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"Wargaming at college..." Topic

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1,532 hits since 27 May 2015
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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3AcresAndATau27 May 2015 5:55 p.m. PST

Warning: Rant with a question

I've been something of a wargamer (and RPGer) since I picked up army men and realized that play was more fun if you did things a certain way, or started tossing dice with Lego men, but more formally since I downloaded Song of Blades and Heroes the summer before 8th grade (and started playing DnD that fall). Well, next year, I'll be a senior in High School, then college comes in Fall of 2016, and it's off to do ROTC and study security. I get that dorms are tight, and there's something of a higher theft risk on a college campus than in Whatever, USA (no, really, at least for 3 days, that was my town), but I still want to be able to want to be able to war game in some of the limited down time I'll have. What would you TMPer's recommend?

Considering it's all but certain that nobody will happen to have the same idea and bring an army at the same scale for the same system to the same school, it'd be better to have everything needed to play, and a simple ruleset. Preferably, I should be able to fit two small forces and a few pieces of terrain in a shoebox, or a small amazon box.

Currently, I play in 10mm and 15mm, mostly skirmish but some mass battle, WWII, Gothic SF/SF Horror, Fantasy, Pike and Shot, and First Crusade. Seeing as I'll be working a summer job this summer (yay for High school), I should be able to start something new, if that'd be the best choice.

I'm interested in the following periods/settings/conflicts:
-Hundred Years War
-Thirty Years War and English Civil War
-French and Indian War
-Pulp ( a la the Shadow, Rocketeer, and Green Hornet)
-Both Warhammer 'verses, as well as Alien, StarCraft, and generic SF

Personally, I thought that one of these options would be good:
-15mm Bolt Action, 500 points, USMC vs Japan
-15mm Song of Drums and Tomahawks, 300 points Militia vs French/Indian mix
-15mm Fear and Faith, 300 points, Colonial Marines vs Xenomorphs or Predators
-10mm Thirty Years War, Rules undecided, Sweden vs Spain

But again, what ideas have you got?

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2015 6:02 p.m. PST

Of those four, I'd pick Song of Drums and Tomahawks. And remember to bring a good selection of terrain.

myxemail Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2015 6:06 p.m. PST

I was an avid gamer in college. My school had a very strong games club. Hanging at the club twice a week on club days and additional gaming on the other days. Heck, the club and almost non stop gaming was the main reason why I went back and got a second degree.
I found that classes interfered with my gaming schedule.
When I lived in the dorms, I brought and kept board games for my immediate gaming needs. I relied on other students to cover miniatures games. Once I moved off campus into an apartment I could have my own minis with me. Even had my desk set up for painting them too.


Oddball27 May 2015 6:09 p.m. PST

I'd hold off on bringing miniatures to college til you get a feel for your new surroundings.

Lots of new experiences at college, it is not high school.

I gamed a great deal in high school, did find much time for it my first few years in college, other things took up my free time.

If you really have a need to roll dice, bring a simple rules board game. One that you can explain the rules to others who haven't played games before.

3AcresAndATau27 May 2015 6:31 p.m. PST

I'm a big dice roller/card slinger, I find it easiest to get to know folks over a game, honestly. Spending the last 9 years or so without ever being out of reach of a book on history or mythology has left me with a great repository of knowledge, but not much in the way of social skills.

Yeah, a total of 1k points of anything is definitely a bit much, so no BA. But, I definitely want to bring a little something. I'll probably end up waiting 'till Thanksgiving to see if bringing 'round minis is a good fit for my schedule and the people I've gotten to know. To start with, Catan or an LCG seems a more likely choice, but, a bit of planning ahead never hurt anyone.

