cannot be distinguished by their patterns like the Zulus or  Masai, so instead one base in each unit includes a different  animal model, enabling me to refer to the “Ostrich unit” or the  “Warthog unit” and be immediately understood by other  players. So instead of sticking rigidly to three Warriors per base, for  example, mine are a mixture of threes and a few twos.  Skirmishers are either one or two to a base, while on the other  hand my Wazungu (explorers and similar white men) tend to  be accompanied by servants, gunbearers, dogs and others who have no function in the game, but simply look good. I have  sometimes toyed with the idea of taking this idea to its logical  extreme and fielding an army with no figures at all, or perhaps  just the barrels of a few muskets sticking out of dense  vegetation. Absurd as it sounds, this would reproduce pretty  well what Wolseley’s men saw of the Ashanti in the 1874  campaign, for example. I have never actually gone this far  though (yet), perhaps because I don’t want to upset the figure manufacturers too much. Of course the fewer figures you have, the more effort you will  need to put into decorating your bases. Don’t worry about  overdoing this. If your figures get lost in dense bush or simple appear overwhelmed by the terrain, well, that’s what Africa is  like. I think of this as the “Chinese landscape” school of  wargames terrain. You know, those old Chinese paintings  where a couple of tiny human figures appear on top of a  precipice or at the bottom of a ravine, reduced to utter  insignificance by the grandeur of nature. Exactly what you put  on your bases is up to you, but the “home terrain” which is  given for each army in the lists might give a few clues. You  could go for the desert look, with lots of rocks and a few  bushes and clumps of yellow grass, or the jungle, with more  and greener vegetation, or just lots of grass. Parts of the  Central African jungle look surprisingly like the plastic  
aquarium foliage you can get from garden centres. Tropical soil  tends to be reddish in colour, so some sort of rusty hue would  be suitable for the ground itself. African troops are often  predominantly brownish in both skin colour and costume, so  don’t show up very well on this sort of base. So much the  better. Ambushes will look more convincing, and the general  difficulty of distinguishing your warriors will add realistically  to the stress of combat for your imperialist opponents, lost in a  country they don’t understand. Remember how the Zulus in the  film of that name blend into the landscape, detectable only by  the sound of assegais clashing on shields, and building up the  tension until they appear suddenly out of the ground at close  range? Once again you might think this is taking things to an extreme,  but I also like to garnish my bases with some local wildlife. In  addition to the bigger creatures used to indicate the units,  smaller birds, snakes and even insects can be added to good  effect. Some of the animals in the North Star Africa range are  small enough for this purpose, and others can be found in the  Busch “Kleintier” set available from model railway shops. This  includes owls and other birds, rabbits, frogs, snakes, fish (cut  them in half and have them leaping out of a small pool), and  even butterflies. At 1:87 scale they are a bit small for 28mm,  but animals don’t come in standard sizes anyway, and they can  be painted in bright colours to make them stand out and liven  up the expanses of greenery. I hope these brief comments will inspire people to be a bit more  creative with their basing. Much more useful, though, will be  Kevin Dallimore’s pictures, which show what can really be  achieved if you have the talent. If you are not as clever as  Kevin, though, don’t worry. Here you are depicting wild nature,  which is usually a bit rough round the edges, and a few glued-  on bushes will cover up all sorts of mistakes!
Above. The men in my Ila army, for instance, have no shields and so cannot be distinguished by their patterns like the Zulus or Masai, so instead one base in each unit includes a different animal model, enabling me to refer to the “Ostrich unit” or the “Warthog unit” and be immediately understood by other players. The distinguishing animals here are mandrills.