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Home Forums The Gaming Room What is keeping you from historical miniatures wargames?

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    I have been wanting to ask the question here for a while as my interests have fulling gone toward historical wargaming. I started with World War II and have further explored the American Revolution in miniature wargaming. While I still have a bunch of work still, in the future I am toying with the idea of starting a project on the Mahdist Revolution or maybe the Japanese Sengoku period.

    As I have found historical wargaming preferable to fictional settings these days, I wonder why more miniatures wargamers don’t try at least one. I can think a few reasons why, but at the same time, I can’t see them being so big obstacles to prevent others from at least giving them a try.

    I remember when I was getting started I worried about getting the colors for the uniforms right, historical context correct, etc. However, my concern about other players having the anarak on too tight or being button/rivet counters never really manifested. What I have learned is most historical miniatures gamers know there was a wide range in colors in the dyes for uniforms which really do allow for a pretty diverse choice of color. Additionally, most gamers who do care about such things are more than happy to answer questions about what color of paint for your tank or if the AWI British Light Infantry only carried bugles.

    I also enjoy the fact that the fluff with historical games is, in fact, just history. And just like the fluff for other war games, is a facet that the player can indulge or ignore as much as they want. I have had the chance to game the Battle of Bunker Hill. I think it really provided some context on the American Revolution as I can look at maps of the battle and think back to my game and what happened.

    I could perhaps see a player not wanting to make light of actual war whether the men that served in it are alive or dead today. However, as someone that did serve and went to war, I found working on historical miniatures as a way to process some of the things I had to experience. It helped me understand some of decisions and sacrifices that had to be made. Still, I do understand this objection.

    Finally, I guess I could understand how a player might find historical wargaming sort of boring as it obviously doesn’t have fantastical elements. Though, my brief study of war history has revealed some almost unbelievable stories. It could be I have just become a more boring person though as I can be perfectly content the battlefield having nothing more than muskets or rifles and a cannon or mortar to spice things up.

    So, Why don’t you try historical wargaming? And if you did, what caused you to stop?


    Absolutely nothing is keeping me from it! I have actually found myself moving away from fantasy/scifi and more into the historical realm.

    Which games do you prefer to play? I very much am a fan of Bolt Action but I am a huge WWII history buff. I also enjoy playing a game called Dead Man’s Hand which is a ~1870s/1880s Wild West theme. If you check out the Kickstarter thread we have been discussing a game that just starting funding named Blood and Plunder which is set in the swashbuckling era on the Spanish Main. I’ve also recently backed a set of WWI historical minis to use in some gaming too.


    For WWII, I been using Bolt Action. Although, I am having a bit of a falling out with the rules. I really don’t like the Multi-Launcher rules, Recce, or Cavalry and also not much of a fan of FOs/AFOs but can at least deal with them. I don’t take them, but I don’t get bent out shape about them like the other units I mentioned. I also think non-vehicle machine guns need work among other things. I still like it well enough so long I don’t have really the units I mentioned above.

    I have been considering picking up Force on Force or Chain of Command, but I haven’t been super impressed with either. I know it isn’t really realistic at 28mm scale, but I like the combined arms idea of a bunch infantry squads, some artillery teams and a couple of vehicles.

    To that effect, I have also been re-writing Dust Warfare (my favorite miniatures wargame) for non-pulp/sci-fi/alt-history game. My gaming group (and a couple of my friends) are very open on the games and rules we use so long as they are fairly accessible and decently fast playing. We also tend to game board game style where one player supplies all the miniatures for the particular game which works very well for historical games.

    For the American Revolution, I am using Black Powder which I will readily admit might be a little weak as many of the formations in the rules aren’t used as well as little cavalry. However, the Rebellion! supplement is awesome with how it details out scenarios from major battles with how to set the table up, which units are includes and the special rules to use. I also plan to pick up Musket and Tomahawk to use my AWI miniatures for skirmish games.

    I am a big fan of westerns, and I’m a little surprised there are all that many, comparatively, lines for 28mm cowboys. I know of Knuckleduster which I’m not very impressed by their line really. I’ll take a look at Dead Man’s Hand, but I don’t do Kickstarters. The closest I came was with Dust Tactics, and boy howdy, I’m glad I didn’t.

    I think I have seen some of the miniatures for Blood and Plunder. I have to say the ones I saw look really nice. I wouldn’t mind playing pirate swashbuckling game, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t be too high up the list of eras/genres I want to paint.

    Strangely, I think I would want to go the other direction of WWII. Instead of WWI, I sometimes wonder about the Korean War as it really does seem like the forgotten war. It just seems like their too many historical eras/wars to explore sometimes.

    CK Lai

    Subject matter I guess. Been there, done that for historical. I now much prefer smaller scale skirmish games with less than 10 figures a side (Wrath of Kings being the only exception). And the subject matter as a matter of preference is fantasy/SF now.

    20 years ago, I’d’ve been all over Bolt Action. Now, Dust Tactics is my last concession to “real” world gaming. If I throw out the walkers and substitute with tanks, it still works. 😉


    @CK Lai

    I can understand that aspect as well. I can’t say I get too excited over Tolkien/D&D based generic fantasy as I played way too much D&D for me to ever want to go back to a world of elves, dwarves, orcs and tons of magical items. Games like Wrath of Kings or Hell Dorado appeal to me far more as they aren’t the worn out path that fantasy gaming has become to me.

    I can also understand not wanting to have build and paint a crazy amount of models. My current project in the American Revolution in 28mm scale. I have base coated well over 300 miniatures (roughly 150 for both sides) which is enough to have half sized (12 figures) units. For some of the larger battles I would have to go with 6 figures to really stretch out my collection. While there are a couple of historical games that only use about a dozen or so miniatures per side, they are few and far between and some still require quite a bit of terrain to really sell the era. With fantasy and sci-fi settings you can give the models more powers to keep their numbers lower, and they are usually far more forgiving in terrain consideration.

    I think the Dust games, whichever flavor you prefer, could make for a fine “mundane” World War II game. Change the Soldier levels to S1=Green, S2=Regular, S3=Veteran (I leave out S4 since in Warfare they are crazy hard to kill). Then work out the best vehicle analog like the Mickey is the template for a Sherman or the Ludwig is the template for a Panzer IV. The only real issue I have been wrestling with is I would also like to have typical full strength squads of 10-12 men available which can be problematic.

    CK Lai

    For fantasy skirmish games, you could look into Alkemy as well. Definitely not your LotR/D&D clone. Deadzone is also fun.

    For Dust, what appeals to me are the simplified rules. Has it all for me: cover, modified form of overwatch, suppression fire, LoS, different weapon types and ranges and most importantly, it plays quick 😀 I just use the 3/5 person squads just as they are.

    I’m playing for the fun of it. Historical accuracy, not so much 😉 As I’ve said before: been there, done that. Looking up tables to check range, then look up another table to check damage, then do a calculation to see how many minis are removed from the unit… oy. Fun back in the day, as a battle could last an entire day. Sadly, don’t have that kind of time any more.

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