Miniature wargaming is a recreational hobby where players simulate a battle, which is played out using small figurines to represent the land, sea and/or air units involved. Many miniatures games are played on a floor or tabletop, with terrain represented by miniature scenery (hills, forests, roads, fences, etc.). Movement of the miniatures is regulated using a measuring device such as a ruler, tape measure, cut sticks or other prepared standardised-length instruments. However, like boardgames, miniature games can also be played using gridded terrain (demarcated into squares or hexagons) or even gameboards.
One of the main reasons for playing miniature wargames, in both these respects, is because it offers players more freedom of play and a more aesthetically pleasing tactical element over traditional games or computer games. Additionally, many hobbyists enjoy the challenge of painting miniatures and constructing scenery. In many ways, miniature wargaming may be seen as combining many of the aesthetics of tabletop train modelling with an open strategy game predominantly, though not exclusively, with a military theme. There is also a large social component to wargames as very often games are played with several participants on a side.
The miniatures and scenery used vary greatly in scale, from 20mm figures up to 54mm or larger (90 mm for example). The miniature figures are typically plastic or metal and are often sold unpainted. Scenery is often home-made, and figures are painted by the players, who will sometimes even "convert" shop-bought figures to better represent the units they are trying to depict.
There are any number of sets of miniature wargaming rules, some of which are available without charge on the Internet. Scenarios may depict actual historical situations and battles, or they may be hypothetical "what if?" situations. There are also fantasy and science fiction games with attendant wizards, spacecraft and other genres. Rules also vary in the scale they depict: one figure to one soldier is the most common for fantasy and some historical rules, but many historical systems presume that one figure represents hundreds or even thousands of men.
Generally, these games are turn based strategy, like chess.
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