My Growing Affair with Skirmish Games
In the last year, I've observed a change in my perspective about collecting armies for miniature games. It likely comes from being busier in my personal life, with my wife and daughter, on top of living in a new place with a new job. When I was young(er) and focused solely on Warhammer 40k and Fantasy, I wanted to collect massive armies, where I could field every feasible combination of troops, ensuring that as the meta evolved, or a new Codex or Army Book came out, I'd already be on top of what was best. The idea of owning an entire Chapter of Space Marines (or an equivalent measure of Chaos Marines) was a long-time goal. When Detachments came out in 40k, I saw them as Achievements for collecting specific groups of models and wanted to be able to run them all.
Once I started playing Infinity though, that all changed.
Today, I'm going to talk about why I've come to love smaller-scale games, and why you should too! They seem to be all the rage lately, with even GW jumping on the band wagon with Shadow Wars (a rehash of Necromunda), Warhammer Underworlds, and reviving Blood Bowl and Warhammer Quest.
Painting and Converting
At one point (not long ago) I had about 20,000 points worth of Chaos Space Marines, Renegades and Daemons to paint, the sheer number of models was daunting, but not the biggest problem, which was keeping up with the meta.
Since I enjoy going to tournaments, playing with my friends, and not getting my butt kicked, keeping up with what is "good" in 40k, felt more like chasing the dragon, or working a second job, than having fun. Many of my fiends would develop fast ways to make their models acceptable, though only Obadiah spent as much time as I did (and really, much more time) making sure that each miniature was a realized thought brought to the table. I was never happy with "good enough" but felt that it was impossible to keep up with the changes, especially with how often I'd get distracted by other list ideas or conversion opportunities.
Playing games like Shadow Wars, Infinity, and the new AoS Skirmish Game, allows me to spend more time on individual miniatures, painting them to a high quality, and converting them to all be truly unique. With fewer miniatures required to play, I can act on more of my concepts, and see them through to completion... You can totally expect to see those Inquisitorial Henchmen above converted into a playable Shadow Wars warband very soon.
Anyone who has read my blog for very long, knows that I have pretty a solid case of Hobby ADD. I get excited about new and shiny things, or come up with new themes and ideas, which I act quickly on, often leaving whatever current project I'm working on in the dust. I like lots of games, I like trying lots of games, and I really even enjoy the process of learning rules for lots of games (call me a masochist). Naturally, playing lots of games, means lots of miniatures, which in turn take up lots of space!
Jumping around from game to game, is both taxing on resources and time, but by playing games with fewer miniatures, I'm able to justify trying a wider variety of games. The investment of time, money and space into larger model-count games simply doesn't work for me while maintaining an active social and family life.
What's in my Cabinet?
Instead of collecting one game incredibly heavily, I now enjoy nearly 10, and if you count every miniature I have, it's actually fewer models than I had in just my old Chaos army!
- Infinity – Combined, USAriadna, and collection Imperial Service (I'll probably play them after 2018 Adepticon).
- Blood Bowl – Dwarfs and Humans, and I'll probably add Halflings next.
- Warhammer Quest – I'm really hoping that they release rules for all the various monsters out there, it would be great to go into an Undead dungeon or one infested with Orcs, like the classic game. In the mean time, having an excuse to buy and paint heroes from various factions is very fun, plus in next month's White Dwarf the Kharadron heroes will have rules for the game, woohoo!
- Warhammer Underworlds – Not out yet, but being fast-paced, with a small model count, simple rules, and designed from the ground up for tournament play sounds like a great game for me.
- Age of Sigmar – I've still got my Beastclaw Raiders, and was tempted by Kharadron Overlords, but the idea of building a new army from the ground up, which requires scores of miniatures to play well, doesn't really seem appealing to me. With the Skirmish expansion announced, it's likely that I'll be playing (or at least building/converting) more of that than full-scale AoS in the future. I'm hoping that Beastclaw Raiders will be playable in Skirmish, but I'm not counting on it.
- Heavy Gear Blitz – Another company that I've adored for years is Dream Pod 9, I kick started their Heavy Gear campaign pretty steeply, and while I don't generally call their game a Skirmish-scale game, it really only uses 10-20 models per side, so fits squarely in that category.
- Shadow Wars – Now that they've released rules for Inquisition, Shadow Wars has piqued my interest as it seems like a great way to play INQ-28, and will hopefully form a strong community. While I love the 40k Universe, I think that this may be the best game for me to engage with it moving forward.
- Beyond the Gates of Antares – I have a soft spot for Warlord Games, and especially Rick Priestly. While not specifically a skirmish game, I've found a couple other players locally who play, and they want to focus on smaller-sized games, so I'll join in the fun a bit with my Isorians and Ghar, even a large army of Antares pales in comparison to a standard 40k or AoS army.
- Space Hulk – Such an amazing game, can be played very competitively and has a very strong following of people who've played the same game for decades, and it doesn't require anything that isn't in the box!
All that said, the only problem I run into now is that getting games in regularly of each game is basically impossible, haha. That's fine though, I've got more time to hobby than to play (which doesn't say a whole ton), and having the variety to hop between is helpful to keep my ADD satisfied. I still focus on playing Infinity as my primary competitive game, but the others are all wonderful distractions, which I can get occasional games in with my friends.
I Can Skirmish and So Can You!
If you're a long-time wargamer like myself, or someone who has just got started, I would recommend trying some games outside of your comfort zone. Right now is probably the best time to be enjoying the hobby, there are countless games to satisfy all kinds of play-style and genres. The internet has exposed us gamers to a broader range of companies making these games, and with more competition, publishers have been putting more effort than ever in producing the most beautiful miniatures, and well-crafted rules. Going forward, I think that the games requiring large collections will go to the wayside, making way for more games with lower barriers to entry.