Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why Miniatures?

I like board games. As I mentioned in the first installment of my Retrospective series, I started my wargaming career with Avalon Hill board games and we still pull out board games for Family Game Night (Courtier last night). My gridded games are essentially board games with miniatures. Furthermore, I really dislike painting. So why do I even bother with miniatures?

I ponder this question on occasion (like here) but today I would like to jot down a few reasons.

  • I like 3D. I'm not sure but the game is just more evocative when played with 3D components. Last month I mentioned playing a battle using a virtual tabletop. I concluded that there was "just something lacking." As much as I enjoyed the old Avalon Hill games, their components just do not inspire me as much as miniatures. They don't even need to be expertly painted figures on realistically styled terrain. Even unpainted Memoir '44 figures work better for me!
  • Rules independent. When I started miniature gaming in the mid-80s, board wargames still used counters, usually with game-specific info printed on them. The components were strongly tied to the rules themselves. When I began experimenting with my own rules, the system-neutral aspect of miniatures was appealing (and they looked better than homemade counters)
  • Scenario flexibility. Back in the 80s, the board of tactical board games was very limiting. Terrain was printed on the map and this could not be changed. If you wanted scenarios with new terrain you had to buy new maps. Miniatures games, in contrast, featured an endless array of battlefields. You could create practically any scenario you could imagine! Now, the Command & Colors board games have solved that problem with modular terrain, but if you think about it those are really pre-packaged miniatures games.
  • Period flexibility. With miniatures, you can play games from obscure eras not covered by board games (War of Jenkins Ear, anyone?). This is especially beneficial for us imagi-nations aficionados. I still haven't seen any board games covering the Grayrock Revolution.
The combination of these factors grabbed and have sustained my interest in miniature gaming.

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