Tabletop gaming has experienced a surge in popularity since its humble beginnings in the early 1980s.
With card games, board games, and the ever-popular role-playing games (RPGs) to play, it helps the entire party if the setup is easily accessible with a wargaming table.
With a saturated market full of different styles of gaming tables, how do you know which is the best?
What is the best wargaming table for role-playing games? The best wargaming table for RPGs is any flat table that is a minimum of 3 1/2 feet by 5 feet. Wargaming tables can be purchased with or without accessories, or you can make and customize your own.
Any accessories or styles beyond these minimum requirements simply serve to help the gameplay and storage of items.
To see different options from purchasing to building your own wargaming table, be sure to read on!
About Wargaming Tables
Wargaming tables, also known as “gaming tables” or “tabletops,” are an excellent resource for those who host many game nights featuring card, board, or role-playing games.
They can help store all your supplies and give a designated place for entertaining and conquest!
Although there are different options for obtaining a gaming table – from purchasing it prebuilt to building your own – there are a few key features that you want to be sure are included in your wargaming table.
The three main requirements for any wargaming table or play mat are:
- 3 1/2 feet by 5 feet – These are the minimum dimensions, however, the size needed may change depending on the game you’re playing, so be sure to check the game manual for their suggested sizing.
- Flat surface – Even if you are going to build mountains and rivers, you must have a flat surface to start with. This will allow players to take notes as they play and avoid any unnecessary spilling.
- Sturdy structure – You’ll most likely have players leaning over and on the table to grab cards, collect dice, and other activities, so make sure it’s sturdy enough.
According to Wargaming Miscellany, every tabletop size will vary depending on the space available in the room and needs of the players.
However, it is a good idea to have the basic sizing to have ample room for gameplay.
This is especially true for future projects in which you will be building miniature structures for immersion.
Types of Wargaming Tables for RPGs
Although they all serve the same primary purpose, there are a few different types of wargaming tables for role-playing games.
According to Ultimate Game Table, there are three main types of wargaming tables:
- Elite Series Tables – These are the type of wargaming tables that have accessories built into them for game playing needs. They are also the most expensive.
- Game Changer Series Tables – These wargaming tables take a more simplistic approach and give the bare minimum needed for role-playing games.
- Play Surface Mats – The mats can range from simple felt pieces to detailed maps of fantasy worlds. They’re the cheapest wargaming tabletop and can be rolled up for taking on the go.
Elite Series Tables
Elite Series Tables are the crème de la crème of wargaming table options.
This series of tables is designed specifically for all kinds of gameplay and can have extras such as a deeper set area for rolling dice in addition to the standard level surface for more accessible card playing.
The Elite Series Tables come with the following features:
- Accessory Attachments – These are areas built within the table that can have tabletop accessories, such as cup holders, writing desks, DM screens, etc., attached directly to them.
- Drop-in Play Mats – Drop-in play mats sit within the table without being permanently affixed. They can be taken out for cleaning or complete replacement.
- Magnetic Tabletops – The magnetic ability of the gaming table allows for figurines and structures to quickly build up a world without damaging any surfaces.
- Power Cords – The Elite Series Tables also come with two different plugs and USB chargers for both ends of the table for players!
- Dining Tops – The Elite Series Tables offer hidden dining tops that can be stored within the table during gameplay. When stored, they act as four unique pull-out desks for players and DMs alike.
- Adjustable Surface Height – To quickly go between card playing and Dungeons and Dragons, the Elite Series Tables allow hosts to adjust the surface height of the play mat area with the turn of a knob.
Because of all the features offered, the Elite Series Tables do tend to run on the more expensive side.
However, if you and your friends enjoy having a unique space for your wargaming plays, it can be an excellent investment.
Game Changer Series Tables
Game Changer Series Tables are wargaming tables for role-playing games that serve a singular purpose: to provide a surface for figurines and gaming needs.
Instead of boasting add-ons and accessories, these wargaming tables are meant only to hold a play mat.
The Game Changer Series Tables have the following features:
- Built-in Play mat – Most Game Changer Series Tables have a play mat already built into the table. Although it does make cleaning a bit harder, it certainly is convenient!
- One Surface Height – The surface height of a Game Changer Series Table is set in one place to give ample room for players to rest their hands and wrists without disturbing the game pieces.
- Accessory Attachments – Like the Elite Series, the Game Changer Series Tables can have accessories attached anywhere along the stripboard area (where you rest your wrists). These can be anything from small desks to cupholders.
Although they have a simpler design, Game Changer Series Tables are the best wargaming table for beginners or first-time buyers.
They keep the focus of the area on gameplay, while still allowing enough room for all the players to spread out.
Play Surface Mats
Play surface mats are the large pieces of material that go over the wargaming play area where the figurines and miniature structures will live.
Play surface mats are an absolute necessity when it comes to wargaming tables and any role-playing game. They can be made of any material, but the most popular is felt.
Most wargaming tables will not come with their own play surface mats. However, the mats are usually on the cheaper side and can be customized for color, design, size, and shape.
If you are looking to purchase a play surface mat for your wargaming table, here are three recommendations:
- Roll-Play Board Game Mat 3′ x 4′ Neoprene Tabletop Accessory.
- Meeple Majesty Tabletop Gaming Mat 3′ x 4′ with Travel Bag & Storage Tube.
- Battle Grid Game Mat 2′ x 3′ RPG Dry Erase Vinyl Tile.
If you don’t have access to a separate gaming table and are utilizing your dining room table for wargaming nights, a play surface mat is an excellent investment.
It will help define your playing world and keep everything within its respective boundaries.
Do It Yourself Wargaming Table
If you are feeling creative and have the means, you should consider building a wargaming tabletop for role-playing games.
