FRENCH knights, Roman centurions, Ottoman Janissaries and Egyptians warring for Cleopatra all converged on Carterton over the weekend - in miniature form.

The Masterton Marauders Club hosted the inaugural Wairarapa Two-Day War Gamers' Match at Carterton School on Saturday, which featured 14 players from the Lower North Island and hundreds of tiny soldiers.

Organiser Vince Cholewa said this is the first time the club has hosted a two-day tournament, with the second part to be held next week.

Players came from Wairarapa, the Hutt Valley, Wellington and Palmerston North.

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"We're hoping to make it an annual event," said Mr Cholewa.

War gaming, said Mr Cholewa, is a "tactical operation", where players simulate military operations using hand-painted toy soldiers, representing well-known historic armies.

Last weekend's tournament was themed "Ancient and Medieval", and involved "battles" between French and British knights, a Roman Civil War, the Ottomans and Syrians vying for control of the Islamic state, and the Romans and Ptolemaics competing for the hand of Cleopatra.

"It's been great - people have had a lot of fun," said Mr Cholewa.

War gaming was first popularised by author HG Wells, who published Little Wars a "set of rules for playing with toy soldiers" in 1913.

The game can be historic, fantasy or science-fiction themed, and battles can date from "the dawn of civilisation" through to modern times.

The beauty of the hobby is that there are "many levels to it", said Mr Cholewa.

"There's the historical aspect - people enjoy reading up on all the back-stories," he said.

"There's the collection aspect, where you source all the soldiers and do all the hand-painting and building.

"And there's a very strong social aspect. Some of the guys in the Marauders Club I've known since the early 80s."

-The second part of the two-day war gamers' tournament will be held at Carterton School on Saturday November 29. The Masterton Marauders Club meets at the croquet club at Queen Elizabeth Park, every Saturday at 1pm. For more information, contact James Trotman on 022 691 6511 or visit mastertonmarauders.blogspot.co.nz.