One of several abbreviations for Warhammer 40,000, a popular science-fiction miniatures game from Games Workshop.
Abbreviation for American Civil War.
Abbreviation for Armored Fighting Vehicle.
Abbreviation for Armored Personnel Carrier, also known as a Battle Taxi. A vehicle capable of tranporting infantry safely through artillery fire, but not designed as a vehicle from which its passengers can fight. The M113 was designed as an APC.
Abbreviation for Armor-Piercing. Typically a solid shot munition designed to penetrate enemy armor by virtue of its kinetic energy.
Abbreviation for Armor-Piercing, Discarding Sabot (pronounced say-bo), a type of ammunition. The actual round, or penetrator, is smaller than the bore of the gun firing it. The sabot fits around the munition, allowing it to be safely fired from the gun; afterward, the sabot falls away leaving the penetrator continuing on its way. The small diameter of the penetrator concentrates all of its kinetic energy on a small spot of enemy armor, increasing changes of penetrating the armor. Penetrators are made from hard, dense metals such as depleted uranium or tungsten/carbide steel alloys.
Abbreviation for a type of ammunition. Armor-Piercing, Fin- Stabilized, Discarding Sabot. The fins make the round more stable (accurate) during flight, and are designed for use in smoothbore guns (giving the round a higher velocity).
Abbreviation for Anti-Tank Guided Missile.
Abbreviation for Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge, a bridge which can be laid by an armored carrier over a ravine, stream, or other obstacle.
Abbreviation for American War of Independence, also known to Americans as the Revolutionary War.
Many miniatures rules systems require figures to be mounted in groups on the same flat surface or Base. Gamers may also desire to mount their individual models, to give players something to hold on to (and making players less likely to touch and bend delicate gun barrels) or to make figures more stable on the tabletop. The Base may be made of cardboard or steel (steel Bases are available commercially).
A Bathtub Campaign is one which has been shrunk or reduced to fit the resources (number of players, number of miniatures, table space, etc.) on hand. The term originated with, but is not trademarked by, GDW. For example, GDW has published a Bathtub campaign of the 1941 Russian Campaign, and of the first few months of World War One in Europe.
In the military sense, a Campaign is a series of battles linked by time and geography, such as The North African Campaign in the Second World War. In a game sense, a Campaign is a series of linked battles. For instance, a player might be required to play three scenarios with the same army, with losses in the first battle weakening the army during the following battles.
General term for any combatants mounted on horses. (Sometimes used as well for riders of other types of animals.)
Abbreviation for Command Decision, the popular modern combat miniatures rules system from GDW.
Command Control
In the kinds of games we played as kids, the playing pieces pretty much did what we told them to. But in the real world, soldiers don't (or can't) always follow orders. For instance, it might take time for a messenger to reach a distant battalion with new orders, or an impetuous subcommander might willfully disobey orders. Thus, Command Control rules add this element of reality to a game system. Some players love the added realism, some players dislike the added complexity of the rules, and some players hate "interference" with their freedom to move their playing pieces.
Close Combat
In most rules sytems, combat between stands which are in physical contact on the tabletop is known as Close Combat (as opposed to Ranged Combat). Alternately, Close Combat could be any fighting which involves very-short-range weapons, such as swords and axes.
Cyanoacrylate Glues
These glues bond most materials, and work very rapidly. They also adhere to skin quite well! Useful for assembling multi-part kits and miniatures. Also known in the United States as superglue.
Dry Fitting
Assembling pieces of a kit without glue, usually done to check fit and to make sure you understand the kit's construction needs.
Dummy Counters
Typically used when an umpire is unavailable. To keep one's opponent from knowing exactly where one's units are, each player uses a Counter or other kind of marker to show where his units are. Mixed in with Counters which represent real units are Dummy Counters, which represent nothing. When an enemy unit comes into view of a Counter, it is replaced with the actual unit (if a Real Counter) or removed from play (if a Dummy Counter). Thus, the opposing player can never be sure exactly where the enemy is, until his own forces close with the enemy.
