Getting Started with D&D Chainmail
By Mat Smith

Considering picking up the D&D Chainmail Starter Set, but want a better idea of whether it's something you can really get into?

It is. And there are a lot of reasons to check it out.

First off, it's fun -- fun and exciting. It's all that and a bag of chips. But who wouldn't say stuff like that about a game he's trying to sell? What you want to know is what makes it fun and exciting, and why is it more fun and exciting than anything else out there on the shelves. Well, here's why:

Experience Doesn't Matter -- Anyone Can Play Chainmail

You might be a complete beginner who's never played a miniatures game before. You could be a seasoned veteran with an extensive history of great battles waged across tabletop battlegrounds. Maybe you've never touched miniatures before. Or perhaps you've got a collection of little metal guys big enough to weigh down the Goodyear blimp.

The thing about Chainmail is that you can play games that are as straightforward or as sophisticated as you want. A simple game takes nothing more than two players and the contents of the Starter Set. With a handful of minis on either side of the table (you don't even have to paint them if you don't want to), a few terrain cards, and a goal of wiping your opponent off the battlefield, you've got the makings of a fine skirmish. On the other hand, you can set up a battle royale with a couch full of friends, each equipped with hand-picked, custom-painted miniatures on a battlefield filled with 3-D terrain where alliances are made to be broken as you each attempt to eliminate the commanders of the other factions.

Keep this idea in mind: You probably already know how to play. D&D Chainmail is a d20 game that starts with the D&D rules as its base and adds on from there. So starting off is easy. In fact, once you get the hang of D&D Chainmail, you might even opt to use its rules as a variant combat system in your D&D games.

If you've got Shockwave, check out the demo we've put together for you. It shows you all the basic elements of the game and gives you a blow-by-blow description of the first round of an example game.

Skirmish-Level Battles Are Fast

Chainmail is all about small, quick, hard-fought engagements between forces that generally consist of four or five, maybe six, individual miniatures. A typical game takes only 45 minutes or so. That means you can cram a lot of battles into the same time it would take to play through one elaborate war game. So you can keep whipping up on your friends, or get sweet revenge for the beating you just took -- again and again.

Skirmish-Level Battles Are Also Cheap

The D&D Chainmail
Starter Set
features everything you
need to get started

  • Thirty bucks gets you: enough for you and a friend to throw down again and again.
  • Four Miniatures from the Thalos faction (crusading humans and their noble allies): Human Paladin, Human Glaiver, Human Marine, Gnome Infiltrator.
  • Four Miniatures from the Naresh faction: Demonic Gnoll Adept, Gnoll Trooper, Hyena, Abyssal Maw.
  • The complete D&D Chainmail Rulebook.
  • Model description booklet.
  • Terrain cards.
  • Twenty-sided dice.
  • Model cards and punch-out counters.
  • The D&D Chainmail Starter Set is just $29.95, and it's got everything you need to play. So thirty bucks gets you going. Really, fifteen bucks gets you going -- you need only one Starter Set to play, so get your pal to split the cost with you.

    The only other thing to buy is some glue to assemble the minis. Just about any shop that sells D&D Chainmail will carry the right kind of glue, and it'll cost just a few dollars. If you want to paint your miniatures, you should also be able to pick up a basic set of paints and brushes as well. Learn how to assemble your miniatures

    Once you're up and running, and you have the hang of the rules, you might want to try some other troops. You can pick up a faction box and have an entirely new force with which to mop the floor with your friend. A combination box has three minis in it, enough to switch out over half of your share of the Starter Set. Each miniature is also sold separately, so if you just want to add one particularly nasty model to your forces, you can. A single rule governs how you build your forces: You can't mix good guys with bad guys. With six factions (three good, three evil), you've got a pile of allies to draw from, regardless of which side you like to play. There are also mercenary troops (like the limited-edition Ogre Mercenary) that can, and will, fight on either side.

    The really great thing about the low cost of assembling a viable force is that it's easy for anyone to get started. You know how it goes: You'll try D&D Chainmail, have a blast, and want your friends to play, too. Since they each need only a half dozen miniatures -- or less -- picking up the factions they want to try will be a relatively painless commitment.

    The Miniatures Are Super-Cool

    Seeing is believing -- check 'em out! We've got some of the best sculptors in the industry working on our D&D Chainmail miniatures. Each one of the minis features lots of detail and are as much fun to look at as they are to play with and paint. And many of them, such as the gnolls, are creatures you can't get from any other line of miniatures.

    Another bonus: Wizards of the Coast is coming out with new minis every month -- one miniature for each faction. Every three months, the three newest minis for each faction will be available in a combination box.

    If you buy each of the miniatures for your favorite factions when it comes out as a single, why buy the combo box? Alternate poses. Not every mini will get a second sculpt, but our sculptors have so many cool ideas, there will almost surely be something new and exciting available every month. About halfway through 2002, look for an entirely new faction entering the fray. The first mini from that new faction will be out in January as a mercenary -- just in case you can't wait to start playing drow.

    You Can Adjust The Challenge Up And Down

    As I said before, you can play a really straightforward free-for-all with a minimum of troops and terrain, or you can play more complex games. With all kinds of scenarios, terrain and troops, you can get as much challenge as you want in each and every game. In fact, with all the variables you can incorporate into a single game, building an unbeatable force will prove extremely challenging, even for veteran miniatures gamers.

    Regardless, whether you're a new player just getting a grasp on the rules or a old pro with multiple campaigns under your belt, you can be assured of a good, tough fight every time.

    Organized Play Provides Instant Fun, Friends, and Fights

    If you really want a new challenge, many hobby and game stores run Organized Play (OP) leagues, which will provide you with a community of fellow D&D Chainmail players. That means you'll have an array of different forces, strategies and tactics to pit against your troops.

    D&D Chainmail Organized Play: No paint? No problem!

    A lot of other OP leagues require you to paint your miniatures, usually with a set minimum amount of detail. But while painting miniatures is a lot of fun, playing the game is even better. That's why you don't have to paint your minis to play in D&D Chainmail OP leagues. Just glue and go.

    Of course, painted minis are really cool. If you want to take a crack at it, check out the series of how-to articles we've got on our website, written by our insanely talented Art Director of Miniatures, Mike McVey.

    We've Got All Kinds of Good Stuff Online

    If you don't already visit on a regular basis, start. We've always got new stuff to check out. Whether it's the latest errata for the game, another article with painting tips, or something special, you won't want to miss out. One of the newest features is a series of downloadable fold-up paper models for you to use as terrain in your D&D Chainmail game. The first set is a series of three cottages that are just far too good to be free. But they are. Take a look.

    Download 'em, print 'em and build 'em. You can probably find a use for them in a regular D&D game as well. And remember to keep coming back for more. Every thirty days or so.

    Go to the D&D miniatures main news page for more articles and news about the new
    D&D Chainmail Skirmish Game, coming in October 2001! Or check out the
    D&D Chainmail message boards
    for a lively discussion of the D&D Chainmail game.


    © 1995-2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Wizards is headquartered in Renton, Washington, PO Box 707, Renton, WA 98057.