Friday, November 28, 2014

To Re-base or Not to Re-base?

Because I carry the geek gene, my oldest daughter has found herself attracted to 40K. Unfortunately, the cost of building an all-metal Sisters of Battle army prevented her from doing her first choice. Her second choice was Blood Angels, with her first model kit being a squad of Death Company. I've been closely following Blood Angels rumors ever since.

The Temptation of Tyranids
I admitted a while ago that the new Tyranid models had tempted me to start a Tyranid army. Not long afterward, I heard about an upcoming "Shield of Baal: Deathstorm" kit. Along with essential Blood Angels models and a paperback rulebook that my daughter could use, it would also come with several basic Tyranid models and a unique Broodlord, all for a great price. The kit was tailor-made to finally convince me to start a Tyranid army. Thanks to Jake, local HobbyTown owner and fellow Cabal member, I was even able to snag a copy of the woefully underproduced Shield of Baal: Leviathan book set.

Deathstorm and Changing Base Sizes
It wasn't long before we started getting leaked images of the Deathstorm kit, one of the first of which being this one:

Some eagle-eyed readers spotted some interesting details in this picture. One of the most obvious was the fact that the Death Company Marines' bases were clearly larger than the Genestealer bases (25mm) but slightly smaller than the Terminators' bases (40mm). Until now, all power armored Marines have been mounted on the same bases as Genestealers. [Update 11/29/14: I've since found that Ahriman and Krom Dragongaze from the Sanctus Reach: Stormclaw kit are on 40mm bases despite wearing power or artificer armor.] However, these Death Company Marines were almost certainly standing on the 32mm bases that were also supposed to become available on the same day gamers could pre-order Deathstorm.

Slightly less obvious was the fact that the Tyranid Warriors were mounted on larger bases than before. More detailed GW photos show that they're mounted on the same 50mm bases as Space Marine Centurions:

Left: Warriors on the old 40mm bases
Right: Deathstorm Warriors on the new bases

Finally, it looked like the Carnifex was mounted on a larger oval base. Again, officially released images show this to be the case:

Left: Carnifex on the old 60mm circular base
Right: Deathstorm Carnifex on the new oval base

Only the Genestealers, the Dreadnought, and
the Terminators are on their original bases

This is a good change in the long run. Jump pack Marines are notoriously unstable on the smaller bases while Warriors and Carnifexes all seem a bit too big for theirs. The latter problem can make "base-to-base contact" an impossible ideal (there are way too many things hanging off some models to ever get up next to their base) and gives some of the more creative hobbyists very little room to play with. Now GW has the option of mounting infantry on 25mm, 32mm, 40mm, and 50mm bases while Monstrous Creatures have 60mm bases and several oval bases to work with.

It's great that GW is starting to provide more appropriately-sized bases for existing models, but the big question is what this means for gamers' existing armies. Rules-wise, it doesn't seem to make too much of a difference. Page 9 of the rulebook says the following:

Models and Base Sizes
The rules in this book assume that models are mounted on the base they are supplied with. Sometimes, a player may have models in his collection on unusually modeled bases. Some models aren't supplied with a base at all. In these cases (which are, in all fairness, relatively few and far between), you should always feel free to mount the model on a base of appropriate size if you wish, using models of a similar type as guidance.

In other words, if you put your Death Company or Warriors or Carnifexes on the 25mm, 40mm, or 60mm bases they originally came with, you are in full compliance with the rules. Presumably, if you have a few Warriors on the older 40mm bases and a few on the new 50mm bases, you're still okay. But heaven help you if you're as obsessed with consistency as I am.

Even after seeing the Deathstorm photos, I was feeling pretty confident that I wouldn't end up re-basing any of my models. I haven't built my Assault Marines yet (I'm assuming the Death Company bases reflect the new base size for jump pack Marines), so it's not a big deal to buy a pack of 32mm bases before I start them. I haven't started building Tyranid models, so I won't feel it necessary to re-base any Warriors or a Carnifex. And my Daughter has yet to base her Death Company, so we can pick up some of the new bases before she gets to that point.

