I’ve only recently discovered an old school, pre-RPG style of game called a ‘Braunstein.’ Braunsteins sort of bridge the gap between table top miniatures wargames (think Chainmail) and modern role-playing games. They are typically set up as scenarios with multiple factions and often many players per faction. Each faction has its own agenda or goal and then competes or cooperates with other factions to meet those goals.
There’s usually a large play area set up, lots of miniatures (though not as many as a typical wargame) and a neutral GM to adjudicate rules and try to manage the chaos as much as possible. While miniatures and combat is involved (much like a skirmish level miniatures game), players are encouraged to wheel-and-deal to further their faction’s agenda (kind of like a game of Diplomacy). Also, the emphasis is on keeping things simple so that the game doesn’t bog down, always a plus in my book.
This is a fascinating style of play to me, and I’d love to run a Braunstein someday…whenever I have enough space to accommodate it, and provided a could interest enough players. I’m already envisioning a post-apocalypse scenario with ragged bands of mutants skirmishing over advanced relic technology, and a more ambitious, ongoing kingdom-level campaign.
If you’d like more information, there’s a series of blogposts on Braunsteins at Chirine’s Workbench, the first of which is available here.