Skirmish Games – WTB PST!


A Skirmish Team, Yesterday

In June of last year I wrote a post posing questions about how people choose what games they play. When you look at it it was really just a bit of a diatribe on how we’ve ended up playing what we are playing. Looking at the second list on that post and what we’ve done gaming wise things have changed slightly, inevitably things do as real life happens, let’s review and see where we are now.

  • Warhammer 40,000
  • War of the Ring
  • Malifaux
  • Warmachine
  • Firestorm Armada
  • Dungeons and Dragons

This was the list as was, below is the list according to stuff we’ve actually played recently;

  • Warhammer 40,000
  • Warhammer Fantasy (Just me and Gribblin)
  • Malifaux (Just me and nBreaker and we need another game soon!)
  • Firestorm Armada
  • War of the Ring
  • Dungeons and Dragons (although I need to pen the next part of the campaign soon)

Warmachine, despite being popular has not been touched for ages. In all honesty we haven’t played any Firestorm for a while either and Gribblin has the rules and a Starter set for Dystopian Wars. I imagine he’d like someone to play against but I’m somewhat distrustful of Spartan’s business model. In under a year we’ve got 3 games each with starter sets and they aren’t exactly a huge company. There are other games on the horizon and I wonder how they are going to sate their customers who play only one of their offerings, although I imagine that many of them play all three. I do wonder how long it will be before even those playing all three games start complaining that there aren’t enough releases for one of the games.

When we were out and about on Monday I overheard the comment that one of the team was looking for a decent skirmish game. Now, as regular readers may know, this is my favourite kind of game. I know that Gribblin prefers his big sweeping regiments kind of games and I have room to accommodate that too, but small games are awesome because they cost less to get into, take less time to play and are more in-depth.

The range that was being looked at at the time was Infinity, a game I have the first edition rulebook for and used to have some models before selling them off. It was voiced that this game is quite complex and it is. Obviously we also have Warmachine, however, considering how much you need to play properly I view Warmachine and Hordes as a kind of halfway-house between skirmish and army games. A basic army will have more models in a squad than a typical skirmish game has in total. I think what is being looked for is something more akin to Confrontation 3.5 and that was an excellent game, even with its complexity but you could play it straight away due to the fact the rules were included with each blister pack.

Over the Christmas period I’ve spent some time looking into proper skirmish games, games that require a maximum of around 7 or 8 figures to play the default level of game. This kind of game is proper skirmish in the vein of the now deceased Confrontation and due to the number of models required is pretty easy on the wallet too. While your typical Games Workshop army for any system will set you back around £200 just for models, the skirmish games will come in at around £50 a 75% saving. It’s also lighter on the storage requirements which tends to keep wives/girlfriends happy.

Rulebooks these days tend to come in around £20 and providing you’re not GW there are no army books required either, you get everything you need in the one book (although I have to give props for War of the Ring having everything in the main book).

Luckily, the number of skirmish games right now provides a lot of choice to the consumer. The one problem with skirmish games though is the somewhat insatiable enthusiasm of gamers. While it may be that a skirmish game costs only 25% of the cost associated with an army game your average gamer cannot resists pretty models and therefore splashes out more cash on a second or third faction for a game, thus raising the expenditure towards the level of the army type games anyway. Self-restraint can be difficult at the best of times but decent looking models really can wear down a gamer’s resolve.

Off the top of my head I can list a number of skirmish games that might scratch the itch for the inhabitants of the floating citadel, providing a cheap game to get into and vastly reduced quantities of stuff to transport to gaming sessions;

  • Eden
  • Hell Dorado
  • Anima: Tactics
  • Infinity
  • Malifaux
  • Freebooter’s Fate

These would be my top picks. Eden has starter boxes that come with the rules included. Hell Dorado was sold off and the resurrection of the franchise is upon us with an English rulebook expected to drop soon along with new starter sets. Anima has some amazing models and requires only a handful of models, this was one of the major investigations I was doing over Christmas, you can also get the entire rules free online. Infinity has some gorgeous stuff, however, it was mentioned that it is quite complicated in its rules and you need a bucket-load of terrain to play it. Malifaux is already in 6 Inch Move HQ, however, I know some people have reservations about it with regards to the balance of certain models and the vast swathe of special rules each model has. Still, from a personal point of view it’s easy to learn the basics of the game and the special rules for each model are where your strategy comes from. Freebooter’s Fate I’ve looked into only slightly, although any fantasy game that requires no dice, one card deck among all players and has lots of pirates is on to a winner from the start.

As was mentioned in my post last year, the games we play generally come from consensus, although there are the times when one of us runs out and buys some stuff and the others take a look and then do the same. Obviously with a casual play group you want to be careful about spending other people’s money for them, hence why I don’t own a great raft of stuff and then try to get others to play them. The consensual side of things keeps everything amicable as people voice whether they are happy or not.

My top picks from the above list, discounting Malifaux, would be either Anima or Freebooter’s Fate. Anima has a vast array of stunning models to get and while Freebooter’s Fate does have some expensive models, they are very good and you need a handful to play at the default level.

We’ll have to see if anything new comes up this year in terms of the games we play, a decent skirmish game would get me excited though. Maybe we all need to save money and just start playing some Warmachine instead?

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