The only thing that would seriously affect me is if they put Tactical Marines on the new bases, and I seriously doubt that GW would ever do that...


Wait a minute. Power armored Space Marines' feet usually hang off the edges of their 25mm bases, right?


But the Blood Angel Tactical Marines shown in that recently leaked photo don't seem to have that problem. And the trend shown in the Deathstorm kit is that of mounting models to more comfortably-sized bases. Could those new Tactical Marines be on 32mm bases?

Plenty of room for an Astartes on these new bases


What Next?
Honestly, those Blood Angel Tactical Marines look great on 32mm bases. Guardsmen and even Space Marine Scouts are fine on the smaller bases, but power armored Marines have always looked a little funny with their toes hanging off. And since Deathstorm has shown that GW isn't opposed to re-basing existing models, I can only assume that the Blood Angels won't be unique and that all power armored Space Marines are eventually going to start getting packaged with 32mm bases.

I don't believe that there is any rule conflict with using Marines on either 25mm or 32mm bases, so I'm left with a choice: do I re-base all my existing power armored Marines, do I keep the finished Marines on their old bases and put all subsequent Marines on 32mm bases, do I continue to mount all power armored Marines on 25mm bases (including Sternguard, Devastators, etc.), or do I put all subsequent Tactical Marines on 25mm bases and decide how to base other types of power armored Marines as appropriate? Really, which choice is less likely to make me crazier?

Even with their toes hanging off, those bases don't look too bad

Most of my power armored Marines are still on plain gray bases, so I wouldn't be losing a whole lot of work if I re-based them, but my newest models have texture and static grass. I've even brought several of my older models up to the same standard. Although I've put some work into the newer models' bases, at least they would be relatively easy to dismount since they're only held in place by a small amount of glue on each foot. Unfortunately, 15 of my 19 finished Tactical Marines are from the old paint set or the Black Reach starter set. These models were designed to fit into slotted bases and I used plenty of glue in those slots to keep them in place. It would take some serious manhandling to dismount those Marines.

Eventually, I want to be able to run up to four 10 man Tactical Squads. Right now I have about half that number and I don't really want to change their bases, especially if it could mean damaging some of them. Thus, for the sake of consistency, I think I'll continue mounting my Tactical Marines on 25mm bases.

However, I still have plenty of other power armored units to build that could benefit from the new bases. I have bits set aside for a 10 man Assault Marine Squad and a jump pack Captain that could use larger bases for the stability. For a long time I've wanted to make my Sternguard something special; larger bases would go a long way toward setting them apart. And using larger bases for Devastator Marines with their comically large weaponry makes a lot of sense.

Now that I think about it, I'm kind of excited about the new base sizes and the options they present. I bet some of the Ultramarines characters like Chief Librarian Tigurius, Chaplain Cassius, or Captain Sicarius would look pretty good on 32mm bases instead of the tiny 25mm bases they came with.

The Master of Sanctity demands a bigger base!


  1. Been wondering the same. I'd love to have an entire army of 32mm figures, but given my situation of already completed figures, and multiple FW figures, I will likely stick to full 25mm for consistency and convenience. I love having tiny bases like the 25mm Avatars, Daemon Princes, and Terminators from RT, as well as 40mm models that have 60mm stats, like Mephiston and Primarchs, but this is one situation where the attractiveness of the 32mm on a marine miniature trumps the puny 25mm danglers.

  2. I've seen some really nice moulded bases that I wanted to put my BAs on. They're all 25mm though, luckily I haven't blown close to £50 on a stack of them only to get penis envy later for the 32mm. I love the idea of bigger bases though

  3. Interestingly, there seems to be a split in opinion over the new base sizes. Highly competitive players overwhelmingly hate them while the hobbyists soon get over their initial dismay and get excited about the modeling possibilities.

    No wonder GW has a hard time keeping everyone happy; its customer base is completely bipolar.


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