Abingdon Wargames Club

Introduction to Wargaming

What is Wargaming?

Wargaming is a hobby that involves fighting battles on a tabletop, focusing on strategy and tactics. Miniature wargaming specifically covers games that use miniature figures to represent the troops or units involved. Board wargames are less common in the UK, but instead use a board with counters or tokens to represent the troops or units (similar to a boardgame).

Historical wargaming involves the recreation of a historical battle, attempting to either repeat real events or change the course of history - could Napoleon have won Waterloo? Alternatively you can fight a theoretical 'what if?' wargame, for example Operation Sealion - the proposed invasion of Britain in 1940. Games can also have a fantasy or science-fiction theme with ideas coming from books or films.

To represent the armies or individuals involved, we usually use miniature figures. In a small skirmish game (such as a Wild West gunfight), you might only use a handful of figures, whereas a recreation of Waterloo might require thousands.

They fight over a scaled-down representation of the battlefield, and like all other games a set of rules is used to determine play. To allow for luck and the unforeseen, a random element is introduced by using dice to resolve combat.


Miniature models or figures generally range in size from 6mm to 32mm in height (for troops - scales are obviously very different when games are based around aircraft, naval ships, or spaceships), although others scales exist. The two most popular scales being 15mm and 28mm. Most wargames figures are cast in white metal, but plastic and resin are becoming more common.

Often, the size of figures used is determined by the type of battle - the Wild West gunfight mentioned earlier will only involve a handful of figures per side, and as such the larger 28mm figures are used. On the other hand, however, fighting a large historical battle such as Waterloo or Gettysburg would be impractical with such large figures, and so usually 15mm figures are used instead.


Unlike most games there is no one set of rules. This is because the period of history is so extensive that it is not realistic to expect one set to cover everything from the pre-historic to today and beyond. Therefore one or more sets for each period of history are available to suit the various scales and personal preferences.

Different rulesets are designed for different purposes, even when covering the same historical period. One ruleset might be designed for large clashes; another for small skirmishes. One may be quite complex and realistic; another may sacrifice realism for simplicity and ease of play.

A large, colourful selection of dice of varying types, including four-sided up to twenty-sided.
A varied selection of dice!


Everyone is familiar with six-sided dice (known to wargamers as d6), but some wargames will either use a different type or even use a variety of dice. They can range from four-sided (d4), ten-sided (d10), even up to 100-sided (d100, also sometimes known as 'percentile dice').

Ten-sided dice are often labelled 0 through 9, however usually the 0 is then read as 10 to produce a result between 1 and 10.

Although it is possible to buy 100-sided dice, they are expensive and a little impractical - usually this is instead achieved by rolling two differently-coloured ten-sided dice, using one as the 'tens' and one as the 'units' - for example, a roll of 3 on the 'tens' dice and 7 on the 'units' dice becomes 37. In this case, a roll of 0 on both dice is usually treated as 100.

There are also average dice which look like a d6 but are numbered 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5 producing a more average score (hence the name).

The Battlefield

A game can be played almost anywhere with a reasonably sized flat surface. Some attempt is generally made to provide a suitable recreation of the terrain being fought over. This can range from simpy a suitably-coloured cloth, to purpose-built terrain faithfully depicting a real battlefield. Buildings, hills, woods, roads, rivers and fortifications can all be represented.

This World War II battle was fought using 15mm figures and the Rapid Fire rules.