Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When is it Miniature Wargaming?

Recently found this on my reader by Tabletop Diversions on his blog.

I also just saw this:

It struck home a bit as I've been thinking about IABSM and 15mm and Samuari and and and... I'm reaching a point, finally, where I'm okay playing rules with paper to test them out. Though I must say that this also takes time and is it what I should be focusing my limited (very limited) time on?

So, when I went to the recent Guns of August and found the game being put on with the paper/wood pieces see below I was comforted that there were others. Now, the GM said he had at one point painted 2mm and put them on stands, but they didn't quite work out. So he presented a game with these pieces and and a painted cloth mat. Is this miniature gaming? Should it be at a miniauture gaming con?

Then you have Dave's adaptation of the Battle Cry game using his own mods of pre-painted minis (a blasphemy in and of itself right purists?) on a hex map that is terrained up and painted all loverly.

Is Battlecry a minis game? Memoir '44, the new Samurai Battles?

Does is matter? Or do we need to separate and keep them separate? 

Or, as I said, do they need to stay at the board game cons?

In case you were wondering...I trend toward the inclusive camp, guarded by a big brass canon!


  1. Well, it is a miniatures game if it is played with miniatures, much as it is a card game if played solely with cards. I think the label "miniatures game" is very problematic as several games we'd label as boardgames contain miniatures. At first I'd keep the do-it-yourself aspect of our hobby as the defining watershed but many people like to scratchbuild and mod boardgames as well. Is Risk a miniatures wargame in itself, or after you contruct a terrain board and replace the miniature pawns with 28mm Perry's?

    Even more problematic is the definition of a wargame.
    Is it simply a theme? Then Battle Line ( would qualify, although the same rules have been published as a tug-of-war between dwarfs (

    Does a wargame require a simulation of a conflict? If so, what complexity is required?

    in the end, the games are what you choose to label them. Battle Cry is a wargame to me, albeit a very light one. All the usual elements are there in some form. Playing a miniatures wargame with cardboard tokens is just that, a miniatures game with cardboard tokens :)

  2. I see them in both camps as it were. I would suspect at a figure gameing con they would get more negative views as we expect very well painted figures at such things and excellent terrain (I think standads have risen too far)but I would welcome them as something different but then again I both war and board game.


  3. Miniatures are gaming gonks. By that I mean cool, but useless things to make the game supposedly better. OTOH I love my miniatures

  4. Fantastic topic, and one dear to my heart! I've been careful when I post pics or commentary on sites like BoardGame Geek to describe my tabletop renditions of Battle Cry and Memoir '44 as being *3D* conversions. My primary motivation to make them 3D is for aesthetics of course (visuals draw), but personally, I feel I actually play better when I can visualize the terrain more easily when it's laid out as a "miniatures" game (instead of via flat overlays). Another reason for attempting these conversions is to retain the clarity of their hex-based rules mechanics, but then this can have the opposite affect to enhancing aesthetics as the grid often turns players off. Interestingly, most miniatures gamers will play naval and air combat games on completely flat hex boards without being turned off by a hex pattern. In the end, I like the ease of play of the "game in a box" format of boardgames which can render themselves to *3D* conversion, and especially so if the rules play efficiently, allowing a battle to be finished in an afternoon. Although I've been in the hobby for forty years now, I still feel this duty to support it with public presentations now and then, and these 3D conversion games work perfect for setting up and playing most anywhere. Did I mention the Command & Colors games are just plain fun to play too? (!)

  5. As others have said it's hard to decide on what 'is' a miniatures game, I tend to consider something a miniatures wargame if it involves using models soldiers that are then painted and used on a board covered with other pieces of miniatures terrain. So I don't see Risk as being a miniatures game despite the fact that it uses figures.

    However there are always going to be games that go into both camps. I'd say the example you have on this post is a board game, and not a miniatures game. Just my 2 pence.

  6. I agree with TTG.

    This idea didn't originate with me, but I like the following categorization of historical miniature wargaming:

    If you like history and miniatures, you do dioramas and modelling.

    If you like miniatures and gaming, you do 40k, Warmachine, etc...where your imagination is the limit.

    If you like gaming and history, you do Avalon Hill style chit wargames, Risk, computer games, etc...

    So, to a certain extent, the artistic element of the miniatures is a necessary element. If you play a miniatures game with chits, you have turned it into a regular wargame. If you paint miniatures and terrain for Memoir '44 or Battlecry, you have turned it into a fully fledged HMG.

    This is not a judgement, saying one is better or one should be excluded, it's just a useful mechanism for looking at the distinction.

  7. I think it is a good subject for some philosophy of categorization. I have some hazy memories of Aristotle in senior secondary school and discussions about object classification. The teacher used bushes and trees as an example. We have a definite mental category for both, but there are a wide variety of plants which are difficult to explicitly pin down in either category. It is the same for wargames, boardgames and miniature games, I think. We have a definite mental image of each of these categories but in reality it will be difficult to choose just one of these categories for a game.