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What Makes or Breaks a Tabletop Miniatures Game

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Toa Lewa
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I was recently introduced to the genre of tabletop miniatures, and I fell in love with the little models. I bought the base set of X-Wing Miniatures, and I have added a few ships to my collection over the past few months. I have very little experience with miniatures war games, and I am wanting to learn some of the pros and cons of some of the most popular games. What are your favorite miniatures games and why?

JollyJoel
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Warhammer 40k

I fell in love with WH40k when I was 15 and the only reason why is because of it's simple stupid mechanics and the ability to make just about anything out of anything to make the terrain and miniatures as long as you use the rules obviously but mostly because I make scifi terrain and paint the models and have gotten good at it the past 15 years. I love to paint and make that stuff.

The mechanics to WH40K is not the best I've seen but when it comes to being very simple and squad based WH40k does a good job the only bitch I have about that game though is it's old or at least based off old school mechanics.

The mechanics do kind of kill the game. Like having a big ass gun on a miniature attached to a squad of weak units and if most of those "weak" units are hiding behind good cover then that "big ass gun miniature" will have saves from opponent's attacks. If the big ass gun guy was without the weak models and standing in the exact location, then he would get no saves being out in the open. There's a few more advantages to take from the simplicity they made the game to be.

Oh... and another pet peeve, the price of the plastic models. Absolutely Ridiculous... I hope 3D printers ruin their day because I know I have a few Gs put into the game from the past 15 years of buying Warhammer and hobby stuff for terrain and other custom stuff.

WCanepa
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What makes/breaks a tabletop

What makes/breaks a tabletop miniatures game for me, and others I know, tends to be the following:

1. Cost: Spending around $50 (or less) is reasonable, but spending thousands just to remain competitive is no fun.
2. Replayability: Nobody wants all their invested models and rulebooks to become obsolete in the near future, forcing them to buy (and paint) new armies, and learn new rules.
3. Learning Curve: Seasoned gamers are at ease with complex rules. But rules complexity/bloat often scares away newcomers to the genre. Additionally, having to relearn rules often with frequent addition changes is not much fun.
4. Speed of play: Options for games to last 30 min to an hour, in addition to long, drawn-out micro wars are always welcomed. Further, the speed with which each player takes to activate their model/take their turn/whatever should not take forever. No more than 2 minutes or so, ideally.
5. Visual Appeal: Let's face it, miniatures games are often so popular because they are gorgeous, and simulate little dioramas of fantastic battlescapes. They conjure to primordial memory the joys of playing with toys as a child, and images from numerous history and mythology books, etc. The game has to look pretty. Warhammer's Diskwars is a fun little skirmish game, with what amounts to Pogs for game pieces, but I'd wager it never gains the same following as their more expensive wargames.

Some favorite games of mine are:
Warmachine
Pirates! (a collectible, constructible pirate ship game)
D&D Miniatures (I'm a stickler for grid-based combat nostalgia, and I liked the streamlined combat)
Confrontation (This French game is gorgeous. Expensive, lots of rules, but GORGEOUS.)
Arena Rex (I only very recently learned about this game, and I am super excited for its release. Previewing the rules makes me feel as if this is the gladiatorial combat game I always wanted, sans the Native American cultural appropriation elements.)

talmorgoth
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Agreed

I've been playing miniature games for over 30 years now. I remember when 40K was Rogue Trader and BattleTech was Battle Droids. The one thing in my mind that breaks a game (besides over priced figures) is not supporting it. Look at Games Workshop and all their failed games that are now out of print. Most were ok but it was almost like they were shot gunning stuff out there to see what would stick. Once it was out they had sporadic support material and few expansions or releases of supporting miniatures. Epic 40k is a great example of this. There are throngs of players out there but GW just couldn't leave well enough alone and support the game. They had, what, 4 drastic revisions of it in boxed sets? Titan Maximus and so on. Go look at their on line store now and what do you see for Epic? Nothing. In my opinion they over priced the game components and under supported it. Just my .02 but they have a pattern of doing this.

