As regular readers may have picked up on over the weeks of this column, I have a passion for several game genres, one of those being miniature skirmish games.
Over the next few months there will be several miniature games reviewed here, so I thought I’d touch on a few key aspects of such games, at least in my estimation, and why I like such offerings so much.
To start with I like games which have pedigree.
As an example abstract strategy games go back about as far as any, with Chess, Shogi, Go and a few others being centuries old.
It’s the same idea with the best dexterity games, carrom, and the Canadian-created crokinole.
The modern miniature war game likely owes its heritage to H.G. Wells, yes the author of science fiction classics such as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds.
In 1913, Wells wrote the rules for Little Wars a set of rules for playing with toy soldiers. Its full title is “Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books.”
The ruleset, while simplistic, is still looked at a key development in the genre, and there remains a few dedicated gamers who play with Wells’ original ruleset. Check out their website at www.funnylittlewars.com
I suppose seeing retired British military men with a table covered in terrain and Napoleonic soldiers on some old movie also played its role.
There was something intriguing about playing out famous battles, although my general interest today is fully focused on science fiction, or fantasy wargaming settings.
Of course in term of war games there are many options, from historical re-creationists playing out the famed battles of our history, to steam-powered fantasy such as Warmachine, and the granddaddy of current mini gaming, Warhammer fantasy and 40K from Games Workshop.
Skirmish games are the opposite of the above, with players needing generally 20-minis or less, with corresponding smaller space requirements, and time to play.
Because the number of minis are smaller, and time needed to play being less too, you can have several games and enjoy a variety of game genres.
But, that all said, there are still a vast range of miniature skirmish games out there, ranging from some that are out-of-print, but still available through sources such as ebay, and more expected to hit the marketplace soon if you follow the genre on various websites.
Which ones to get involved in are of course a matter of personal choice, coupled with what games you can lure buds into with you so that you have opponents handy.
In my case the first thing that attracts my attention is the miniatures themselves. If you aren’t captivated by the sculpts, it’s an uphill battle for a game to get your investment.
In total there are dozens of miniature skirmish game options. I know I started a list over at www.boardgamegeek.com, my favourite games site, for skirmish games released just since 2005. It is already past 75, and I am sure I’ve missed a bunch.
So whether you want realism, or your interest is steam-punk, Japanese lore, alien invasion, or post-apocalyptic earth, mini gaming has you covered, and hopefully a few of the games will pique your interest.