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"Chess - A Miniatures Game?" Topic

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Return to El Alamein [Flames of War]

Paul Glasser replays the Battle of El Alamein - this time, as a British infantry officer.

449 hits since 21 Jan 2023
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian21 Jan 2023 7:18 a.m. PST

In your opinion, does chess count as a tabletop miniatures wargame?

JMcCarroll21 Jan 2023 7:32 a.m. PST


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 8:16 a.m. PST

Yes, isn't it the original Wargame?

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 8:30 a.m. PST

Chess is in a class by itself. In my opinion, it is a stretch to call chess a miniatures wargame. It uses stylized pieces rather pieces that are miniature representations of the real soldiers, cannon, tanks, etc. It would be like calling the counters in Avalon Hill games miniatures.

You could say that chess is a step up (or 2 or 100) from checkers. Is checkers a miniatures wargame?

In the end, enjoy whatever it is to you.

14Bore21 Jan 2023 8:51 a.m. PST

Actually thought for a long time to get Napoleonic miniatures and make up a chess set.

Stryderg21 Jan 2023 8:57 a.m. PST

Yes. We play wargames on open tables, hexes, grids and squares. The pieces have well defined movement rates. Firing and causing damage are automatic instead of rolling dice, but we've seen chit systems, table systems, etc. The standard minis are nothing special to look at (neither are the ones I paint, to be honest), but there are upgraded pieces available:

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 9:05 a.m. PST

I would not so regard it. Yes, a "tabletop strategy game." Yes, you COULD play it using miniatures. But chess under modern rules is far too abstract to be either a tactical or a strategic wargame, and playing it with miniatures would be almost an affectation. Rustymusket's got a point: if I play checkers with miniatures, is it, too, a wargame? Why not, if chess counts?

There's been a fair bit of discussion about how many miniatures players there are. Did anyone count chess players to arrive at their estimates? Certainly didn't look like it.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 9:31 a.m. PST

It's a great game but never thought of it as a miniatures game

On which topic in about 30 minutes No 4 son and I are having our weekend chess game – we play chess every weekend, usually 2 games, and have done so for the past three years – so far my record is 1 win and 2 draws – total in 3 years (I feel like the Neopolitan Napoleonic army)

Andrew Walters21 Jan 2023 9:37 a.m. PST

I am profoundly uninterested in questions that rhyme with "is cereal soup?", so I will just say that my firmly held conviction is the opposite of whatever conclusion is popular.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 10:26 a.m. PST

What about those chess sets that do use historical figures? I have seen them for the American Revolution, American Civil War, Napoleonic and medieval periods.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 11:09 a.m. PST

No. But it is a wargame, and you can use miniatures as the pieces. But the capabilities of the pieces has no relation to the figures themselves, nor do the categories and names of pieces have anything to do with how they function in the game.

In real life, knights did not run straight forward and then turn left (or right). They did not jump over foes. Queens, in general, cannot run 8 times as fast as a normal soldier. Castles (rooks) do not move. Bishops are not required to walk at 45 angles from everyone else.

So as a wargame, it is a highly abstract one, with little or no relationship to the functional capabilities of any army on any field. In a miniatures game, the nature of the figure has a direct relation to its function in the game, which is based on the general capabilities of the real life troops the figure stands for. A pikeman behaves as a pikeman, not a swordsman, and so forth.

Therefore, chess is not a tabletop miniatures wargame. QED.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 11:22 a.m. PST

I'm not sure chess is even a game. It's more of a math problem.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 11:29 a.m. PST

Andrew Walters, I thoroughly enjoyed your opinion! Thank you for joining in the conversation!

Disco Joe21 Jan 2023 12:19 p.m. PST


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 1:36 p.m. PST

Grattan, I've seen salt and pepper shakers in the form of AWI and ACW soldiers. They do not make eating lunch a miniature wargame.

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 1:53 p.m. PST

+2 Andrew Walters.

Are hot dogs sandwiches?

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 1:58 p.m. PST

Perhaps a definition?



cavcrazy21 Jan 2023 2:00 p.m. PST

It's funny, when I tell people about Wargaming I say," It's like playing chess on a really big table." I say that because like chess you have to think about your opponents moves well in advance….I may be wrong, but then again, I'm not very good at chess!

Deucey Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 2:09 p.m. PST


…playing chess.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 4:35 p.m. PST

Chess is an abstract strategy game.

While the figures represent real world entities, their rules do not reflect actions of those units. The interactions among the pieces do not represent combat.

Nor do the games of shogi, chaturanga, xiangqi, hnefetafl, or other similar abstract strategy games that use pieces that represent units that might be engaged in a war.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 8:45 p.m. PST

Nope. As per reasons cited above by various cogent posters.

Zephyr121 Jan 2023 9:00 p.m. PST

But, with the variety in pieces these days, players can play themed Chess "armies", such as one player playing with The Simpsons pieces, and the other playing with a Lord of the Rings set. May the best "army" win…! ;-)

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2023 3:21 p.m. PST


And Parcheesi ain't neither.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jan 2023 11:07 a.m. PST

But, with the variety in pieces these days, players can play themed Chess "armies"

I've actually run the other direction. Using various craft wood circles as different sized plinths, I have made chess sets using TTWG miniatures.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2023 3:29 p.m. PST


Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2023 8:17 a.m. PST

The main difference between Chess and miniature wargames is that chess lacks randomness. There are no dice or spinners to add a random element to a game. When you take a pawn with another pawn it is automatic. You don't roll a D6 on a CRT to find the results.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP29 Jan 2023 3:33 p.m. PST

The main difference between Chess and miniature wargames is that chess lacks randomness ….

I think chess would be improved with some simple dice rules, e.g.:

-to advance a pawn 1 square: 2+ on 1d6, -1 per pawn taken

-to advance a pawn 2 squares: 3+ on 1d6, -1 per pawn taken

-on entering a new square, roll 1d10:
1-4: clear terrain no terrain effects
5-7: forest enemy attacks at -1 to die roll; knight and rook can only leave by moving into an adjacent square
8-9: swamp attacking into or out of at -1 to die roll; no movement effects on pawn and king; all others can only leave by moving into adjacent square
10: high ground enemy attacks at -2 to die roll; attack out of at +1 to die roll; no movement effects on pawn and king; knight and rook can only leave by moving into an adjacent square

attacking an enemy piece: this should a proper CRT, with each piece cross-referenced against each other piece for the base success roll, and dice roll modifiers in the last column

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Jan 2023 6:05 p.m. PST

Chess was improved link

Chess with fantasy pieces that have a H3H battle for the squares instead of just taking the other piece. The sides are "light" and "dark" and there are squares that change from light to dark, giving varying bonuses to the appropriate side.

The idea of pieces battling for the squares was my first wargame campaign system with my friends. Risk! rules on a map of Europe driving individual battles to resolve invasions.

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