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The Wonderful World of Miniature Wargaming

Updated on March 27, 2015

What is Miniature Wargaming?

At the core Miniature wargaming is a recreational hobby where players use miniatures (figurines) to simulate a battle between players. The battle is played out using miniatures for units and terrain.These battles can range from historical recounts of the American Civil War or World Wars, to more imaginative worlds set in a fantasy world or the far far future depending on which system(game) you choose.

All miniature wargame systems regulate the movement, rules of engagement, combat and terrain of the game. A tape measure, ruler or other game specific measurement instruments are used to move the miniatures. Like boardgames, some miniature games can also be played using gridded terrain (e.g.hexagons or blocks) or even gameboards.

A Short Video On Miniature Wargaming By One Of The Many Online Retailers

People enjoying a game of Warmachine.
People enjoying a game of Warmachine.
On this table a historical battle takes place.
On this table a historical battle takes place.
Players at a tournament
Players at a tournament

What Makes Miniature Wargaming Special?

As one can see from the video Miniature wargaming has many aspects which makes it an engaging and fun hobby. The social aspect of the game make for a friendly yet competitive environment where one can test your skills against other like minded people. Most of the games allows more than 2 people to engage in a simulated battle, ensuring a healthy social side to the hobby. Miniature wargaming is rewarding for both children and adults alike. Making this is a great hobby for the whole family.

The freedom that miniature wargaming offers in collecting, painting and playing makes it stand out from traditional boardgames and computer games. For many people the challenge of making scenery and painting their miniatures is the main attraction to the hobby. As such there are worldwide painting contests for those individuals who love to paint and showcase their work. There is also a great sense of pride to be had in building and painting your own army or force.

For those with a real competitive streak in them there are many official and fan run tournaments to participate in for most of the miniature gaming systems. These competitions offer great prizes but your games will be very brutal and unforgiving. So keep that in mind before you go to one of these tournaments. On the lighter side there are social tournaments which offers a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

The creators of these games do much more than just supply a rule set for their games. They go out of their way to create a rich and wonderful world which serves as a backdrop where in battles take place. Each force or army comes with an army book or codex detailing the history, units and aspirations of the chosen force. Most of them go even further and publish novels which follow the heroes of each force. Once you enter the the world of miniature wargaming it will only be a matter of time before you are engrossed in a whole new world. You only have to decide just how deep you want to delve into this new world.

How can I get involved?

Getting involved in Miniature wargaming is fairly simple, but it does require a bit of research to get the most out of the hobby. A good place to start would be to see if there is a gaming community in your area - you will be amazed to see just how many gaming clubs exist out there. Then try to meet up with this community. This will enable you to experience miniature wargaming first hand without spending any money and put you in touch with people who can advise and help you get started with the hobby. You'll find that most clubs or gaming groups will be eager to give you a demo or practice game using their miniatures just to whet your appetite. A word of caution here, some people are nicer than others and respond differently to newcomers to the hobby. If you have a bad experience don't immediately write off the hobby, but rather try to engage with people who try to grow the hobby instead of their own egos'.

The hobby also enjoys a very active online community. With many blogs, forums and websites dedicated to specific armies and forces. These serve as a treasure trove of knowledge, tactics and hobby advice for anyone looking to get involved. A quick online search will reveal a multitude of sites and blogs for you to delve in.    

Once you have scoped the gaming scene and have a better understanding of what miniature wargaming is about you will be able to select the game system that suits your interests and expectations. Now all you have to do is pick up some miniatures and get started.

A hobby shop filled with miniatures and hobby supplies.
A hobby shop filled with miniatures and hobby supplies.

Where Can I Purchase Wargaming Miniatures?

Getting your hands on miniatures might very well be the easiest part of the hobby as there is a massive selection of online retailers as well as local hobby shops who stock them. Chat with other hobbyists to see where they buy and why. If this does not yield enough results then a simple online search should provide you with many options.

This does however present you with a choice of where do you purchase your miniatures. Online retailers normally sell the miniatures at a lower cost than the physical stores as they have less overheads than a local store. But having said that most of the local stores that sell these miniatures also provide a venue and tables on which you can go play, as well as knowledgeable staff that can teach you the game and advise you on purchases. So if these local stores don't get support you might very well end up losing a gaming venue and a great source of gaming and hobby knowledge. The local store also provides you with the luxury of being able to walk into the store and pickup what you need without having to wait for a delivery service.

In the end you will have to decide whether the online savings is worth more to you than the convenience, knowledge and gaming venue that a local store provides.

