Small is beautiful … and fun!

Yesterday’s play-test of Ross Macfarlane’s 20th Century Square Brigadier wargame rules reinforced my thinking that small wargames can both be beautiful and fun.

This was further born out by the most recent battle report on the Wargame Hermit blog. This was the latest in a number of battles fought by the blog’s writer – jhnptrqn – as part of an ongoing campaign. All the battles have featured figures from the 15mm-scale Peter Laing ranges and Heroscape™ hexed terrain.

As far as I know, to date jhnptrqn‘s campaign has included the following battles:

He has also fought a number of fantasy battles using armies based on those that appear on the pages of the CONAN THE BARBARIAN and HYBORIA stories as well as a number of historical battles. These have also featured 15mm-scale Peter Laing figures and Heroscape™ hexed terrain.

I do like taking part in large wargames (e.g. MEGABLITZ), but I am now coming to the opinion that as I get older I don’t want the expense or effort of building, owning, and storing a small number of large armies, and that it would be better if I concentrated upon creating and using on a regular basis a larger number of small armies.

Furthermore, during the recent spring clean of my toy/wargames room, I re-discovered the storage boxes that contained the large collection of Heroscape™ terrain that I own … and it seems a great waste not to use it.

It has given me something for me to think about over the next few days

(I have been through similar thought processes before, but never reached a definite conclusion. Perhaps I will this time because its appeal is much greater now.)


14 Comments on “Small is beautiful … and fun!”

  1. Ian Dury says:

    Bob – I have likewise been following John's battles with interest and have pretty much come to the same conclusion. I don't have the time these days to build big armies – or even to play big games – so my modular PW terrain tends to get used more and more.
    Separately, I e-mailed you a couple of times about those Minitanks, but no response. Wondered if I was getting caught in your spam filter again
    Ian M Dury

  2. Fitz-Badger says:

    I agree with you that “small is beautiful”. The smaller scales, like 15mm or smaller, look quite good in photos and various reports I've seen around the “blogosphere”. But having said that, I will stick to my 28mm figures, and just keep the number of figures small. Because, for me, part of the fun is painting the figures, and the smaller scales just don't work for me. (not to mention the decades of 28mm figures I have collected and painted)
    Either way, “small is beautiful” is still my motto.
    Good luck with your quest!

  3. Arquinsiel says:

    Memoir '44 has slowly wormed it's way into my thinking, and I'm starting to feel that there is no need to represent a company with any more than four figures unless you're playing a game of smaller scale than that.

  4. Conrad Kinch says:

    I agree Bob – though I find myself playing those same games on a larger field.

  5. An interesting post. I know you of course don't play Warhammer but me and my group of gaming friends came to the same conclusion over the last year. I have a 2000pt army (about 100 models and a few tanks) but it rarely gets used en masse any more.

    As we get more and more into historical wargaming, the title of your post has become our motto. The expense and time involved in collecting huge armies is a barrier, and often in smaller games – particularly tactical ones – your limited resources force you to think more carefully.

    I have taken part in multi-player 'supergames', and while these are always socially enjoyable, moving two or three hundred models every movement phase quickly becomes a chore!

    There is a place for big gaming, but there has been a definite trend for pen-and-paper and smaller-scale games recently in our group, and I for one am happy about it.

    It's interesting to see the perspective from your side Bob, as I feel you are more into the operational scale hexed games, would that be fair to say? Good to know that this 'small is beautiful' motto transcends different periods, scales, and styles of play.


  6. Ian Dury,

    I don't know if it is a reflection of the pressures of modern life, but there don't seem to be a lot of wargamers out there who have the time to set up and fight large wargames on a regular basis. I prefer to wargame small and often rather than large and infrequently.

    I can't find your earlier email – even in my spam folder – so could you send it again and we can set up a date and time to do a physical handover.

    All the best,


  7. Fitz-Badger,

    Although most of my figures are 15mm-scale, I can see no reason why it should not be possible to fight 'small is beautiful' wargames with larger scale figures. I have considered 'going large' for a Colonial campaign, especially as my eyes are not what they were.

    There are times when I wish that I had collected larger scale figures as they can look nicer on the tabletop than the smaller scale ones … and I enjoy painting them.

    All the best,


  8. Arquinsiel,

    I must admit that Richard Borg's BATTLE CRY and MEMOIR '44 have had a similar effect on my wargaming!

    All the best,


  9. Conrad Kinch,

    I know just what you mean … and I have a tendency to do the same myself.

    All the best,


  10. Colonel Scipio (Ed),

    I think that we all go through the experience of wanting to take part in larger battles … and then finding that they are not as enjoyable as we had hoped that they would be.

    I do like operational-level wargames, mainly because they give me the sort of experience that a general/force commander would have. What is interesting is that rules like OP14 allow me to fight those types of battle but in a relatively small space.

    Good luck with your own small wargames.

    All the best,


  11. Ian Dury says:

    Bob – just e-mailed you again, so hopefully that has worked this time!

  12. Ian Dury,

    Your email arrived safe and sound!

    All the best,


  13. Sean says:

    You certainly made the small action look fun. I have been eyeing Ross's rules with interest. You wargames room looks quite tidy, I'm sure a very pleasant place to play.

  14. Sean,

    I have certainly tried to show that small-sized wargames can be as much fun as larger ones … and that when time and/or space are restricted, smaller wargames can fill a niche.

    My toy/wargames room is quite tidy – at the moment – and is a very enjoyable place to fight wargames except during very warm weather … which does not occur that often!

    All the best,


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