Miniature wargaming is one of the most intimidating parts of the tabletop gaming hobby, especially for people who have never done it before. Warhammer probably has a lot to do with how people think of it. It has a lot of fantasy and sci-fi worlds that people think of. But Games Workshop’s huge empire isn’t the only way to play war games. Many of the best miniatures games aren’t as well-known as 40K or Age of Sigmar.
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You still might have heard of Warhammer 40k, Age of Sigmar or Fantasy Battle if you play games. Like Dungeons and Dragons, miniatures games like Warhammer have a Terminator-like grip on the public’s view of them. This is similar to how D&D has become the standard for tabletop RPGs.
As long as you haven’t tried any of the dozens of different Warhammer games and spin-offs that are out there, it might not be the game for you. Whether you like the theme, the miniatures, how many models you need to play, or how the rules work, Warhammer isn’t for everyone. That includes people who have played it for a long time and are looking for a new game or army to build.
Our top picks for the best miniature games you can play right now that aren’t Warhammer, on the other hand.
Set in a strange and dangerous world called Malifaux, the conflicts in this game take place on a strange and dangerous alternate 1900s Earth. There are horrible monsters, even worse people, a lot of ghosts, steampunk constructs, and goblins there. Dicebreaker’s favourite RPG Blades in the Dark is set in a dark world. If you’re even remotely interested in that world, this should be a world you want to check out. There is a good chance that you could be leading a swamp hag into battle, with moss-covered, gatling gun-wielding, clockwork robots around her. On the other side of the table, a group of Japanese ghosts and evil spirits.
Malifaux is very evocative and has a lot of new ideas about how to play miniature war games. A deck of cards instead of dice is used to decide one-on-one conflicts, as well as how much damage you do and how many defences you can put up. Instead of dice, this deck of cards is used. In each round, you can keep a hand of “cheat” cards, which you can use to make sure important steps in combat go your way, like changing a 2 into that 12 you’ve been saving.
For a game called Malifaux, there are only a few models in it. If you want to fight, you’ll only need to put together a 10-unit squad instead of a 200-model army. This makes each model even more personal and important, because if you lose just one, a big chunk of your army is gone for good!
Malifaux also has different activations. Large games of Warhammer aren’t very fun when your opponent kills you and you just sit and watch. In this case, activation is alternating, which means that the simple act of picking which model will start taking action first is even more important now.
If you’re interested in getting into Malifaux, the cost of getting in isn’t very high. People who are new to the hobby should be aware, though, that the small and very delicate models can be a real pain to put together. Those who play war games all the time might not be used to some of the ideas in the rulebook. They go against tradition in a few ways.
Infinity is set in our world, but 175 years into the future, when humans have reached the stars. You might not know this from the cover art, but the book is set in our world. All of the world’s major powers have begun to claim the planets that are most likely to be habitable. Many of the countries that we know of today have joined together to form new blocs of power, both on Earth and in space.
This setting lets players choose from a lot of great factions and subfactions when they build their army. Grab a set of space templars from Panoceania, the East Asian conglomerate Yu Jing, or kilt-clad Highlanders with swords from Ariadna to fight.
Infinity is one of the more detailed rulesets on this list, and it’s also one of the more difficult ones to learn. You can get a starter set and learn the rules pretty quickly, though. It is very complicated, so you can do a lot of different things that reward people who follow the rules. People on your team can go prone to get away from enemy fire and clear choke points. They can also drop mines and smoke grenades to surprise the enemy. Large mechs can be controlled and hacked, soldiers can wear stealth suits, and weapons have different fire modes and effective ranges. This is how it works: Infinity has a lot of breadth and depth, and it’s all wrapped up in a very stylish anime look. People who like Akira and Ghost in the Shell will see gun-toting motorbike drivers, hackers, mechs, cloaking tech, and alien empires all on your table.
On the table, Infinity is very clever. It has a lot of nice rules that make it easy to play. Infinity, like Malifaux, has a low number of models, which makes it more like a squad game than a 100-model mass-combat game. Each time a player does something, like shoot, dodge, or heal, they roll 20-sided dice. When you try to do something, you need to get a result that’s lower or equal to how good the soldier who’s doing it is. It’s great that when you do any of these things while your enemy can see you, he or she can react. This means that you’ll be doing just as much on your off turns as you are during your actual turns.
