Features News Previews & new games

What Is Miniature Wargaming?

Wargaming (no matter how you dress it up) is recreating conflict on your table top using miniature figures (essentially toy soldiers) as game pieces. There are many facets to the hobby both the modelling and painting of your troops and scenery and also the tactical and strategic element, head to head trying to gain advantage over your opponents troops. I strongly feel that this type of gaming is extremely creative, both in the artistic sense when making your models and also in the table top gaming sense when deciding how to fight your battles, which strategy or army list to employ.

image of victorian wargamers
A quick game of 40k before breaking for tiffin

There are many different and vastly varied sets of miniature wargaming rules. Ranging from recreating conflict in prehistorical times right through to the modern day as well as the ever popular fantasy and science fiction settings. Amongst the most widely known are the rules marketed by Games Workshop, Warhammer 40K (science fiction) and Age of Sigmar (a fantasy), but these are just two popular sets of rules amongst plethora of smaller company or independently published rules covering every imaginable historical period, fictional trope and intellectual properties like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Judge Dredd etc.

Miniature wargames are typically turn based, each player taking turns to move and attack with their units. Different models (troops, monsters, tanks or what ever) will have different abilities depending on the rules, unit or characters they represent. They may move at different speeds (maybe even fly or teleport!), have different combat abilities and have different strengths and weaknesses (Fantasy dwarves may be heavily armoured and robust whilst ninjas may be able to move without being spotted). The objective is to use your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses. Your opponent will of course be attempting to do the same to you! And so the table top battle will continue until the objectives have been met, this could be as simple as just annihilating you opponents army or more complex like protecting a supply wagon as it travels across your table top. With historical war gaming it is not unusual to re-fight battles and events and try and change the tide of history.

Skeleton Soldiers From (my own collection)

How you play the miniature wargame will vary from games system to games system. They usually have a few things in common. Firstly, of course, there are the miniatures themselves and a set of rules with which you can use them. You need a playing surface, something to represent terrain and typically some dice, a tape measure (or other measuring device).

The models used in these games come in various sizes, this size refers to the approximate height of an average humans. The most popular being around 28mm, smaller 15mm is popular with historical gamers and there are other sizes both larger and smaller. You’ll probably choose the scale you collect based on what your fiends play, availability of figure ranges and maybe what the rules suggest.

Miniature wargames are usually played on a table top, in the old fashioned days large 6′ x 4′ tables were common place but many games, in particular skirmish scale games are now geared for playing on much smaller surfaces, I often play on my dinning room table giving me a surface area of about 3′ x 4′.

Model terrain is placed on the table may be representing woods, roads, hills, or deadly swamps and these may affect how the miniatures move and fight. There is no need to rush out and buy lots of expensive scenery, a few stacked books under a cloth make a fine hill and some cut up bits of card can show where a field lies. All that nice terrain you can add later, some great modern scenic and fantasy items are available from my webs store.

The dice may be needed to resolve activation of troops and combat results within the game. Some games may not even use dice, it could be card driven or by allocation of resources.

Most table top wargames will require you to measure distances, to work out how far models can move and, if they have weapons such as guns, bows or laser rifles you will need to see how far they can shoot.

Old photo of me playing a game based on The Spanish Civil War

So what is the point of all of this? There are many facets to the hobby that give me pleasure, I enjoy painting up my toys as much as I do playing with them. There is a great social aspect (well there was pre-covid) and its great to chat about the games and share your hobby. It can be engaging and educational and certainly has encouraged me to learn more about a particular historical topics I first discovered via table top gaming. It really is a fun, safe and enjoyable past time that gives players the opportunity to get together with people they share a common interest with and have fun.

I hope that explained a little about the hobby and please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to know more or ask any questions. Happy gaming.