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GameTalk: Minis vs Cardboard

Byron Grant for GrogHeads ~

Minis vs Cardboard

Some of the earliest wargame rules – notably Little Wars by H.G. Wells – used miniatures for gameplay. More recently, there has been an incredible uptake of wargames that have pre-built and painted miniatures (Wings of War, Flames of War, Warhammer, to name just a few). What’s the primary fascination with miniatures, and what can they do better than cardboard on the tabletop?


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One Response to GameTalk: Minis vs Cardboard

  1. Ghesthar says:

    A few things, at least for me.

    First, the hobby of assembly/painting in and of itself is something that I actively enjoy instead of finding a chore. I accept that this may actually be an offputting aspect for many, though.

    Second, immersion and just visual appeal. Even with the little prepainted x-wings or similar, it looks and feels a lot more ‘fun’ than hex and tile games. I think this can be more than just miniatures – in my opinion, the blocks used in games like Napoleon’s Triumph combined with the maps give it a very immersive feeling, probably more than even miniatures would give, because they fit the game.

    Third is probably a sense of ‘ownership’ or ‘identity’ – for the most part, the force one is playing has a lot more customizability in the miniature-based games, meaning there is more of a feeling of investment as well as seeing something that ‘you made’ succeed, and tinkering with lists or similar.

    So, in my view, there are plenty of things that miniatures do better than cardboard, but none of them are actually directly related to the quality of the game – mechanically, there is very little, if anything, that a miniature could represent that a chit could not or vice versa. It is a multi-faceted tradeoff between cost, visual appeal, ease of access, time/space requirement, and a pile of other factors.

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