Kevin C Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2015 6:32 p.m. PST

How much war gaming you will be able to play at college will depend on where you attend. I am the faculty sponsor for the History Club and Zombie Survivalists' Club at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. These are two of the three largest clubs on campus (much larger than any fraternity or sorority on campus). We usually have game nights twice a semester. These events usually last from 7:00 pm to 2:00 AM and are attended by between 25 and 70 people students and 4 or 5 faculty members. In addition, over the last 8 years a number of students, faculty members and alumni have formed a few gaming groups where they game during Christmas break, fall break, spring break and over the summer. Prior to teaching at USAO, I taught at five other universities in two different states. One of these other universities had a number of active gaming groups and the others did not. So your opportunity to play wargames will largely depend on which college you attend.

3AcresAndATau27 May 2015 7:02 p.m. PST

Well, I've got my solution! (Sort of). I've already done all my testing, scored well above the middle 50% of students for the school I want (Embry-Riddle), and I've got good writing skills and a solid resume, so it looks like I'm highly likely to be accepted. The load is pretty demanding, and I'll be in ROTC, but that still leaves weekends relatively open. However, part of the major I'll be in actually involves in class "war games" throughout one's time at the school. So, no dice, but I'll have my strategic fix, in a way. As time goes on, we'll see what happens. Besides, my social skills aren't so lacking I can't socialize without gaming, it's just a great facilitator (but I will bring the Settlers of Catan, it's simple, fun, and social)

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member27 May 2015 7:16 p.m. PST

I'd hold off on gaming until Christmas Break for a few reasons:

-Your dorm might not be as spacious as you would need for workspace and storage. I knew a few people who actively painted in their dorms, but your room-mates might object to the fumes. Space is at a premium, and it might be more worth your time to take a rubbermaid tub of canned food than a box of miniatures.
-Depending on the college, there might not be a large gaming community, or the popular games are not what you play.
-You might not have as much free time as you think, as you get into ROTC stuff, pledge a fraternity, join various clubs and societies, unwind after horrible midterms and finals, pound out a 10-page paper in one evening, and perhaps fit some time to read 100 pages per day if you major in history.
-You might lose interest in your current armies and games as you interact with new people and find new ideas. I thought 40K was for me when I went off to undergrad, but that rapidly dissipated.

Give it a semester to become acclimated. Get a feel of your room-mate before bringing in your miniatures and games. It might take some time to find space for playing or preparing miniatures. I participated in midnight drunken games of Diplomacy in the History Department's faculty lounge, but you might not have the same opportunity. Have you checked to see what (non-school) gaming clubs exist in the town? Or gaming or comic shops? Or, for that matter have you been accepted to a college yet, because you might be thinking too far in advance about a hobby when there are more important things to consider.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2015 7:25 p.m. PST

See if there's a local group. They will be able to provide venue, figures, etc. Plus it hooks you up a little with the local community, which is a good thing. When I lived in Tallahassee we picked up a lot of good guys from the University.

3AcresAndATau27 May 2015 7:44 p.m. PST

@Rebelyell: I actually have most of my serious planning done. My school's counsellor really pushes the college stuff early, and I tend to create detailed plans several years in advanced anyway. Honestly, I'd realized soon after posting this was an ill conceived thread, this sorta thing just happens when I'm working on a nifty home brew ruleset with all the time I have on my hands now that AP classes are done, and I get sidetracked. I can't say as though I ever had very serious plans to bring minis to college, just daydreaming.

As an aside, I have heard of playing with toy soldiers in stranger locales. Like, the adventures that a soldier had painting outside Tikrit. Apparently the sand there is great for basing Orks….

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2015 8:28 p.m. PST

3AcresAndA Tau

It is great to see a young person interested in wargaming.

The bit I can't believe is that American universities still have dormitories. Do you mean rooms shared by a couple of people or rows of beds like a cheap boarding school in the movies? It is a long time since I went to uni here in Oz, but, even then, all the residential colleges attached to the universities had private rooms.

