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Getting into Tabletop Gaming. Part 1

January 15th, 2013 by Mad Dave Comments

On the review show for 2012 I was asked “just how would you get into gaming?” Which got me thinking, if I new nothing about gaming just how would I go about it?

Well for me as with a lot of people I was introduced by a friend into the hobby, but what if you don’t really know any gamers or clubs mainly because you’re not yet into gaming and don’t move in those circles? Well i’m here to change all that, by giving you a rundown of some of the biggest tabletop wargames on the market.

First thing you are going to need to do is decide between real life wargaming or fictional wargaming.

Real Life Wargaming

Real life wargaming, or historical wargaming, is any wargame based on historical events and time periods, which can range from Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, The Crusades right up to WWI, WWII, Vietnam and even the Golf War are all considered to be historical wargames.

A few examples of game systems for the historical wargaming  are:

Hail Caesar

Gladiator, Sparticus,  300 and Pathfinder are all set somewhere in and around the era of Hail Ceasar.

Hail Caesar from Warlord Games, by the legend that is Rick Priestley, is a system used to fight over many different battlefields in many ancient historical eras.

Sword and shield, catapult and chariot – Hail Caesar is Warlord Games’ rule set, covering battles from the age of the Pharaohs through to the Crusades. Refight titanic battles such as Kadesh, Gaugemela, Plataea, Thermopylae, Hastings and the Crusades, among others.

Whether your chosen army are bronze-clad Greeks, the disciplined Legions of Rome, Egypt’s speeding chariots or frenzied Viking raiders, Hail Caesar allows you to fight large battles across the continents and battlefields of bygone ages.

Rick explains the combat system!

Rick: This time round I’m going to talk about the Hail Caesar combat system in a bit more detail. Quite a bit more detail. In fact I’d recommend pouring yourself a tot of something and settling down for this one as I do go on a bit. Hand-to-hand fighting is one aspect of our ancient game that is distinctly different from its Black Powder predecessor. Where Black Powder places the emphasis on musketry and manoeuvre, Hail Caesar reflects the more prolonged but ultimately decisive clash of hand-to-hand fighting in pre-gunpowder warfare. Of course, some ancient armies are big on shooting – and these guys have their place in Hail Caesar too – but in terms of an entertaining and challenging wargame it has to be hand-to-hand fighting that counts in the end.

In Hail Caesar units of troops have a basic stat-line, and different types of troops have different standard stats: heavy infantry, medium infantry, light infantry, skirmishers, archers and so on. In addition, units that are particularly fighty, stubborn, or which have higher than usual morale have their stats adjusted to their advantage. Similarly, troops that are a bit iffy may suffer a reduction in one or more stats, as you might expect. In addition, units that are deemed to be under strength or small have all their stats reduced to reflect this, and –yes you guessed – units that are large get a boost…..Read the full article here.

Pike and Shot

Staying with Warlord games as they offer a great range of rules for different eras, Pike and Shot is set in the 17th century.

The 17th Century saw catastrophic war in Europe, a conflict so savage that it’s like had been unknown before, especially to the civilian population. The Thirty Years War ravaged whole countries and populations, whilst the first truly national armies marched and counter marched over Europe.

Meanwhile, in Britain, the King was losing power to an aggressive, self-assured Parliament, galvanised by new ways of thinking, by religion and by personal ambition.

The two parties were on a collision course to war and when it came in 1642 it caught the country unaware and unprepared. The hastily raised armies clashed many times before Parliament triumphed, then succumbed to in-fighting, before the Restoration of Charles II.

Warlord brings you all the main protagonists for both wars, Grand divisions, Tercios and whole wings of glittering cavalry are yours to command, led by gentlemen of honour whose names are remembered today, men who commanded and fought in the front ranks: Rupert, Fairfax, Wallenstein, Gustavus Adolphus, Montrose and MacColla ‘the Devastator’.

Black Powder

Remember Zulu? Well that’s Black Powder, well along with American civil war, the Napoleonic war (Sharpe) and a range of other conflicts involving early black powder fire arms.

Black Powder is a game for the militarily inclined gentlemen with straight backs, bristling beards and rheumy eyes that have seen a thing or two. If tales of battle and glory in days-gone-by stir nothing in your breast, if the roar of cannon does not quicken the pulse and set fire in the belly, then this is not the rule set for you.

Set during the horse & musket period of 1700-1900, Black Powder is very much a game for gentlemen gamers. Gamers who cherish the finer things in life such as wonderfully painted armies, fighting over luxurious terrain, and doing so in the company of friends. No need for the use of protractors to wheel a unit and arguments over whether a charge is 2mm out of range or not are things you’ll no longer have to worry about. In essence, it’s a very relaxing game that can produce stunning conflicts – conflicts that can see one side appear doomed only for them to pull victory from the icy grasp of Mistress Defeat!

Bolt Action

Now we’re talking! Think of every WWII movie you watched growing up, like Kelly’s Hero’s (not historically accurate, I know) Battle of the Bulge  The Dirty Dozen, Saving private Ryan I could go on and on but basically Bolt Action is WWII’s war on the ground.

Dragging most of the known world into its brutal and devastating clutches, the Second World War was a conflict the scale of which the world has never seen. From Blitzkrieg to North Africa, from the Russian Front to the D-Day landings, World War II remains arguably the most popular period for wargamers.

The Bolt Action range is not only beautifully sculpted but also the most comprehensive 28mm WWII range available! They are constantly adding new armies, miniatures, vehicles and terrain to this huge range.

Force on Force

One of my all time favorite movies is Black Hawk Down and another is We Were Soldiers. If modern warfare (no, not the video game) is your thing then Force on Force has something to offer.

Force on Force brings the drama and action of modern warfare to the tabletop using miniature soldiers. The rules cover all aspects of modern warfare from the confidence and supply level of troops to air-strikes and off-board artillery and accommodates scenarios set anywhere from the end of World War II to the conflicts on today’s news without sacrificing either character or playability. Quick to learn and play, the game rewards players who use well-considered modern tactics to try and achieve victory. From infantry and armor to artillery and air support, Force on Force presents everything that players need to recreate post-World War II warfare involving both conventional, combined-arms forces and the irregular guerrilla units that have become the hallmark of 21st century warfare.

Now I am by no means an expert in historical gaming and this is not even the tip of the iceburg in fact its not even a small icecube sitting on the tip of the iceburg, its simply a starting point for those that may be interested in some form of historical gaming.

In part two I will be discussing the more fantastical and fictional wargames from sci-fi to fantasy, steam punk to just plain weird.

Be sure to drop a comment below and let us know if there are any games you would like to find out more about or if there is a local stockist or gaming club near you, I will do my best to try and help.

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I'm Mad Dave one of the team's growing collection of tabletop gaming nerds. I was raised on a healthy diet of TV like Blake 7, Doctor Who and Star Trek with a side of sword and sorcery / sc-fi movies and a large dollop of board games like Cluedo, RISK and Hero Quest. You know your a gaming nerd if: You bring toy soldiers to work? You bring toy soldiers to work and you work has nothing to do with toy soldiers? Most of you jackets / coats have dice in one of the pockets? You hate throwing away packaging because you know it's actually a ruined building or field generator? You have a collection of old packaging? You can find something relevant to your hobby i.e. books, magazines, figures etc in almost every room in your house? I no I'm a nerd because I've done all of the above, how many of these made you smile and nod yes to?