A while back one of my best board gaming buddies moved to South Korea. I was very sad to see him go because he was the one who would learn the most random obscure games with me. He was also the one who was my gaming companion since I started gaming over the last few years. Suffice it to say it was a dark time…just kidding. Upon moving to SK he decided to forward all of his Kickstarter projects to my address so someone could enjoy them still and in case of his return they were well taken care of. I happily obliged. Recently I have been receiving these games. Two Rooms and a Boom was the first. The second was basically everything you could have kicked from the BattleCon Kickstarter from Level 99 Games. The most recent one was Kingdom Death Monster. Which leads me into my topic today; at what point does a board game become more about the miniatures than the game itself?
I wish to be critical about miniatures today because I think it is an important thing to talk about when looking at board games. I am by no means saying that minis in games are bad or that miniature games in general are bad. What I would like to speak to is miniatures being used to bait people into buying a bad game. They are so beautiful that sometimes we don’t really care about the game behind it and just want the minis. This is not inherently bad if you really like miniatures; however, it sets a precedent for publishers in the community that I personally do not really approve of.
In essence board gaming combines clever rules and beautiful components to give the players a wonderful experience. Some games achieve this using just cardboard (Dead of Winter by Plaid Hat Games), others utilized plastic to a disgustingly awesome degree (Conan By Monolith Games). These two examples show two separate sets of components with great games attached. They are solid buys on most levels if you have the money because they will give you a good experience. But what happens when we do not have a good game attached?
Well then we have to change how we value the game. Since games with miniatures usually cost a significant amount more than other games it causes us to more carefully evaluate how we decide to buy these games. Some individuals just want the miniatures. Places like Cool Mini or Not originally started selling games that had full assembled miniatures but the games were very mediocre. Roll dice, perform action, get stuff. Not very involved. They have moved into a better position now-a-days, recently having Eric Lang design a game around their beautiful miniatures. This game is called Blood Rage and it looks fantastic.
Another category we have are Kickstarter games that are just pushing minis in your face to get you to buy them for $100.00 or more. I have been a victim to this a few times. Buying games such as Cthulhu Wars, Guardian Chronicles and Myth. Myth is the biggest perpetrator of selling minis with pretty much nothing attached. They have wonderful minis and a very expensive Kickstarter, but when the box of minis was finally received people we re incredibly disappointed by the “game” attached. The rules were horrible, the game was missing lots of stuff that was Kickstarter only, and the game was not play-tested very well. I guess the best advice here is unless you really love the minis remember that at the very lowest level you are buying a game.
So once you have decided on a minis board game to play I have found another piece of advice for you to consider. How much time do you want to spend “punching out” the game? In a non-minis board game punch out usually means getting all the cardboard pieces out and organized. In minis board games it can be drastically different. Some games come with pre-assembled miniatures, so their set up time is similar to most other non-minis board games. Others are ones that require you to assemble all the miniatures yourself. The boxes of these games will look more like the inside of a Warhammer 40k Army box than a board game. In most cases you will not be able to play the game for some time while you assemble the miniatures, which I find incredibly frustrating but I understand it saves money on game costs. This is the case with Kingdom Death Monster. It has more sprues of plastic in it than it does actual board game!
Miniatures in board games are awesome but we really need to make sure we are careful as a consumer in supporting good games with miniatures attached. Otherwise the plastic will over take everything, keep us in pods to harvest our money and then create a really shitty world for us to live in with roll and move mechanics! Thanks for reading, I will see you next week!