(US Navy photo)

Okay, you just want to play the latest computer wargame. Well, it can be a blast, whether it's a flight simulator (just don't strafe the guys in chutes), a first-person shooter, or even just a simulation of a battle. But there are a bunch of wargames you've probably ignored.

Yeah, those miniatures rules. It seems antiquated in this day and age when you can immerse yourself into a game on your computer, but don't knock those paper rules. In fact, just as cluster bombs have got JDAMs beat in under appreciated ways, miniatures rules have computer games beat in ways you may not appreciate. Let's take a look.


No tech needed

You don't need a computer to have a good game going - just imagine a few sailors with some Harpoon or Advanced Squad Leader.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tarra Samoluk)

When your power is out, your laptop's got a finite life. The more performance you want or need for that game, the faster the battery runs down. That is not an issue with miniatures rules. No tech needed. The most important specialty item: Dice — and those are not dependent on electricity.

You can throw a party

Pizza and sodas with the buddies - a nice miniatures game can provide the perfect excuse for that, PCs, not so much.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David N. Dexter)

When you and your buddies get together to play a miniatures game, it can be a real nice party. Get some pizza, energy drinks, throw together some nachos. But you and your friends can have a few hours… or a whole weekend, for that matter. Just make sure you clean up afterwards.

Easy to come up with new scenarios

Why is the cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) firing? What will those two Burke-class destroyers do? You could create the scenario...

(U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Damage Controlman Andrae L. Johnson)

You don't need much to come up with your own scenarios for a miniatures game. Just a map (doesn't even have to be real), something to represent the ships or units (either informal tokens, actual miniatures, or even pieces of paper), and you are set to go.

You can address variables

It will be very easy to incorporate these changes into the miniature version of Harpoon.

(Photo by Harold Hutchison)

The author gets to brag here. In 2004, he asked Larry Bond, the designer of the Admiralty Trilogy wargames, a question about implementing kamikazes into Harpoon. It took a few e-mails, but an article soon detailed how to implement kamikazes into the main Harpoon 4 rule set. Try doing that with a computer game.

Custom characters, weapons, or ships are no problem

Okay, let's spice up a Cold War scenario of a carrier versus two regiments of Backfires by giving the carrier the Valkyrie from Robotech...

(Harmony Gold)

If you have the blank form, you have the means to add a character, ship, or weapon to the game. Whether your own design, or something from pop culture, you can use it in a minis game. Harpoon has brilliantly done this by providing blank forms, notably for ships. Some computer wargames allow you to do that, but most don't.

So, the next time someone disses you about liking miniature wargames, you can show them what's what.