What is tabletop wargaming?
Tabletop wargaming is a form of boardgaming. The players conduct battles on a tabletop using toy soldiers (called miniatures) and dice. Dice are rolled to resolve uncertain events. For example, you roll dice to determine if a warrior is courageous enough to attack a dragon, or to resolve combat between two monsters.
Miniatures are sold in different scales (that is, a measure of how tall the miniature is). Players use figures of roughly the same height. If one players used 15mm miniatures (where an average warrior is roughly 15 to 18mm tall) and the other player used 28mm miniatures, the 28mm warriors would look like giants!
Model hills, trees, shrubs, stones etc are used to represent the terrain where the battle takes place. These are not used just to create a beautiful, realistic landscape, but affect the game. For example, an archer cannot shoot arrows against a monster hiding behind a rock, and certain terrain types like woods or swamps hinder movement.
How much does it cost?
Compared to other hobbies, miniature wargaming is NOT expensive. 15mm miniatures from state of the art manufacturers like www.splinteredlightminis.com retail for 40 to 60 cents each. 28mm metal miniatures are more expensive, ranging from $1.50 to $15 or more for the larger figures.
Most miniatures are made of a lead free pewter called white metal. Plastic miniatures are also available and it is possible to build a warband spending less than $10. There are many websites selling prepainted plastic miniatures for as low as 20 cents each. Another option is using paper miniatures, that you download, print and cut out. Check www.onemonk.com. Printing a paper figure will set you back about 10-15 cents.
To play you need a set of rules. We recommend our Song of Blades and Heroes: it is perfect for beginners and has a very active community. It's simple enough that 8-year olders can learn to play in a couple of games. The dedicated yahoo group and the author are easy to contact and will solve any rules question you might have in no time.
How is this different from boardgaming?
In boardgaming, you open the box, read the rules and play. You only play with what is in the box: the scenarios that the designer included in the final product, and maybe some variants you can find online. Your playing pieces can perform the actions described in the rules, and generally move on a hexagonal or square grid.
A miniature wargame has an ever-changing board and infinite variants. You can change the playing pieces, the scenario, and the terrain your battles are fought over. Your pieces may move in any direction. Tabletop wargames require a bit more work (after all, you build your own boards and often paint the figures), but they provide a much better replay value because no two games will ever be the same.
Why should I play miniatures games?
Miniature wargaming is a fascinating, multi-faceted hobby. The modeling aspect (painting and collecting figures, creating terrain) can be downplayed or become your main activity within the hobby, depending on your manual skills and inclinations. Some gamers even learn to cast their own figures and use licensed molds for duplicating terrain pieces or build large armies.
Gaming is social: instead of sitting in front of a computer screen or playing online with people that you will likely never meet, the miniature wargamer can attend multiplayer games in a club and shake hands with his opponents after a challenging game. Even those who do not belong to a club can visit the many wargaming conventions throughout the year. Check our links page for a list of clubs.
Most miniature wargames develop a strong interest for history, militaria, fantasy literature. They do not read only wargaming rulebooks. Frequently, you'll see them in the company of specialized historical publications, such as the Osprey series of books.
Isn't the lead in the figures poisonous?
Current metal figures contain very little or no lead. Even the old lead figures, as long as they are not chewed and kept out of the reach of children and pets who could chew or swallow them, are perfectly safe to handle.