Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Meeple: A Wargame

My friend Walid and I recently participated in a very brief game jam challenge: we got assigned three common game-prototype materials, then had to make a game in 45 minutes. Our materials were poker chips, "gems," and meeples. Thus was born the greatest wargame ever made:



  • A relatively clear table (any size, immovable clutter is fine)
  • A whole bunch of poker chips
  • A whole bunch of gems
  • 14 meeples in 5 different colors


Defeat the enemy team(s) my knocking all their meeples over. Ensure at least one of your meeples remains standing.


  1. Gather 2–5 players. Each player must choose a meeple faction (see factions below). Any factions not chosen are not in play.
  2. Distribute each faction's meeples to their player, along with 5 gems.
  3. Randomly choose one player, who places one gem on the table. This is "cover." Then, the player to their left places a gem, then the player to their left, and so on. Do this until all gems are placed (this should be [players] × 5 gems in total).
  4. To deploy, randomly choose one player, who places a single meeple on the table. Then, the player to their left places a meeple, and so on. Do this until all meeples are deployed (typically 3 meeples per faction).
  5. To start the game, randomly determine one player to take the first turn. The player to their left goes next, and so on.

Basic Rules:

The game is divided into turns, one player at a time. On your turn, you can move and attack with one meeple: movement and attacking can be done in any order.

By default, a meeple may move 2 poker chips' worth of distance: place the edge of the poker chip against the meeple, then move the meeple anywhere along the edge of the poker chip (then do this again, since meeples can move 2 chips).
  • Meeples cannot move over any obstacles: if it's not flat terrain, they can't go there.
To attack, place a poker chip down next to your meeple, flat on the table. Then, using the fingers on one hand, flick the poker chip across the table, attempting to knock down your opponents' meeples.
  • "Next to" is a little bit flexible. If you need a measure, hold a poker chip over your meeple's head: so long as your "ammo" poker chip would touch the measuring poker chip, the meeple can fire.
  • To knock out an enemy meeple, you must knock it over or off the table: if it slides or skids but remains standing, it is still in play.
  • The goal here is that the flicked poker chip is sliding across the table, not skipping or bouncing. Obviously, it's hard to control for these things, but do your best.
  • Any poker chips that are still on the table after attacking stay on the table, and cannot be moved. These cannot be moved over by meeples, as normal. (Artillery fire leaves craters.)
If a meeple is knocked over, that meeple's player gets to place one gemstone on the table (as their faction's remaining meeples desperately throw down more sandbags).


There are five factions of meeples, based on the colors we had available at time of writing. Each player chooses one. Each faction has unique abilities 

  • 3 meeples
  • During steup, white meeples always place the first gem and first meeple in setup, and they always get the first turn at the start of the game.
  • On their turn, the white meeples have four poker chips' worth of movement, which they can distribute however they please across all of their meeples. One meeple could move all four chips, one meeple could go three and one meeple one, or any other combination. 
  • 3 meeples
  • If a grey meeple does not move on their turn, they can attack with two poker chips. These poker chips can be stacked, placed side by side, or otherwise configured oddly. They must both be within range of the attacking meeple, and the grey player may still only use one hand to flick the poker chips.
  • 3 meeples
  • When a green meeple is knocked over, it is not removed from play: that meeple cannot move, but can still attack. 
  • To kill a green meeple, you must knock it off the table entirely (at which point the green player can place another gem, as normal).
  • 3 meeples
  • During setup, after all meeples are deployed but before the first turn, the purple player may place an additional 3 gems.
  • When a purple meeple dies, the purple player may place two gems, instead of one.
  • 2 meeples(!)
  • Both orange meeples begin play standing on top of a poker chip (make these poker chips a different color than the ones you use to attack and move with). These are the "tanks."
  • When an orange meeple moves, it moves with the "tank" poker chip it stands on. 
  • If an orange meeple loses its "tank," it can move over to its lost "tank" poker chip and "re-enter" by climbing back on top of it.
  • Orange meeples can climb on top of any other poker chips on the table (but cannot move with them—only tanks are mobile).

Tips & Advice

  • Play with as many players as possible. Write new factions if you need to.
  • Building lines of cover with gems is only sometimes helpful: a poker chip flicked hard enough can shatter lines of sandbags.
  • Having a few pieces of immovable terrain (desk lamps, laptops, a backpack) can really spice up the drama. Ricochets are a huge gamble but can be extremely effective.
  • Friendly fire is very possible and extremely costly. 
  • It generally gets harder and harder to land shots as the game goes on, requiring improvised strategy.
  • When you flick the chips, you sometimes want snap your finger out from your thumb ("the classic"), but sometimes you also want to just heavily-nudge the chip with a finger ("the putter") if you're at short range or need a lot of control.
  • Alliances are very useful.
  • Go fast. We played multiple games of this in under an hour. 
  • Squat down to level your eyes with the table to get the best sightlines (that's how you know it's a real wargame).
Good luck!