Miniatures Belong in Games

More
01 Aug 2019 00:00 #300328 by oberael
But there’s one piece of criticism that I see very...

Something that consistently surprises me about the tabletop hobby is how divisive miniatures seem to be. Some of the reasons people are opposed to miniatures in a game seem sensible enough; sometimes they lack the inclination to paint them (which I will address later on). Often it is felt that they drive the price of a game up past what is considered reasonable to many people, and it can be difficult to argue with that – especially when we consider how expensive games are becoming. Cost is already a huge barrier to entry for many into the hobby. Tabletop gaming is absolutely a luxury – no getting past that.

Read more...

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 08:04 #300329 by Legomancer
No.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 08:32 #300331 by fightcitymayor
The distinction is simply tabletop wargames vs. boardgames. Of course tabletop wargames need minis, the minis hobby there is the entire point. The problem is when companies like CMON toss together an unimpressive set of rules then attempt to increase interest with shiny plastic mins that are wholly unnecessary. Zombicide (which BTW is releasing a brand new Version 2.0 in 2020) would work just fine with standees, and sell approximately 1/10th as well.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 08:56 #300338 by Sagrilarus
The boardgame industry is aware that they need to provide a package that is different enough from video games to attract a specific audience. So to some extent saying "you should try miniatures" is putting the cart before the horse. Miniature games are designed to attract people already predisposed to the aesthetics of miniatures, already looking for them. The industry is spear-fishing.

That's fine.

The other thing I'll mention is that you can get miniatures reasonably painted by people (other than you) who do it for a relatively reasonable fee. I work with a guy that does historics and has thousands of minis, most of which he did not paint, at least not the majority of the work. He'll send 400 British soldiers to the guy and get them back red-coated and white-socked, and then he will do detail work to make one unit the Queen's Highlanders, another the 4th Infantry by adding a dab of whatever color distinguishes them from the remainder of the army. There are people that do this if you look around a bit.

And . . . in case you need a corporate sponsor, look to Tabletop Gaming Manual by Matt Thrower, which has an entire chapter dedicated to teaching you about miniatures painting. Very nicely done.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike, oberael

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 09:46 #300339 by Shellhead
I was a teenage wargamer, and stacks of chits seemed like a perfectly reasonable way to handle military units in that context. I still feel that chits or tokens are more suitable than miniatures for some games, depending on the size of the board and the quantity of units. For example, War of the Ring (Ares edition) was a poor choice for minis, especially given the relatively large size of the minis and the small size of some of the map sections.

But sometimes minis are appropriate and really add to the atmosphere of the game. I bought Space Hulk 3rd and was blown away by the detailed sculpts of the minis, and knew that I should paint them. But I had zero painting experience and wanted to get some practice. I watched some YouTube tutorials, and a friend had me bring over some zombies from Zombies!!! so I could try out basic priming and painting techniques without worry. Then I painted my five Fury of Dracula figures, and they turned out okay.

Space Hulk remains partially painted. The xenomorphs were relatively easy, so all that remains is painting their claws that tricky shade of horn-brown. But the Space Marines are hopelessly complex with detail, requiring quite a spectrum of paint colors if I want them to look as intended. Despite the partial progress on the painting, I wanted to play Space Hulk while it was relatively new. Unfortunately, one of my friends broke the winged top off of Sergeant Lorenzo, and I am skittish about painting them until I repair him. And repairing him will require special substances, more YouTube, and some practice on some handy sprues that I kept.

Eventually, I realized that Games Workshop isn't a boardgame publisher, it's a company that sells specialized and overpriced paints in tiny containers. Most of their minis are fiddly with details, and even when painted by an expert, they end up looking too busy and cluttered to be appealing to my eye. So when I bought Silver Tower, Hammerhal, and Blackstone Fortress, I bought very reasonably priced second-hand copies that were stripped of just the minis. Instead of minis, I made nice tokens with downloaded art craftglued to wooden nickels. It's true that boardgamers appreciate the tactile feel of minis, but the same could be said for quality poker chips and even my wooden tokens.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike, Vysetron, oberael

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 10:41 #300344 by Michael Barnes
As much as I love miniatures - including all of the hobby aspects - I can’t agree that all or even most board games need miniatures even for aesthetic or tactile purposes. Many games- such as the upcoming Dune reprint- simply do not need them to create a complete and holistic atmosphere. Consim games do not need them because informational counters are superior in this format to having off-board references. Part of the Eurogame aesthetic is abstracted, undetailed wooden pieces.

