Alternative Basing & Roman Roads
Basing in wargaming is one of those underrated secrets for really making your miniatures stand out. Some careful basing techniques can make an average looking figure shine and is an extra avenue of creativity in our hobby. Historical miniatures can sometimes seem to fall short in this avenue. To maintain historical accuracy we are denied the option for biowaste spills or glowing mushroom forests to base our fierce little Romans through and are instead usually shoved into the option of Romans marching through green grass field A, Mongolian Cavalry charging through gratuitously flowered field B, or the occasional Sassanid riding across arid desert C.
There is of course nothing instinctively wrong with this, however as with all other aspects in our hobby the smallest details in our miniatures tell a story and basing has the potential to really set an army apart. The dreaded accuracy police surprisingly have the direction for creative basing - our sources. There are countless tales from our collective history to draw inspiration for alternative basing types, from Caesars beach landings to Romans on stilts wading through the Pontine Marsh. Even the ridiculous, like Caligulas half mad campaign against Neptune.
One such alternative are Cobblestone roads, which were a common feature across Europe from the dawn of the Roman Empire and are still in use today. There are sources of resin cobblestone bases but it is not difficult to create your own if you have any extra basing material.
I had a surplus of square bases due to using only rounds for SAGA and other systems, these were a great thickness and toughness that would sit well and permanently on the base while not raising them a center meter above other figures. Cobblestone can be uniform but in ancient times it seems to be more common to have varying sizes which fit together beautifully. To get the right sizes I initially started just pulling parts off the base with a pair of pliers.
This resulted in a lot of tearing and odd looking shapes so I instead scored the material with a hobby knife first before using pliers to pry the pieces which resulted in much cleaner shapes.
These were then glued down around then miniature to try fit the pieces as best you can. Here they are assembled
And then painted.
This is where an idea struck. Initially the idea was to have the figures marching along a roman road, however these were Goths! Not some normal rabble mind you, but a detachment from the Visigothic King Alaric himself, storming through the streets of Rome. I had some miniature pots available which I added to the base with one spilling wine as the horrid horde rampages across the city. There is a multitude of different decorations this setting allows to be added to the base, dropped fruit, dropped shields, severed limbs - there is no end to the fun!
- Once the peices have been glued down, cutting of any overhang really does help clean up the base
- Bases usually have a smooth and a rough side, the later makes a better stone face
- If your miniatures feet are attached to a base rather than filing it off I’d suggest cutting the base down to look like a cobblestone.
Author: Damian Zamprogno
Historical entertainer and Roman helmet enthusiast, Damian spends most of his time yelling mercilessly at paintbrushes and animation software. A recent migrant to the desolate end of the earth known as Tasmania he now has a new found respect for Migration era German Tribes, but may never actually admit that he wants to play as anything other than Roman.