The Ideal Wargaming Experience

What makes for the ideal wargmaing experience?

What is the ideal wargaming experience?

Certainly there are many ways to enjoy the actual playing of the wargaming hobby, and some of my best games have been under interesting circumstances- like playing a BIG game of X-Wing Miniatures on the living room floor since we forgot to pack the box of terrain.

But as I get a bit older, and slightly wiser, or at least have more impulse control, I find that I aspire to have each wargaming game be the ULTIMATE experience. Something that goes above and beyond, elevating the game to LEGENDARY status.

Here is what I strive for in each game, regardless of the system…

The first is an awareness of the rules and mission between all the players. Within each system that I enjoy playing- Warhammer 40K, Battletech, X-Wing Miniatures, Chain of Command we all agree to the rules by playing the system, but what about the “mission”?

What are the points or battle values?

Is there a limit on units?

Is it a balanced mission or something more heroic like a last stand scenario?

We all need to know what we are playing mission wise before the game so there are no hidden surprises.


This is also balanced by the time that we have to play them game- can we finish the mission and game while playing at a relaxed pace in the time allotted to play? Having all afternoon in the war-den is different vs. playing at a gaming store that closes at 9 PM sharp.

Miniatures are next, and I don’t mean this statement to be elitist- but I will no longer play wargames with unpainted miniatures. I know there are challenges in painting them, skill levels, and it being downright intimidating when you are staring at a massive pile of plastic…

…but with a wargame we are working on creating a simulation, and alternate reality on the tabletop that for a few hours moves beyond space and time where we can be part of that simulation and gaming universe.

Unpainted kills that.

Judge Dredd Miniatures Citi-Def Force: Tabletop- 3 colors, wash, and basing. 

Miniatures don’t need to be Golden Demon of master class painted. Tabletop- three colors, a wash, and base looks REALLY good. The plan I use and recommend these days is to paint to tabletop standard so one can get in the game, and then over the coming weeks and months go back and work on individual units and models to bring them up to higher standards.

Terrain is next- narrative, based, and good looking wargaming terrain. Terrain is the third leg of the hobby- rules, painted miniatures, and narrative terrain builds the experience. Terrain is a bit easier to build due to less pieces vs. your army models, and the scale is often bigger. Like your models you can build some quality tabletop level terrain to get started and later on add more details to take it to that next level. Additional tabletop touches might be stuff like smoke effects and explosion effect markers that get added as you play the game to show the flow and effects of the battle as you play.

I find that paying attention to these three areas as a BASE sets the foundation for a great gaming session.

When the three come together:


What other areas of wargaming should I be looking at to help improve the experience of the game to LEGENDARY?

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4 Replies to “The Ideal Wargaming Experience”

  1. You hit on this a little with talk about agreeing on scenario and rules, but to go to LEGEN-wait for it-DARY status, you need to have fellow wargamers that want the same kind of thing from the game. If you come in and you are more concerned with the setting, fluff, narrative and such, it can be frustrating to play with someone who only cares about winning (a MIN/MAXer or Rules Lawyer type) and cares nothing about creating and playing in that shared universe. I think it helps to know what your fellow wargamers want out of the game.

    1. Agreed, player expectations are huge before we even get into the game. I find more and more pickup games at the club to be more challenging given that you never know who you are going to play against till you start. Card and board games with a more limited rule set kind of keep things in check, but with the list building complexity and choices of a wargame it becomes much harder.

      1. Yeah, If I go to a prize tournament I am assuming that the goal of the game is to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. I’m okay with bringing cheese lists and playing the heck out of the meta.
        I played Heroclix for a few years. Being a comics fan, I would want to make comics-accurate teams and see if I could work them together. One of my best friends in gaming just never did that. Instead for him it was all about putting the team together that could almost break the game. He didn’t care 2 cents for comics accuracy. I would put together, say, the Ultimates team straight from the excellent series and he would field a mishmash squad. He would wipe the floor with me. I got frustrated with him, but it wasn’t his fault. He just had a different definition of fun than me. I had to actually change my expectations when I played him and when I did we both started having more fun. Some legendary games happened.

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