Welcome to the fun and exciting world of miniatures gaming. So what exactly is miniatures gaming? First, if you have ever played Risk, Stratego, and even Battleship, you have the basics of miniatures wargaming. Second if you have played role-playing games with figures or played board-based wargames (e.g. Squad Leader) you are closer to playing a miniatures game than you thought.

Basically, a miniatures game is the same as a standard board game, expect instead of little plastic tokens, you use lead figures and instead of an abstract board, you use accurate terrain to depict the playing area. A standard board game has rules for moving, combat, and other special rules. For example Risk has rules for moving your tokens from one country to another, attacking and defending rules, and special rules - like cards for extra armies. A miniatures wargame will have the same. Sections will cover how to move, attack, defend and various special rules. The more comprehensive the game, the more rules will be involved (think checkers, to Chinese checkers, to chess).

Players enjoying a modern battle.

What is Historical Miniatures Gaming?

Historical miniatures gaming indicates the figures and rules cover a specific real world period or conflict. The rules will try to capture the flavour and feel for the period and the style of warfare at that time. An Ancients game may cover spears and swords, chariots and horses. A World War Two game may cover infantry and firearms, tanks, and aircraft. As well, the game will cover the nationalities and peoples involved and provide historically researched mechanics to represent those armies. A game of the Seven Years War may give Native Indian, French and British infantry all different abilities based on morale and training.

The Scale or Scope of the Game

Some games simulate very large battles. Some games simulate small tactical skirmishes. There are hundreds of rules covering all periods. Perhaps you want to play the entire D-Day invasion, or just a platoon assault on a single pillbox. The combination of genre, period, and scope of the game will help you decide the rules and figures. There is no correct method to determine all of this. Perhaps some interesting figures will direct you to a period and style of play. Or perhaps a nifty rule set will force you to purchase a particular figure range. Pick a period and go for it!

The Figures

Obviously the figures must match the period. And you must have figures for both sides. You can either purchase both sides yourself, or allow a friend to buy on side (e.g. Germans) and you buy the other (e.g. Russians). Figures are mounted on bases (stands) and each player will have an assortment of figures. A player may have some archers, a cannon, a leader, and some infantry. Each lead or plastic miniature figure may represent a single unit or multiple units. As well, some games require a base to contain more than one figure. It depends on the rules and the scope the rules covering. If the game is covering the entire D-Day invasion, one figure may represent 10 men. Or one stand may have 2 or 3 figures representing 100 men.

The Terrain

Unlike a board game, miniatures gaming uses 3D buildings, trees, roads, rivers and more to simulate the game play area (i.e. the battlefield). The rules will cover how to move and fight in this free flowing representation of the real world.

Gaming in the 1920's... great terrain!

Dice and Cards

As in any board game, miniatures games use dice and cards for variable outcomes. Most people are familiar with a standard six-sided (d6) die, but wargames may use other dice like a ten-sided (d10) or twenty sided (d20) die as well. Some games use cards. It all depends on the designer.

The Hobby

One of the greatest enjoyments of historical miniatures gaming is the hobby aspect. Not only are you playing a game, with winners and losers, competitiveness and fun, you can delve into the many aspects of the hobby. Evenings may be spent painting figures and organizing armies. Many trips will be made to the local library researching troops, nationalities, battles and generals. Terrain, buildings, trees, rivers, roads, signs, hills, all must be researched, built, and painted.

Have Fun and Good Gaming!