Friday, March 5, 2010

Sides or Scenario? - Setting Up Miniatures Games

Back in my early days of miniatures gaming it was always quite easy to figure out the setup of our games. Everyone played an army that had a distinctive motive and affiliation and the battles were simple meeting engagements. As time goes on, this becomes less and less the case. As I diversify my collection, tastes change or find myself the only one collecting a particular genre, I have been forced to think more about the games I play.

One of problems I have been facing, lacking a regular miniatures gaming group or club, has been attachment and investment into armies. When individuals collect their own armies, simple battles are easier to get them into because they have already invested so much in the game and their force. When they are using armies provided by a club or another person, this attachment and the motivation for personal glory seems to dwindle. This is where scenarios come in.

Outside of factionalized games, the scenario is what provides motivation and "emotional" investment in a force to the players controlling them. Before the game, a particular player may never have controlled or even considered a force of pirates, 1930s gangsters, or the 108th Nova Guards, etc and is likely to care less what name you give them. If you give him a scenario with a back story and a set of objectives then he may very well find a bit more to go with. Suddenly the miniatures game gets him back into that little bit of role-playing that all miniatures games possess at their core.

The cool thing about scenario play is that you don't have to have everyone collecting individual armies and nobody everh as to play the same army twice. Even in a campaign game, the player(s) controlling bad or good guys doesn't always need to be the same, especially if everyone is more into the scenario and/or story. The guy playing Dirk Danger one week may very well find himself playing the minions of Abu The Mad the next and letting somebody else play the lantern-jawed good guy. This also has the added benefit of instilling a bit more balance in scenario design and game play as nobody really gets a chance to stack the campaign in their favor.

This post may be a little disjointed and rambling but as I am currently working with miniatures projects again, I find myself considering the best ways to get into actually playing some of them. My wife has even expressed an interest in pushing some lead again but I really don't have anything ready for any fo the games she knows. She and I are discussing getting into a new project together, though the genre is up in the air at the moment.

Thanks for reading and take care!



  1. Good points Eli. This is exactly why I have decided to make scenario books for the various conquests in the WtNW game. It is my hope that by playing the alternate historical scenarios that people will really get into the feel of VSF and even make their own modifications. I fell in love with Colonial gaming when I played Rorkes Drift many years ago and have taken that concept to my VSF gaming. In addition, our Pulp Alley product will be scenario and plot driven with each scenario having a different objective! I really like this post.

  2. You make some excellent points in your post Eli. Hope you and your wife get to "push some Lead armies about".
    Good Gaming!

  3. I find coming up with a good first scenario the hardest. After that game goes down, it seems like the rest of the scenarios fall into place. This is usually because the actions of the first game really dictate what needs to happen in the next ones.


  4. I have found that getting a group to shift gears can be difficult. If players are very much entrenched in the whole "faction of my own" mindset, then they may not be so understanding of the idea of switching sides or really getting into a force that is not there own.


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