I know that Napoleonics is not on your list of interests, but Sam Mustafa's Blucher might be the sort of thing that you are looking for. If you want, you can just play with cards to represent units. You can download template cards from Sam's Honour website or buy a set of cards to do the battles of the 1815 campaign in Belgium. Other card sets are also on the way.

If Napoleonics doesn't appeal, you can always steal the idea (sorry Sam) and make cards to represent units for one of your preferred sets of rules.

Using cards might also be a cunning way to involve others who might be put off by the perceived stigma of "playing with toy soldiers". Once you've got them hooked, you can introduce the miniatures.

However, I think that you would be wise to have some fun, build a friendship group and check out the lie of the land before you worry about wargaming.

Good luck. Please post and let us know how you go.

Rebelyell2006 Inactive Member27 May 2015 9:48 p.m. PST

The bit I can't believe is that American universities still have dormitories. Do you mean rooms shared by a couple of people or rows of beds like a cheap boarding school in the movies? It is a long time since I went to uni here in Oz, but, even then, all the residential colleges attached to the universities had private rooms.

They are tiny rooms, like apartments without plumbing in the individual units (although I once had a room with a sink and faucet), usually for 1-3 residents, with enough space for two desks, two wardrobes, and two beds, although concrete blocks and creative stacking are required to make them fit. Each floor has one or more communal bathroom.

swammeyjoe27 May 2015 10:02 p.m. PST

I took Microarmor and Battletech stuff with me to my dorm, though, as someone else suggested, you might want to hold off on bringing any of it with you right when you first move in. Take a few weeks to figure out how much spare space you have, how cool (or not cool) your roommate is, and if possible, what people in your college or city play. I'm pretty sure I brought back a small case of 6mm Moderns my first trip back home, and then all of my Battletech stuff after winter break.

Try and find the gaming shop in town (if there is one), and see what the locals are playing. I guarantee you that if there is a shop in town that someone there could lend you an army for the night to play a few games of whatever they play.

Mako11 Inactive Member27 May 2015 11:25 p.m. PST

If security and theft is really an issue, I'd go with something cheap, like perhaps Star Wars Clix figures, and a free set of rules, or inexpensive rules (PDF).

X-Wing would be another good choice, if you have a way to lock them up.

When the new Star Wars movie comes out at Christmas, I'll bet there will be a resurgence in SW gaming interest.

Some cheap spaceships, and the free Full Thrust rules would be a better option if security is bad. Heck, I've even seen a lot of fleets made from little more than toothpicks, popsicle sticks, and cardboard.

Inexpensive microarmor, with free, or low-cost rules are another option too, for WWII, or the Cold War.

davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2015 6:40 a.m. PST

Give Neil Thomas a try. Either his "An Introduction to Wargaming" or "One Hour Wargames". Both are easy on figure count and space, cover several eras, and are easy to teach your uninitiated opponent.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2015 6:50 a.m. PST


Thanks for clarifying that.


Elenderil28 May 2015 8:32 a.m. PST

Well its 40 years since I went to University here in the UK. So my experience is probably not directly relevant. If at all unsure then take nothing you can't afford to replace. If you are not sure if there will be a wargaming club consider taking the basics of a game that will appeal to non gamers. That probably means something with a link to popular TV and or movies.

So in general terms you are looking for free download game rules. Home made playing pieces or small scale figs that can be easily locked away.

All those years ago when I went off to university I found that there was already an active club and that they introduced me to new rules, scales and periods. Go with an open mind, try what the local club offers and once you are settled in then start to introduce your preferences.

Who asked this joker28 May 2015 8:46 a.m. PST

Like others say, go to school with a light load. Work your way into the scene and get comfortable with college. You can also use the first semester to scout out the wargame club(s) or role playing club(s). You are young and have nothing but time on your side.