I’m completely unimpressed by pretty much any set of board game manufacturer miniatures and I don’t paint them except in very rare cases (all my Dungeonquest pieces are painted). There’s no point in wasting time painting and dealing with junk-ass bubblegum machine figures when I can paint GW, Northstar, or even D&D figures. I see these Kickstarters with their 3D renders of the 300 minis you’ll get at the $200 pledge level and I’m immediately disinterested.

Here’s the thing. No miniature has ever improved a bad design. Nor has any miniature ever made a great design better. Sure, a decent set of plastics can make a game look neat (see: Cthulhu Wars) but at the end of the day, I find myself preferring to pursue my miniatures hobby separate from board games.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, Frohike, Saul Goodman

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 10:59 #300346 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
I get that minis have a purpose . But I'll go into get off my lawn territory by saying in some cases, they are not only unnecessary, but actually hinder the game experience. Not to mention add cost and take up more space .

Witness the latest edition of HANNIBAL, where the minis were standard and the leader stands were add ons . Why is this an issue ? Because the leaders in that game are very important AND have a Strategy and Tactics rating . So making that info harder to read impacts game play. Many players expressed their dismay at their inclusion but PHALANX insisted.

Now the same company is doing SUCCESSORS. In that game, leaders have FOUR stats - Strategy, Tactics, Rank, and in some cases Prestige. How the hell are you gonna communicate that on a mini ? Jaro, aka Jar Jar, the head Phalanx dude, says minis will make the game more accessible. I call bullshit - its one of the more nuanced CDGs out there . So again minis are standard, the more functional leader stands with cardboard cut outs indicating stats are extra. Charge me more for the more functional option ? Fuck you .

Rant off.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Dr. Mabuse, Frohike, mc

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 11:12 #300347 by barrowdown

Msample wrote: Now the same company is doing SUCCESSORS.

Rant off.


Holy shit! That is awesome that is being reprinted!

Now I will be able to pick up a cheap GMT copy.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Gary Sax, Nodens

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 13:00 #300356 by Msample
Replied by Msample on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
Yeah, buy that version. Once the KS for the new one hits later this month, people will start dumping copies. It's far better than the original edition.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
01 Aug 2019 19:46 #300377 by Erik Twice
Miniatures are just the wrong artistic choice for most games.

Detailed, realistic miniatures do not fit the abstract portrayal of a game's world. That is, the huge, detailed miniatures of Rising Sun do not fit the abstract, featureless map of Japan you put them on. One asks you to take them up close, analyze their details and take them as an objective view of reality. The other asks you to focus on the big picture, to ignore all the details and focus on what matters for gameplay.

It's a bit like taking photographs and pasting them on a impressionist drawing. There's nothing wrong with either style, but it's clear they don't belong together. To me, Rising Sun's artistic direction is a failure, because it doesn't even notice that turning Hokkaido into a featureless blue line is not compatible with detailed sculpts. In other words, Rising Sun's artistic design is the equivalent of taking a Playmobil and lying him on a Carcassone board.

Compare it to Pandemic, Root or the new edition of Dune, which are all great looking games. The way you interact with the world in these games is rather abstract. You don't zoom in to order your troops personally and you don't treat sicknesses directly. So, logically, the way you see the world is equally abstract: Areas are representative, not accurate, troops are represented by symbols and details such as weapons are done away with.

Space Hulk sits on the opposite end of the spectrum and yet it follows the same principle: It's a detailed, eye-level game and both the game board and the playing pieces reflect that. It loses in abstraction, because detail is an important part of its setting and its gameplay. The facing of your characters matter. Their weapons and their armour are significant and they are portrayed in an equally significant manner.

And, even then, Miniatures are just a hassle:

- They break or become damaged easily.
- They are heavy and cannot be transported comfortably.
- Unpainted miniatures look terrible.
- They take large amounts of space on the board.
- They obscure the game state and make it harder to parse.
- They make a game less accessible, specially for those that have motor or vision problems.
- They make games significantly more expensive. Which also restricts access, for the record.