Gosh, haven’t there been a lot of war and fighting in the last few games, has there? It would be great if we could put our differences aside and come together for some fun, organised sporting events. Punch each other to death instead.
Not all miniature wargaming is about amassing armies and seeing whose guns can pump out the most lead in a single turn. Dreadball and Guild Ball, on the other hand, make you play a game of goals and tackles, with a little unfair play thrown in.
Guild Ball is by far the most popular of the two fantasy football games that people play on their phones. The game is set in a steampunk world, and the players are from different guilds in different cities around the world. Because it’s a wargame, it also has rulers and templates like a real one. There are rules about how balls bounce around the pitch, and you’ll have a stat line for things like how far you can kick the ball and how quickly you can defend yourself. It’s the more traditional of the two games, which might make it more appealing to people who have played mini games before.
Real football fans know the basics of the game and can move on from there. It looks like you’re passing a ball around the field and trying to score in your opponent’s goal. The wackier things are added on top. As far as I can tell, Guild Ball has the best sculpts of the two options. It also has a lot of unique and interesting-looking characters, as well as themed terrain and pitches you can buy to make the game more realistic.
Steamforged, the publisher of the game, said recently that it was ending the game. You might have to look around to find a set.
Dreadball, on the other hand, is a lot more silly and light. Unlike Guild Ball, Dreadball doesn’t make it easier or faster to play. It’s more about the drama and excitement of televised sporting events in the far-flung, alien future of its sci-fi setting, where Guild Ball is more about a true simulation of a fantasy version of the game. It’s just like in real sports: You play through leagues and get the crowd going, and there’s a referee who walks around the field to make sure you don’t do anything that’s too obvious.
It has a hex-based system, and instead of the standard football rules, there are strike zone scoring areas that give you different points based on where you score from for a little risk and reward. The box comes with everything you need to play Dreadball. You don’t have to think about army compositions or how much it will cost to put together your team.
Dreadball’s models aren’t as good as Guild Ball’s, but there are a lot of sci-fi tropes and lookalikes from other games, including Warhammer spin-off Blood Bowl, which it clearly draws a lot from. A smorgasbord of silly factions is a lot of fun to choose from. Each one is unique and fits in with the more comedic universe. In fact, the rulebook even has a section on making your own mutant team by combining body parts from other miniatures. This is a great idea.
Star Wars: Legion
Everyone knows Star Wars, good or bad. So it was almost certain that a miniatures game set in a galaxy far, far away would be played by fans all over the world. There are three separate miniatures games that let you fight across land, air, and sea – or more accurately land space, and big space. People may not have known that this was the case. Where X-Wing focuses on close-quarters dogfights between ships and Armada focuses on huge fleet battles, Legion puts its boots in the mud and fights on the ground.
You should play Legion if you want a wargame that’s easy for new players to get into. You can get rid of a lot of the extra stuff that comes with some older and heavier systems. This one is very simple. In this game, the core rules are very simple and the models are very easy to make. All of the stats for each unit fit on a single standard-sized card, and there are only two groups to choose from: good guys or bad guys. Instead of rulers and piles of d6s, you’ll use eight-sided dice with symbols for success and failure and measuring sticks for moving your units in set blocks, like the ones in the game. Getting used to the game is a breeze thanks to this. It’s also very quick and light to play.
So, if you’re a Star Wars fan, you could get three different sets from each of the three games and play them all at the same time. You could start with a galaxy-wide fleet battle in Armada, then move on to a one-on-one fight in X-Wing, then land on the planet in Legion.
Imagine if World War II never came to an end. Is it still going on in 1947? Command the armies of the United States, Japan, Germany, or Cthulhu-worshiping cultists from all over the world. Take charge of armies of retro-futuristic soldiers, mechs, and pin-up girls, and make them fight for you. If you’re new to tabletop wargames, you might be afraid of how complicated a game is, how much work goes into painting minis, and so on, but don’t be afraid. It’s great if that’s the case. This game starts off with simple mechanics and then has a friendly setting. You can also buy pre-painted miniatures to make the game even more fun!
Get to play one of the first tabletop war games ever made. Jump into the huge and rich world of Warhammer Fantasy, which has been around for more than 30 years and has a lot of different things. Fight with a lot of different troops and defeat your enemy. This is possible because of a complex but simple system that allows you to get very involved in the tactical depth of the battles. There are different types of units like lords and heroes as well as rare, core, and special ones.
best tabletop war games