Unlike the post about card games (like Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering) from last month, you may have never heard of miniature wargames. This is a type of game that isn’t quite as mainstream as board games or card games, but it still has a strong following and requires a lot of tactical skill, patience, and a whole lot of money.
Miniature wargames are often about simulating a battle between two competing armies, typically in a fantasy or science fiction universe. Players build their armies based on a set of rules such as a total point value allowed, with individual point values for specific units. With these units, some of which have special abilities in the rules, players proceed to try and annihilate their opponent through tactical maneuvering. Some engagements may have special objectives or missions and are not always focused on the total destruction of an enemy’s army.
Player turns typically alternate, with phases such as movement, shooting, etc., occurring on each player’s turn. The game is played on a large tabletop and often requires the use of rulers, as many of these games use unit movement measured in inches. Some miniature wargames use an alternate grid- or hex-based movement system with a set number of moves per unit. While the most notable and popular miniature wargames played are likely Warhammer 40000 and Star Wars: X-Wing, other new miniature games such as Guild Ball (medieval fantasy soccer/football, depending on local parlance) are becoming more popular. These games may function somewhat similarly to Warhammer 40000, but with different objectives and settings. Think of them as different genres but still located in the same part of the library, so to speak.
Something to note: miniature wargames are not cheap. Player’s armies that they put to the test against other player’s armies could cost hundreds of dollars, and that’s just for the figurines in a small scale conflict. If you consider any props for the battleground, such as miniature ruined landscapes or an urban warfare terrain, you’re looking at spending significantly more. That’s not even including the time spent painting each figure and the cost of paint materials, assuming you paint them yourself. If you hire someone to paint the figurines for you, expect to pay quite a premium.
What’s that, you ask? Oh, yes, that’s right – many miniature wargames don’t come with pre-painted figurines! However, many players prefer it that way. Players often like to paint figurines the way they want them represented, and that can include specific looks such as blast marks and insignias that the game producer may not have chosen to include had they painted them before shipping the figurines off. Many players also create their own terrain out of packaging, soda cans and bottles, making beautiful landscape out of what may have been trash only moments before.
So, in what way could miniature wargames be incorporated into library programming? Let’s get one thing out of the way – these are not meant to be added to the collection. Cost and storage for these miniatures are far too prohibitive to allow them to be added to even the most outlandlish library game collection. However, that does not mean that miniature wargames could not be included in library programming.
For instance, groups could get together to work on painting their figurines after the latest release of a new figure or to discuss technique and design. Individuals could bring their own paints, or the library could provide paint sets for those that did not have their own. Many players are quite particular about what type of paint they use, but newer players would likely appreciate the opportunity to learn from veterans and have paints provided.
Terrain crafting programs could be run to teach individuals how to make unique, useful obstacles, buildings, and other objects out of recycled items. Cardboard, yogurt cups, craft sticks, and other random objects can be made into the perfect scenery with a bit of work. Again, veterans could help teach newer players how this is done, and staff at the library could save up some recycling to provide for the program. Plus, librarians are great at repurposing old materials for new things! It’s practically in our job descriptions.
Finally, games could be played at the library, provided there’s enough table space and time available. Warhammer 40000 games are usually played on 4 foot by 4-8 foot tables, and with more than one game going on at a time that will eat up a large amount of many libraries available programming area. Additionally, these games can take a significant amount of time, sometimes lasting an entire afternoon depending upon the size of the armies duking it out. However, advertising an all-day or weekend tournament could bring in a large number of players from the surrounding area, as many players like to test their mettle in a larger pool – especially if there’s prizes!
Whatever you decide, miniature wargames are a very unique part of the gaming community and are experiencing a renewed interest, similar to the resurgence in board games over the last 15 years. Expect to see and hear more about these unique games in the future, especially with Star Wars becoming more popular and Star Wars: X-Wing being the prominent miniature wargame that it is.