CombatRules.com publishes game instructions, a ruleset for playing wargames. It’s not about how to have real combat with real people! And much more than Chess which is perhaps the oldest wargame.
Wargamers typically use miniature figures of soldiers scaled from 1/4” to over an inch in size (6mm or 28mm, respectively. The most popular size is 15mm (just over a 1/2”) or 20mm (just over 3/4”). They paint them in the same colors as the army’s uniforms.
Then they throw a green, olive, or tan blanket (commonly a piece of felt from the fa) on a table and add roads, rivers, and bushes. Levels of styrofoam can be placed underneath the hills or ridges.
The players use the ruleset and a tape measure to determine how far figures and model vehicles can move and shoot.
Why play wargames?
I came to wargames when the US was engaged in Vietnam. My dad and grandfather were in the US Army. Even a great-uncle died at Vicksburg in the Civil War. I was resigned to the idea that I’d end up in Vietnam like my brother. Having watched documentaries on World War II as a child, it seemed normal. I remember thinking that perhaps I would be safer in a tank. (Not so sure of that now.)
Another reason is the challenge of refighting a battle in a realistic manner rather than the stylized game of chess. Wargame rules seem logical rather than odd such as how Chess' bishop moves diagonally and Knights in an L-shaped route.
I liked making models and reading history, so these hobbies combined to fill out my miniature army. With a wargame, one learns more than reading a book through the interactivity of a wargame. Could you win where a side lost? What were the factors that helped or hurt a nation?
Reading about battles or campaigns can be a great way to get a boost on playing wargames because it gives you guidelines. You may have been interested in D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, Afrika Korps, etc.
How to try out wargames?
One way is to see if there are any wargamers near you. They might welcome a new player and would appreciate the support. Perhaps you could help them fill out a certain nationality's collection of vehicles and figures. Another is to buy a few miniatures and the basics: dice, tape measure, and basic terrain.
If you have friends or family that will play, then with three, one could be the judge or referee for the game. This could provide much more excitement as neither side’s player knows everything about the other side—they start “hidden” and are not placed on the board. Then the judge impartially determines when each side has a line of sight to enemy specific enemy soldiers.
What about rulesets?
I have a blog that details some of my experiences with various games and aspects of setting up the terrain: Wargame Campaign. See the categories of Terrain and Introduction. Some of these posts may be more specialized than necessary for new gamers.
I have two more blog posts that get you started with the basics: Starter Armies and More Than Just The Armies.