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Too many games with miniatures in it?

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This topic contains 28 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  skodamarine 1 year, 8 months ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    So today I had experienced the following: A friend of mine does a “morning quiz” on Twitter where he posts a picture with bits and pieces from a certain boardgame. And everyone is invited to guess what game those pictures are from. And today it was a total loss for everyone. “Monumental” was the game and I never heard of it. And nobody else seems to have done so.

    This (for me) really hit the point home on the subject on “miniatures in boardgames”. They have become a plague. Like any other wargamer I love my plastic/resin/white metal miniatures but I don’t see the point in every game having them. If they don’t add to the gaming experience significantly then they only add cost. And this has been more and more a problem since the rise of funding games via Kickstarter. I’ve got the feeling a lot of game developing centres around “how cool can our minis be” instead of the actual game and it’s mechanics.

    I would love to see games go back a bit to cardboard stand ins or wooden meeple. Maybe making miniatures an add on or reserve them for a deluxe edition.

    What’s you take on this?


    Cult of Games Member

    I can see where you are coming from. I think that in many ways, no models even when they are not needed in for a game can mean loss of interest for gamers and I don’t quite get it.

    For example, a lot of the criticism for Gloomhaven is that the baddies are only standees… who cares if it plays well – I unfortunately am waiting for the pc version as lack of space and set up time prevents me from even looking at the price!



    I think you are right, as even though I enjoy board games as a seperate thing to wargaming, I am now conditioned to look for miniatures in a board game, even though I am very happy to play board games which don’t even have the wooden needles in them.

    Miniatures do often add an unneeded cost that put otherwise great games out of wallet reach and and can be added as a deluxe version which has been done for several board game kickstarters and also for well know board games like cludeo (and yes I do have these versions).


    A great example of a board game that might have miniatures in it if released now is ‘Fearsome floors’ (originally in German) which is a great game with lovely mechanics and has cardboard counters for your ‘scooby’ gang as they try to escape from the monster and doesn’t need any models, they would be an embellishment.

    My first game that I can remember playing that had miniatures in (As opposed to single colour featureless standees that you normally find in cludeo or Ludo) was Zombies!!! By twilight creation that had lots of (20mm?) Single pose zombie models and then 6 player models (single pose human with a shotgun in different colours), which did add to the atmosphere but wasn’t the main reason you got the game.

    And we have now got to the point where ‘board’ games (used loosely) have been released by Gw (and maybe other companies) where most players buy them for the miniatures and the rest of the game is not even glanced at, which I think is the point at which they need to not be classed at board games but instead as miniature games.

    Don’t get me wrong, some of GW’s board games are actual games in tbeir own right, like lost patrol, theShadespire series and bloodbowl where the game works without having miniatures but is enjoyable by adding them. And this includes space hulk, space crusade and heroquest.

    But these are my opinions, what do you think?

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  mousaka.

    Cult of Games Member

    Oh I love Zombies!!!, still have those games. And that game benefited from the minis IMHO because of the different expansions that were made. 12 or something ridiculous.


    Cult of Games Member

    If they sell, game designers will put them in, simple as that. There’s enough plastic junkies out there to warrant the production costs.

    The only solution I can see is if a company can be convinced to produce two versions, one with minis and one without. But if the demand isn’t there it’ll never happen.


    Cult of Games Member

    What baffles me is that on Kickstarter I read again and again “I only want the minis”. Why wont game designers then just make to boxes? I’d guess in the end they could end up earning more because more people would buy just the minis or just the game. There is obviously a market for the games without expensive plastics.



    I agree.

    Most of the boardgames released with a ton of miniatures these days don’t need them. They’re nothing but a marketing ploy, trying to sell a boardgame on how cool the miniatures look and not on how well the game plays.

    Thing is, I like boardgames because they’re self contained units that are ready to be placed on the table and played, right out of the box. I don’t want to have to paint 100+ miniatures to play. And I don’t want to have to buy 5+ expansions (all filled with more miniatures), to get the full experience of the game.

    In a larger sense, I think it’s one of the issues brought on by KickStarter. You need a lot of hype to get a game funded, and pictures of pretty miniatures are a much easier sell than an hour long gameplay video.



    Yes, this is a concern for the new version of Talisman that has been announced. Little cardboard tokens and cards worked a treat.


    Cult of Games Member

    While you could argue miniatures aren’t necessary for a board game, they’re also not necessary for a wargame either – you can play either with miniatures or tokens or cardboard standees if you want.  The question, when dealing with luxury items (which is what all games are, be they Wargames or Boardgames) is not are they necessary but are they desirable.  People don’t buy games because they need them, they buy them because they want them.  And when you start talking about wants rather than needs, if people want miniatures in a Boardgame then people are going to make Boardgames with miniatures in them. I don’t really see how not recognising the miniatures from a particular Boardgame really indicates any particular problem with a proliferation of miniatures Boardgames, I certainly don’t think there’s a Plague of them.  There’s plenty of Boardgames whose meeples I wouldn’t recognise either, does that mean that there’s a plague of Boardgames out there?

    For what it’s worth I had heard of Monumental, although I didn’t back it.  However it was Kickstarted successfully which means that enough people obviously did want it for it to a viable Kickstarter at least.

    I am also a huge fan of miniatures Boardgames, within reason, and I have backed a mixture of miniature and non miniatures Boardgames.  In the right context I think miniatures DO add to the enjoyment and create an overall better experience.  In other contexts they become a distraction.  As someone who loves miniatures, there’s several reasons why I am a big fan of miniatures Boardgames.

