Beginners Question About Frontages

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    Nigel Heather

    Hi, as someone completely new to Black Powder, I have a question about frontages. I get that the actual frontage and the number of figures on the bases doesn’t matter as long as both sides use the same frontage sizes.

    I’m thinking that for a standard infantry unit, the most flexible size will be six bases. That way they can be arranged as

    Line (6 x 1)
    Column (1 x 6)
    Rank and File (3 x 2)
    Rank and File (2 x 3)

    For large units I would go with 8 bases and for small I would go with 4 bases (again even numbers to allow for flexible arrangements)

    If I were to go with 28mm (still up for debate), the rule book recommends an infantry base 40mm x 40mm with four figures (2 x 2)

    So my standard unit in line would have a frontage of 240mm

    All great so far. But then I come to cavalry.

    Should a standard unit of cavalry have the same frontage as a standard unit of infantry. If so this is where it starts to puzzle me more.

    If I stay with 6 bases, the Warlord recommendation for 28mm figures is a size of 50mm x 50mm.

    But this would mean that my standard unit of cavalry in line formation would be 300mm – which is 60mm wider than my standard infantry unit and the just 20mm narrower than a large infantry unit.

    I could make a standard cavalry unit 5 bases which would have a line frontage of 250mm – practically the same as a standard infantry unit in line (240mm). I could still do column okay, but rank an file would be untidy.

    Asking the seasoned players out there how do you arrange your bases and unit sizes

    1) How many bases do you use small standard and large (infantry and cavalry) units
    2) What base sizes do you use
    3) Does my idea of even number of bases make sense (for the different formations)

    Many thanks for any advice you can give



    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Nigel Heather.
    Nigel Heather

    Been thinking some more

    Standard Infantry Unit – 6 bases (240mm line frontage) – even number so can do 6×1, 3×2, 2×3 or 1×6
    Standard Cavalry Unit – 5 bases (250mm line frontage) – odd number so can do 5×1 or 1×5 – but that seems okay because attack columns don’t apply to cavalry
    I could even tweak the cavalry bases to be 48mm wide rather than 50mm wide so that the line frontage is exactly 240mm to match the infantry.

    How does that sound?



    Garry Wills

    The important thing is to keep the unit frontages  as close as possible.


    p 19 of the BP vII rulebook: …base size is not all that important ……. as it will make next to no difference in our game.

    I’ve been using 3 cav troopers on a 60mm x 45mm base for years, merely because that is the default base size you get on the free bases with a Perry cavalry box.  4 bases for a standard Cav unit of 12 troopers – 18(6), 6(2), 3(1)  troopers and bases for the large small and tiny respectively.

    As long as you & your opponents are happy, fine.

    Exact base width matching between cavalry, infantry & artillery isn’t critical.  If the Cav get into contact, their opponents will likely break, not noticing the odd mm or so base difference ;} .

    I mostly base my infantry 2 on a 20*40mm base with some individuals but then put them on a movement tray 4 wide 2 deep; 3 of these making up a BP standard batallion. This compromise allows me to get them into skirmish dispersion for rules such as Sharp Practice.

    (You can also share those trays across armies & periods…)

    Others will have their infantry on individual square or  1p size bases then put them  on a bespoke tray, possibly held by magnets  see  – many other such suppliers are out there.

    A quick recommendation – don’t.  Initially use thick card to your preferred size and lightly PVA glue the figures. Decorate the bases minimally (a little sand on the PVA as it dries then a quick dab of paint when all set).  Later on, you can prize the figures off and remount them to your preferred size when you are comfortable with it.

    Starting an army of 200+ figures (any scale) is a significant job.

    IMHO, getting your troops on the table soon is more of a priorty than turning up with pristine artwork years later.  You can always add the master artwork to the figures and prize horticulture on the bases as a future phase.




    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by ArtfulB.

    Hello, I’m a new player too but I’ve learned some things. One thing to keep in mind when building an army is how much playing space do you have. If you have a 6’x4′ table as I do you won’t be able to play large engagements in 28 mm unless you use 3 or 2 base units. Perhaps even 1 base for small and individual for tiny units! Also, you then need to halve your measurements. Keep this in mind when you develop your army.

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