Monday, February 3, 2014

Why you should consider skirmish gaming

This is a re-post from my article yesterday on Dark Future 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. I've definitely been enjoying some sweet, sweet skirmishy goodness recently. The thing i've been finding frustrating/confusing is what people mean when they say 'skirmish game'. It seems like sci-fi/fantasy gamers usually mean micro-skirmish when they say 'skirmish game', but historical players seem to generally mean macro-skirmish when they say 'skirmish game'.

    Hardly a huge deal but more than once I've heard about a new 'skirmish game' that sounds interesting, but then I get reservations when I discover I'll need 30-40 models rather than 5-15.

    1. Yeah skirmish gaming can vary a lot. Most historical skirmish games range between 20-40 models it has been common for decades. The Micro skirmish game is something GW pioneered in the 90's with Necromunda; before that even sci-fi ones were based on the Historical model.

      I don't mind the larger sized skirmish games as long as the game has enough depth to make play dynamic.

      I have extremely high expectations for games with less than 20 models. For them to engage me they must have a depth that almost reaches tabletop roleplaying level.