What are wargames?
Modern wargames originated in the beginning of the 19th century with the military need to study warfare and to simulate old battles for instructional purposes. The basic principle of wargames today is the same: to simulate historical battles. This can be done in various means, one popular way, which is also practiced in the Wargames World Championships, is to use small tin figures.
The game is played on a table representing the battlefield. Armies are represented by figures, where each figure or a stand of figures represents a certain amount of men. Terrain, such as hills, woods or rivers can also be modelled to add to the visual look of the game. Dice are used to bring a random element into the game, representing difficulties in command and control, morale, weather, etc. The players, of course, act as the generals of the armies.
The games are based on specific rules, much like in Chess. There exists a large amount of different wargames rules, varying according to complexity, time period, scale of the battles, etc. Some rules are meant strictly for re-fighting historical battles and function only when historical opponents face each other. Other rules like the ones used in the World Championships, are more flexible, allowing battles also between “unhistorical´ opponents, for example the Roman Legions against medieval knights.
Wargaming as a hobby has many different aspects. Where others are fascinated by the history and background of the battles, for others the main interest may be in modelling nice armies and realistically looking terrain. A good game is also a test of skills in strategy and tactics, and as such offers exiting experiences. The wargames tournaments of course are there to find the best and the most able general among the players.