Abbreviation for English Civil War.
Having to do with large-scale battles. An epic-scale scenario or set of rules is one dealing with big battles, in which each figure represents dozens or hundreds of actual combatants. The opposite of epic-level is skirmish-level.
In some rules systems, it matters in which direction a figure or stand is Facing. For instance, a stand of musketeers may only be able to fire towards its own front, and not to the side or rear. Or in a modern game, a tank might pay a movement penalty for moving rearwards rather than forwards. The direction in which a unit is facing is known as its Facing.
Figure Scale
The size of a miniature, relative to what it is a replica of, is known as the scale of the figure. Might be given in terms of Ratio Scale or Height Scale.
Brand name of a unique shaping tool for the miniaturist. Essentially, it's a thin strip of plastic-mounted sandpaper, looped at the ends and held taut by a bow. The sandpaper band conforms to round objects, and is perfect in many cases for removing seams from curving surfaces. Can be found in most plastic model shops.
Flush Cutter
When you cut something with a knife, it is often difficult to cut off a projection flush (that is, level) to the surface. For instance, plastic pieces typically must be cut from the sprue which holds them, and you want to cut off the connecting parts completely without leaving any part of the sprues behind. Flush cutters come in a variety of sizes (and prices), but the basic idea is that they have short scissor-blades which are flat on one side, allowing you to get the jaws flush with the surface before cutting.
By tradition, units which belong to your side (as opposed to being enemy units) are known as Friendly units.
Face-to-Face - or, in other words, playing a game with the opponent present. The alternative is to play against a remote opponent, using PBM or PBEM.
A level of military operations which falls between tactical and operational. For instance, while command of a brigade could be considered tactical, and the conduct of a campaign might be considered operational, the level of fighting in a large Napoleonic battle might be considered Grand-Tactical.
Ground Scale
The scale of the miniatures used with any rules system (Figure Scale) seldom matches the Ground Scale in use, though this may not be obvious since the two scales are given in different terms. For instance, in one popular game system, 1 cm = 50 meters is the Ground Scale, but the Figure Scale is 1/285. A bit of math tells us that the Ground Scale is actually 1/5000, which means that the miniatures are much larger on the tabletop than the items they are modeling. In many games, a Vertical Scale will be used that is different from the (horizontal) Ground Scale.
Hard Target
A unit or vehicle is said to be Hard if it is armored or otherwise protected against small-arms and shrapnel. A tank or a bunker are examples of Hard Targets. If a target is not Hard, it is a Soft Target.
Abbreviation for High Explosive. HE ammunition is designed to explode, sending fragments (shrapnel) capable of killing soft targets but of less effect against hard targets.
Height Scale
Some miniatures are listed as having a scale in terms of a distance, such as 15mm or 54mm figures. This measurement represents (depeding upon whom you talk to) the height of an average man in this scale, or the height of a man's eyes in this scale. So, roughly speaking, in 15mm scale most soldiers will be about 15mm tall (or more, if wearing extensive headgear).
Hidden Units
In the real world, a commander doesn't have complete information about his enemy's units and their locations. Therefore, some game systems allow for "hidden" units -- that is, units which are considered to be on the tabletop, even though they are not placed on the tabletop. The location of these units might be plotted on a paper map, marked by some kind of counter, or kept track of by the umpire. Depending on the rules, Hidden Units might be free to move, or might be frozen in place until an enemy unit comes into view.
Abbreviation for Heavy Machinegun, usually a gun of 14.5mm, 12.7mm, or .50 caliber.
Indirect Fire
A weapon capable of firing at something which it can't see -- for instance, by being capable of arcing fire over an intervening obstacle -- is said to be capable of Indirect Fire. Most modern artillery, for instance, are indirect-fire weapons.
Jewelers Files
Small files, suitable for use on miniatures and other detail work due to their fine grain (don't cut away too much material) and narrow width (they fit into small places). Besides ordinary flat files, there are round, half-round, rattail, and other types of jewelers files. Can be bought individually or as a set. They are brittle - don't use them to pry!
