If, like this writer, you’re both a Warhammer 40k collector and a parent, you’ll be familiar with picking up a new toy set for your child, and immediately thinking “this would be perfect for a wargame…” Indie designer Adam Dobbyns has followed that impulse to its natural conclusion with his free wargame TOY.
While the Warhammer 40k hobby is all about building and painting miniatures, gradually assembling a warhost from your favorite Warhammer 40k faction, Dobbyns’ aims to remove all the cost and complexity barriers to playing miniature wargames. TOY is free, and uses no proprietary tools, though you will need some toys.
TOY uses the ‘Traffic Light’ game engine – you’ll need a few small colored stickers to create the custom dice the game uses. To succeed at an action, you need to roll a green result on the ‘Go’ die. If you want to stop an action (like blocking an attack), you need to roll a red result on the ‘Stop’ die.
Units each have a distinct number of Go and Stop dice on their information card, and may have abilities that allow them to convert yellow results into successes. Movement is measured using a pencil. Dobbyns has made plenty of scenarios giving stat blocks to classic fantasy units like skeletons, knights, big spiders, and more.
You could use DnD miniatures to play the game – or do what Dobbyns has done, and borrow some Playmobil, Smurf figures, plastic animals, and use an old Jenga tower to make some ruins for them to fight over.
Dobbyns posts prolifically in the Super Cheap Wargaming group on Facebook, which is where you’ll find his designs, including TOY. “It’s an invaluable community, a place where I can think out loud and develop new game ideas right out in the open”, he says. That’s where Wargamer first discovered his game Bloktrek, which lets you play spaceship battles with a single Lego set.
As the only parent on the Wargamer team, I’m always on the lookout for game systems that I can play with my daughter – we had a lot of fun testing Herding28, the pacifist miniature game about herding sheep. The simple dice system in TOY seems like something most children will easily understand. And having recently turned a massive DnD inn kit into a dollhouse, it seems only fair that some dolls get recruited for a wargame…
If you’re looking for more gaming activities that are suitable for youngsters, check out Wargamer’s guides to the best kids board games, and the best family board games. Or if you’re an adult longing for an excuse to play with kids’ toys but you don’t have any offspring or niblings, check out our guide to the best Lego sets for adults.