I recently had a question concerning multi-basing - what is it, how is it done, why is it done. As I started to write a response to this email - I realized that this may be a topic that others might also be interested in.
In miniature games, all miniatures need to have a base. This tends to give stability to the model (it isn't good when models fall over during a game) as well as define the area that a model takes up for game play. When you define things based on the base of the model it often eliminates confusing questions, and also completely frees up both the model designer/sculptor as well as the hobbyist that is actually assembly, converting and painting the model to do whatever they like. You can create a treeman that stands over a foot tall, but it plays in the game based on it's base size (say 50mm x 100mm) and works exactly like the one someone else bought and painted up straight out of the package.
In small scale games (like 10mm games (the scale, in this case 10mm, is the distance to eye level for a normal human soldier. Kings of War (like Warhammer) is 28mm scale - so almost three times the size of a 10mm game) it is impractical to model individual figures separately - instead you model a whole unit (so you don't have one archer, you have a unit of 10 archers).
One of the concepts used in Kings of War is that each unit is defined by it's footprint, not by the individual models that make up that footprint. So a troop of 10 archers has a footprint of 100mm x 40mm - because each archer has a 20mm square base - so 5 x 2 results 100 x 40. In the most recent version (currently in beta) they have standardized all the units as well, so that for infantry there are only troops (10), regiments (20), hordes (40) and legions (60). This means that the smallest unit is 10 models, and all other sizes are multiple of this. Same with cavalry, but here it is 5 for a troop, 10 for a regiment and 20 for a horde. For large infantry / cavalry, it is 3 for a regiment, 6 for a horde and 12 for a legion. But like infantry, each of these defines a smallest unit size, of which bigger units are always composed.
In addition, Kings of War does not use models as wounds, and you never remove a model from its unit. So again your troop of 10 archers always is the same size - you don't remove individual models.
Because of these two facts, you can glue multiple models to a single base so long as the unit footprint is correct - this is what we call multi-basing. Multi-basing units makes them easier to set up, and also allows you to create more interesting or economic units - you can easily model a horde of zombies crawling its way out of a graveyard, or if you are on a budget you can have five or six knights multi-based to represent a full regiment.
|Two troops, each of 10 archers. I only had 8 archers for each unit, and added a bow to a mercenary figure to mark the leader, but is it still fully playable as a unit.|
|A regiment of knights. Once again, I only had eight and two kings, and I didn't want two kings in the unit (representing the leader), so I multi-based the 9 knights.|
I have actually seen people go as low as 25% of the required models (especially on a legion (60) of zombies), but I feel it should be at least half, if not 75% of the necessary models. But that is my own personal decision, and so long as the unit is identifiable and has the proper footprint, multi-basing can make for awesome looking armies.
Take for instance the North American Kings of War 2015 champion Kara Brown's Abyssal Dwarf army. One of her best looking units is a regiment (10) of Abyssal Halfbreeds. Her theme for the army was much more steampunk, so she built a spider-walker with dwarfs controlling it as her regiment of halfbreeds. It was on the proper base so was completely legal and very very cool on the table.
|A regiment (10) of Abyssal halfbreeds from my Abyssal Dwarf army. These are actually not multi-based, each model is on it's own, separate 25mm x 50mm base.|
|Kara's regiment of Abyssal Halfbreeds. It has the correct base (even if the blade sticks out a bit), and it both perfectly legal and quite awesome to see on the table.|
Multi-basing however does not mean you need to put fewer models in a unit - it just means you can.
|A multi-based regiment (3) of Lesser Obsidian Golems.|
So how do you multi-base models? It is actually completely up to each person and what they prefer, but I can talk a little about what I do.
One thing to be aware of, when you have multiple models glued to a single base, they become more difficult to paint, because the models now get in each others way. I learned very quickly that if you have more than two rows of models, then the ones in the middle (as well as the middle facing side of the ones on the edges) are much, much harder to paint well without mistakes. As such, I limit myself to multi-basing no more than 10 infantry models at a time (or 5 cavalry, or 3 large infantry). Since I do this for Kings of War, it also makes it so that I can reconfigure the army if I so choose.
If I have 10 mantic models I want to multi-base as a troop of 10, then I glue 10 mantic bases together - 5 x 2 for these. I specify mantic because their infantry models come with a small built in circular base, and their bases have a cutout just that size (effectively turning them into square bases). I then put a magnet on the bottom of this multi-base, as I have found the easiest way to store these models is in plastic bins with sheets of roofing tin at the bottom, and the models magnetized to them.
I then paint the miniatures for the base, and once they are completed I glue them into place in the multi-base. Once that is dry, I then use watered down white glue to glue sand to the top of the base. When that is dry, I paint it dark brown, and then add a spattering of static grass to it. The last part is to then paint the edge of the base black to help highlight the model.
In some cases, I'm either not working with Mantic models (like the archers and knights above), or I don't want the disk at the bottom of the model (such as for my abyssal dwarfs). In this case I carefully cut off the plastic disk (making sure I don't damage the model - the disk however is destroyed and thrown away), and then I glue the model in place on the base. (Same with larger models like cavalry or the golems above which don't have the disks).
At times I have directly glued the circular bases onto the base I'm using (a good example of that is the skeleton crew of a balefire catapult). When doing this you should try to mask the 'bump' left with sand and static grass.
|Sand and grass help to hide the circular bases, though you can still make out the one on the right hand crewmember of the catapult on the left.|
One other thing that multi-basing can do is to allow for the making of mini-dioramas. Even in games where you remove individual models, you can multi-base models for convenience - just so long as you have enough single based models to 'make change' as you take wounds.
|A multi-based organ gun, allowing for a fun conversion.|
|Multi-basing allowed me to create this mini-diorama within my unit of drunk dwarfs.|
|The three 4-wide bases allowed me to make sure that figures were always placed properly to get the desired effect - such as this dwarf who is about to get slapped as he reaches for the girls butt!|
|Blowing a kiss to the lonely dwarf waving back at her.|
In the end, multi-basing is a matter of taste and convenience. So long as you aren't using the models for games that do not allow this, of course. I've found it makes it easier to transport and setup my models for a game, and can give lots of modelling opportunities for interesting creations.