Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why You Should Consider Skirmish Gaming

Skirmish games are typically played with small armies of miniatures ranging from 5-30 miniatures per side. This makes entry into a skirmish game really easy. The games themselves are usually more detail oriented mechanics wise as well; because the forces are smaller the complexity of the game can be increased without bogging down gameplay.

Killzone at Adepticon 2011, thanks to Brian from A Gentleman's Ones Blog for the pic

Some people will disagree with me on the following, these people will ardently argue that my Micro skirmish category is the only true skirmish game, but this is my opinion. I put skirmish games into 3 categories, Micro, Macro and Scaleable skirmish.

Micro skirmish games are the ones where your force is made up of anywhere between 5 and 15 models, each model usually acts on its own even if part of a “unit.” Typically a Micro skirmish game can be completed in around forty-five minutes or less.

Macro skirmish games are the ones where your force is made up between 15 to around 30 models, sometimes the models act as units and the better ones allow models to act on their own even if part of a unit. These types of games can run anywhere from an hour to ninety minutes depending on the complexity of the system.

Scaleable skirmish games are my favorite by far as they straddle the line between Micro and Macro games. This allows you the gamer to choose how small or large you want your games to be. Both versions of Killzone and Warzone are all Scaleable skirmish games!

So to answer my own question “why skirmish gaming?” it is the easy entry in monetary and hobby outlay; with the added benefit of having fast paces small games that do not take up a lot of time. Sometimes it is just nice to have a force for a game that is painted to a higher standard than you would never consider doing in an army level game like 40k. Plus on top of that you can also go to town converting and modeling your minis to make each one be unique from the rest; this is actually one of my favorite things about skirmish.

Skirmish games also tent to be much more tactical in the gameplay, since you do not have the resources to just throw away a unit, you must seriously consider each of your actions to effectively use your units to complete the mission at hand.

Another of Brian's amazing tables!

Another thing that is really cool is the terrain making opportunities that you have with skirmish gaming that would just be impractical in a battle game (like 40k) setting. Terrain is also infinitely more important in a skirmish game than a battle one; if you play a skirmish game on a standard 25% terrain 40k table it will devolve into a shooting gallery and the side with the strongest shooting will typically run rough shod over other lists.

In my next post I will cover the importance of terrain in skirmish gaming.

Until Next time, keep your powder dry and lead flying!


  1. Great post. I am a big fan of skirmish games, which is why I mostly play Post Apocalypitc games.

    Terrain has always been essential and my tables compared to 40K are terrain heavy. I look forward to reading the next part.

  2. The Hobbit is a great skirmish system. The pricetag is high, but I prefer it to 40k or Fantasy.

  3. Great article Jim. As I have gotten older (and this busier) and as 40k has been pumped up to include more models and armies, I have found two things a) I am not as willing to buy into a force due to the time needed to make it look good and b) I would much rather not play ANY game for more than say .... An hour and a half (opposed to 4+ hours). This makes skirmish (or as I'd call it, Coffee Table Wargaming, hey we should start a blog called that hahaha) very attractive to me because I can have friends over, break out a small table and terrain and whip it on with two beautiful forces ... Also if the game gets one-sided, it's only that way for half an hour at most and not for 2-3 hours. Sometimes I feel sorry for 2/3 of the people I play at tournaments because I know they feel that way from turn two on and that is a terrible, boring place to be.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys!

    @Mattblack: I too love to load up my skirmish tables.

    @Crazy Yes the Hobbit and LotR are both fun skirmish games and highly underrated.

    @ TJ I concur with your comments on so many levels it ain't funny! Also when you get back from your deployment, if this skirmish stuff is doing well here, I'd love to open that blog with you! The name is brilliantly fun!

    Cheers for now, next post will probably go up Wed!