So, I’ve established that there’s some things I definitely don’t want in a miniatures game, which is very easy, so let’s think about some of the things I do want.
I’ve always liked fantasy themes, whether that’s traditional high fantasy (Tolkien, Warhammer, etc) or the type of fantasy that wears a sci fi visage (40k and Star Wars are in this bucket which we can debate another day). When looking over the games I’ve got and what I enjoy, the obvious gap is a high fantasy. In addition, when I consider the players in my group, many of us have either played Warhammer Fantasy, Mordheim, or D&D and have accumulated a bunch of ‘some day’ projects with a fantasy theme. Plus, dragons are cool, and whilst Reign of Fire was enjoyable, I much prefer magic and swords to slay them rather than tanks and firearms (but with all the modern terrain I’ve built for Marvel maybe there’s a Reign of Fire themed game in my future…).
Cool Hobby Opportunities
As an adjunct to theme, providing me with opportunities to execute on some cool ideas from a hobby perspective is also a requirement. The hobby side of gaming is intertwined with my love of gaming, as it nicely fills my creative drive and gives me something to do in between game sessions. I really want a theme and game that provides me more cool ideas than I can reliably execute!
Next up, I want a low model count game for two reasons. Firstly, the buy-in cost will be low. When I say this, I mean both from a monetary perspective, as well as how much hobby time is required to get a painted force to the table. Secondly, a low model count game means less kit to haul around (so is logistically simpler, which is important when you don’t own a car) and also should mean shorter game time. Given I’m quite time poor and “real life” matters tend to take precedence over gaming (wrongly, but that’s a discussion for another day), having a low time impost from a hobby and game time perspective is important to me.
Given the above comments, we want a system that’s relatively simple to pick up whilst providing sufficient tactical depth, as well as being relatively balanced. I don’t want to feel I’m having another complex set of interactions moved into my brain, as it really starts to get confusing when you’re trying to keep multiple systems straight. Also, simplicity usually reduces the time taken to learn the system, as well as leading to shorter play time and as I mentioned above, getting a good return on time invested is paramount for me. From a balance perspective, when you hit upon broken combos it initially makes you feel very smart, but if it can’t be countered in some way it really leeches enjoyment from the game. This was a key issue with WWX first edition, as being on the receiving end of certain models and combos which were very unbalanced caused me to tilt.
Another key item for the list is having some sort of progression or campaign element to the game. We often don’t get the time to engage in Role Playing Games anymore, so miss out the joy of building a character from someone who could likely die from a papercut to a hero capable of slaying a dragon. There’s also a certain nostalgia attached to progression games, with Necromunda, Mordheim and Blood Bowl having seen play among myself and my friends in our formative gaming years. That said, each of those games, apart from being Games Workshop, feature systems that involve a considerable amount of paperwork and tracking, with each model of a crew/warband/team receiving individual progression points and abilities. This becomes difficult to track over time and starts to rob the games of their simplicity. So, balance is required here.
After some exploration over the last two posts, I now have a list of things I do and don’t want from a new game. Each of these may be of more or less relative importance as I look for a new game, but they’re all there playing a part. With the list in place, it’s now time to start doing some research to see if there’s a game that meets all (or at least most) of these requirements, or if I’m starting down the path of becoming a game designer…