Creation of a new miniature by combining pieces from other miniatures. (For instance, combining a torso from one figure with an arm from another, or removing turrets from a ship miniature and adding new weaponry taken from another model.) The term "kitbash" originally comes from plastic modeling, and refers to making a plastic model by combining pieces from multiple kits.
Line of Fire (LOF)
In some rules systems, one unit is considered to be able to fire upon another if it can establish a clear Line of Fire. Such a LOF is simply a straight line from one unit to the other, unblocked by terrain or objects that cannot be seen through. A LOF is not necessarily identical to a Line of Sight, as a unit may not be able to fire at something just because it can see it. For example, in some rules systems, a unit can "see through" a friendly unit, but it prohibited from "firing through" a friendly unit.
Line of Sight (LOS)
In some rules systems, one unit is considered to be able to see another if it can establish a clear Line of Sight. Such a LOS is simply a straight line from one unit to the other, unblocked by terrain or objects that cannot be "seen through" according to the rules. For instance, trees or a hill might block a LOS.
Abbreviation for Light Machinegun.
Map Game
Another term for a Campaign Game, the strategic or operational battle of which the miniatures scenarios are the tactical portions. Called a "map game" since it is played not on the tabletop, but through referencing maps of the area.
Abbreviation for Main Battle Tank. Also the name of a boardgame from Avalon Hill, also playable with miniatures.
Combat at short range, such as hand-to-hand combat following a charge, is often known as Melee Combat or, simple, a Melee. Pronounced may-lay, NOT mee-lay. Weapons used at short range, such as swords or axes, are sometimes known as Melee Weapons.
In some rules, Morale is a measure of a unit's psychological strength. A unit with high Morale may be more likely to take hazardous actions, such as initiating a charge. Units with higher Morale may generally be capable of fighting longer despite combat losses. In rules systems without Morale rules, all units fight bravely to the last man; in games with Morale rules, units might disobey orders, flee from the enemy, or surrender.
Anything having to do with the period during which Napoleon I ruled France. In the plural form, used as a noun meaning this entire genre of wargaming -- "He is into Napoleonics."
A level of military operations which falls between tactical and strategic. For instance, the conduct of a single campaign might be considered Operational.
Order of Battle
The list of forces available in a scenario or campaign, usually indicating how the units are organized. For instance, an Order of Battle might indicate that Commissary-General George Porter was in command of four regiments of horse (commanded respectively by John Digby, James Hamilton, the Earl of Cleveland, and Robert Phelips' French Regiment). Also known as Tables of Organization.
An attack in overwhelming strength made by units in travel formation rather than deployed for combat. For instance, a platoon of tanks might be capable of overruning infantry manning a roadblock.
Play by Email, in which a game is played by sending "moves" through email to a remote opponent.
Play by Mail, in which a game is played by sending "moves" through the mail to a remote opponent.
In most game systems, each game turn is made up of several steps, often known as Phases. All actions in one step must be completed before the next Phase can begin, and the Phases must be played strictly in the order listed. For instance, a very simple game turn might be divided into these phases: Move Phase, Fire Phase, and Morale Phase. A Phase may be divided into parts as well, sometimes known as Sub-Phases.
Pin Vise
A pen-shaped tool, used to hold small drills. Turning the pin vise in your hand causes the drill to slowly drill a hole. A pin vise is useful when you are doing delicate work, or are using a drill too small or brittle to be used in other drills.
A measure of how easy a game is to play. Some games, due to the complexity of their rules or their fidelity to historical accuracy, require more of an effort to play than others. The simplest games, on the other hand, may be playable but lacking in realism.
Ranged Fire
A unit capable of attacking something not immediately next to it is said to be capable of Ranged Fire. Archers, tanks, and artillery are examples of ranged- combat units.
Ratio Scale
Some scales are given as a ratio, variously written as either a ratio (i.e., 1:300) or a fraction (i.e., 1/300). The number on the right of the pair indicates how many units (inches or centimeters) on the original are equivalent to one unit on the replica. For example, with a 1:300 scale miniature, if the miniature is 1" long, then the original was 300" in length. In spoken English, you would say 1/300 as "one [pause] three hundred scale."
