Friday 11 December 2015

1:1 Wargaming

No, I'm not talking about NATO exercises of some sort, but rather games like this....

Fairy Meat, a skirmish wargame between cannibal fairies, was played at 1:1 scale in 28mm. (We all know fairies actually stand 28mm tall) Any room in your house was the official terrain.  It's actually a rather good set of rules, amusingly written - I just suffered from a lack of readily-available fairy miniatures and opponents willing to be fairies....

Back as a kid, I "wargamed" with LEGO, using a dice to determine what was a very lose "RPG" style wargame.  BRIKWARS has been around for 20 years and kinda formalizes this.

BRIKWARS has its own slickly-produced website, forums etc.  I didn't know fighting with LEGOs was so serious! 

The production values are very nice, although the latest rules are a web-only document that would be a PITA to print.  LEGOs "Minifigs" have a 5" move.  Weapons (1 d6 for ranged, 2d6 for melee) are compared to an armour stat; if they beat it the little dude is downed (remove legs or arms as appropriate).  Bricks can be connected or blown apart by attacks.  You can reward your opponent for cool feats, storytelling, and constructions by giving them a free extra d6 to add to a roll.  The rules are not-serious and rather fun, but quite extensive.  Pity LEGO as a hobby is the only thing I can think of more addictive and expensive than wargaming... I swear the bricks are made of pure unobtanium....

 The other thing to trigger nostalgia (and an interest in 1:1 wargaming) is this awesome scene from the movie Ant Man.

Thomas the Tank Engine... classic!

This, along with reading a book on ants to my two-year old, has inspired an interesting in reviving a game I used to play in my teens - "Ant Wars" - where plastic ants (dully divided into blue and red factions with a dab of nail polish to the head) fought. I recall they used their jaws AND automatic weapons fashioned from toothpicks and wire and heroic ant squad leaders had special attacks. 

 Little dudes like this (they are about 1cm long) were one of my first painted wargame armies....  Painted with nailpolish, that was. 

(I just went to Pete's freewargames page and googled this topic - apparently I was not original - see Tac AntWhile I was in the misc section I also saw Conquest of the Lost World - there you go, Paul - a new set of rules to try - and a Fistful of Honey  (gunslinging bears) as well as Dinosaur Cowboys among other things... I'm easily distracted...)  Anywhoo, where was I?...

Ah, yes, Ant Wars.  I'm thinking I might revive this game as a fun holiday project.  There are plenty of ant powers and special abilities based on the real thing. Besides the more mundane stuff:

-Can survive underwater for about 24 hours, some can swim
-As well as immune to fall damage, some can perform a controlled glide
-Can sense with no eyes
-Some can fly
-Enslave each other/keep herds of insects
-Some squirt acid/poison or have venomous bites/stings
-Can lift 50x body weight, cut things in half with jaws
-Great teamwork but also individual scouting, and leadership
-Queens = assassinate missions!
-Chemical communication

We have....  suicide bombers who explode their own heads; and gliding ants whose heads work like doors, zombie ants controlled by parasites, ant that can jump backwards with their jaws, minefield/trapper ants, cannibal vampire ants etc. Mafia ants smear chemicals on rivals to to incite others to others kill them, ants that release nerve gas to kill termites, (other ants gas can force ants to treat an area as a no-go zone)  other ants have chemical camouflage that allows them to trick enemy ants into thinking they are friendly. Others don't have this and simply trick with visual mimicry, never coming close enough to be smelled.  Others taste so bad enemy ants instantly drop them - they're the real "untouchables."  Other ants can clone themselves. 
...and people wonder why I never finish a project. I'm so easily distra....

Why stop at 1:1?  The awesome microtanks of the Eyelau Sequence are 1:20 - i.e. 20x larger than their actual 2mm size... talk about interesting terrain....