And since I'm being so honest, well, I just think the push for miniatures is consumerist nonsense. It comes from this maximalist idea that more stuff is better, without any regard for actual quality of play or artistic beauty. I don't think the influx of miniatures has improved the state of the hobby and only a handful of games have improved because of them.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, lj1983, Frohike, sornars, Vysetron

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
02 Aug 2019 00:38 #300386 by Frohike
Replied by Frohike on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
Miniatures should be a formal choice that fits the representational aesthetic of a design, not some default in the service of an assumed imperative toward maximal representation and maximal toy factor. Putting them in any game as added “value” without considering their function is the same representational myopia that drives AAA video game design to assume that realistic horse testicle physics are worth development time.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Jackwraith

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
02 Aug 2019 00:59 - 02 Aug 2019 01:05 #300387 by Sevej
Replied by Sevej on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
I love miniatures in my games, except when I don't. Are they replacable with chits? Sure, but I love being able to easily pick them. The table presence doesn't hurt either. My first board game was Battlelore, and had it been chits, my first unboxing wouldn't have been as exciting. I _am_ still painting my BL minis. Scooping my entire army during a large attack in RuneWars would have not felt the same if they were chits (and yes, they're fully painted!). I've seen both versions of Talisman 4th ed, and I vastly prefer the minis, even unpainted.

All of my board games with miniatures _will_ have their value dropped significantly without minis. Sure, they play exactly the same. But having these minis make me happy. I'm not an AI machine. I love the stuff.

And, even then, Miniatures are just a hassle:

- They break or become damaged easily.
- They are heavy and cannot be transported comfortably.
- Unpainted miniatures look terrible.
- They take large amounts of space on the board.
- They obscure the game state and make it harder to parse.
- They make a game less accessible, specially for those that have motor or vision problems.
- They make games significantly more expensive. Which also restricts access, for the record.


I don't think this applies to all minis board game, except maybe the last one. And I'm willing to pay more for that. My Zombicide Black Plague looks awesome with minis. The miniatures are quite tough, and they look ok unpainted. The details are fine. I think Barnes is too hard on these gumball minis. I actually trying to paint less GW minis these days since the last time I painted my orks, their details and undercuts practically _killed_ me. I love the table presence it has.

Anyway, Zombicide is an excellent specimen of a minis board game. It's just fabulous. I love almost everything about it. Its storage system, brilliant modular map, etc... and the minis kick ass, despite whatever Barnes said.

The problems are with board games trying to fit in miniatures, just to rake in the $100 price tag.

Finally, if I need a kick ass AT game without minis, I can always fire up my laptop. For boardgames? Minis.
Last edit: 02 Aug 2019 01:05 by Sevej.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Frohike, BillyBobThwarton

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
02 Aug 2019 01:41 #300390 by ubarose
Replied by ubarose on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
My need to have all the toys is no doubt rooted in some forgotten childhood trauma or loss. But, yeah, I like minis when they are appropriate. I think my favorite minis are all the furniture and doors in Heroquest. Totally unnecessary, and totally wonderful.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
02 Aug 2019 02:17 #300392 by Frohike
Replied by Frohike on topic Miniatures Belong in Games
Dungeon crawls are kind of a free-for-all when it comes to props. 3D objects popping out of those dungeon maps just seems to work. The trickier ones are dudes on a map games. For example in War of the Ring, I do think most of the minis should have been tokens/counters (someone on BGG posted a beautiful shot of what the game would look like with wood disks... I’ll need to track it down), but some of the more dramatic tokens could have remained minis for impact, such as the Nazgul. On the other hand, some DoaM designs like Lords of Hellas or Kemet seem to be structured with minis in mind, with plenty of room for placement & grouping and enough visual distinctions to keep them functional. It just comes down to considered design vs throwing plastic dolls onto an abstracted map: does the end result look evocative and readable, or does it just become a pile of indistinguishable, chunky grey PVC sculpts?
The following user(s) said Thank You: Shellhead, mtagge

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
06 Aug 2019 11:28 #300510 by barrowdown

Msample wrote: Yeah, buy that version. Once the KS for the new one hits later this month, people will start dumping copies. It's far better than the original edition.


I couldn't wait. Snagged a punched copy for $35.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Msample

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Moderators: Gary SaxFrohike
Time to create page: 0.336 seconds