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by
 

Welcome to the miniatures column. Here, I get to pretend that people are reading what I have to say about a variety of topics, mostly concerning those little things that people spend lots of time buying and painting, and getting all upset over when you drop them off the table. Or when the dog/cat/small child runs off when them in their mouth. Yes, those.

If you were expecting some smart-assed commentary on the state of the RPG world, wrong column. Right idea, though. We're going to be pretty free-wheeling. We'll discuss the industry, to a degree. I'm sure I will give out some barbed witticisms and such regarding things. And we'll do the normal stuff, like having a discussion about using historical battles as inspiration in gaming. That sort of fun.

This IS about miniatures; and also about some of the games various designers wrote to get you to buy those miniatures. Whatever you think about miniatures, and miniature based games (which we shall call "wargames", because it takes up less space than "miniature based games") this column will probably be the place that you learn more.

I won't give you a history of miniatures and gaming. Or discuss the great chicken and egg game of which came first, role-playing or wargaming. I don't care. I am both a wargamer and a role-player, and I like the usage of miniatures in both environments. The game of AD&D gains quite a bit for me when I see that Troll swinging a giant bone at me on the table. And my fighter figure is so much...smaller. Or when my street samurai is trying to avoid the crowd of wageslaves and shoot at the physical adept on the other side of street. The ability to SEE it adds something to the mental images. (You may not agree. You're not alone. But neither am I.) Still...there is something more than the sight of figures on a map to represent my role-playing character. Something primal, about the need to move lots of figures on a board with homemade scenery...the need for tabletop miniature games.

I also will be doing a lot of talking about tabletop miniature games, the new breed of neo-wargames. Neo-, because they ain't your daddy's wargames. (Or, if he's a fan, great!) More than about unit-level tactics, these games are growing in popularity dramatically. And I love 'em.

Just for grins, I am going to include both scenarios and battle reports from some of my games. If you like it, great. If not, let me know why - we'll work it out. After all...I'm easy.

What else shall I talk about? Thanks for asking. I expect to touch on a massive number of topics. The Industry. What's WRONG with the Industry. Why Games Workshop is slowing creating a New World Order. Why Target Games/Heartbreaker seems to be recruiting so many of Games Workshop's former employees. Why ICE's Silent Death is such a great game. Why I can't seem to find anybody to PLAY great games. Why...well, you get the idea. It has been suggested to me, by my lady-love, that I write down all of the topics on strips of paper and keep them in a hat. Whenever a need for a topic arises, reach into the hat and ta-da! Topic! Sadly, I can't find a hat large enough.

For openers, I am going to talk primarily about WHAT'S OUT THERE. And, to do that, I am going to talk about WHAT I LIKE. Buck up folks, I like a lot.

Here is an incomplete list of some of the games we will, at one point or another, be looking at. I am sure that I am missing something that I will regret; but these things happen. Feel free to send your comments. I hope that you've heard of one or more of them; but, if not, you'll learn more from this column.

  • SILENT DEATH - I.C.E.
  • LEGIONS OF STEEL, PLANETSTORM - Global Games
  • BLOODSTORM - Ral Partha
  • RAVEN - Harlequin
  • FLINTLOQUE - Alternative Armies
  • BATTLESYSTEM - TSR
  • WARHAMMER, WARHAMMER 40,000, EPIC 40,000, GORKA MORKA, NECROMUNDA, WARHAMMER QUEST, BLOOD BOWL - Games Workshop
  • WARZONE, CHRONOPIA - Heartbreaker/Target Games
  • FULL THRUST, DIRTSIDE II, - Ground Zero Games
  • HEAVY GEAR - Dream Pod 9
  • BATTLETECH - FASA
  • BABYLON 5 WARS - Agents of Gaming
Each of these games has a loyal following, and I hope not to offend all of them. Each of these games are good games, despite the fact that each have faults. More on that when we address each proper.

Despite owning all of these systems, the ones I play the most tend to be Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Why? The answer can - and probably will - fill an entire column. Suffice it to say that these games are simple to teach, fun to play, and benefit greatly from Games Workshop's burning desire to shove them down everyone's throat. Not that the others do not have merits - they do; and they're fun to boot. Again...a whole 'nother column will touch on this.

Just to leave you wanting more, I am going to leave you with a few websites to check out for some impressive visuals. Take a look at www.games-workshop.com, www.target.se, and www.ralpartha.com to see what some of the greatest miniatures look like. And then prepare to feast your eyes on the next column, where I tell you what to do with these little pieces of art.

What would you like to see? I always enjoy audience participation.

Let the games begin!
Robert E. Allen III

Feedback encouraged to warmaster@rpg.net!


Other columns at RPGnet

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