Friday 27 February 2009


I have been playing tabletop wargames with toy soldiers for more years than I care to remember. This is another one of those pointless and infantile male hobbies that the English have foisted upon an unsuspecting world.

Tabletop wargaming as a hobby, as opposed to military exercises, has a long pedigree that goes all the way back to the great HG Wells. Who published Floor Games in 1911 and Little Wars in 1913 – the latter being considered the first modern tabletop game.

The hobby consists of buying large numbers of toy soldiers and other military models until they occupy every possible free storage space in one’s abode to the tooth-gnashing annoyance of WAGS and mothers. Some of these models will be assembled and painted, a process requiring liberal amounts of superglues, solvent adhesives, acrylic paints and varnishes spattered all over the family living areas. An even smaller percentage of the models will be mustered into an army to fight a tabletop battle involving the combatants drinking copious volumes of beer and spending happy hours arguing over the finer interpretation of fiendishly complicated rules written in pigeon English.

Traditionally, the toy soldiers would be based on the world wars, the American civil war, the Napoleonic wars, or something called ‘Ancients’. More recently, the hobby is dominated by science fiction and fantasy games, partly caused by the rise of Games Workshop and partly because history is now a forgotten discipline in modern education.

Just to clear up any misunderstandings, wargaming is about an accurate representation of battle as is chess. If you want to get a feel for real warfare I recommend digging a hole on Dartmoor in winter and squat in it for a week while your friends bombard you with thunder-flashes at irregular intervals.