While far less popular than WW2, WW1 wargames have plenty to offer to wargamers. The intense, close-quarters combat of trench raids make for thrilling skirmish wargames, while the colossal troop movements that broke through the trenches make for excellent operational-level battles. For model makers it’s a unique period when armed forces contained everything from cavalry, to biplanes, to early tanks.
If you’re keen to game in this period but still need to construct your fighting force, check out our guide to the best WW1 games on PC and get playing straight away – or peruse our list of the best war board games.
These are the best WW1 wargames and miniatures:
- Great War Spearhead – the Great War at a tiny scale
- Through the Mud and the Blood – historically grounded skirmishes
- A War Transformed – Weird War One
- Wargames Atlantic The Great War – 28mm plastic WW1 miniatures
- Wargaming3D WW1 tanks – The go to source for WW1 tank models
Great War Spearhead
The Great War at a tiny scale
|Operational (division or corps)
|Representational (one model = one company)
The largest and most catastrophic battles of WW1 involved coordinated actions between multiple infantry companies, artillery batteries, and machine gun sections, with aerial assets, cavalry, and tanks all playing a role in different stages of the war. Great War Spearhead emulates these engagements with a zoomed-out wargame, with every model representing hundreds of men.
This is a command and control focused wargame. Army elements execute the orders that they’ve been given, and the different command elements of the army have a limited range of effect when it comes to changing unit orders in the middle of a battle. Advance planning is essential to success, because switching plans mid battle is challenging.
When dealing with such huge forces there’s no correct model scale – a 28mm miniature will represent a company of soldiers just as well as a stand of tiny 3mm models – but this is definitely an excuse to paint up some teeny figurines.
Through the Mud and the Blood
Historically grounded skirmishes
|Skirmish, platoon, or company engagement
|Too Fat Lardies
Through the Mud and the Blood focuses on the men on the ground, with forces of between 30 and 120 models per side – a platoon or small company. The game puts its emphasis on the role that “Big Men” have on a battle, galvanizing the troops around them into action.
Each commander in each force is represented by an initiative card, which is shuffled into a deck along with cards for support elements. As the cards for Big Men are dealt, they’re able to activate nearby infantry elements. You’re never certain when a given unit will be able to activate, or if it will get to activate at all before you draw the turn-ending “Time for a Snifter” card.
These rules will be familiar to fans of other Too Fat Lardies wargames. Other familiar features include “Blinds”, templates that players deploy to the battlefield instead of their actual models until units make visual contact with one another; and plenty of historical research.
A War Transformed
Weird War One
World War One meets folk horror in A War Transformed. The catastrophic rebirth of ancient deities radically alters the face of war, with witches, summoned monsters, and arcane knights doing battle side by side with trench raiders and early Renault battle tanks.
The main draw here is in pairing classic WW1 units, from poor Tommies to heavy field mortars, with folk horror and magic. It’s a model maker’s extravaganza, and a great excuse to dip into our guide to the best horror miniatures.
We’ve given it a place on our guide to the best horror wargames too – the way that supernatural powers upset the balance of power between infantry and defensive hardpoints which defined the tactics of the war is very interesting.
Wargames Atlantic – The Great War
28mm plastic WW1 miniatures
The core of every army in WW1 is massed infantry. While many companies produce excellent 28mm scale metals, only Wargames Atlantic has made a concerted effort to produce hard plastic miniatures. Multipart kits are currently available for British, French, and German infantry, each containing 30 to 35 miniatures – a small platoon – with a variety of armaments.
If you’re lucky enough to own a 3D printer, the Great War Digital range expands on this offering with compatible digital kits, adding HMG teams, a field hospital, and more.
Wargaming3D WW1 tanks
The go to source for WW1 tank models
While we’ve highlighted 28mm scale quite a lot in this guide, WW1 wargames tend to focus on larger engagements, which call for smaller models. Consequently there are fewer 28mm tank kits for WW1 than for other periods, and none in plastic, as the demand isn’t there. But 3d modellers are filling the gap, with Wargaming3D offering a great selection.
This site specialises in historically accurate 3D sculpts, and hosts work from multiple designers, some of whom make their designs free. While the tanks of WW1 were the earliest and worst ever used in warfare, iconic designs like the British Mark I or the Renault FT played a vital role, and really emphasise the transitional nature of the technology employed in the war.