Porky’s Wild Bore- All Your Base Are Belonga-Mick?

Porky here. I’m going to be doing some riffing off recent posts in the House rolls, possibly once a week on Tuesdays if this one turns out all right.

Today I’m hoping to say something useful on why we base minis the way we do, why we might be better off not basing them, why GW could prefer players to think of themselves as collectors, ground vehicles going extraterrestrial, and low gravity in games.

The cleanest place to start is possibly the dirtiest, with Falconer’s simple earth basing and Gilles MONTEIRO REYNARD’s recent series on a pair of bases, this being a useful post from that.

They all look very special. But can a base look too special?

We can think of a base as an extension of the miniature and a link with the tabletop, but the miniature can also be understood as an extension of its base, and the base as part of the game world. But of course, here the game world is the one person’s interpretation of it (and that may be all a game world ever can be, and all any fiction ever can be for that matter). If the player is feeling the world, the work goes in and the base gets more special.

But then the more the appearance of the base flows from one interpretation of the game world, the less it might be consistent with the bases modelled by the other players, or the tabletop itself. What works for the square inch-age of a base doesn’t necessarily pay over the square footage of a table, or make practical sense when it comes to minis staying up. The more special their bases, the more distinct the miniatures might become, and the more isolated from the immediate context they’re then likely to be. They have a hinterland of their own, but it’s in the imagination, a largely unexplored expanse of world: an outback, somewhere out past the back of the base.

Which could also be to say that bases are another place where aspects of roleplaying in wargaming can come through, especially in gaming where liveries or paint schemes are more fixed and minis can’t be converted past the needs of WYSIWYG. Wargaming is what D&D emerged from of course, back in the ’70s, a natural development in the exploration of an imaginary world. When we model a base we’re also evoking a fantastical space, old school style, down in the grime.

On the subject of that evolution, G Mort also posted this week a personal history in roleplaying. The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and AFF, with their Russ Nicholson gribbliness, are in the mix as well, which itself is a reminder of GW’s early history.

Before we get to GW proper though, it’s worth mentioning that one alternative to the modelled base is a transparent plastic disc, ideally with a matte finish. It shows the tabletop so it blends in everywhere, and it needs less work as well, plus there’s always the option of going back and modelling over for something more conventional. The big issues are finding a glue that doesn’t tarnish and avoiding bleed from the connection, but a looser bond, with PVA say, could help with popping a mini off later.

At any rate, it’s all good. We’re probably enjoying ourselves however we base for a given project and thrive on seeing what other people come up with. There are sublime tensions at work in the mix. It’s all part of the hobby.

The hobby or the hobby?

That’s a debate that’s really only starting. And one related subject that’s going to come up a lot over the next few months, if not years, is GW’s new 32mm base size, the next up from the ‘base’ base of 25mm. If you’re worrying, there may be no need, because more than one other player seems to have it covered.

So why is GW doing it? For a whole range of reasons would be my guess – a whole range not least because it must have expected things like these base rings could appear, and it surely can’t rule out more responses besides.

My first impression of the new size is how it seems to shrink miniatures previously on a 25mm, and make the base correspondingly more important, as if the truer gameplay marker maybe. But it does also seem a lot of people are happy to have the extra space to work with: more space to make each mini more of a diorama; more space – if you agree with my thinking higher up – to isolate the mini from the tabletop.

Here’s a question: could GW prefer its miniatures to become more isolated from the tabletop? Put differently, could it prefer that Citadel miniatures become in practice less playing pieces and more sculptures, works of art, things to collect and show rather than use? Or at least have it be ambiguous enough to outsiders, people who don’t know the niche so well?

What am I getting at? Go and read the third to fifth paragraphs of this post at Dakka Dakka. If that’s on the right track, and protection might hinge even partly on a more general perception, could it be that GW would benefit more if even the players think the company is a miniatures maker rather than a games workshop; that the games are just an optional extra for collectors? If repeated enough times, and if not already true, could it become true? Is this part of the reason the name ‘Games Workshop’ might even become ‘Warhammer’ or similar?

The tragedy then might be that the direction GW followed ended up alienating so many players, and that the rump of customers sticking with the company was small enough, that no one else was even interested in the rights, or that any new producers would just use them to fully reoccupy the ground GW had by then abandoned.

On we go.

The theme of Citadel miniatures and GW’s direction brings us to what Benjamin Brun has been scratchbuilding: an Ork-looted imperial gorgon. (Ork-looted imperial gorgon? There might be a metaphor in that description, but if so, I’m not sure it’s accurate.)

The gorgon is another classic vehicle from the 6mm Epic scale that Forge World has remade for the 28mm tabletop, which seems increasingly cramped these days at any given points value. The sad fate of the gorgon, born free to crush its own paths through vast modelled wildnernesses? Quite possibly to be shuffled about in tight car parks of tank under low holding patterns of fantastical flying machine.

I’ve been a fan of the gorgon since it first appeared, but I love the way this is a proper reworking. The thing that interests me though for the purposes of this post are the wheels, which incidentally do look like a solid replacement for the tracks: with future tech, even grimdark tech, we might imagine that a tyre like one of these could be made of a super-tough and resilient material that holds its shape even without air. They look super-sprung too, so much so you can almost feel the rebound.

(A quick tangent: why are 28mm vehicles not usually based? You see them based in Epic, and it can look effective when you align the tank off the base one way but have a turret rotating back.)

Seeing these wheels made me think about ground vehicles more generally in sci-fi, especially where the setting assumes many worlds, and worlds other than the Earth, or the Earthlike. Imagine the potential range of gravities just on rocky worlds, and in even one galaxy. Could a classic tank design, or a range of variants, come close to dealing with it?

As an absolute minimum, on some of the higher-mass worlds you might want to do something like channel exhaust heat down, or into a cushion, to keep speed high and wear low, and on lower-mass worlds a few directional thrusters might be needed to keep the bouncing under control, or use it to the crew’s advantage. Think Philae bouncing on 67P back in December. Or maybe even the armadillo in Armageddon jumping. Why don’t we see that on the tabletop? The same goes for any unit type.

Here’s an idea to show how silly it could get. It’s for 40K, as a fairly common reference point, but the principle is clear enough.

First, everyone counts as having jump packs, while jump pack users become skimmers and skimmers fly. Certain flyers (nope, not aircraft – it might be a clever term after all) could become spacecraft, maybe the way Epic: Armageddon does it.

Second, any time a model is hit by an attack with a strength that equals or exceeds its toughness, assuming it survives, it’s knocked back in a slow arc off the battlefield. Place it on its side – if the base lets you – or mark it with a counter. It can’t move next turn but gets its usual shooting at range + 12″ then one of two things happens: if it’s a skimmer or better, it’s stood up and carries on as usual, having manoeuvred itself back; but if it’s not, it becomes a casualty for the purposes of a one-off game. In the case of vehicles, toughness is assumed to be highest armour value, divided by two (rounding up), plus hull points. If the strength is more than double the toughness, it all happens too fast and the model doesn’t even get to shoot.

And that’s about it. (That’s not an end.)

Because if you need a backdrop for a low-G skirmish game, or a landscape for a full-on Epic clash, and for a change you fancy a feudal world (possibly the former Warhammer world), Paul O’G has a set of useful links to bookmark.

(This is an end.)

Tl;des? Tl,m.

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