Straw Wars!

Posted on May 23, 2012 By

My younger daughter, Thing Two, and I spent some quality time together over the weekend watching cartoons, playing board games… and creating our own miniatures gaming system.

After beating me in both the Ingenius and Zombies!!! board games, Thing Two declared, “I want to make a game using your Heroscape guys.”

“Okay,” I said, while inwardly doing my own geeky version of a touch-down dance. Yes! My little girl wants to make games!

Heroscape is a simple miniatures battle game that comes with a bunch of pre-painted figures and modular terrain. We didn’t actually use the terrain (we went with an old Mage Knight castle set instead), but used the figures to work up an even simpler miniatures game. Here it is…

What you need:

  • 4-8 dice (normal six-siders)
  • 2 drinking straws (one for each player)
  • An even number of figures (an equal number for each player)
  • Terrain of some sort (optional, but makes the game more interesting)

Setting up:

  • The players set up their figures on their respective sides of the battlefield, more or less equidistant from each other.
  • Terrain is placed in the middle of the battlefield, in a fashion the players find both fair and interesting.
  • Each player designates one of her figures to be a Hero, a quarter of her remaining figures to be Warriors, and the rest as Grunts.
  • Oh, and each player gets a straw.

Playing the Game:

  • Players alternate taking turns.
  • During a player’s turn, she activates one of her figures that hasn’t been activated yet.
  • When a figure is activated, it can move the full length of the straw. (Yes, you can curve the straw around obstacles and other figures.)
  • If the figure moves less than the full length of the straw, and ends its move touching an enemy, it can make a melee attack.
  • If the figure doesn’t move, and its target is within a straw-length, it can make a ranged attack. (Assuming it has a ranged weapon, of course.)
  • When all figures have been activated, a new round begins and all figures go back to be unactivated.


Figures roll a number of dice based on their status:

  • Heroes roll 3 dice
  • Warriors roll 2 dice
  • Grunts roll 1 die, and they’re lucky to get it.

Both attacker and defender roll their dice. (Those defending against ranged attacks get an extra, bonus “dodge” die to simulate, well, dodging around and being harder to hit.)

The figure with the highest single die is the winner. Ties go to the defender.

If the attacker is the winner, the defender is removed from play. (My daughter had a special “hospital” ward set up for her fallen troops, complete with a zombie nurse.)

If the defender is the winner, the attack fails and there is no effect.

…And that’s all there is to it. Yes, you could add all kinds of rules for added depth and strategy (like I’d love to see a “swarm” rule to make Grunts more useful), but for miniatures gaming with kids, it doesn’t get much simpler than this.

Do you have any favorite (non-soul killing) games to play with your kids? Ever design one? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Game DesignKids     , , , , ,