Getting involved with wargaming (Part 2)

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Please sir, can I have some more?


So you’ve decided that you like this wargaming lark and want to do more. Here are four different things you can do. The first is to join a club or group. In the UK this is likely to be an “official” local club which meets the local school/hall/library or, if you’re truly lucky, in the back room of a pub. You can get details from UK magazines (Miniature Wargames, for example, runs a listing over subsequent issues under the heading “miscellanea”) or from The Society of Ancients which lists a large number of UK (and a few European, North American, etc.) clubs. In the US clubs tend to be less formal, with a half-dozen or so like-minded people meeting at someone’s home. The various Historical Miniature Gaming Society (HMGS) Chapters (such as HMGS East – other chapters can be accessed from this site) list locally affiliated clubs in the US and Canada. If there is no one locally you can try to make contact with other wargamers by advertising in a local paper. If there are no local groups, start one of your own. Remember that more people means a smaller share of the costs.

Second, find a decent set of wargame rules. There is a difference between traditional UK and US rule sets. UK rules have a history of being cheap and basic, requiring additional purchases to get army lists, etc. Whereas US rules, because of different market conditions, are more expensive, glossy and sometimes come as boxed sets with all the bells and whistles included. Unless you have already decided on a particular historical era for wargaming, you should look at a rule set that is adaptable. My own initial choice would be either De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) or Warhammer Ancient Battles. But talk to other wargamers and, if you get the chance, use someone else’s copy of the rules before making a decision. And when buying rules, you should club together to make the purchase.

Third, and probably most important financially, is buying miniatures. This is the really expensive part of the hobby. You need to decide what you want in the way of miniatures – scale, era, difficulty of painting and mounting on bases, etc. Most wargamers go through phases and move on to new armies after a couple of years, and it is important to discuss your choices with others in your group if you want to have a battle – you’ll need someone with an opposing army. Either that or create a pair of armies so you can always supply the figures to any willing participant. It will probably be best to start off with 15 mm scale figures to keep the cost down. Several companies sell ready-made armies, i.e. all the necessary figures are included, which match the army lists for DBA. However, you’ll still have to base and paint them yourself.

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