Jarec
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Oh man, I feel the opposite

Oh man, I feel the opposite and think when company stops it's support for a game that game is "finished" in a good way, as in "out of beta".
I've been playing Games Workshop games on and off for a good 15 years, and now some Warmachine/Hordes and Spartan Games' games.

I have a love/hate relation with Warma/Hordes because it has gone too complicated. Every unit has a bunch of special rules, and the way the game works allows some weird (I guess tactical) maneuvers. It's really hard to see at glance what is going to happen next.

Top 3 things for me in a wargame are:
1. Easy mechanics - Not perhaps how many rolls has to be made to do stuff, but rather how easy it is to see what unit is a threat to another.
2. Randomness - I just love to see when something goes spectacularly wrong (or right!), and try to picture that happening in real life.
3. Campaign - Some sort of continuity and character progression is cool thing to have. It's not really wargame's job to have progression, but I've always liked to have something "of my own" to grow in power and see how it fares against my friend's dudes.

My all time favorite game is Mordheim, by Games Workshop, and it has all of the above. Even when it really should have tone down of it's randomness, and the mechanics do break in some point when there is just too much power going into a one dude, but somehow it just feels not that serious and I can't get upset about it. And it's absolutely gorgeous game when one does have a lot of the required terrain for it.
Mordheim is a fantasy skirmish game played with 28mm figures in a table full of city ruins. You can download the rules for free at Games Workshop's site under specialist games.

WCanepa
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Jarec wrote: ... Top 3 things

Jarec wrote:

...
Top 3 things for me in a wargame are:
1. Easy mechanics - Not perhaps how many rolls has to be made to do stuff, but rather how easy it is to see what unit is a threat to another.
2. Randomness - I just love to see when something goes spectacularly wrong (or right!), and try to picture that happening in real life.
3. Campaign - Some sort of continuity and character progression is cool thing to have. It's not really wargame's job to have progression, but I've always liked to have something "of my own" to grow in power and see how it fares against my friend's dudes.

My all time favorite game is Mordheim...

Jarec I've played Mordheim, and enjoyed it, but absolutely agree about the randomness being a bit too much. Also, the power difference between a fledgling unit and a veteran is a bit higher than I expected (more similar to level-based RPGs, like D&D).

What level of randomness seems most enjoyable to you? How do you balance that with your Easy Mechanics desire? Knowing which units are a threat, but also expecting some level of randomness, what level of randomness is ok?

I did like the campaign element of Mordheim. It's probably the biggest appeal for people playing tabletop RPGs, too.

talmorgoth
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Necromunda too

Mordheim and Necromunda were both great games. Gorka Morka had potential but it was too quirky. I truly wanted to see an Orc version of Mad Max but it was just too quirky.

pelle
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The benefit of miniatures to

The benefit of miniatures to me is that I can collect whatever armies I want in any scale and have several rulebooks to choose from, or design my own.

Rulebooks to sell a range of minis, and always new expensive rulebooks and expansions breaks it for me. Just not interested.

Toa Lewa
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Mixing and matching

pelle wrote:
The benefit of miniatures to me is that I can collect whatever armies I want in any scale and have several rulebooks to choose from, or design my own.

So are you talking about mixing and matching miniatures from different games? I thought many miniature sets came with their own stats that work with a specific system.

larienna
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Quote:What Breaks a Tabletop

Quote:
What Breaks a Tabletop Miniatures Game

Rulers?

One of the reason I like Hero scape is because of the non-analog nature of the game. I really have something against analog games, it just makes it more annoying to play and you almost need a referee all the time to avoid estimation problems.

questccg
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Funny

larienna wrote:
...I really have something against analog games, it just makes it more annoying to play and you almost need a referee all the time to avoid estimation problems.

For me, that's one of the interesting aspects of miniatures: analog gaming.

