Initially I didn't think the larger 32mm bases would have much impact on gameplay. After all, it was only a difference of 7mm how much bigger could they possibly be? Looking at them first hand I think it might be a bit more significant than I had initially thought.
More on "Basegate" and some comparison pics after the break.
Unless you don't follow 40K very closely or if you have been under a rock the past month or so you might have missed all the controversy surrounding the new bases that shipped with Shield of Baal: Deathstorm. The Carnifex and Broodlord moved to new smaller oval sized bases, but the real change that had everyone up in arms was the Blood Angels were based on 32mm sized bases.
Initially, this was thought to be a change just for Jump Infantry, but then the Blood Angels Tactical Squad was released and it shipped with 32mm bases too. Even pics that leaked from Shield of Baal: Exterminatus showed Necrons on the new bases so this seems to be a widespread change.
This isn't the first time we went through a base change as Terminators switched from 25mm to 40mm bases when the latest plastic kit was released for the 5th Edition Space Marines Codex, but this is more than just changing the base on a single unit as it seems that 25mm bases are largely being replaced (though for some reason the Genestealers in Deathstorm are still on 25mm bases). Let's take a look at some comparison pics and see how much of a difference the new base makes on gameplay.
25mm and 32mm Comparison Pics
So here we have a typical Deep Strike formation of 10 models. We have the new 32mm bases on the left and the old school 25mm bases on the right. I took these pictures on my cutting matte which is divided up into 1" squares so it will help give you a better idea of how much space the models take up. The footprint needed for Deep Striking is a bit bigger. Not sure how much how much of an impact it will have, but it will it harder to squeeze your models onto a congested battlefield. Also, if Deep Striking a bigger unit (like say 15 Death Company and a Special Character) your options will be a bit more limited. Just something to keep in mind.
Below we have some pics of a large blast, small blast, and flame template hitting our units after a Deep Strike. With the small blast looks like it's 9 hits in the 32mm based squad (though in a game you'd probably count this as 7 since you'll be holding the template above the models and 2 of these are barely under the template) and 10 hit in the 25mm based squad. Slight advantage here for the larger bases though a scatter has a better chance of catching something on the 32mm models as opposed to missing entirely. The large blast and flame template catch all of the models in both units.
Here we have a quick squad formation I put together with both base sizes. I couldn't keep the 32mm bases in camera using 2" for squad coherency so I just went with 1". That will of course affect how many models are hit by the templates, but this will give you a good framework to work from. By and large it looks like small blast templates have a harder time catching as many models when they are based on 32mm and large blast and flame templates are roughly the same.
So why the change?
The conspiracy theorist in me says Games Workshop made the change to sell us all new bases and to leave third party resin base makers out there with useless stock. Honestly, seems a bit far fetched though. You don't have to change your current models per the the rulebook and Games Workshop has gone on record and said as much. For third party base makers while it is a pain to redo existing stock we're not talking about a ton of overhead. We're in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars for new base sculpts and molds as opposed to tens of thousands dollars if they were injection molded so it's not too bad.
Personally I've had a lot of issues with Jump Pack infantry always falling over (especially my poor metal Lemartes) so while it'll be a bit of a pain I'll be changing my entire collection over. Also worth mentioning is some models just don't look right on 25mm bases. Look at my conversion of Mephiston below. He'll definitely benefit and look a lot better on a new base and the extra space will let me decorate my bases more which I'm all for.
So where does this leave us? Gameplay wise Deep Striking will be a bit tougher as it'll be harder to fit larger units onto crowded battlefields. Units can spread out a lot more which will give some advantages to larger units being able to more easily castle up on an objective. On the flip side, you won't be able to keep large units out of line of sight or behind cover as easily. I haven't tried, but I'm pretty sure the days of hiding a unit of Assault Marines behind a Baal Predator are in the past. Blast and template weapons won't be as effective against these units as you'll be able to spread out more with small blast becoming far less useful. As to moving your models 7mm additional movement per turn equals about an extra inch over 4 turns, but that doesn't seem right to me. I'm not sure how movement, assault, disembarking, and all of that will be affected until I get a few games in, but I hope this post helps put everything into perspective.
Coming up I have my impressions on the Blood Angels Codex as well as a tutorial on tinting clear plastic canopies like on the Stormraven Gunship using Rit Dye.
Till next time,