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How I Write Skirmish War Games: Introduction and Manifesto


I've worked on a few miniatures war games now, written a handful and studied a whole bunch, as such I've formed a set of hopefully useful opinions and advice on writing them. I don't consider myself an expert, which is why the title of this blog series is "how I" write rather than "how to" write them. However, while there is a good deal of support for those writing their first boardgame and quite a lot for those looking to create a new miniatures war game there is relatively little on creating a small, highly narrative skirmish game.

I'll start by trying to define a few terms. Wargames are a board subject and definitions are at best vague.

Firstly, there are massed combat wargames, also known as unit, army or for any pre-WWI era, historical wargames. These games are defined by a few things, most obviously that they let you play with honking great loads of models, lined up in lovely ranks and looking jolly impressive. In mechanics they will tend to require some form of "combat resolution" where the forces of battle "break" a unit, rather than the death of an individual these battles will shift when entire units cut and run. As such they will generally also have significant elements of psychology, and movement or line of sight will be to some degree dictated by the nature of the formations. These games tend not to deal too much in pre-built narrative, armies may be fighting over high ground or claiming a bridge, but they are rarely rescu