The ‘next big thing’ in miniatures gaming?

For several years now we have seen the slow blurring of the line between miniatures games and board games. Especially with the improvement in production quality of plastic miniatures, more and more board games are now using these as playing pieces, rather than the more traditional wooden blocks.

One of the companies at the forefront of this has been Fantasy Flight Games, who are one of the market leaders in game design and production quality. Whilst FFG games are not cheap (a fact that has not been helped by the plunging value of sterling on the currency markets) you are pretty much guaranteed top-notch components and artwork when you buy an FFG game, no matter what it’s subject.

So, I was intrigued when at GenCon in 2016, they announced that they were going to be producing a fantasy miniatures game.

The world of Terrinoth in which this game is set already has a rich heritage – it is the world in which several FFG games already exist: Runebound, Runewars, Battlelore Second Edition and Descent: Journeys in the Dark to be specific, so the Runewars Miniatures Game is not birthed into a vacuum – a fact that is important, as many gamers want a full detailed background in their fantasy battle games.

runewars-full-layout

When I read the initial introduction to the game, it was clear FFG had taken much of the game mechanics that had made the X-Wing Miniatures Game such a hit and looked to transpose it into a mass combat game – although X-Wing did have the slight advantage of it being Star Wars.

One of the joys of X-Wing is that the game is simple and intuitive to play, whilst at the same time holding a great deal of tactical depth when it comes to how your miniatures interact with each other, and the different options available when building your squadron.

rwm01_standy_dialIt looks as if Runewars has very much gone down that same route – whether it be hidden orders for your units which also determine activation order, or the use of templates to control movement of your miniatures – just in case some gamers find the whole idea of ‘free’ movement using a simple tape measure a little strange (I kid you not, this can be something of an obstacle if you have players who have previously only been familiar with the regimented movement allowed in a board game – plus it hopefully stops some arguments as to whether troops can move in a certain way, or exactly how far they can move and turn – given that FFG are obviously looking at introducing tournament play in this game, that later point is important).

Add to that a selection of different ability cards that can be added to your units, plus custom dice (lets face it, we all like custom dice!) and this game starts to tick a lot of boxes.

rw-reanimates-vs-knights-3

Ultimately, whilst good game mechanics are vital, a miniatures game will also and live and die based on the quality of its figures.

From what we’ve seen of the painted miniatures from the base game, these look pretty good – although it is obviously the case that any company can employee a professional painter to make their figures look half-decent, and the only real proof is when you hold the physical model in your hand. However, FFG do have a good track record when it comes to plastic miniatures, so these should be OK.

As for the rest of the game components, I have no worries whatsoever. As I said at the start of this post, production quality is one of the cornerstones of all of FFGs games.

lancer-vs-spearmen

If you hadn’t guessed by now, I am somewhat excited about this game. The last time I jumped into an unusual fantasy battle game – Ex-Illis – I ended up getting very badly stung, so I have a certain amount of trepidation about this game, which is only offset by the fact that it’s FFG that are publishing it. (And yes, I’m a fan of FFGs games).

There are a number of articles presenting various aspects of the game on the Fantasy Flight Games website.

The good news is that we don’t have long to wait to see if this game is any good – the base game is released at the end of February 2017.

FFG are already looking at releasing the first expansions for Runewars in the second quarter of 2017 – if they follow their usual release schedule for this sort of game, you will get several ‘waves’ of releases each year – this could get expensive…

rwm05_spread

I’m already impatient for the postman to arrive.

9 Comments on The ‘next big thing’ in miniatures gaming?

  1. At the very least, this will be a nudge for fence sitters who want more than a board game but not a full on mini game and system with all those minis to buy. It looks like FF has been clever enough to package new units as “expansions” that come complete with everything you need. I can see this bringing drawing in new players across the smudged line between board and mini games.

    Not for me though. If I’m going to fire up a new system I’d like to be able to use all the fantasy stuff I’ve got painted already (which with the right basing and pilfered stat cards I could do with this I guess) and hand pick the individual models going forward.

    If people like it and it means we get more games in with a wider variety of people, great! If I can then give people a further nudge into historicals, even better! Best of luck Fantasy Flight.

  2. I like some of the mechanics previewed by FFG here. The two things keeping me from trying it out are budget, and the background. I haven’t played much in Terrinoth, just Descent 2nd ed, along with reading every preview they come out with. But when I played that I just remember groaning at the fluff. I’m all for flavor text, but I like to have options for something other than just ‘vanilla’. I’m sure it’s a personal preference thing, but I didn’t see a thing in that setting so far that sparked my imagination in ways other fantasy games have.

    I could be wrong, and if you find out you’re finding the setting compelling and exciting, let us know. I’ll read it.

  3. Kirk, I agree on both points. I’m already heavily invested in FFG systems – X-Wing, Descent, Imperial Assault, Mansions of Madness 2nd ed. – that there’s no way I can afford another FFG system. They make great stuff but it doesn’t come cheap.

    And, like you, Terrinoth came after my D&D playing time and I don’t find it compelling for me personally. You are indeed likely to see vanilla units as that will allow a lower bar for entry for non-mini gamers. It probably won’t be until wave 3 or 4 that the factions develop truly distinct abilities and special powers.

  4. You need to stop this MADNESS right now! What about Sword & Spear fantasy??? Isn’t that on the horizon…….?

  5. Oh & those bases are dreadful……….

  6. The system seems good and the figures nice, but what really put me off are the bases, I really don’t like them and the effect on the table is very odd….

  7. The bases are used to manage movement which is probably why they have that odd design, I agree they could be thinner though
    see https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2017/1/9/marching-orders/ for info on how movement is handled

  8. I’m seriously unimpressed with this. It looks like just another fantasy game with exclusive, overproduced miniatures…And What’s this? The publisher is already tooting it’s horn about organized play! If you ever wanted a lesson on how to shrivel my interest in a game, take a look at how this game is being hyped…

    • When you refer to the game being ‘hyped’, are you referring to the news that Fantasy Flight Games is putting out? To be fair, they do this for everything they produce, not just this latest product. And it’s nothing different than a larger company like Games Workshop or Warlord Games would do – or is this the issue?

      Exclusive miniatures? Well, I think that’s hardly a valid criticism, as every company that produces a game with an associated range of figures could be accused of that (although I admit the basing system that they have chosen makes this game more exclusive than most). What I was getting at is that FFG are looking at widening the appeal of miniature gaming by trying to design a game that is, for want of a better phrase, less complicated to play.

      And organised play seems to be something that people want – FFG support organised play with many of their games, and generally do a very good job. Take a look at the size and popularity of the X-Wing tournament scene.

      Obviously I’m reserving final judgement until I actually get to play a game…

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