Thursday, 14 January 2010

Single figure bases and Morschauser's Roster System

I have been thinking about my recent blog entries regarding single figure and multi-figure bases.

The rules that I am currently developing are based on those written by Joseph Morschauser, and he used multi-figure bases. This means that if I do decide to go over to single figure bases I will have to make sabot bases for my collection ... or does it?

As Ross Mac wrote in his comment of 9th January and that I quoted on 10th January, ‘… if you are using a grid and each grid can only hold 1 "unit", does it matter if the unit is on a base or not?’ There is no reason why I could not decide that an Infantry Unit should have four single figure bases, and so I decided to see what the two alternatives would look like on the tabletop.

On the left is a multi-figure Infantry Unit base and on the right an Infantry Unit made up from four single figure bases.
The first thing that I noticed was that I need twice as many figures to fight my battles; however, the four single figure bases look better than two figures mounted on the same base. Furthermore it will be easier to fit the four single figure bases into a grid square that contains a tree or building than it will be if they are mounted on a larger multi-figure base.

The single figure base option seemed to have more advantages than disadvantages, and I was about to leave the matter there when I happened to pick up Joseph Morschauser’s book to move it out of the way … and it fell open at the section that deals with his Roster System. In actual fact it fell open on the page that gives the number of circles that each type of ‘Modern’ Unit should have on its roster:
  • Infantry Rifle Unit: 4 circle
  • Infantry Machine Gun Unit: 3 circles
  • Infantry Antitank Rocket Unit: 3 circles
  • Field Gun Unit: 2 circles
  • Field Howitzer Unit: 2 circles
  • Tank Unit: 2 circles
  • Armoured Scout Car Unit: 3 circles
It immediately struck me that here was the figure ‘strength’ of my single figure base units – all I had to do was replace the ‘circle’ with figures! The only problem was the Tank and Armoured Scout Car Units, but the strength of these Units could easily be indicated by the use of removable markers.

I thought that this idea was worth pursuing, and so I put together a few Units to see what they looked like …

On the left is a Field Howitzer Unit (two single figure bases and an Infantry Gun) and on the right is an Infantry Unit (four single figure bases).
On the left is an Infantry Machine Gun Unit (three single figure bases including one armed with a Machine Gun) and on the right is a Tank Unit (with two green counters on the engine deck to indicate its 'strength').
… and I was very happy with the results.

This has given me something to ponder on over the next few days, and may well lead to a few changes to my existing adaptations of Morschauser’s rules.


  1. Hi Bob,

    I think you are on to something with the single based figures equating to the "hits" in the roster system.

    For the AFV units why not add infantry "runners" to accompany the AFVs, rather than markers? Same use, just better visually.

    Just a thought.

    I like the direction you are taking.


  2. Bob,

    "and may well lead to a few changes to my existing adaptations of Morschauser’s rules."

    Do not take out the saving rolls.

    Do add in hits (figures) per unit.


  3. Jim,

    As I was writing my ideas down and putting the example Units together I thought 'This looks and feels right'.

    I did consider using tank riders or jerrycans to show a Tank Unit's 'strength', but during the experimental stage I will probably use simple counters.

    All the best,


  4. Jim,

    Interestingly enough the saving rolls were one thing I had thought about removing ... but had then rejected the idea for the time being.

    What I have decided to do is to keep the rules as they are at present (if they ain't broke they don't need fixing), and just add sections that explain the different Unit 'strengths' and that Units will degrade as a result of 'hits' until all their 'strength' has gone. I will see how this works and then might have a re-think.

    All the best,


  5. Hi Bob:

    I think this looks like an idea with LOTS of potential -- a very elegant way of taking advantage of roster possibilities; I also like either Jim's idea of using "runners" accompanying the AFVs or else something like jerrycans to maintain the visual appeal of your battlefield. Some really cool ideas.

  6. I like it! I'll also note re tank hits that Hat is planning boxes of tank riders. An armoured car could perhaps be accompanied by scouts or motorcycles?

  7. Hi Bob, When I tried the rules using Memoir 44 figures etc it certainly looked fine with the individual figures for all the reasons you pointed out. For artillery I used a gun model and a couple of infantry figures and the result was OK although I have to say this very much by chance rather than design! Using individual pieces and removing them when hit on that basis makes sense and certainly works well enough in Memoir 44/Battle Cry et al. Aesthetically I have to agree that it looks better and in a strange way seems to fit in with the style of the rules in an 'old school' kind of way.

    All the best,


  8. Chris,

    It certainly does seem to have lots of potential.

    By the way, another way for indicating the 'stength' of AFVs might be to have removable crew figures (e.g. a removable tank commander figure).

    I just wish that I had enough time to really give this project some serious work.

    All the best,


  9. Ross Mac,

    Tank riders would certainly work for Russian and German World War II AFVs ... and I particularly like the idea of motorcycle riders working alongside Armoured Scout Cars (especially for the 1930s and early World War II).

    As I mentioned in my comment to Chris, I did think that removable tank commanders might also work for AFVs. What do you think of this for an idea?

    All the best,


  10. Ogrefencer,

    It was your email about trying the modified Morschauser rules using Memoir '44 playing pieces last week that sort of started the ball rolling. I dug out my set and was pushing the pieces around on the board wondering if I could use it or the one supplied with Battle Cry for a quick play-test of the modified Morschauser rules on hexes. I did not proceed with the idea then, but it must have stuck in my subconscious.

    You certainly hit upon the Unit ‘strengths’ quite uncannily, and your comments that they worked ‘OK’ makes me think that this is the right direction to move in. As a large part of the enjoyment of wargaming is the aesthetic appeal of the figures and terrain, something that looks ‘right’ must – in my humble opinion – be right.

    All the best,



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