Wargaming as a Hobby: Navigating the World of Tactical Tabletop Games

Wargaming as a hobby encompasses a rich blend of history, strategy, and creativity. It’s an activity where you can simulate battles and conflicts, from ancient times to futuristic scenarios, using miniature figures and terrain.

By engaging in wargaming, you immerse yourself into a world where every decision you make impacts the outcome of battles on a tabletop battlefield.

Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of fantasy, or someone who enjoys tactical challenges, wargaming offers an opportunity to experience warfare in a controlled and artistic environment.

The hobby isn’t limited to just gaming; it also involves assembling and painting miniature models which can be both rewarding and therapeutic.

As you begin your journey into wargaming, you’ll find that the community is diverse, welcoming people from all walks of life who share a common passion for military history and strategy games.

You learn to appreciate not only the competitive aspect but also the camaraderie and craftsmanship that come with the hobby. With each game, your grasp of tactics and strategy will deepen, enhancing both your enjoyment of the game and your cognitive skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Wargaming is a multifaceted hobby combining history, strategy, and model crafting.
  • It caters to various interests, from assembling and painting miniatures to deep tactical gameplay.
  • Participating in the wargaming community provides both competitive fun and the opportunity to enhance skills.
See Also: What Are Some Tabletop Games?

Understanding Wargaming

Wargaming is a diverse and strategic hobby that enables you to reenact historical battles or create your own fictional scenarios. Comprehending its background, varieties, and engagement methods will enhance your gaming experience.

History and Evolution

Wargaming has developed from primal military exercises to a sophisticated hobby. The modern form stems from Kriegsspiel, a Prussian military war game designed in the 19th century.

This laid foundations for future wargames, focusing on WWI, WWII, and other historical battles. The mid-20th century saw what many consider the golden age of wargaming, with games like Axis and Allies gaining popularity.

Types and Genres

Wargaming branches into two main categories: historical and fictional. Historical wargames try to accurately represent actual conflicts from history.

Fictional, including fantasy and science fiction, create new worlds often rich with lore and campaigns. For instance, Fantasy Flight developed Star Wars: Legion, letting you command forces in the iconic universe.

Scale and Realism

Wargames vary in scale, from tactical engagements to operational or strategic level campaigns. Realism in these games can also differ, with some prioritizing exactness in settings and politics, while others focus on the fun of gameplay.

Game Systems and Rulebooks

Every wargame has a unique game system, which is a set of mechanics and rules governing gameplay. Rulebooks explain these systems and are crucial for fair play. Publishers like Games Workshop are renowned for their intricate systems in games like Warhammer.

Famous Wargames and Publishers

The industry boasts noteworthy names like Games Workshop, creators of Warhammer, GMT Games, and Columbia Games. Famous titles include Bolt Action, Axis and Allies, and Advanced Squad Leader. Here I Stand enjoys a niche following due to its blend of history and politics.

Engaging with the Community

Joining the wargaming community involves attending local game store events, participating in online forums, or visiting conventions. Connecting with other enthusiasts helps you discover new strategies, expand your knowledge, and find friends who share your passion.

Notable Historical WargamesNotable Fictional Wargames
Axis and AlliesWarhammer Fantasy
Advanced Squad LeaderStar Wars: Legion
Bolt ActionHere I Stand (historical fiction)
  • Explore the past through historical reenactments.
  • Dive into new universes with fictional settings.
  • Learn complex rules or enjoy simple game mechanics.

Embark on your wargaming journey by choosing a genre that appeals to you, whether it’s recreating pivotal moments in history or exploring fantasy worlds filled with intricate lore.

See Also: Bucket List Of Hobbies From A – Z

Getting Started with Wargaming

Embarking on the wargaming hobby offers you a diverse world of miniatures, intricate game mechanics, and the joy of customization. This section will guide you through choosing your first game, learning the basics, and understanding miniatures to ensure quality experiences and accessibility in your wargaming journey.

Choosing Your First Game

When you’re selecting your first wargame, focus on finding a balance between your interest in the theme and the complexity you’re comfortable with handling.

Warhammer 40,000, for example, is known for its extensive lore and detailed miniatures, which can be appealing if you have an affinity for science fiction and a rich narrative backdrop. On the other hand, wargames like Flames of War offer insight into historical battles, ideal if you prefer realism and historical accuracy.

Consider the following factors:

  • Scale: Some games use larger miniatures that are easier to handle and see, while others focus on smaller scales that provide grander tactical battles.
  • Complexity: Review the rulebooks to understand the learning curve.
  • Community: A more popular game might mean a larger community for support and organized play.

