What better way of learning about the British Empire than recreating battles or campaigns. There are myriad companies producing board games and miniatures so that pretty much any campaign can be reproduced. Games and figures manufacturers agree that the British Empire makes a wonderful backdrop to set their products within. The products on offer are constantly improved and updated. It can be hard to keep abreast with all the developments, but if anyone would like to add any additional information about games or figures then please do not hesitate to email me so that I can add the necessary links.
Colonial wargaming has a long history, you can go back to HG Wells' Little Wars or Donald Featherstone's Skirmish Wargaming. Wargaming heritage doesn't get much better than that. It can be done in any scale from 2mm to 54mm (and probably bigger for all I know).
Of course, there are many different periods that can be covered in Colonial wargaming. Most people would probably instinctively think of Victorian era games but of course it could encompass anything from the time of Sir Francis Drake to the Falklands War. The geographical reach of colonial wargaming is possibly the widest of any genre out there. So there is a lot of choice out there.
This section is to try and help narrow down that choice and provide a map for those who want to launch in to their own gaming experiences. I also have my own campaign system that you are free to use, adapt or inspire to create your own. It is called Jarania
I personally like to use 15mm figures and have ranges that cover the Indian Mutiny, the Sudan, the Boer Wars, Afghanistan and the North West Frontier and a lot of Zulus! I personally like 15mm as I feel that they are good value for money, and provide a good balance between skirmish and larger battles. Having said that, if you want to fight huge battles - such as Isandlwana - then 6mm is probably the way to go. The advantage of 25/28mm figures is that there is much more characterisation and variety available which makes them particularly well suited to skirmish games. There is an interesting development with hard plastic figures being produced. These are much cheaper than the lead figures and are easier to modify or convert. You have been able to get soft plastic figures for years, but they have a tendency to flake off the paint over time. Hard plastic figures do not suffer from this problem.
As for rules, I have to say that I am a huge fan of The Sword and the Flame rules which I have used with students at school and at various conventions. They are not that common in the UK but they are well worth seeking out! They are much more popular in the States where they are easier to source.
For those who prefer more modern rules for the Decolonisation and End of Empire era, Ganesha Games publishes a set called 'Flying Lead' which provides good low intensity simulations. You can read a battle report of one such example from the Borneo Confrontation here.