I have (on the backburner) a sport game design in which I wanted to use "Analog gaming". Specifically a ruler to allow moving the various players on the field. I'm not yet certain about the rules - but I figure it would be possible to determine "turn-overs" when the ball is passed *through* an opponent... Close calls could become arguable... hopefully not needing a referee! :P

talmorgoth
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They do, but...

They do, but that doesn't mean you can't use figures from one game to represent figures in another game. Usually you only have issues if you are playing in a tournament where you have to have the specific figure from a specified company.

talmorgoth
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larienna wrote:Quote:What

larienna wrote:
Quote:
What Breaks a Tabletop Miniatures Game

you almost need a referee all the time to avoid estimation problems.

I'd say if you have people arguing over that then you are playing with the wrong people and not that its a rules issue. I know of a WWII game that is played on the floor because of the scale. The most fun I ever had was playing it and having to call out my range in inches when the target was close to 9 feet from me. I also know of people that "rules lawyer" everything down to the millimeter. I just refuse to play with them because they suck the life out of whatever game they play.

Toa Lewa
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Brikwars!

talmorgoth wrote:
I also know of people that "rules lawyer" everything down to the millimeter. I just refuse to play with them because they suck the life out of whatever game they play.

Have you ever played, tried, or heard of Brikwars? It's a tabletop miniatures system that allows you to use whatever you can find to create skirmishes and wars (although it is streamlined for using Legos). It has a unique rule that prevents "rules lawyers" from ruining the game. The rule is called the "Do What I Say Rule". When a disagreement occurs, each player chooses what they think should happen and each player rolls a die. The winner of the die roll gets their way.

questccg
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I like that!

Toa Lewa wrote:
...It has a unique rule that prevents "rules lawyers" from ruining the game. The rule is called the "Do What I Say Rule". When a disagreement occurs, each player chooses what they think should happen and each player rolls a die. The winner of the die roll gets their way.

Hahaha. That's a GOOD one! I like that rule... even if it relies on chance!

schattentanz
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Whack & Slaughter

My favourite game is my own, because ... well ... I made it myself :D

In all seriousness now, I've been looking for a loooooooooong time (longer than longcat!) for a game that (all of the following are connected by AND):
- is available for free
- can be played with any fantasy miniature from any designer's range
- permits you to customize your fighter(s)
- requires only a couple of miniatures
- plays with more than 2 players
- plays fast
- somewhat unique combat system (optional)

Basically I've been looking for a combination of Diablo (regarding the speed of combat) and Guild Wars (regarding the flexibility of character creation) as a boardgame. And I didn't find anything fulfilling my requirements.
Then it struck me: If I want to play such a game, I'll have to write it all by myself.
Thus Whack & Slaughter has been born.
This year is the 4th year of the game's development. See the current status here, if you're interested:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/39zqw6uxq45ml5c/Whack_And_Slaughter_LRB.pdf

Let's check the requirements:
- is available for free? CHECK! Download the rules, print them and go for it.
- can be played with any fantasy miniature from any designer's range? CHECK! Removing a fixed measurement for distances and replacing it with the "#" symbol allows you to play the game even with lawn gnomes.
- permits you to customize your fighter(s)? CHECK! With a fixed amount of points you buy levels in your attributes Defense, Melee, Ranged and Magic. Throw in a skillpoint triggering one of up to five skills (selected from over 200 different skills) and you're set.
- requires only a couple of miniatures? CHECK! W&S is meant to be played with as few as just one miniature per player.
- plays with more than 2 players? CHECK! The whole game has been designed to bring more players to the table and have them compete in different team versus team scenarios or in an all out carnage.
- plays fast? CHECK! With only 5 lifepoints per fighter, they are not designed to survive longer onslaughts.
- somewhat unique combat system (optional)? CHECK! The D6 becomes your charactersheet and you distribute your attributes among the pips of the die by painting them (or rather paint the pips on the character sheet).

So, yes: everything I ever wanted in my own "baby".

Welcome to the World of Whack & Slaughter :)

Kind regards,
Kai :)

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