Not only will it allow for complete customization, but you could also save serious cash.
For an easy and basic wargaming tabletop, Dakka Dakka has created a complete guide to building your very own!
That guide has been simplified below for better understanding.
Before the build begins, the first things you need to consider are the dimensions and materials you would like to use.
The larger you want the wargaming tabletop, the higher the cost is going to be.
To keep the overall cost of this build to a minimum, the basic requirements will be presented. However, you can upscale everything to match the needs of a larger build.
For this specific wargaming tabletop, the following are included:
- 4-foot by 6-foot play area.
- 4-foot by 8-foot total table size.
- Felt play mat.
- Gutters to hold your figurines, models, drinks, etc.
Materials and Tools
For the wargaming table, you will need the following necessary materials and tools:
- Hand saw – You can use a heavier tool, such as a circular saw, but a hand saw will get the job done!
- Hammer and Nails – Necessary for the build. For nails, I recommend 3 inches.
- Lumber- There are different sizes needed for the different parts, so be sure to get the proper sizes!
- (4) – 4′ x 4” x 4” (support rails).
- (16) – 6’ x 4″ x 1/2″ (outer border, inner support rails, and table legs).
- (2) – 4′ x 6′ x 1/4” (gutter walls) Note: You can add more gutter walls for each side of the table, but this will decrease your play area.
- Tape Measure – Be sure to measure twice and cut once!
- Marker – Since the wooden boards will be covered with felt, it is suggested that you outline your potential cuts with a marker to see them easily.
- Paint- If you do not want to have the raw-lumber look for your wargaming table, consider purchasing wood paint to customize the look completely!
How to Build Your Own Wargaming Tabletop for RPGs
If you are a total beginner when it comes to building furniture, have no fear!
The following guide is made with the novice carpenter in mind. Just be sure to ask for sanded lumber at your local hardware store.
Here are the eight steps you should follow to build your wargaming tabletop for role-playing games.
- Lay the outer border on the floor with four pieces of the 6’ x 4’ x 1/2”. These will become the outermost border, including the gutters.
- Create the gutter borders by using the two pieces of 4’ x 6’ x 1/4” on two ends of the table. You should attach the two pieces in an “L” formation before nailing it to the outer border of the table.
- Attach the support rails made from the four pieces of 4” x 4”. You will want to attach these to the corners.
- Create the inner support rails from two more of the 6’ x 4’ x 1/2” pieces. These will go about one support rail per two feet. The inner support rails will attach to the gameplay border, so do not attach it from gutter end to gutter end.
- Attach the table legs with four more of the 6’ x 4’ x 1/2” Attach them to the support rails made from the 4” x 4” pieces.
- Flip the table over so that the legs are on the floor.
- Add more support by creating support rails running from leg to leg with the remaining 6’ x 4’ x 1/2” pieces horizontally.
- Gather some felt from your local craft store to cover the entire tabletop. You want to get a large enough felt cutting to hang over the ends of the table a little bit. The suggested felt dimensions are 5′ x 7′.
And you are done! The tabletop can go, as the name says, on top of any table for wargaming and role-playing games alike!
The benefit of doing it yourself is the control you have of the size and look, especially for the play mat.
If your budget doesn’t allow it or you don’t have access to the proper tools, you can still make a wargaming table happen, though it probably won’t have the bells and whistles that you get with an enhanced Elite Series!
An Existing Table
Instead of having a table specifically for tabletop games and nothing else, you could use a table you already own as the playing area.
Simply roll out a piece of felt for a makeshift play mat and start role-playing!
If you want to establish a space for your fantasy adventures, try laying down a white sheet over your table and drawing the map with a felt marker.
You want to use a felt marker rather than a permanent marker, so the ink does not bleed through the sheet and stain your table.
Another option is to invest in a cozy rug to live out the fantasy stories on the floor.
Although your knees may not thank you, defining the playing space with a rug will still give you a surface on which to play out your role-playing games.
Recommended Wargaming Table Accessories
To help the experience of your role-playing game go smoothly, there are a few accessories you should consider investing in to help elevate gameplay.
Unlike the accessories explicitly created to attach to the table itself, these accessories are for the play area.
For crafting the world, here are some suggestions:
- D&D Dungeon Brick Walls (Set of 16).
- D&D Tavern Terrain 3-Level Fantasy Inn Battle Map.
- The Master’s Atlas – 44 Reversible Map Grid Tiles.
For setting towns, these are some of my favorites:
For creating figurines for the players, here are some fun playable figurines:
- DnD Miniatures- 56 Mini Figures.
- Features 28 unique characters.
- Includes Goblins, Orcs, Bandits, Gnolls, Kobolds, Skeletons, and Zombies.
- Monster Action Figure Bucket.
- Comes with 100 horror toy figures.
- Highly detailed set with 13 unique sculpts from Dracula to Frankenstein to giant spiders.
By adding these structures and figurines to your wargaming table, you are guaranteed to immerse your players in the game even more than before and create the ultimate wargaming table!
There are several excellent options when it comes to wargaming tables and tabletops for role-playing games.
They allow the players and DMs to define a specific space for themselves and their characters to live out these fantasy worlds.
If you are looking for something that will wow your friends and make the hours of playing a little less troublesome, the best wargaming table for role-playing games is the Elite Series Gaming Table.
However, any table that meets the 3 1/2-foot by 5-foot dimension needs and has a flat surface can get the job done.
Just be sure to invest in (or build) a sturdy enough tabletop or play mat for your players.
After all, the best wargaming table for RPGs is anything that suits your needs and allows for freedom of expression and storytelling!
Image Credit: Jon Ross