Learning the Basics

Your journey into wargaming should begin with a solid grasp of the rulebook associated with your chosen game. This is crucial as it lays down the foundation of how to move, attack, and strategize within the game. Rulebooks can vary significantly in length and complexity, but most will cover the same basic areas including movement, combat, and unit types.

Here are some tips to help you learn effectively:

  1. Start with the core rules before diving into advanced strategies and unit-specific rules.
  2. Watch tutorials or gameplay videos to see the rules in action.
  3. Play practice games, which can be solo or with an experienced player to guide you.

Understanding Miniatures

Miniatures, often referred to as miniature figures, are at the heart of wargaming – they represent your armies and units on the battlefield. There is a vast variety available, from infantry and tanks to buildings and civilians, often scaled for the specific game you’re playing.

  • Quality and Details: High-quality miniatures have more details and can enhance your gaming experience but may require finer painting skills.
  • Customization: Many wargamers enjoy the hobby aspect of assembling and painting their miniatures, allowing for a level of personal touch.
  • Kits and Prices: Miniatures come in kits of varying sizes and prices. Start with a smaller, manageable set to build and paint before investing in larger, more expensive collections.

Remember the following when dealing with miniatures:

  • They require careful assembly and, in most cases, painting.
  • The scale is important when mixing miniatures from different ranges or manufacturers.
  • Miniatures can be customized with different weapons and equipment to change their game mechanics.

The Hobby Aspect

The hobby aspect of wargaming is multi-faceted, encompassing the hands-on joy of creating and personalizing your own army and the shared experiences within a community. Here you’ll explore the key components that make miniature wargaming a deeply engaging hobby.

Assembling Miniatures

When you start out with miniature wargaming, assembling your miniatures is the first step. You’ll need a hobby knife and super glue to carefully put together the pieces. Models often come in several parts and require precision and patience as you create your miniature warriors, vehicles, and artillery pieces.

  • Required tools for assembling miniatures:
    • Hobby knife
    • Super glue
    • Tweezers
    • Files

Painting Techniques

Painting your miniatures brings them to life. Use fine-tipped brushes and high-quality paint to apply base coats, detailing, and highlights. Each layer needs to be thin; this preserves the intricate details of the miniature. It is the skillful application of painting that truly defines the quality of your miniature wargaming figures.

  • Steps for painting:
    1. Base coating
    2. Shading
    3. Detailing
    4. Highlighting

Crafting the Battlefield

Creating the battlefield is about more than just rolling out a map; it involves crafting terrain pieces like hills, trees, and buildings that your armies will navigate and interact with. Through techniques such as foam carving and 3D printing, you customize the battlefield to suit the specific game mechanics of your campaigns.

Collecting and Customization

Your collection of miniatures is a reflection of your personality and strategic preferences in the game. To customize your army, you might add unique insignia or modify figures with bits from other sets. Every miniature you include can be designed to serve a specific role on the battlefield, adding depth to the game mechanics.

Community Projects and Collaboration

Joining a community of fellow wargamers presents opportunities to work on collaborative projects or engage in large scale campaigns. From painting techniques to terrain crafting tips, much can be learned from shared knowledge.

This collaboration fosters a rich environment for the hobby, with many projects benefiting from the collective creativity.

Tactical and Strategic Depth

Wargaming invites you to delve deep into the realms of strategy and tactics, where mastering the nuances of historical battles or theoretical scenarios becomes an art. Hone your decision-making skills at every level, from tactical confrontations to overarching campaign strategies.

Developing Strategies

Developing effective strategies in wargaming requires a thorough understanding of game mechanics and the ability to foresee the outcomes of various moves. Wargames offer a diverse range of scenarios, from historical conflicts to fictional battles, which allow you to craft strategies based on real or hypothetical situations. For example, when engaging in a strategic-level wargame, you would concentrate on long-term planning, resource allocation, and the movement of entire armies or fleets.

Aspect of StrategyDescription
ObjectivesDetermine the win conditions and set your primary goals.
ResourcesAssess the availability and best use of your units and assets.
Opponent AnalysisAnticipate and counteract your opponent’s potential strategies.

Learning from Scenarios

Wargaming scenarios are the building blocks for improving tactical acumen. You learn from both historical campaigns and tailored situations. Each scenario provides lessons on the importance of terrain, timing, and unit composition. Take the Battle of Gettysburg, a pivotal conflict in the American Civil War, often recreated in wargaming for its complex tactics and dramatic turning points.

Rules and Complexity

Rules are the backbone of wargaming; they define what you can and cannot do within the game. Rulebooks range from simplistic to highly complex, with the latter offering a more detailed recreation of warfare but also requiring a greater commitment to learn and master. Complexity in wargames can dictate the number of units in play, the granularity of the combat resolution, or the intricacies of logistics and morale.