Term measuring the historical fidelity of a rules system (or, for a non- historical game, how "real" the rules seem to be). Some game designers believe they can raise the realism of their games by adding rules of great complexity. Some gamers desire historical accuracy in their games, while others would rather have an enjoyable game experience at the possible expense of realism.
The hobby of "live" wargaming, acting out historical battles with people rather than miniatures (and usually following the historical events). A participant is known as a reenactor.
Some rules systems require players to keep a written record of their forces. Such a record is known as a Roster. For example, a Roster might list a unit's Morale and Training statistics. In another example, in a modern miniatures game, a player might need to keep track of how many shots a tank can make before running out of ammunition.
The size of something, relative to what it is a replica of, is known as the scale of the thing. For instance, 15mm is a popular scale for pre-20th Century historical wargaming, while 1/2400 is often used for modern naval miniatures. This is Figure Scale. Depending upon the rules being used, Figure Scale is often different from Ground Scale (that is, the scale of the playing field and terrain), and the Vertical Scale may be different again from the Ground Scale! The rules also state the Time Scale (that is, how much time each turn represents).
Scale Conversions
To convert ratio scales into height scales or vice versa, divide 1717 by the scale. For example, 1/285 figures (microarmor) are the same scale as
1717 / 285 = 6.02
6mm figures.
The information needed to play a miniatures battle is known as the Scenario. A complete scenario consists of a map, tables of organization, special rules, and victory conditions.
Scenery and terrain are broad, generally interchangable terms which refer to nearly anything on a wargame table which is not a unit or element of the conflict. That is, everything other than the combatants. Scenery and terrain may be thought of as what was on the mock battlefield before the arrival of the belligerants. Items such as hills, buildings, forests, hedges, fences, and rivers are all examples of scenery and terrain.
Sequence of Play
In most rules systems, a turn consists of a number of steps or phases which must be performed in an exact order. This order is known as the Sequence of Play. For instance, a simple Sequence of Play might be (1) Move Phase, (2) Fire Phase, and (3) Morale Check Phase.
An engagement between small parties. A skirmish-level scenario or set of rules is one designed for small-scale battles, with each figure representing individual combatants or very small groups. The opposite of skirmish-level is epic-level.
Soft Target
A unit or vehicle is said to be Soft if it lacks armor or other protection against small-arms and shrapnel. Infantrymen or trucks are examples of Soft Targets. If a target is not Soft, it is a Hard Target.
In some rules systems, an enemy unit cannot be "seen" (even though the miniature may be in plain sight on the tabletop) until a friendly unit makes a successful Spotting attempt. The act of "seeing" a previously unseen unit is known as Spotting, as in, "I've spotted the enemy!"
Tanks with a Stabilization system are able to fire more accurately while on the move. Without this system, tanks must stop in order to fire accurately.
If more miniatures can crowd into an area than can physically fit within that spot on the tabletop, they may be said to be Stacked. (The term is borrowed from boardgaming, in which cardboard chits can be literally stacked on top of one another.) Miniatures often can Stack within a building or courtyard.
Two definitions. First, a Stand in a ground-combat game is a term to describe an entire playing piece, consisting of Figures and Base. For instance, in some Napoleonic systems, a Stand might consist of four fusilier figures glued to a 1" x 1" base. Second, a Stand is a device for supporting an aircraft over the tabletop or playing area. For example, in a modern miniatures game, an Mi-24 helicopter would usually be permanently mounted on a Stand. Microarmor Stands come in several base sizes, larger and heavier bases to be used with large models. As another example, some aerial miniature rules require use of large wheeled stands capable of holding a model at varying heights and attitudes.
In most game systems, each game turn is made up of several parts, sometimes known as Steps (or, more commonly, phases). All actions in one Step must be completed before the next one can begin, and the Steps must be played strictly in the order listed. For instance, a very simple game-turn might be divided into these Steps: Move, Fire, and Morale. A Step might be divided into sub-parts as well.