    First I am what is called time poor. Miniatures Boardgames require minimal effort to play. They rarely require assembly, play straight out of the box and games rarely last more than an hour including setup. For someone with very little free time (which let’s face it, is most parents with jobs) this is perfect.

    Next the miniatures are, usually, superb quality. Looking at games like Conan (a personal favourite), Mythic Battles, Human Interface the quality of the miniatures is fantastic. So they also supply me with a collection of nice things to paint.

    Lastly, the amount of miniatures in these games also allows me to double them up with RPGs so without having to spend any extra cash I have a great selection of miniatures as well as a fun game.

    I don’t really see why it’s a problem. If people were making miniatures games at the expense of anything else I might be inclined to agree with you. But that’s really not the case so I don’t really see a problem.


    Cult of Games Member

    I love minis, so more please! As long as they are well done, well cast, cool, and affordable


    Cult of Games Member

    One could also ask if there are too many boardgames altogether, and are the good ones dissappearing in the flood?

    There is more than enough market space for many different kinds of boardgames. The bloat of minis-heavy game that come out of kickstarter recently  might be hogging the trough for the moment, but there are also hundreds of games that do not use minis at all. Maybe it is your own focus on which game to look at that is zeroed in on the minis heavy KS games and not all the rest that get released?

    I see the glut of minis games more of a reaction by the KS games companies to an apparent diversification of the market to cater to different customer groups than anything else. They would not have made so many if people had not pledged for this kind of game.

    That said, the reason I think most mini-heavy board games refrain from having minis-only options, is quite simple: economy of scale.

    To get the best price for production, you need as large a quantity as possible. If you need to produce say 5000 complete games to achieve a certain production price point, you don’t want to split the customer base into, say, 2000 wanting the full boardgame and 3000 only wanting the minis (presumably at a significantly lower price than the total package), which would increase the production costs per game considerably and maybe even making producing the game not even viable any more.

    I for one, as a customer, would in many cases have gone for the minis-only option if there was one. There are a lot of dead forest just sitting around cluttering up my basement and I also would like to save on shipping costs, as all the cardboard and paper that I really do not want not use is both bulky and heavy.



    Cult of Games Member

    It’s not just Boardgames that suffer from the “serviceable set of rules to push the sale of minis” problem, it’s also with the Miniature Wargames itself (although these are mainly “skirmish level” wargames).

    I think its to do with the drive to get something that’s new or shiney out every year or so, but the rules of late have been a bit simplistic. All too often the focus is on the minis, stretch goals of “free” minis that you can’t even use legally in the game (such as two sculpts of big Nazi Mecha Zombie robots, when the game only uses one). It’s all about the stretch goals, hype, AND finally abandonment (because the next KS is coming).

    So I’ve been a little more careful in buying KS games of late, I look for evidence of a good rule system is up BEFORE the KS is launched (usually the ones that are in “Alpha” during the KS translates as “serviceable and forgettable). So I’ve gone for the KS from Battle Systems (Core Space) and 4Ground (Fabled Realms).

    It’s funny how we think of Boardgames with minis as a new thing. If you think about it BattleTech and all the later FASA games were a Boardgame with minis (although the board was a hex paper map rather than cardboard), so it’s not a new invention 🙂





    No, absolutely not. My whole focus is on the minis. Really couldn’t care less about the games.

    Bring on more mini-loaded goodness!!


    Cult of Games Member

    People on this site probably know that I enjoy command tactical or operational level wargames (usually but not always hex-and-counter) as well as miniature wargames (usually tactical, but some command-tactical like GHQ Microarmor, there are many Napoleonic / Black Powder examples as well).

    The point is, I enjoy both.  I see the design merits and shortcomings of both.

    Mixing the two often seems misguided.  I know the designers are going for the “best of both worlds” mentality, but too often I feel they wind up with the “worst” of both worlds.

    Now games have had 3D PLAYING PIECES since Monopoly or even before that.  I’ve never had a problem with that.  But when people start building and painting armies of miniatures for wargames, I feel you run the risk of adopting all the worst qualities of both paradigms.

    Boardgames: No visual impact, no terrain, no “wow” factor.

    Miniature games: dozens of hours dumped on building and painting before play, no realism, no scale, storage issues, expense, no portability, easy of portability, etc.


    Cult of Games Member

    When I buy a Boardgame with miniatures I do so primarily for the miniatures – miniatures are my hobby far more than the games that go with them.  I love painting miniatures.  I also like playing games with miniatures but it’s the miniatures that are my hobby.  I can happily play games that don’t have miniatures and just use tokens or meeples.  But there are some games that miniatures add to and improve, these are typically the games I play with miniatures.

    The first one I really remember buying is Space Crusade.  Then Warhammer Quest.  Amd more recently Dungeon Saga, Conan, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Mythic Battles, Human Interface.  All of these games could be played with tokens and tactically the game would be the same.  But would the experience be the same?  No, it wouldn’t.  Those games are undeniably more fun with miniatures on the table.

    But then I play other games that just use meeples and tokens and they’re also fun.  Clans of Caledonia for example is a worker placement game with little wooden meeples.  Miniatures would add nothing to that game.

    Interestingly I have at times thought about taking a copy of Quelle Affaire, buying some 28mm Napoleonic miniatures and painting a single miniature to represent each regiment present and using them instead of the counters.  Completely unnecessary but I certainly think it would add something, not to the game but to the experience of playing the game.

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