Another option available is to buy your miniatures on E-bay. You will find a host of already assembled and painted miniatures and armies up for sale from their previous owners. This will however mean that you won't be able to totally customize your force and miss out on the joy and pride of building and painting up your own force. But if you struggle too find time to paint, would like to get going as soon as possible and don't mind paying a premium for these armies then E-bay is a viable option.

Miniatures on sprues, ready to be cut out and assembled.
Miniatures on sprues, ready to be cut out and assembled.

Starting Out

Always keep in mind that most of these miniatures need to be assembled before you can play with them and will need to be painted at some point in time. It would be wise to start with a small or core force or army. Get then assembled and painted. Play a few games with your force so that you can see which units you need to bolster your force and/or which units would suit your playing style best. If you neglect to do so you might end up with a lot of miniatures in your cupboard instead off on the table where they belong. It won't belong before players tell you that completing your fully painted army is quite the achievement and a feat well worthy of praise.

Dark Elves v High Elves from Warhammer Fantasy
Dark Elves v High Elves from Warhammer Fantasy
Tau v Space Marines from Warhammer 40K
Tau v Space Marines from Warhammer 40K
Lord of The Rings miniatures
Lord of The Rings miniatures
Cygnar v Khador from Warmarchine
Cygnar v Khador from Warmarchine
Trollbloods v Skorne from Hordes
Trollbloods v Skorne from Hordes
German units from Flames of War
German units from Flames of War
A Human Imperial Fleet form The Uncharted Seas
A Human Imperial Fleet form The Uncharted Seas
A Sorylian Fleet from Firestorm Armada
A Sorylian Fleet from Firestorm Armada
Miniatures from Dystopian Wars
Miniatures from Dystopian Wars

So Many Options

Lastly I will include a list of popular miniature gaming systems and provide a brief summary of what you can expect of each. ( Please note that this list only reflects the systems that I have had dealings with and that there are many more to choose from.)

  • Warhammer - Warhammer is the Game of Fantasy Battles, a thrilling test of tactical skill and strategy. It is the battleground between the forces of Order and Destruction, where vast armies clash in mighty battles with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.Many races wage war upon the face of world, each fighting for a different cause or purpose.
  • Warhammer 40k - Warhammer 40,000, the tabletop battlegame of the far future, allows you to wage war with armies of Citadel miniatures across miniature battlefields in the ultimate contest of strategy and skill. Each player is a commander who must choose his finest warriors, decide upon cunning battle plans and strategies and lead his army to victory or death.
  • Lord of the Rings - A game that puts you in charge of the army of your choice, be it the noble and brave men of Gondor, stalwart Dwarves, vile and cruel Orcs or the armoured Uruk-hai of Isengard. The monsters and heroes of Middle-earth are yours to command, including the likes of Gandalf the Grey, Aragorn, Saruman and the Witch-king.
  • Warmachine - Is a fast-paced and aggressive miniatures battle game set in the steam-powered fantasy world of the Iron Kingdoms. Players take on the role of elite soldier-sorcerers known as warcasters. Though warcasters are formidable combatants on their own, their true strength lies in their magical ability to control and coordinate mighty warjacks.
  • Hordes - Set in the wilds of the Iron Kingdoms, Hordes is Warmachine’s feral twin. In this tabletop miniatures game players jump into the action controlling powerful battle-wizards known as warlocks. Warlocks are formidable combatants in their own right, but their true strength is drawn from their synergy with packs of savage warbeasts that allow them to contend on equal footing with the greatest modern armies of the Iron Kingdoms.
  • Flames of War - Flames Of War is a game that allows you to recreate the battles of World War II using miniatures figurines, and so experience the war from the point of view of a front-line company commander.
  • The Uncharted Seas - The Uncharted Seas is a fast paced, action packed game of naval tactical combat set in a world of high fantasy. Using superb resin and white metal miniatures, and controlled by fast and easy to learn rules, the game allows you to wage war with fantastical squadrons of mighty warships.
  • Firestorm Armada - Follows the same ethos as The Uncharted Seas, only set in deep space with exciting futuristic spaceship designs.
  • Dystopian Wars - The Dystopian Wars game is set in a Victorian Steampunk world and we have designed the rules to ensure a fun game with a large selection of high quality models in a couple of hours. The rules support Naval, Aerial and Land models from the outset, so that you can set up battles and scenarios in any combat setting.

Time for a bit of feedback

After reading this hub, what do you think of Miniature Wargaming?

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