The "big picture" level of war, the highest level of military operations. Strategic decisions are those made by the heads of nations or army commanders. Few miniature games are strategic in nature, but miniature games could be generated by a strategic- or (more likely) operational- scale campaign game. The opposite of strategic is tactical.
Common name (in the United States) for cyanoacrylate glues.
Superglue Accelerator
A substance that makes superglue harden faster. The side effect is that the glue becomes hot. Accelerator is made under a variety of brand names, and usually comes in spray form. Useful if you are in a hurry, or want the glue to harden in a particular spot (i.e., before it runs elsewhere). Some accelerators "melt" certain forms of plastic, so test before using them on plastic kits.
Abbreviation for Seven Years' War.
Tables of Organization
The list of forces available in a scenario or campaign, usually indicating how the units are organized. For instance, a Table of Organization might indicate that Commissary-General George Porter was in command of four regiments of horse (commanded respectively by John Digby, James Hamilton, the Earl of Cleveland, and Robert Phelips' French Regiment). Also known as Order of Battle.
The lowest level of military operations, the view from the trenches and the foxholes. Tactical decisions are those made by the commanders on the spot, on the front lines. Most miniature games are tactical or grand-tactical in nature. The opposite of tactical is strategic.
Toy Soldiers
The traditional "toy soldier" is in 54mm scale, and comes pre-painted with a glossy paint job. Other figures in scales as small as 40mm but similarly painted may also be known as toy soldiers. Few wargamers use 54mm figures in their games today, but many collect figures in this scale as a hobby unto itself. The traditional "toy soldier" is relatively undetailed compared to most modern figures, but some manufacturers are beginning to introduce 54mm figures with state-of-the-art detailing and sculpting.
In most rules systems, a game is broken into Turns. In some rules, players alternate or "take turns" playing; in other systems, both players act in all or some of the phases of each turn. Each turn or set of turns usually represents some period of time -- for instance, a turn in one modern game represents 15 minutes of combat.
The exact definition depends on the rules systems. In some games, Unit is a synonym for the less-classy word, "thing." (That is, any miniature is considered to be a Unit.) In other games, Unit refers to groups of playing pieces -- for instance, a brigade of four stands might be considered a Unit.
Unit Integrity
A form of Command Control, Unit Integrity rules force a player to recognize that his playing pieces are organized into military units. That is, a platoon of tanks would normally remain within a certain distance of each other -- it would be unrealistic to allow a player to send the tanks of that platoon anywhere on the playing field. (However, the rules might allow the player to "detach" the tanks individually to join other units.) The basic idea of Unit Integrity is to help units made up of multiple playing pieces to perform similarly to the units they are modeled after.
Vertical Scale
Vertical Scale refers to the way in which ground contours are measured in most ground-combat game systems. For instance, depending on the rules being used and the players' available terrain systems, their game might have a Ground Scale of 1" = 50 yards, but each 1/2" level of terrain (since their hills are built in 1/2" thicknesses) might be said to stand for 100 yards of elevation. It is useful to have a different Vertical Scale when representing hilly or mountainous terrain, especially in small-scale games (otherwise, a hill might be several feet high on the tabletop!). Some rules systems ignore Vertical Scale entirely, instead using abstract "levels" of unstated elevation.
One of several abbreviations for Warhammer 40,000, a popular science-fiction miniatures game from Games Workshop.
One of several abbreviations for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a popular fantasy miniatures game from Games Workshop. Not to be confused with Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing, which is a role-playing game which uses the same background as WHFB.
One of several abbreviations for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a popular fantasy miniatures game from Games Workshop. Not to be confused with Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing, which is a role-playing game which uses the same background as WFB.

Last Updates
11 February 1999HTML fixes
1 April 1997fixed typo
24 December 1996added Scenery
20 December 1996added FTF, PBM, PBEM
16 December 1996added tools definitions
Corrections or additions?