The wargames club I attended as a teen did WWII and not much else. Fair enough and good fun, but I never had enough terrain or tanks for decent battles at home. What I were some boxes of Airfix plastics, a mix of WWII, black powder and ancients (both kinds: Romans and Britons!). So my brother and I made do and lined up across the floor with a sort of colonial-fantasy hybrid where columns of muskets would try to keep out sword wielding hoards! Rarely balanced, but throw in a wizard or two and things evened out. No cannons? Doesn’t matter, a fireball will sort out those pesky Commandos trying to sneak across the river!
I wish I had some photos: Lego towns, paper roads and a beloved Airfix Roman fort.
Hills were the classic books under a blanket. We even tried our hands at conversions. I particularly remember soft plastic zoo animals pressed into service as cavalry mounts. I’m sure they were just a bit crap, but one day my Zebra riders took out a tank!
Wargamers live for moments like that.
Of course, rules that covered such diverse situations didn’t come straight out of the box. We used a home-brew of some WWII rules lifted from a magazine (Battle maybe?) and a little tome by one Gary Gygax, Swords and Spells:
It is basically what is says on the cover – it is the D&D combat rules expanded to deal with big armies. Forty years on I have to say that they are just a bit shit! I think we even knew that at the time. It didn’t allow for panzers for one thing.
They do contain some really interesting ideas though. You don’t roll dice to work out combat. It acknowledges that with that many dice you are basically averaging things anyway, so it just calculates what the average would be and then applies that. Needless to say, we largely ignored that bit and got on with the much more satisfying task of rolling dice.
All of this is a long way of explaining why I’ve never played a game of Warhammer Fantasy. By the time Warhammer came out I was roleplaying and when I started gaming again my friends were into 40K.
Never say never though.
What about you? What rule sets did you begin your gaming journey with?