Also referred to as tabletop gaming, a wargame tends to be a strategic simulation of combat (through the use of lead / pewter / plastic miniatures) with multiple units with different statistics and features. While role-playing games focus on the plight of the individual character, wargames pull back for a wider view of units in armies, representing nations and whole races. Warhammer 40K and Battletech (and, actually, most games by FASA and Games Workshop) are popular wargames.

Broadly, a simulation of military or politico-military action for entertainment, training or analytical purposes.

The use of wargaming as a tool for staff training and experiment dates back to the Kriegspielen run by the German general staff of the late 19th century, while US Navy Captain (later Admiral) Alfred T. Mahan was a forerunner of naval wargaming prior to the Spanish-American war. Games were generally 'neutrally' umpired (which inevitably led to many such exercises just serving to reinforce the conclusion desired by whoever was in charge) and took a variety of forms, with or without the use of models or other representations of the battles in question. Wargaming techniques have continued to be developed and used for these purposes up to the present day, with the invention of the computer coming in handy from its earliest days. (see Game Theory)

Wargaming for entertainment took two main forms in the pre-comuter era: games using miniatures - scale models and tin soldiers on a tabletop or floor with model terrain - and the simpler but less flexible board games. Miniatures gaming rode to some extent on the coat-tails of the hobbies of military modelling and to a lesser extent railway modelling (a handy source of scenery); in the UK it was popularised by a series of books by Donald Featherstone in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Levels of realism (leaving aside the general unpleasantness of war) were rather variable, since boring stuff like logistics and politics tended to get left out of the equation, and limited intelligence and communications problems were rather difficult to simulate. It is also easier to persuade plastic troops to fight to the last man than it is with real ones.

Boardgaming was largely spurred on by the board game publisher Avalon Hill and its offshoot SPI. It offered a way of taking a broader view than the necessarily tactical slant given by miniatures gaming, but for the average teenage anorak demanded a rather greater capital investment. From the late 1970s onwards the generally historical or contemporary slant of the games available started to drift towards swords and sorcery and space opera settings, popularised by the boom in role-playing games started by Dungeons and Dragons; miniatures gaming went much the same way.

The era after the introduction of home computers deliberately left blank for another putative noder.

A genre of games focused around commandeering small units to destroy each other. The ultimate wargame would be chess, a mix of deadly combat and competition defined by a balanced set or rule. This is a mix that fascinates the regular human being through all time.

Classic wargaming as a popular leisure activity, was emerging around the 1960s, with the increased amount of spare time, recreational wargaming became a widespread activity in Britain and the US. The traditional wargames have been a series of boardgames dealing with historical battles with emphasis on realistic rules.

The playpieces come in different scales ranging from 54 to 2 mm high figures, full of details and carefully painted to look realistic for the specific historical era. A fair amount of the time spent on wargaming are spent on the production of the playpieces and the terrain models. The gameplay are being done in turns by the players, each turn consisting of different phases. The initial setup of all pieces are done(often in accordance to a historic battle), and then movement and attacks follows in turns. The outcome of the fighting are decided using millimeter rulers, a specific rulebook and a set of dices for making realistic random results. A large battle with more than two players can typically take about a day to complete.

With the PC, wargaming have evolved into computer simulations of the two-dimensional boardgames, the results having various resemblance of the originals. Wargaming titles are either turn based like Panzer General II, or built as real-time strategy like C&C or Close Combat.

Epochs of interest are WWI, WWII, US Civil War and the Napoleonic Wars, being the most popular ones. There are also a group of wargames with fantasy and sci-fi universes, very much like role playing.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.