Wargaming covers a huge range of areas but Dakka focuses primarily on one - miniature wargaming. You can read a detailed general overview of all wargaming over at wikipedia but we will explain the virtues of miniature wargaming in more detail here....
What is Miniature Wargaming?
The miniature wargaming hobby combines a wide range of activities and, though many people participate in all areas of the hobby, some may only be interested in one or two aspects. People collect scale models from historical, fantasy or science fiction settings, paint them and then create full squadrons or armies which are then used to play a tabletop game against other people's forces. You can see a range of fully painted, fully assembled armies in our Army Profiles section.
An example of a painted miniature:
Models typically come in either resin, metal or plastic kit form, and usually are some combination of two or more of those types. The models then need to be cleaned to remove manufacturing side effects like mould lines and are then assembled. Some hobbyists will add their own sculpting to models to make them more unique, and others will do minor conversions such as head swaps, weapon swaps, etc.
Once assembled, a model is typically primed with a single colour spray on paint undercoat. After this a base coat of paint is put down, often using high pigment paints such as citadel foundation paints. Next, some paint highlighting might be performed to make the tiny details more noticeable. Although this makes the model less realistic if you were to scale it up, it makes the detail stand out more so generally enhances the appearance of models at smaller scales. Washes of thinned colour are often applied to enhance shading in the deeper areas of a model for the same reason. There are a wide range of painting tutorials here on dakka. Many people simply enjoy the modeling and painting aspect of the hobby and are content to stop at this stage.
Once enough models are assembled, an army is ready for battle. Some people do not paint their forces at all, or only give them a very basic one or two colour scheme so that they can focus on playing instead of painting. The games vary from system to system, but the most popular games are typically turn based with different phases in each turn. Each player takes time to move their forces, shoot at the opposing side and if opposing troops are close enough, assault opposing forces in hand to hand combat.
An example of a fully painted army:
Miniature Wargaming arguably evolved from games such as chess and shares a lot of similarities even to this day. Things really started to take off for the miniature wargaming hobby when the famous pacifist author H.G. Wells, author of War of the Worlds wrote 'Little Wars' in 1913. This is now out of copyright so can be freely read online.
Things progressed continually and then the miniature role playing game Chainmail came onto the scene which would lead to the birth of Dungeons and Dragons. This led to a large boost in wargames interest and the first science fiction miniature wargame (Galactic Warfare) was released two years later.
In 1983, Games Workshop released Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a game which is still available to this day albeit in a significantly evolved form. This game rapidly dominated the market and helped Games Workshop rise to become the dominant miniature wargames publisher. Warhammer 40,000 was released by Games Workshop and cemented their position due to the wide popularity of the science fiction genre.
The Big Companies
Today there are numerous companies covering almost every niche interest you could think of. As of 2009 there are three major ranges that Dakka's users seem to gravitate towards:
Games Workshop are by far the largest and publish three main games. Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000 and Lord of the Rings. These games account for the majority of topics here on dakka.
Privateer Press are the next most popular on Dakka and publish Warmachine, Hordes and Monsterpocalypse.
Battlefront are increasing in popularity rapidly with their world war 2 miniature wargame Flames of War.
There are many popular smaller companies such as Rackham and Mongoose Publishing. A list of these companies can be found on wikipedia. You can dig through the dakka gallery to find painted miniatures by these smaller companies.
Enjoying Wargaming on Dakka
Dakka is a wargaming community that encourages people to share tactics, painting advice, pictures of their models, army lists and engage in general wargaming related chat. If you are brand new to wargaming, we recommend you read up on the major games and see what interests you most. Wikipedia has the best overall descriptions of each game so read these first:
Warhammer Fantasy Battle
Lord of the Rings
Flames of War
Once you have found one or more games that appeals to you, or even one or more armies within those games, then a great way to get inspired is to look at pictures of the models within the dakka gallery. Simply go to the gallery search page here, and type in what you are looking for.
If you feel sufficiently inspired, then hop on over to the forums and read up on the game that interests you most. After reading through, and maybe joining dakka and chatting about the games yourself, you should probably think about getting a starter set. Most games offer starter kits which contain the rulebook, some background information and some miniatures and are generally geared towards getting new players interested at decent prices. Here are direct links to the most popular games:
Warhammer 40,000 - Assault on Black Reach
Warhammer Fantasy - The Island of Blood
Lord of The Rings - The Mines of Moria
Flames of War - Open Fire ( Review here on Dakka )
AT-43 Army Box
If you dont want to splash out the money or still want to learn more about a given game, then each of the major manufacturers publish a monthly or bi-monthly magazine which you should be able to find in your local magazine shop or online somewhere. Games workshop publish 'White Dwarf', Privateer Press publish 'No Quarter' and Battlefront publish 'Wargames Illustrated' but be aware that wargames illustrated is still largely independent and only carries one or two articles on flames of war each month at the moment.