Sunday, June 5, 2011

Miniature Wargaming 101!

I saw this excellent article years ago and kept a copy (It's somewhat longer than the current version) and thought I'd share it with you as I feel it's of value to both the novice beginner and the seasoned Grognard!

Miniature Wargaming 101
Introduction - Miniatures - Painting - Mounting


What is miniature wargaming? Miniature wargaming is when you use scale models or figures of real-life people or equipment to recreate battles from some period in history – or even the future. This is done with the help of rules which are used to create the actual conditions of movement, casualties and morale.
Miniature wargaming rules range from simple to complex, depending on the goal of the rule designers. Complex rules usually move at a slow pace and require a lot of work, but the way combat plays out will closely match the results of real life combat. Simple rules can move at a faster pace and require less work, but they will be less concerned with historical accuracy for the various game steps or final results. These later rule types emphasize fast and enjoyable game play.

This is well known as the "Speed versus Accuracy" issue, which most designers resolve by creating a modestly accurate system that can be learned by most people. A solution used at WTJ is to speed up game play by abstracting mid-turn combat elements, while still assuring that final results are accurate. This hybrid approach has proven very popular.

Because there is no international standard for rating the complexity of miniature wargaming rules, it is up to individual players to decide for themselves which rules are too simple or complex for them. Rules used to be sold almost exclusively through hobby stores, but the advent of the Internet has brought a huge new selection on-line, some of which cost money and some of which are free.

So the two most important items for gaming are rules and figures. The rest of this section will address the issue of figures and how to prepare them for use. The actual process of painting figures and playing wargames is fairly simple, but where to begin can be a difficult decision. The best way to begin is to choose a period or story type which you find interesting. Your best incentive for historical gaming will be the reading of eyewitness accounts and narratives for the battles you re-create, so if you are already interested in the subject, it helps a lot. For science-fiction or fantasy, then the books or computer games themselves will usually be your best sources.

Another valuable thing to remember is that your interest in gaming or in a particular genre of gaming will vary over time. If you seem to lose interest in a particular period, don't worry about all those miniatures you bought. Humans thrive on variety, so you will probably develop interests in several different genres of gaming, and will bounce around from one to the other, alternately putting away and pulling out batches of miniatures to fill your most recent interest. You would be surprised at how many people I know who sold their stuff only to get back into it again a year or two later. Never get rid of your stuff, rotating interests is a normal thing.

Once you decide on a genre that interests you, contact local players or gaming groups which put on games for that period (if you have not gamed before). Try to play with more than one group so that you have variety in the games played. Beware of isolated groups made up of people who argue too much, or groups who have individuals that are allowed to capitalize on everybody else's time (a problem common to all hobbies). Wargaming involves a hefty investment of your time, and you should invest that time wisely with people or groups who are easy going and interesting. Most players and gaming groups are great, and they will usually have established miniatures and rules for game play, which will give a good clue as to which figures you want to buy and paint. This leads us to the subject of the miniatures themselves.