Wargaming Without Miniatures – Are You Really Wargaming

portable wargaming

Robert Cordery and his portable wargames – I love it!

Do you really need miniatures to wargame? And if you do, then what exactly are you doing if you are not pushing model soldiers around a tabletop?

A comment I came across last year while using virtual tabletop software to wargame set me thinking. I laid out a battle on this blog and was essentially told I couldn’t be added to a gaming archive as I wasn’t really wargaming. Oh it was said politely – and I paraphrase the saying of it. But it annoyed me no end.

I bloody well was wargaming. I was doing the best I could given my current situation.

My figures have all been in storage for a couple of years due to house moves, new baby, and a variety of other stuff we call “life”. Rather than put my hobby on the shelf, I decided to take my gaming on to a PC.

And it was fun.

No more painting armies, no expensive army purchases, no huge space requirements, no storage. It was gaming utopia.

Only it wasn’t.

Hours and hours of preparation went in to making maps and counters. It was actually slower than conventional miniature wargaming.

But it was still wargaming.

I think the issue arose because I was in a gaming no-man’s-land. I was not miniature wargaming as I had no figures on a tabletop, even though I was using miniature wargaming rule sets. I wasn’t computer wargaming as there was no AI for me to fight against – I was actually wargaming solo.

But in the broader sense of the category, in terms of being a “wargamer”, I was still very much in the home field.

I don’t feel you need figures to wargame – unless you want to be a miniature wargamer. You don’t need a computer either, unless you want to be a computer wargamer (although some rules sets are so complex I think a computer might be advised). You might even prefer to use counters and boards to be a board gamer. But no matter what, you still belong to the big family of wargaming. Membership comes with a love for the hobby and the ability to enjoy it any way you can.

The question I am left with is, “Is wargaming big enough to create individual tribes – and even if it is, should we?”

My opinion? I’m just happy to be a wargamer. Whether you are rolling marbles, clicking a mouse, or painting figures and chucking dice, you’re always welcome here.