By: P Adkins
Wargaming is essentially playing with toy soldiers. Games are played using painted metal or plastic models, typically using 6-30 mm, to represent the units involved and model scenery placed is placed on a tabletop or floor to represent the battlefield.
Miniature wargaming is really a combination of two different hobbies. On one hand it is a tactical game, where one player will attempt to out wit their opponent through superior strategy. On the other hand it is a creative hobby, wargamers will often spend far, far longer painting their units than playing games with them.
A major attraction of this type of game is the large degree of freedom found in miniature wargames when compared to traditional board games or computer games. The appearance of units and the terrain fought over is not dictated by a game designer but by the players themselves.
How does it work?
There are many different sets of miniature wargaming rules. There rules for all periods ranging from the dawn of civilization to the present day, as well as for science fiction and fantasy settings. The three most popular rules at the moment are Warhammer 40K (a science fiction game produced by Games Workshop), Warhammer Fantasy Battle (a fantasy game produced by Games Workshop) and Flame of War (a World War II historical game produced by Battlefront).
Miniature wargames are usually turn based like chess, each player taking turns to move and attack with their units. Different models (soldiers) will have different abilities depending on the unit they represent. They move at different speeds, have different combat abilities and have different strengths and weaknesses. The objective is to use your units strengths against your opponent’s units weaknesses. Your opponent will of course be attempting to do the same to you!
One of the major challenges facing wargames designers is ensuring that games are balanced; that one player doesn’t have an unfair advantage over their opponent. In order to ensure that opposing armies are evenly matched it is common for each unit type or piece of equipment to have a points value within a set of rules. The total number of points that may be “spent” on troops is then decided before the start of a game.
What do I need to play a miniature wargame?
The rules and game play of miniature wargames vary massively from games system to games system. They tend to always have a few things in common however; for one, similar equipment is usually needed to play a miniature based wargame. Firstly, of course, there are the miniatures themselves and a set of rules with which you can use them, which we have already touched on. In addition to this miniature wargames also need a playing surface, terrain, dice and a tape measure (or other measuring device).
The Miniatures: The models used in these games come in three main sizes, or scales, these are 25mm, 15mm and 6mm. The size refers to the approximate height of the average (human – in the case of sci-fi and fantasy games) model.
The Playing Surface: Miniature wargames are usually played on a table top, usually 6′ x 4′ (180cm x 120cm), sometimes larger, very large games may be played on the floor (just watch where you put your feet).
Terrain: Model terrain is placed on the table. Woods, roads, buildings, hills, rivers etc affect how the miniatures move and fight. Depending on what the terrain a miniature is currently in it might slow down movement, increase the ability to defend, reduce the ability to attack etc. Terrain can also block movement of miniatures over the table top, or can stop units shooting at each other (assuming they are armed with missile weapons).
Dice: The dice are needed as all miniature wargames rely, to a greater or lesser extent, on chance. Dice rolls are made to decide the outcome of most combat actions and sometimes even to determine troop behaviour. It is the use of dice and the introduction of an element of chance makes the game a little less predictable and forces the player to plan for things not going as expected.
Tape Measure: It is important to be able to measure distances in miniature wargames. Distances need to be measured to work out how far models can move and, if they have missile weapons like guns or bows and arrows, how far they can shoot and so on. The distances that miniatures can move and shoot is dictated by the scale of the game being played, a 6mm game will generally have shorter movement and shooting distances than a 25mm game.
But, err…. Why?
But why bother with all this? Well, because it fun. Miniature wargaming is a diverse hobby with elements that appeal to a wide range of people. There are those that spend most of their time painting or building models, then there are others that just enjoy playing games, most wargamers enjoy a bit of both. It’s a hobby you can enjoy on your own, modeling, or with others, the games themselves.
However possibly the best thing about miniature wargaming is that it gives players the opportunity to get together with people they share a common interest with and have fun.
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