Sunday, May 13, 2012

Funny Little Wars - Fun!

Most modern miniatures games use very detailed figures and generally complex rules. In contrast, toy soldier gamers use simple glossy figures and relatively basic rules. Further, many of them play on the lawn. I can't say for sure whether the lovely glossy figures, the simple rules, or the thought of playing on the green New Hampshire grass was the deciding factor but I decided it was time to investigate toy soldier gaming.

To be sure most toy soldier games are played by children who make up their own rules on the fly and have a fine time. A long term gamer, however, will acquire books of rules like a squirrel collects nuts- to briefly hold them and then lose them for months to years at a time. I ordered Funny Little Wars (FLW) from the Virtual Armchair General. While I have not played the game yet I do have some initial impressions.

FLW is written with a wry and funny tone. This seems to be a recent trend in British gaming and personally I enjoy it a lot. It starts with a history of early wargaming as played by H.G. Wells and then goes into a set of rules for playing with large figures on your lawn or floor. Players assemble groups of toy soldiers and then march them around, taking shots with rifles and cannon, and occasionally charging with cavalry or springing attacks with spies. The gist of this game is "take lots of toys and stage a battle that's fast and fun to look at." The time period is set around 1900 but the author is very clear that the idea is for the forces to look good, so if some hussars or zouaves find their way fighting alongside bicycle troops then all the better.

Without going into detail the rules themselves are pretty simple. Players roll dice to score hits with gunfire and individual figures are removed as casualties. Advanced rules include aircraft, spies, vehicles, morale, written orders, and hospitals. There are army lists and suggestions for where to buy figures included as well.

I was struck by a few things with FLW. I liked reading the rules and the writer makes playing the game look absolutely great. I think this is the ideal set of rules to use if you're introducing a child to miniatures gaming or if you want a casual game between adult friends. I would absolutely recommend taking a look at these if you're thinking of starting out in the hobby or want to pass on the bug to new players. For myself,  I've ordered some troops from Hobby Bunker and hopefully the Fez relief expedition will be hitting the lawn in a month or two.

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