So - 1:1 Wargaming?
Yep.  I'm going to look into ways to use the regular messy rooms that come part-in-parcel with living with a 2-year-old into interesting and varied terrain.  Why stop there? The micro world is fascinating.  The Eylau Sequence is probably the most interesting and innovative wargame background I've ever seen; featuring tank battles between hovertanks only milimetres long.  That's thinking outside the box!

Now off to the local Flash Harry's $2 junk shop for some plastic ants....


  1. Replies
    1. The world was not ready for a skirmish game between cannibal fairy tribes. I've often considered doing a review, but sans fairy miniatures it seems a bit pointless....

      I have both the Fairy Meat rules and the supplements, the latter in PDF form.

    2. It was such a good laugh to read. Sadly never played against another person though

  2. I did this on a Skylanders game using the video game figures. It made setting up terrain easy and gave my daughter and I am excuse to not clean the living room!

  3. I see we have much in common, other than our respective hemispheres. Like you,I am very easily distracted, in my case not only in wargame projects. I also have a very untidy environment, though without the excuse of small children. Both of these seriously militate against me actually playing games.

    My latest project can be officially dated to today, when I received a small order from Empress Miniatures, from their Jazz Age Imperialism range - a mere two packs, plus the charity figure of a British officer. Such is my eclecticism, however, that my next order is just as likely to be for figures from the French war in Indochina range, though the possibilities of the Jazz Age figures extend beyond the North West frontier: I have already mentally teamed the Highlanders and (clearly English) officer with a mummy, for example.

    For me, this is an untypically focused comment thus far, so I will revert to type by recommending Harry Sidebottom's Warrior of Rome and Throne of the Caesars series of historical novels, if you have not already sampled them. These are hugely informative as well as entertaining - Dr Sidebottom is a classical scholar, and, it transpires, wargamer -but all I can say to with regard to the narrative drive is: zingus maximus.

  4. Eyeing my daughters plastic toys I think I have another idea: common small animals and insects, controlled by a radio-neural link from afar... I.e. remote controlled lizards, bugs etc.

    Perhaps with cannons attached from my "random parts" box.

  5. I've been thinking about a wargame based around ants (and termites, and wasps, and other eusocial insects) for a while now. I think there's something to be said for basing the mechanics on eusocial signaling.

    1. Inspired by the game Orion: Dino Horde* (a mere $1 on Steam) I'm tempted to steal my 2 year olds dinosaurs from some sci fi space marines vs dinosaurs.

      (*My inner child was seduced by the jetpack+light sabre+crossbow wielding marines vs T-rexes)

    2. I think what I'm saying is that the behaviour of ants and similar eusocial organisms seems like perfect inspiration for a game. Individual ants are very simply, but in large groups they can engage in very complex behaviour.

    3. Also, ants are always at war with other colonies.. perfect for wargaming...

    4. Yes, there's the element of conflict.

  6. Long time... anyway. Yes. I had a notion recently (based on a far older notion not dissimilar to the origin of your ANTS) to based a game world around the premise of LRBs Indian in a Cupboard. I blogged about it in a little more depth and even made tentative digging in to licensing possibilities. I wonder if that triggers positive ideas?

    1. Classic plastic tan vs green "army men" "coming to life" to battle have been popular in PC games and there are more than a few wargame house rules devoted to the genre.

  7. Sure, I'm not suggesting it's the first time someone's thought about it as a game world. I think most wargamers/collectors imagine their little men becoming 'real'. I think the biggest stumbling block would be 'balance' between genres. But then maybe only 'organic' material is transformed - but then that would take away vehicle options.

    Any pointers to good attempts to tackle this would be kindly received.

  8. If at all interested:

  9. No love for Zynvaded? Awesome 1:1 game that's still in production.

    1. I felt that it was a bit of a cop out.

      "Your generic sci fi are their real size. Play on tabletop."

      I say that with ANY game (even 40K). I didn't feel Zynvaded added anything interesting to the genre.

      Unlike Fairy Meat which had original mechanics and innovation, what I saw of Zynvaded was a normal miniatures game, with merely "this is 1:1" tacked on the front.