Skip to main content

Home Forums The Gaming Room For a non-wargamer. What's make makes each one special / unique?

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 38 total)
  • Author
  • #9348

    Could you please explain for the uninitiated among us, some of the primary areas of differentiation between say, Warhammer, 40k, War Machine, Hell Dorado, Dust, etc and something newer to the field like Wrath of Kings?

    I’ve never played a miniatures war game, and I’m curious about what draws wargamers into each different system.

    Each one seems like quite the commitment, so there’s gotta be something there, and I want to know what it is. 😉 Thanks

    Universal Head

    Miniatures tabletop games are definitely a commitment in many ways, there’s no denying it, but there really is nothing like the satisfaction you can get from seeing well painted armies clash on a proper field of terrain. The hobby aspect of it is intimately connected with the games themselves. You don’t get into this aspect of the gaming hobby if you don’t have an interest in painting miniatures and creating terrain, though of course there are a lot more things these days you can buy to reduce the effort involved. In any case, it takes a lot of time and usually a lot of money. But as you can see by my battle reports, I think it’s worth the effort.

    Let’s look at some of the games you mention.

    Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K: It’s been a long, long time since I played these games and I never got very involved in either, for two reasons: the clunky rules and the ridiculously expensive miniatures. Both games have, for some bizarre reason, held on to an old fashioned style of rules where one player takes his entire turn with all his miniatures, followed by his opponent. As you can imagine this means a lot of watching your buddy move and attack with his minis. The rich detail of the game background and the quality of the plastic miniatures is probably the biggest drawcard for some people.

    War Machine: really shook things up in its early days, thougn it seems to be waning in popularity these days. It (and all the games that follow in this list) use a more modern system where players alternate moving units. You tend to field smaller armies, and both this game and its sister game Hordes feature leader figures that channel power (either towards their units or from their units, depending on the game) and if those leaders are killed, you lose the game. This leads to some interesting strategies. The steampunk fantasy style is attractive too.

    Hell Dorado has smaller armies again; they’re called companies and usually consist of just a handful of models per side. You could call this a ‘skirmish’ game rather than a wargame. All the miniatures have strong individual personalities and special rules, so the game is relatively complex, but the interactions between the different units can be very interesting. The minis are metal and quite stunning.

    Dust is actually a bunch of games: Dust Tactics, which is a wargame based on a square grid, Dust Battlefield; which is almost the same game but played more ‘traditionally ’on a tabletop using tape measures for measuring; and Dust Warfare, which is like the latter but uses a different, more complicated system (and seems to be fading away). The games are pretty straightforward, but the alt-WWII theme is fun.

    Confrontation was a rather stylish European competitor to Warhammer Fantasy and went through several different versions, changing from a skirmish-level game with beautiful metal miniatures to an army-level game with pre-painted plastic miniatures. The pre-paints were was great for players who didn’t want to go to all the trouble of painting their armies, but the publisher Rackham really misread the market, as most wargamers like this aspect of the hobby and the game (and the company) went bust. There was also a similar sci-fi version called AT-43.

    Wrath of Kings is a nice streamlined system, and has a nice mechanic where you can activate individual figures or use leaders to activate groups of figures at a time. I like the personality of the factions and the fast, easy rules.

    There are many other games I haven’t played: eg, Dark Age, Flames of War (historical WWII), Malifaux (which uses a card-based system), Dystopian Wars – well, I could go on and on. No matter the genre you like there’s probably a game system for it.

    They all tend to be simialr in that you have a bunch of figures facing off on a terrain table, often with various objectives to gain to score victory points, and you measure things with tape measures; but beyond that the differences in miniatures, abilities of the figures, genre, scale, and various quirks of rules keep them all feeling quite different.

    Hope this gives you an idea. Any questions let me know!

    CK Lai

    I’d say for me, Dust Tactics (if you like that sort of thing) is the perfect gateway game, as it’s a Boardgame/Wargame hybrid.

    The squares mean you don’t have to use a tape measure so there’s no finicking around with the movement. You move, or you don’t. You can enter, or you can’t.

    But you also get all the elements of a wargame: Line of Sight (with a decent mechanism for determining it). Terrain elements, cover afforded by terrain, different weapons systems, range, etc. Biggest bonus: no looking up pages and pages of rules and charts. (I recall when I first got started: formation, leadership, measuring and endless charts… took ages to make a move).

    So that can give you a good taste if you want to go further or not.

    I can’t emphasise enough what UH said about the growth of smaller sized wargames. You no longer need to have 60-100 minis per side. Nowadays, 5-6 minis a side is a good size for a skirmish game. And Wrath of Kings has found a happy medium… something like 20-30 minis a side for a satisfying battle.


    I’m looking to start a skirmish game with 28-32mm miniatures (probably).

    Plan is for me and a friend to buy a faction each, paint them up and unleash the dogs… you get the idea.

    I prefer a game with starter boxes, ideally individual factions (as opposed to rival armies in one box).

    Fantasy, or SF rather than historical.

    And nothing that will give us a migraine when trying to work out the rules (cards might help in that respect).

