For newcomers: A short introduction to wargaming
By request, here's an intro for beginners. Wargaming in short, is tabletop gaming with tin figures or plastic figures. There's no board in the usual sense but you'll usually place different obstacles – terrain elements – to make it more interesting, both from a game-technical perspective but also because it just looks better.
Wargaming is either a game or hobby part, but sometimes both. It's totally up to you. But most gamers paint their own figures, create their own terrain and play about equally. Regardless of what type of game you play, it usually has a big spoonful of independent thinking, adaptability and innovation. This, in combination with the hobby part, are all the main reasons why lots of us like it.
These games are not new. You may have seen movie generals who use similar setups. Also the sci-fi author HG Wells published a book already in 1913 called Little Wars. The rules were simple then and the figures were cheap, which is sort of the opposite compared to today's games.
More on the gameplay
There are plenty of different games with a varied set of rules and settings. So you can't say there's just one type of gameplay but many.
You usually start by determining the basic conditions for the game: Is can be:
Then you determine the composition of the different forces. You usually want them to be evenly matched, and there are a variety of ways to ensure this. The most common is a scoring system, where powerful or rare teams are limited by a higher point cost or by rules, and so there's an option to buy troops up to a fixed amount.
An army's composition might also be established in the rule book, (which might look like this).
Rule books are good in order to make the games e.g. historically correct but also because it must be balanced. Usually your choices are hidden from the opponent until you set up the forces on the battlefield.
A scoring system is not always present. It's more common in fantasy games and other imaginary settings. Of course, this does not prevent historical wargames from having score values, but it can lead to results that are unbalanced.
The last thing you do before you actually start playing is to put together the gaming table. How to regulate the placement of terrain objects is different from game to game, but generally the players take turns placing each object until both are satisfied (or in a quantity previously agreed upon). In historical games you usually play with a terrain that corresponds to a real area, to scale. It might be e.g. the Normandy landings of World War II or the jungles from the Vietnam War and so on.
Everything differs a great deal between games, but most have some form of rules for how to move their miniatures and how to do to eliminate the opponents. You might measure distances with measuring tape or with special gauges that accompany the game, and you can decide that some troops move this or that length unit
On or more dice are normally used to determine actions and outcomes, but some games use cards. Others may not use random elements at all, but compare only the characteristics of the different figures to calculate a result.
The figures are usually bought over the internet today. Some toy stores sell figures to the largest and most common games and sometimes also paints especially made for tin figures. Other paints usually have problems attaching properly to certain materials.
There are different scales used, and one figure might represent one or more units in the actual game. That is, 1 painted figure corresponds to 1 soldier on the battlefield (1:1 ratio), whereas others may have one figure correspond to several, all the way up to a battalion.
In addition to painting the figures, there is widespread interest in modifying them in different ways. This is usually called conversion, even if you only change small details. You can cut things off, model your own little gadgets and glue on, change weapons, posture or head etc. For tournament play, there are rules for how much you can change. Usually it's not OK to replace key elements of a hero character.
You can even mold your own figures, but this is extremely rare since it is hard to get better-looking results compared to industrial molds that you just paint.
You can create the terrain yourself or buy ready-made products. It can be anything from small hills that the figures can be moved up to get a better view, moats that are difficult to cross or fortifications to take shelter in.
As a rule, the terrain is made to be as modular as possible so that it can be varied, but there are also good examples where static giant buildings are made that accurately depict a real battlefield. Whether you build realistic terrain yourself or are content with cutting out pieces of cardboard, the terrain is an important element in the game.
I'm a huge fan of gaming, whether it's on the tabletop or on my PC. As you can probably tell from the title, war games are what really makes me tick.