Clays Russians Inactive Member28 May 2015 8:59 a.m. PST

Have you looked into saga or lion rampant? Small armies with great games for dark age and crusades/ medieval

meledward23 Inactive Member28 May 2015 9:22 a.m. PST

"Like others say, go to school with a light load. Work your way into the scene and get comfortable with college. "

and I agree.
Depending how close you are to home you might want to take something up mid semester. But I would wager the first few weeks at least you will be adjusting to your space, the classes, the other various ongoings, etc. And its all good.

I would say don't hamper yourself with too much stuff when you first get there. Any kind of stuff. Give it some time to be bored and to see what is going on all around you.
(you really shouldn't be "bored" I guarantee there will be plenty to do)

Kealios28 May 2015 9:32 a.m. PST

TL;DR – but I can say that 20 years ago, I met my soon-to-be best friend by reading my D&D books with my dorm room door open one night…

As long as you arent trying to store 28mm terrain for an Infinity board, you should be able to keep stuff in a bin under the bed…

JezEger Inactive Member28 May 2015 10:15 a.m. PST

Speaking as a guy who spent two decades living from a suitcase while working on ships I feel your pain for space.
Zombiecide. Self contained and a good game to entice non-gamers. Box is about a foot square and 4 inches deep. You could fit paints in the box too to give you something to work on.
Are you sure there isn't a game store nearby that has gaming nights?
As some have said, you might want to hold off initially till you see what the scene is. Maybe download some computer wargames to keep you going till you get a feel for the place.

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2015 1:11 p.m. PST

Gonna echo those who say, take it easy your first semester. Bring along some figs and paints in a tacklebox to keep yourself busy while you scope out the gaming scene.

Bill N28 May 2015 2:59 p.m. PST

I went to college in the 1970s so I am not sure how relevant my experience is to yours.

I would leave my armies at home the first semester. You don't really know what your living situation will be. You don't know whether your roommate (or their friends) will be complete jerks when it comes to your "toys". You will have more demands on your time than you probably anticipate, and there will be a large range of opportunities available to you if you are perceptive enough to see them. However as you settle in, be sure to check out the local wargaming scene, both on campus and off. If there are games spend a few sessions getting to know those involved and see what they are using. This can tell you what if anything you should bring down with you later.

If you are not ready to take a break for 3 months, then bring some soldiers along to paint.

GenWinter29 May 2015 5:57 a.m. PST

If you are accepted to Embry Riddle's Daytona Beach Campus, I would not bring any wargaming stuff at all. Daytona Beach is the principal city of the "Fun Coast" region of Florida according to Wikipedia and I don't think they are referring to wargaming. You will have other things to think about. Of course, if you are going to the Prescott Arizona campus, bring all the figures you want.

Greg C.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa29 May 2015 10:59 a.m. PST

I'd echo scoping the scene before humping gear around the country. Personally, don't even remember taking much in the way of an RPG library to uni', though I did pick up stuff at the FLGS. Definity didn't take any wargaming kit and probably didn't do much more than a couple of dozen hours of gaming during term time over the whole three years of my first degree. My only regret is not seriously splurging on Magic the Gathering when I first came across it…

Now post uni' in my first couple of jobs, different story, not that I had that much free cash as it turned out!

Sir Mumsy Inactive Member29 May 2015 5:12 p.m. PST

Double major -- 1st to make money, 2nd seek fun knowledge Study. Study. Study. Internships. Graduate. Have a career then worry about wargaming/hobby. Sorry to sound motherly…

Lion in the Stars29 May 2015 6:32 p.m. PST

Your best bets for finding opponents that are also college students are definitely Flames of War, Warmachine/Hordes, and Warhammer/40k.

You might luck out and discover that your Military Science/History professors are historical gamers. Another possibility for historical gamers is the History and Poli-Sci departments.

Engineering majors, if they are scifi nerds, are likely to play Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander. Second most likely is Attack Vector: Tactical or Squadron Strike.

Linguistics and foreign-language majors are likely to be anime nerds, and roleplaying is more likely for them.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member31 May 2015 2:07 p.m. PST


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