Hobby Shortcut: A wargamer’s travel bag

Many of us armchair generals assembled some sort of kit containing the wargaming equipment and gaming aids needed to wage miniature warfare on our opponent.
I always wanted my kit to contain the essentials I need to play most games, while remaining (if possible) versatile, practical and above all minimalist.

Aside from miniatures and terrain, wargaming equipment and gaming aids can be reduced to the following three types:
– something to measure distances
– dice
– marker and token

Disclaimer: As always, this is the way I do it and the way it works for me.

1. First you need a box…

For a long time, I used a large pencil case. It had the advantage, that it didn’t take up too much space and came with several partitions. However, due to the small size of the partitions, it felt cramped and difficult to take out my gears of war.

Recently I found a hard-shell storage box (28x19x10cm) similar to the ones you get for small cameras or other electronic equipment. The largest compartment can be divided in smaller ones by using Velcro separators.
It is a bit larger than my old carrier, but the contents are easier to access.

That said, any suitable container does the trick 🙂

2. Essential equipment and gaming aids

A. Measuring tools

Like most of us, I use the traditional measuring tape. I acquired this one from my father’s toolbox, promising to return it … eventually. That was in the nineties. Meanwhile it has been pimped with a fancy club-sticker. I never bought one of the bulky “wargaming company name”-tapes.

Additionally I use a handy 6 inch long and one-inch-wide measuring stick. It measures both in inch and centimetre and (this is the best part) allows you to point imperiously at the battlefield.

B. Dice

…the weapon of choice of any wargamer worthy of that name.
Superior to any console or keyboard. Second only to the mighty trebuchet.

My main set of dice is composed of some fifty no nonsense wargaming D6.
You might find this number to big, but believe me, I need them (looking at you Kings of war – rulebook).
One dice, serving as a turn counter, is of an entirely different colour and size.

I use a second set of red mini-D6 as damage counter in regiment-based games like Kings of War or if creatures/units in skirmish games have a larger number of HP.

Finally, I added some mini polyhedral RPG-dice. You never know when you must roll for initiative, determine percentages, or decide randomly in which corner the enemy creature spawns.
(These are not my regular RPG-dice. Those are sacred and are carried in the Hallowed Pouch of Righteous Smiting)

The dice you have in your bag should correspond the games you play. Don’t add large numbers of dice you realistically don’t use often.
If there is one game that uses specific dice, you might as well add them into that game box. I, for example, store all the D12 I need for Horizon Wars with my miniatures.

C. Token and marker

For most games I use glass beads (of various sizes and colours) as marker or token.
When I started wargaming, I scavenged some glass beads from my mother’s crafting shelf and use them ever since.
I was quite the little thief back in the day… unsurprisingly my first Warhammer army were Nightgoblins 😉
Every craft shop should have a selection of glass beads and you can buy them in bulk. They are often cheaper than your average specialist game token.

To avoid confusion, I made up my own system:

  • – red : almost exclusively as damage counter in skirmish games with less HP per mini
    (small = 1Dmg ; large = 2 or 5 Dmg)
  • – blue : activation ; deployment area …
  • – white (large) : “battered”; “shaken”; other generic morale-condition …
  • – black (large) : combat related unit status like “dug in” ; “go to ground” …
  • – green : points of interest ; health related unit status like “sick”; “poisoned” …

Depending on the game, the above system might not always work out perfectly. But since it is not set in stone and the beads are generic, I can always adapt on-the-go.

The only other token in my bag are six token (numbered 1(*)-6) for specific locations and some question-mark-token, which indicate mysteries and clues. I admit I do not need them, since I have the green pips, but there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” having question-marks on your battlefield.

For some games I (have to) use specific token. As with game-specific dice, I store those with the respective miniatures or in the game box.
For Frostgrave, I made my own spell marker and treasure token, as well as red herrings.
Gaslands uses it’s own type of templates.

D. Writing implements and other useful thingies

I like to have some pencils and pens (permanent and non-permanent), as well as sticky notes and a notepad on me to take notes or annotate the rulebooks (yes… I write in my books).

The last items “worth” mentioning are a box of small playing cards (used in some games, like Rangers of Shadow Deep, to randomize events or NPC/creature actions), a line of sight laser-thingy and (nostalgia oblige) a set of Warhammer artillery dice, as well as a foldable mousepad-dice tray.

Final thoughts

My current “wargaming travelling bag” is the result of (a) a lot of trial and error and (b) a never ending quest to make my life easier.

I admit, that the carrying case might be a bit on the bulky side, but I favoured accessibility and storage capacity over size. Having bought my share of wargaming equipment, I am today more or less content with a bag containing the basics I need and not having to worry about this or that token or shiny and expensive gaming aids.

The final result can be seen below.

essential wargaming equipment gaming aids complete bag
Lo and behold : the final result… including some paper handkerchiefs