It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on. The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice. 

Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy. Thus the army will have enough food for its needs.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Chapter II: Waging War, [8-9].

Rule #1 of wargaming outside your own home: never bring more stuff than you need to play the game.

Back when I started wargaming, somebody gave me the following advice:

For any given set of rules, always paint two armies, so that way you’ll always have a chance to play a game. 

It’s not bad advice–especially if you want to run a more obscure wargame set of rules. But big downside is that other wargamers will then have little incentive to paint up their own figures for the game.

If you’re the only person in your circle of wargamers who always bring the armies, terrain, and other paraphernalia so you can run a game, you’re doing it wrong. (You also might be gaming with a bunch of mooches).

Wargaming is about cooperative play (well… more or less).

That is, each player should bring his or her own army. Call it foraging on your enemy or friends. Call it what you like. It’s just practical this way.

How to Forage on Your Enemies and Friends

1. Talk with potential players about investing in a new game
New sets of wargaming rules and miniatures come out all of the time. Some are quite good, some are crap–and it can take a while to discern between the two.

But in either case you don’t want paint up an army (or two) and discover that nobody else in your circle has made a committment in investing the game.

Talk to your fellow players. Get positive “yeses” before you buy and paint a single figure.

2. Split the Costs
Is that “Army Deal” boxed set too expensive for your pocketbook? Ask a fellow wargamer to split the cost and the miniatures with you. Each of you will paint them up so you can have a wargame.

3. Game with Other People’s Miniatures
This happens all the time. In fact, many wargamers got their start pushing somebody else’s miniatures.

If you’re a newbie, this is fine…. for a while, but you’ll soon be expected to field your own forces. Which is another reason why you should paint up your first army as fast as you can. 

Some don’t mind if you use their miniatures. Many, however, do.

Don’t become a wargamer who doesn’t paint his or her own figures. Don’t become a mooch.

But splitting the costs and the investment can make wargaming far more enjoyable than going it alone.

Next on The Art of Wargaming: Wargaming and Your Signficant Other.