Sun Tzu said: in the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost raising an army of a 100,000 men.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter II: Waging War, 1-2. 

Why did you become a tabletop wargamer?  It’s expensive.

You can expect to invest anywhere between $100 and $500 for your first army. This includes the miniatures, rule books, paints, brushes, glues, and other miscellaneous tools.

A lot, of course, depends on the scale of miniatures you chose and game you want to play. Fortunately, the industry is producing a number of newbie-friendly skirmish games at the 28mm scale that can reduce the cost of entry.

Even so, you might find yourself trying to justify your hobby to your non-wargaming friends, relatives, and loved ones. Or to yourself, for that matter, after you’ve bought more miniatures then you’ll ever paint… again.

So, here are 7 reasons to become (or remain) a tabletop wargamer.

All you need is one.

1. Wargaming has a bunch of cool miniatures.

This is why a lot of us became wargamers. You look at those miniatures, you look at how gorgeously they are painted, and you think: “Dang, that’s pretty cool.”

The inner child in us just can’t help it. The adult side of us says, “oh no, I’m not buying a box of toys, those are miniatures.” But deep down we all know the truth.

And that’s why you might need six more reasons.

2. Wargaming teaches strategy and tactics.

Remember: strategy is the plan, tactics are the implementation of the plan. Sort of like marketing before sales.

How are you going to deploy your troops? How are you going to react to your opponent’s deployment?

Wargaming isn’t just about pushing miniatures around the tabletop. There’s a lot of critical thinking involved in order to win (or lose gracefully). These lesson do have real-world applications.

3. Wargaming teaches discipline and lets you unplug.

Do you know how to finish your army? Get your butt in a chair and paint those miniatures.

Wargaming had little to do with instant gratification.

Wargaming allows you to have some quiet time, away from distractions–like the Internet, TV, and other hassles of modern life–and build something with your hands.

4. Wargaming teaches reading and history.

If you’re painting up a historical army, you need to do some research, so you can get the uniforms and equipment right. This can lead to a greater appreciation for history.

Even with fantasy and science fiction wargames, there’s often a codex of lore that must be read before you decide to invest in an army.

5. Wargaming may be expensive, but there are other (worse) vices.

Let’s face it: we are investing in doodads which have little value outside the wargaming hobby.

But at least we get to walk away with a tangible product. We’re not drinking our money away. We might “pay through the nose” for certain miniatures and books, but we’re not snorting drugs through our noses.

6. Wargaming allows you to learn about yourself and others.

I have a theory: games aren’t just games, they tell us how we react to life situations. Games are a safe environment in which we get learn about ourselves.

How do you deal with adversity? What do you do when things in the game (or in real life) don’t go your way?

For example, I learned a lot about myself playing against The Bearded Bastard. He could definitely bring out the worse traits in you.

7. To Have Fun. 

Is there really any other reason?


Next on The Art of Wargaming:

How to Get a Quick Start in Wargaming.