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    Ivan Sorensen

    No, not the fancy paper miniatures that people sell, but a square piece of paper or card board, cut out and with the word “tank” written on it.

    Have you ever done this?

    When we were teenagers, we played a fair few games of 40K with chunks of card board, particularly if we were trying to play with an army we didn’t own yet.
    When Epic 40.000 came out, I remember cutting out substantial sized armies out of card board, so I could play until I had saved up enough money for actual miniatures.

    A mate I knew printed out photos of various WW2 troops, cut them to size, laminated them and used them to play games of Crossfire.

    So.. fess up. I can’t be the only one 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Mr. Average

    Well haven’t you described every hex-and-counter boardgame out there?

    And yes I have, although mainly for “kriegsspiele” style command post games on ungridded maps.

    Ivan Sorensen

    Well, sure, but I meant for games where miniatures were assumed 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games

    John D Salt

    Certainly — if you can have a Tactical Exercise Without Troops (TEWT) then you can have a Board Wargame Without Board And Hexes (BWWBAH).

    The wonderful old game “Seastrike” worked like this, and I have just managed to secure (at vast expense) a copy of the Ariel second edition. Since my copy of AH’s “Afrika Korps” went walkabout many years ago, this means that at the moment, and until I acquire another game, the first and last games in my collection are both “Seastrike”.

    I recall in the late 70s a bunch of carboard-cutout games published by Tabletop Games (not to be confused with Table Top Games Inc) that were very popular at our school wargames club. I hated them all, but not because of their cardboardiness.

    At university, wanting a slightly more upmarket battlebox than other officer cadets in Exeter UOTC, I made myself a set of big Fablon-covered counters representing the elements of a rifle platoon (three gun groups, three rifle groups, 2-inch mortar team, MAW team, platoon sergeant and balloon banana) together with some anarchist militia and Fantasian enemy for them. Later I did a second set for a company each side, with heavy weapons, MFCs and FOOs, and, originally for purposes of free-time rehearsals of platoon attack ideas, whipped up an absurdly simple set of rules (“Foxhounds”, after the fixed callsign for infantry at the time) based on 1d6 and a couple of simple spotting and shooting tables and the assumption that what it said in the Sandhurst precis was a true picture of how minor tactics worked.

    When I got my first edition of DBA — still, I maintain, a work of bowel-shattering genius — it didn’t take me long to work out some counter symbology along the lines of SPI’s PRESTAGS series for the different troop types (with the added wrinkle that, by counting the number of icons on a piece, some of which were shaded and some not, you could tell the basic fighting strength against foot or mounted without consulting the rules). Inspection of the army lists told me how many of each I would need to make to be able to field any legal combo of armies permitted by the rules, and I made up the counters, again Fablon-covered. As the period covered by the rules was before the days of NATO standard symbology, I coloured the sides purple and gold, instead of red and blue. The whole lot, in ziploc bags, with a couple of movement/shooting rulers, some terrain shapes and a set of the rules, fitted in a cigar-box. This accompanied me to Saudi Arabia, and in the six months I spent living in hotels before I could move into a compound and import more wargames (getting “Arab Israeli Wars” past the Ministry of Information man at baggage inspection was a triumph of mine) my little portable DBA set did a lot to keep me sane.

    My COW games over past years have often used carboard counters — “Neverwar” on area maps, “Churchill Troop Commander” on a tabletop with terrain shapes, and “The Moon-Grey Sea” used stand-up ship counters on a square grid.

    This junk is still knocking about somewhere upstairs or in my office, the “Foxhounds” counters still stored in old Rothman’s 20s packets from back in the days when they were allowed to mark them “By Royal Appointment”.

    All the best,



    Only for testing rules before I commit to buying the lead.

    Mike Headden

    Did it ages ago when the Warmaster fantasy rules came out and the figures weren’t  yet available.

    Did it recently when Chain of Command came out and we had some unpainted figures but none of us had vehicles yet. Assuming things like a box that had contained a few overpriced chocolates with a straw pushed into the front and the inscription StuGIII in marker pen on the top counts as paper armies. It did rather well, that StuG (supported by the Wehrmacht’s finest space marines) in cutting down the Soviet Union’s pesky Space Elf Strelky. 🙂

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    Ivan Sorensen

    Oooh maybe we need a thread for the most shameless proxy 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games


    Not so much, I love having miniatures for the game.


    I have used cut out foam card that I painted according to military symbology.

    I have also stuck push pins in to foam card to represent the actual soldiers in the unit.

    Both times was to test a set of rules before getting any figures.


    In a similar, but rather lower tech, manner of John, I made up full company strength counters at team level for use in WRG 1925 to 50. We never seemed to have enough infantry. I’ve still got them.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Russell Phillips

    Only occasionally. We used cardboard from cereal packets and referred to them as “Kellogian” figures. It was a long time ago, but I seem to recall we used Kellogian figures for Napoleonic artillery because we didn’t have enough models.

    Military history author
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    Phil Dutré

    A Big NO.

    At least use unpainted 1/72 plastics (Airfix and the like …). Cheap, and they do the job.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
    Wargaming Mechanics Blog: http://wargaming-mechanics.blogspot.com/

    Shaun Travers

    When my friend and I first started out in ancients when we were 15, we cut out some units in cardboard and played with WRG 5th Edition ancients to get  feel of the rules.  When Warmaster came out (2000?), we cut up some ice-cream sticks to test out the rules as he had no miniatures to substitute.

    Other than those two times, I have always substituted in other miniatures to play something.   It doesn’t really feel right to play rules for miniatures without the miniatures.


    I’ve never done this, but I have been very tempted to make up paper armies for various element-based games I play, purely because I have come to loathe painting so much in recent years, and don’t have the money to use a painting service.

    I’m also trying to persuade my wife that we need a new TV so that I can take the old one and make a digital tabletop from it. Projecting the terrain on a TV would increase flexibility of layouts while decreasing the amount of storage needed. It’s very tempting, given the state of my home office/games room and attic.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.


    Darkest Star Games

    I once used a milk carton as a pirate ship stand-in.  And also proxied a Landraider with a brick.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Guy Farrish

    Never, ever done thatcard wargame1

    And certainly never this

    card wargame2


    Seastrike – what a great game – still in its original Yellow Top Secret Folder.

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