  • Rule Familiarity: Know the basic and advanced rules to optimize your gameplay.
  • Adaptability: Be prepared to modify tactics as new rules or errata are introduced.

Wargaming as a hobby combines both the thrill of tactical confrontations and the intellectual challenge of strategic planning. As you engage with different wargames and navigate through their rules and complex scenarios, you’ll find yourself becoming a more astute strategist and tactician.

Exploring Wargaming Culture

Wargaming culture is multifaceted, involving everything from dedicated events to rich, narrative lore. As you delve into this hobby, you’ll discover a strong community and a variety of media influenced by the intricate world of wargaming.

Wargaming Events and Conventions

You’ll find that events and conventions are the heart of the wargaming community. These gatherings range from local community tournaments to international conventions like Gen Con, where enthusiasts showcase their prized miniatures and compete in strategy-driven games. The annual Warhammer Fest is a notable event where fans of Warhammer 40,000 can immerse themselves in everything from new miniature releases to expert painting demonstrations.

  1. Gen Con
  2. Warhammer Fest
  3. Local gaming tournaments

Fiction and Lore

The lore of wargaming is rich and complex, often providing a backdrop for games like Warhammer 40,000. The tales of Space Marines battling across the galaxy in a grim dark future capture your imagination. You might enjoy the detailed world of Necromunda, where gangs clash amid a hive city’s dark underbelly. The lore extends beyond the tabletop, inspiring a plethora of books and articles that expand the universe.

  • Space Marines: Noble warriors in a grim dark future
  • Necromunda: Gang warfare in a dystopian undercity

Online Forums and Resources

Your engagement with wargaming can go digital through online forums and resources. Platforms like DakkaDakka and the Bolter and Chainsword serve as meeting places where the community exchanges tips, strategies, and personal experiences. You have access to archives of fan-created content and official FAQs to enhance your gameplay and meet fellow enthusiasts worldwide.

  • DakkaDakka: Community discussions and strategy sharing
  • Bolter and Chainsword: A hub for Space Marine fans

The Influence of Wargaming on Other Media

Wargaming has left its mark on other media. Video games like Dawn of War bring the fast-paced action of tabletop Warhammer 40,000 to your computer screen. Even the fantasy and science fiction genres in literature and film often echo themes found in wargaming, from the complexities of politics and history to the detailed worlds crafted from pure imagination.

Media TypeExamples
Video GamesDawn of War, Total War series
LiteratureBlack Library publications

Advanced Play

Wargaming at an advanced level transforms the basics into a complex blend of tactical skill and strategy, elevating your play to arenas of higher competition and deeper narrative engagement.

Competitive Wargaming

In competitive wargaming, you engage in tournaments where your mastery of tactics and your strategic foresight are crucial. You will find that the environment is often intense, pitting you against other experienced players in a battle of wits.

Success here relies on a deep understanding of your wargame‘s rules, units, and the landscape of player-driven meta. Central to this are list-building strategies and adapting to the tournament’s unique scenarios.

Campaigns and Long-Term Play

Campaigns provide a narrative backdrop to your battles, often embracing long-term play where the outcome of each skirmish affects the ongoing story.

Engaging in a campaign creates a deeper connection to your army and its journey, fostering a sense of progression and personal investment. This can lead to a rich tapestry of wars fought, territories gained, and legacies built.

Alternative and Variant Rules

Broadening the scope of play, many enthusiasts explore alternative and variant rules to refresh their experience or tailor it to their group’s preferences.

With ‘house rules’, you can adjust the balance, complexity, or duration to suit your needs. Delving into alternative rules also uncovers new tactics and strategies, often leading to innovative approaches to your wargaming sessions.

  • Tactical Adjustments:
    • Unit positioning
    • Resource allocation
  • Strategic Considerations:
    • Long-term army development
    • Adapting to evolving game states


Wargaming as a hobby offers a unique blend of strategic thinking, creative expression, and community involvement. By engaging in these complex games, you not only challenge your mind but also unleash your imagination in ways that other hobbies might not. You become part of a global community of enthusiasts who share your passion.


  • Strategic Gameplay: Sharpen decision-making skills through complex scenarios.
  • Creative Outlet: Craft landscapes and paint miniatures, revealing a canvas for your creativity.
  • Social Interaction: Connect with other players at events and online forums.

The comprehensive nature of wargaming can cater to a multitude of interests, whether you’re drawn to historical conflicts or fantastical battles.

Wargaming Benefits:

Cognitive EnhancementDevelop critical thinking and tactical planning.
Artistic ExpressionCustomize miniatures and terrain.
Community BuildingParticipate in local clubs and online groups.

Embrace wargaming and you’ll find it’s more than just a pastime—it’s an exploration of history, strategy, and artistry. Remember, your approach to the game can be as unique as you are.

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