I've been looking for a wargaming club in my area, and there just don't seem to be any; everything I've found reference to either went defunct five years ago or more, is Warhammer/40K exclusive, or has broadened its gaming scope to be all-inclusive and thus there's one wargamer sitting amidst dozens of people playing Magic: The Gathering or trading Pokemon on their vintage Gameboys.
There are actually a large number of gaming clubs in my area; we've got a plethora of colleges, including my alma mater, and they all have gaming clubs and all put on their own annual conventions. I was a member of the Geneseo Area Gaming Group, the organization for State University of New York at Geneseo, all four years of my college experience and an officer of some stripe or another for three of them, rising as high as the rank of treasurer, though primarily holding ceremonial posts such as "Minister of Wargames and Board Games."
But the thought occurs to me that now, as then, if I want wargaming to happen in my area I need to be the one to make it happen. Running GAGG, the convention put on by the Geneseo Area Gaming Group, is rapidly approaching; I'm actually scheduled to run a couple sessions of the Call of Cthulhu RPG, 7th Edition during the course of it. I feel like I've booked myself heavily enough for this year's convention; I need to have time to do the ordinary grown-up stuff of the weekend as well, like grocery shopping and spending quality time with Gina.
For the future though, it might be worthwhile to try and draw some people into wargaming with a big, flashy table display and bring a co-GM to help demo the game. But how do I do that on my current shoestring budget?
Army Men. Green and Tan Plastic Army Men. They're cheap and plentiful to be had, they're big enough to where they and scenery would be eye-catching from halfway across the room, especially once you add in tanks and halftracks and helicopters and the like.
So I, assuming that there's nothing new under the sun, went looking to see what rules people had written to accommodate Green Plastic Army Men (when not melting them with a magnifying glass or, as my dad used to do in his youth, heating up a nail and pushing it into the poor blighters to create "battle damage"). I found a couple and did some reading, and none of them really spoke to me.
So I decided to write my own.
Tentatively entitled "A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. - Accessory Rules Making Your Military Escapades Nerdy," I'm trying to keep the rules as simple and straight-forward as possible to accommodate the player new to wargames altogether, while allowing for complex and creative tactics and strategies. I'm not attempting to model any actual military with any sort of accuracy or realism; as I'm not and have never been a soldier, I think that trying to do so would be an exercise in futility on my part and would leave me feeling like I was being disrespectful to the brave men and women who actually serve their countries.
The warfare of A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. is the warfare of movies like THE DIRTY DOZEN. It's meant to be dramatic and over the top, and above all provide a degree of spectacle.
The core mechanic is simple; individual figures and vehicles have various abilities such as Melee Combat, Ranged Combat, Morale, each with a numerical rating between 2 and 6. To succeed at using an ability (for example, if a squad of Infantrymen wants to Shoot an enemy squad), roll under the rating on a six-sided die; a result of 1 is always a success, a result of 6 is always a failure. Infantry figures have, effectively, one "hit-point" - on a successful hit, they're removed as casualties. Vehicles can take more hits before breaking down and becoming part of the scenery.
I've got some rules for some additional stuff as well; while the default Infantryman is assumed to be carrying a rifle, figures cast with mortars, minesweepers, bazookas or flamethrowers can be upgraded to carry such weapons in game, for example. Gray plastic army men are assumed to be mercenaries, and can be used by either side as cheap allies (though with poor morale compared to the Greens and Tans - the Grays would rather live to get paid another day!), and blue, red and black army men likewise represent special troop types.
One bit I'm particularly pleased with is that either side can be upgraded with the ability to, once per game, call in a long-range strike. When this ability is activated, the player using it takes a step or two back from the table and uses a dart gun, such as those manufactured by Nerf, to try and take out enemy soldiers. They get one shot and if they miss, too bad.
I've still got some writing to do but once the first draft is finished I'll post it here and include After Action Reports of playtest sessions.