikemen at the ready and some individual gunners out front.  This looks good from the front, and uses exactly half of an existing infantry unit frame. (+4 gunners from the 'commanded shotte" models) I am still a little dissatisfied with the anemic look of my pike block, however.

Attempt number three is my first conversion of an existing unit.  I took one of my Yellow Regiment blocks and cut it down.  



In this case I added another half strip to back to bring the total up to five ranks of pike.  I though about going to six, but I like using the depth of the base to keep all of the pikes away from the base edge so they don't get entangled in the melee. I am somewhat happier with this result, though I was tempted to go with 6 wide on the pike.  The amount of waste that would generate dissuaded me however. As it stands, I will still end up with leftover models as I raid my second boxed set to fill out existing units as I go through the process of re-basing.   

Comparison from new base to 2/3s of original unit
Side by side of the five rank versus four rank deep regiment

As a side note, I have found that the trimmed cuts from separating the infantry strips really disappear when viewed from normal game distances.  It does however work best to cut and trim the strips before you start painting them. 

3.75x3 versus 3.5x2 in base units

I have some more experimentation to work on.  I am going to do the next Yellow Regiment with a double rank of ready pikes on the 3.75" base, and then start working on a Tercio.  The Tercio itself is the one that really confounds me.  All the source material I find focuses on the Dutch/Swedish system that was adopted during the ECW.  In Warlords rules they simply add another pike block to the existing unit to represent it.  I am leaning towards using a 4" square with 6 to 8 ranks of 10 wide infantry strips flanked by 3-4 ranks of 3 wide shotte strips.  

For the Cavalry I have settled on 4-5 models for lights, 6 models for standard horse and 7 models for Cuirassiers. Dragoons are 2-3 mounted with 5-7 dismounted figures.  When in doubt, I can always use double stacked bases to get more mass if I want it for the visuals.  

Thanks for looking, ideas and suggestions are always appreciated. 


  1. I prefer the 3.5" x 2" basing that you have with your Scots. To me, it just looks right. Neat and tidy too. Like you, I much prefer single element basing schemes.

    1. Interesting. I may try squeezing the ranks closer together on a 2.5" base and see if it gets a happy medium.

  2. "It does however work best to cut and trim the strips before you start painting them." Tell me about it... I have a bad habit with painting on the sprues. When I cut through the completed strips there's an ugly gash down the middle that i have to paint over...

    Your big base swedish unit is impressive. For the 3.75 x 3, couldn't you just add a few more pikemen and have them overlap a bit with the shot sleeve? I think they all look great sir. Your painting is impressive and thanks for the shout out.

    1. Thanks for the inspiration. I think my final solution scratches the itch for me. I will, however, end up with a lot of excess plastic.

  3. PS you know how I feel already about butting up 2 pike and shot stands against each other for a suitably massed look :-) personally I think that's the easiest way to do it!

    1. I also think it helps the hide the seams from splitting the stands much better as well.

  4. Interesting ideas for what is always a nightmare of how to base, I like both sizes of base to be honest they both work well in their own way, no help to you at all!!

    1. All input is appreciated. Thanks for stopping by!


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