Great Northern War - how many figures on a 25mm square base?

Started by Elliesdad, 10 December 2020, 08:56:20 PM

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I'm going to build small Swedish and Russian forces for the Great Northern War, using The Portable Wargame rules and a 3" square grid.
Before I actually order figures and bases I need a bit of advice, particularly regarding the number of figures I can sensibly fit on a base and still "look right".

My initial thoughts are to have 3 x 1" square bases per unit - that's two bases of musketeers for the flank bases with the central base being Command, colours and pikes.
I'm intending having the musketeers in two ranks (possibly with an officer figure). Eight musketeers figures should fit on a 1" / 25mm base, yeah?
Similarly, I hope to have 8 pikemen in two ranks, with a couple of officers and musician "out front". Again, would this many figures fit on a 1" / 25mm square base without looking too crowded?
I did consider 6 figures in two ranks, but my gut feeling is that the overall look of the unit would be a bit sparse.

And finally, how many dragoon figures would fit on a 1" / 25mm square base? The dilemma is - is three cavalry "too many/too crowded" or do two dragoons look "too sparse/not enough"? Cossacks - yeah, 2 figures should look just right.

I'm 99% a "solo" gamer, so it's not as if I need to match bases sizes for other rules or to fight against other peoples armies.
The 3" grid fits the gaming space I have available (ie. limited) and three bases does conveniently work with a central pike element flanked by muskets. That pretty much limits me to 1" square bases.

What do you guys recommend/suggest? Any other thoughts?



At a push I can get 9 figures (3x3) on a 25mm square base but it depends on the pose

I can get 12 figures (4 in 3 ranks) on a 30mm square base



Do you need them to be multi based for the rules? My inclination would be to just go with a single 75x25mm base to put them on as you'll have more flexibility to arrange them as you like. Or slightly deeper and have the command out front of the two ranks.

Regardless I suspect 8 figures in 2 ranks is ambitious for a 25mm frontage. I find you need around 7-8mm square per figure for tight ranks so I'd suspect you could only get 3 figures across on a 25mm square. Possibly if it was a narrow pose and you filed down the bases you could get 4 but it would be very tight.


Typically you need 7-10mm per figure.  I don't think you will get 4 figures on a 1" frontage, but it does depend a bit on poses, firing figures are narrower for example.

I think you will only get 2 cavalry on a 1" base.

But with all of this it really depends what looks right to you.

Do you want / need to use 3 bases for a unit, you could just go with a 3" by 1" base, which will give you a bit more space to play with as you don't need to worry about the internal edges. But obviously you can't form column or any other formation.

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Thanks for the advice.

My playing space is 3 feet x 2 feet (36" x 24") or broadly 90cm x 60cm and so a 3" square grid gives 12 x 8 grid squares.
If I reduced the squares to 2" / 50mm that would make the playing space 18x 12 grid squares.
Alternatively, if the squares were 60mm then the playing space would be 15 x 10 grid squares.
I'm going to have to give this more thought...

I suspect I'll go with 60mm x 30mm bases for the infantry and 30mm square bases for cavalry and artillery.
I'll have to put in an initial order and just see how many I can actually fit to a base.
For what it's worth, I will be getting an experienced painter to actually paint the figures as I sadly have no painting skills. Of course, once they're painted then I need to be sure they will look right when they're actually based.

Thanks again,



60x30 should give enough space for a small diorama style arrangement of figures. But as you say getting a small order and making some arrangements of figures is the best way to progress.  Putting some double side sticky tape on the bases can be very useful for this, stops the figures falling over!

As to grid size - its always a balance between how many can you get on, without being too small, and the size of the table. It's also worth considering the rules and what they tend to use as a standard box count.
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Ok. I'd better crack ahead and get an order organised for figures and bases!!

As our North American brethren are wont to say - thanks y'all.



Deciding on basing is one of the biggest struggles starting a new project, especially if you're doing something a little non standard. I wrote a blog post on some of my own thinking on it a while back and it continues to be my most popular post so clearly many feel the same!

As previously suggested, your best bet is to stick figures to bases and see what works for you. You may even find once you've decided, when you start putting it together properly that something else would work better after all and re-evaluate.

One thing to note, don't feel you need to be constrained by "standard" base sizes, I'm sure Leon would be happy to do you a custom order of any size you like, e.g. 65 or 70mm if those would work better for you.


FWIW, all of my Pendraken SYW infantry and cavalry are based on 1" (25mm) square bases. The artillery ones are 1" wide but deeper.

Infantry are in the March Attack pose and are 8 to a base (two rows of 4). As pointed out, a different, more dynamic pose would require less figs per base. Cavalry are 3 to a base. I think you have chosen a good number of bases per unit (i.e., three) for this era (all you need to portray is line and march column?). My units are comprised of 4 bases but I could have saved myself a lot of time to devote to another project or made up more units if I had gone for three for my 18th century armies.

I would point out that there is no way I could base 8 Pendraken AWI figures on the same base size (different sculptor, slightly larger size) so, as has been suggested above, the best thing is to take the figures of your choice, make templates and experiment before making your final choice. Good luck because no-one really wants to re-base (says he who re-based his SYW collection 3 times!)!
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I agree with MMCV, go with one base per battalion either a 60/70 or 80mm base.  The effects are great.  I have done this with my 6mm WSS Bavarians and love the look.  At this time period you do not really need columns on the battlefield as they all marched on and formed in line before battle started.

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I'm getting 10 EAP figues on a 40x20 in two ranks, the extra 5mm in each direction should allow for 6 figures in 2 ranks.
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I've been rebasing my ECW to 80x40 and find I can get around 10 figures across and 5 deep with them without too much difficulty.

Gives a nice dense feel.

75x25 you could maybe get 9x3 figures. Odd numbers work well for symmetry and getting your command in the middle!

Bear in mind at the period there tended to be a lot more musket than pike as well, so you may want to do 3 musket, 2 pike, 3 musket in two ranks, then a few command figures out front.

For reference, heres my ECW "shot heavy" units experiment on 80x40 with 8 musket and 2 pike per rank.

You might just be able to squeeze 10 across on a 75mm frontage.