    So… give me you suggestions and recommendations please…

    CK Lai

    2 questions:

    1. Do you prefer smaller games of up to 10 figures (max) per side that are usually individually named characters/heroes? Or

    2. Do you prefer slightly larger games with between 20-30 figures (max, per side) that are usually a combination of troop squads and named characters/heroes as leaders?

    Also, be aware with most of these games, you also have to assemble the figures yourselves, not just paint them up. (Dust Tactics is one of the few exceptions, I think).


    Assembly I expect. I know plastic easier than metal as a rule.

    I think the 20-30 may give more tactical variety, so looking leaders and squads probably.

    CK Lai

    Hmmm. OK, my personal opinion (others can chime in with their thoughts):

    1. Dust Tactics: Weird War 2. Axis with Lasers and Allies with Phasers and giant Walkers instead of tanks. Hopefully that’s SF enough for you. 😉 Can buy individual starter sets (German, US, Russia). Leaders plus squads. 20-30 figure range. Plus Walker tanks, how cool is that?! Most stuff on cards. Decently fast and simple rules. UH pointed out the other points above in his post. I personally prefer Dust Tactics as I don’t have to measure but I get the benefits of playing a miniatures game, otherwise. But you have a choice. (Just stay clear of Dust Tactics Operation Babylon for now). I use the Version 1 rules as found in the Revised Core Set. Most current starter boxes come with Version 2. Both have slight differences but nothing majorly drastic. Figures come pre-assembled.

    2. Wrath of Kings: More streamlined fantasy skirmish battles. Rules are reasonably simple and the complexity comes in the interactions of the abilities on unit/leader cards. Starter sets available for 5 factions. Have to assemble the figures. Can start with smaller Intro level game with 8-14 figures per side. Then move up to skirmish level games with about 16-31 figures per side to Battle level games with about 30-50 figures a side.

    3. Warmachines/Hordes: Fantasy meets Steampunk. Leaders and squad level. Apparently can also scale similar to WoK (Never played before). Also apparently rules are a bit more complex to grasp than the above 2 games. Again, I may be wrong as I’ve not played it before.

    4. Deadzone: SF miniatures game but although the figures can be in at 10+ range per side and in squads, they don’t activate in squads. But the starter set is very nice as it comes with a game map and actual 3D terrain. Or you could buy the starter sets individually. I’ve not played this but I’ve watched the gameplay videos as I was contemplating getting into this.

    I think that’s all the games I know about that fit your criteria: 28-32mm, short, simple(ish) rules with cards. about 20-30 figures per side. Squad based and leader activations. I play Dust Tactics and Wrath of Kings. Don’t have the time (or money) to get into more, although as I’ve said, Deadzone looks very tempting, and there’s a Kickstarter out for a game called Maelstrom’s Edge but it won’t be out till next year.

    I highly recommend you watch game play videos of these games on Youtube to see if you like what you see or not.

    Can anyone else chip in with suggestions?

    PS. AT-43 and Confrontation 4 would fit your criteria as well but they are dead games and finding enough units to field for a proper battle will prove to be a challenge. It’s amazing how few miniatures games there are on this level. Most are either skirmish based games (10 or less figures per side, usually named characters/heroes) or the granddaddy of them all: Warhammer (40K and Fantasy) but those get into close to 50-80 figures a side, if I’m not mistaken?


    Great thread guys. I’m learning a lot and as I suspected if I get dragged in any further than my existing X-Wing habit then it would probably be Dust Tactics.


    Had looked into first three you suggested, but not Deadzone.

    Is wrath of kings at retail yet? Or still KS backers only? Can’t find it anywhere but eBay and is KS surplus I think. I favour that at moment.

    Used to play Warhammer fantasy, but this is old school box set in pre-rpg setting era. Still got the box, but that needed a big table to play on and was very messy.

    Warhammer 40k is games workshop ripoff prices, so out of my budget (as I am hooked on KS at present).

    CK Lai

    Yeah. Deadzone is actually a bit out if your criteria. Individual activations even though you field the troops in squads.

    WoK? Sure. They’re available everywhere. Miniature Market, eBay… A basic starter is about $56.

    If you like KS check out Maelstrom’s Edge. Fits all your criteria but one: it’s not available yet 😛


    As you said, maelstrom is next year and were hoping to pick up at an expo in UK, maybe even find some out of print games.

    Uk price for WoK is £55, so quite expensive at moment.

    Universal Head

    If I was starting from scratch, didn’t mind assembling my figures, and wanted variety from small games up to large, I would definitely go for Wrath of Kings. The rules are pretty streamlined, the figures have personality, the prices are (relatively) reasonable. I don’t think there are starter sets as such (CMON should rectify that) but it should be easy enough to put together playable forces.

    While Dust Tactics/Battlefield is fun, I have some reservations about it. It can be a bit surprising and shocking how fast units can go down, especially those big funky walkers. Yes, you can expend Command orders to bring a unit and a vehicle back on to the table, but there’s something about the squishiness of the units that feels a bit off to me. Also, sadly, there’s a lot of confusion about the future of the game.

    Another Dust Battlefield battle report is coming in the next month or so by the way. Also one for The Battle of Five Armies and a new one for Hell Dorado.

Viewing 12 posts - 1 through 12 (of 38 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.