Filler games! What do I mean by filler games? Well, in our gaming group, one particular game dominates our local gaming store’s table space, so we play smaller scale games while we wait for another player to finish. Or after a long day when we don’t feel like getting out a bunch of models, we play a skirmish game instead. That’s what I mean. It’s like Thanksgiving; your main game is the turkey and the filler games are the mashed potatoes and gravy. Mmm, gravy. The purpose of these games is not to take away interest from the game that you or your group has built a foundation on, but to make it better. Keep the kids in the store longer. They help you ask questions, find new stories, experiences, and loves. Or they just grow your community as one game goes into a lull for a short time.
I really enjoy the hobby aspect of this culture so I collect way too much. My hoarding comes in handy though because these games are perfect for when me and a buddy have down time. Another nice thing about filler games is that they don’t break the bank but still have complexity. These games are titans in their own right and have their own large communities, so I don’t want to demean them by suggesting they only be played as a palate cleanser. However, because of the low model count and shorter time-investment required, they do serve that role too.
I’ll dive deeper into these games in the coming months but here are a couple of suggestions for games to fill the gaps plus a brief synopsis of them.
MERCS takes place in a distant future where mega corporations have formed private militaries. No expense was spared in arming their troops. Each corporation uses technologies that their companies have developed or stolen to retrofit their squads. There are currently 12 different factions with each having their own play style and aesthetic. There are currently 10 models to each faction. For each game, you and your opponent pick a number of models to pit against each other. The usual number is 5 to 6. The game is played on a 2×3 or 3×3 depending on your preference. You can use 2D terrain or 3D depending on what you have available.
Instead of using a tape measurer you use the cards that are provided with your force to move around. The game also uses a D10 system to work out results. Each player rolls a D10 for each model they are fielding to represent their initiative for the turn and both players start at 10 and work their way down until all models have had a turn. The games are usually all scenario based. Terrain used for this game is all sci-fi oriented, so it works well with Infinity or 40k terrain. Also, I think the price to start this game makes it one of the best. For only $35 off their website or your local gaming store, you can get an entire 10 man faction plus their cards. MERCS is a bargain. All you need is dice.
As an aside, there is a board game that MegaCon Games offers called MERCS Recon which takes place in the MERCS universe and uses the same models. That game also focuses on espionage between corporations. They also offer Myth the board game, which is near and dear to my heart.
Dark Age by Cool Mini or Not
Dark Age takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting that transpires thousands of years after what normal main stream media usually portrays post-apocalyptic. It has 8 factions with multiple sub-factions. Each faction looks totally different from the last. From space Aztecs to walking robotic abominations, each has their own play style and spells. The game uses a d20 system to work out results, with lower results being the better outcome. So, if you’re like me then this is the game for all you gamers out there that frequently roll double 1’s.
Dark Age is usually played on a 4×4 area and uses the same terrain you would find on any board and requires a standard tape measurer. Cool Mini Or Not sells templates and tokens which help with some mechanics, but they are not required. Cost to get into this game depends on which faction or sub-faction you go with, but I got in for around $100. I should add, a lot of re-sculpts that this company is putting out are breathtaking.
Arena Rex is a game put out by Red Republic Games. It’s gladiator combat! Red Republic Games has made a couple different factions for Arena Rex, each with beautiful resin models. I have a few and I don’t think at my best I could do them justice. When I say factions it’s kind of a loose term as you can take whomever you want but you get a bonus for taking faction pure teams. There is everything from Roman gladiators to Egyptians to Native American/Norseman. You and your opponent pick a model count you would like to field, usually between 3 to 6, and field those models. The game has a unique mechanic; each character’s card contains a damage tree. After rolling for damage and defenses you look to see how many successes you have and pick a path on your damage tree and work out the result. There is everything from pushing your opponent into a trap on the field, to knocking him/her down, or to just doing straight damage. There is also a mechanic to win the crowd which gives you extra dice for the coming dice rolls.
Games are usually between 40 to 90 minutes but all the games I’ve played are around 30 as glory doesn’t come to those who dance around. As far as entry price to get in, I think the models are a little expensive but as I mentioned earlier you are paying for quality. And if you build a complete group its not too bad for what you get. As far as the terrain you use, you would want to build some obstacles as this game really likes dangerous ones. The terrain is as integral to the experience as the models.
I’ll start with Batman as this company puts out two great games with different rules for different comic book universes.
Much like a lot of you, I love comic books. If you don’t, then I’m sure a lot of you watched the animated cartoons of superheroes; even if you lived under a rock you probably have still heard of Batman!
Batman plays on a 3X3 board using D6s. You use a point level like many other games to determine the size. But, this game actually has two point levels—one for the level of the character and one for the equipment (weapons) on that character. This can be difficult and at first was the only flaw I found with the game but recently Knight Models fixed this by allowing your leader to bring his or her equipment for free. Batman focuses on the street level violence in the DC universe so you won’t see Superman flying through the air or Wonder Woman using her lasso of truth any time soon, but you will see Green Arrow, Cyborg, Hawkman and Hawkgirl—not to mention the bad guys. And as much fun as it feels being Batman and kicking (insert name of favorite batman villain here) butt and sending villains back to Arkham, you can also play two rival gangs fighting each other for turf or respect. Batman’s rogue gallery is a plentiful one so I expect this game to grow even larger than it already is.
A typical game takes about 60 to 90 minutes depending on how large you want the game to be. Your gang is comprised of at least one leader which may be a sidekick taking over the leading role or both with as many henchman as you can fit with free agents adding in where ever you like. The Batman Miniature Game takes a lot of influence from not only the comic books but also the animated series from when we grew up as well as from movies and the Batman Arkham video game series. You plan out your turn giving willpower tokens to your characters much like the focus mechanic in Warmachine. Then each opponent activates one character and then keeps doing this until all models have gone. You use a metric tape measurer for this instead of the imperial ones that we all are used to here in the states but this isn’t really that big of a deal as I’m sure a lot of us have one with both metric and imperial measurements. The game is very scenario based and all of the leaders or groups have a very nerd satisfying play style.
On a side note, Knight Models has made a Spiderman Miniature game which is the street level crime in the Marvel Universe that can be played with the Batman Miniatures game. They match up pretty well.
Marvel Universe Game
Much like I’ve mentioned before, this game is also based off of the superheroes we all know and love. This game is influenced a lot from the movies and comics. It’s one of Knight Model’s newer games and pits Marvels strongest against one another. At the time of this article, there are only two “Bad Guy” groups, which are the Brotherhood of Mutants led by Magneto and the Dark Avengers, led by the Iron Patriot. Otherwise you have the X-Men, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. You build teams using Good, Neutral, and Evil. As an example, the Brotherhood may not all be evil (some neutral characters needed) and the X-Men may not all be good (but Good and Evil cannot be on the same team). This game also uses D10s; but unlike Batman Miniatures, it uses imperial measurements. You use the same terrain you would for other urban-combat games (multi-platform/level terrain pieces). You tell a story more with the terrain than actually use it anything. This game is also scenario based. Each character has an amount of power points that you use as you see fit during that models turn. The damage you deal to characters also changes their ‘states’ during game play, which can be for the better or worse.
Well that’s all I have for now. I plan on reviewing these games a little more in depth in the future, focusing on different groups/factions and playstyles. I’ll also be including other “non mainstream games”.
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