Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Casualty bases eureka moment

Posted by Martin on January 28, 2010

Way back in May 2008, I wrote some SBS postings about how I created casualty markers. Even though a lot of people said kind things about my ideas and I was gratified to see several others adopt them for their own casualty markers, I still had a niggling level of dis-satisfaction with the outcome.

It turned out to be pretty simple to work out why I wasn’t happy: I didn’t feel I had the balance right between aesthetics and practicality. The base was just fine as a tool for the job, it just didn’t look very elegant with all those numbers visible around the edge. For more than a year, that’s been gnawing away quietly in the background without me ever hitting on the solution. It’s funny how you can look at something almost every day but not be able to see how to put it right.

Then, two nights ago, my sub-conscious woke me up in the early hours with the solution fully formed in my head. I jotted the eureka moment down in my notebook in case I forgot it again and patiently waited for the opportunity to iron out the wrinkles.

Here’s the basic idea…

Take one painted casualty figure and base it on a round base and paint and decorate the base just like you would for any normal base of figures. No numbers, round base – doesn’t sound like much an idea so far, does it? But here’s the bit that that makes the difference – use a shiny material like acrylic for the base or, if you use a wooden base, stick a circle of laminated card to the underside. What you end up with is a casualty figure on a round base with an underside that you can write on with a felt pen of a chinagraph pencil (can you still buy those?) but that is shiny enough to be wiped clean afterwards so it can be used over and over again.

Now you only ever need one casualty base per unit regardless of the size of the unit, the number of bases in the unit and the number of figures on each base. The same size of round base can be used for all your casualty markers – which gives a pleasing consistency. But that’s not all, using this method you can choose whether or not you remove bases from the table as the casualties mount for a unit. And finally, because the number of casualties is hidden from view, your opponent has to deal with a more realistic “fog of war” issue when assessing the strength of your units.

The next step is for me to produce a prototype that proves this idea works. I’ve already looked on the Litko website and the do indeed supply pre-cut circular acrylic bases. And, yes, I’ve checked, they do indeed still make chinagraph pencils (our Colonial Cousins call them “grease pencils).

Anybody else want to try out this idea so we can compare notes?


9 Responses to “Casualty bases eureka moment”

  1. Hello Martin

    An interesting idea. Best not to push/slide the casualty base across the table though unless you want to expunge any record of casualties! 8O)

    von Peter himself

    • Martin said

      I hadn’t thought of that. Still that’s the beauty of sharing ideas because other people look at them differently. I can see this being a risk with a felt pen but perhaps not such a problem with the chinagraph pencil.

  2. Doc said

    Hi Martin

    How about a notch in the circular base, just wide and deep enough to read a two-digit number. Have the card on the bottom, maybe attached with a central pin, and around the edge of the card printed numbers 1 – 10 or 20? You rotate the card around to bring up the number corresponding to the casualty you want so it displays in the notch provided on the edge of the base. Might need to experiment a bit putting it together but it would eliminate the problem of the number being erased accidentally.


  3. Marco Severino said

    Brilliant concept! Will try it myself & report on the outcome.


  4. Peter B. said

    Hi Martin

    Great idea, how about a clear piece of plastic half glued on top of the writing surface. Then you simply peel back the plastic, write on your number and then let the plastic fall back into place to cover the writing. Will allow you your idea to work without the brisk of the writing rubbing off.

    I’ll give this a go myself sometime in the near future.


  5. Marco Severino said

    Hi all,
    Martin’s idea has been tested by myself, with a slight modification: the round bases I used are GW “slotta” ones, so with an empty underside. I glued a very small, flat magnet on the inside, then I wrote the various casualty figures on some small discs cut out of sheet iron to fit into the cavity. This way I will be able to rapidly and cleanly exchange the casualty indicators themselves.
    A very good and useful idea, Martin, bravo!


  6. Since I tried your previous concept myself, I have to say that’s enough aesthetics for me. đŸ˜‰
    However, I appreciate the idea of additional fog of war and would love to know if your new version is practicable. Admittedly, I share the reservation concerning rubbed off numbers, and the additional effort with magnets and the like is a bit over the top for my taste. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about raised octogonal bases (or as many sides as you need) with small numbers painted on the sides. They aren’t clearly readable from a player’s bird’s eyes view, providing at least a bit of incertitude about actual casualties.

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