Making Obscure Miniatures Games “Normal”

In this post, I discuss my attraction towards obscure miniatures games and ponder how to introduce these games to a more main-stream audience. Any feedback that you can provide in the comments section, I appreciate.

Introduction

A friend once said to me, “oh yes, I forgot. You are into the obscure miniatures games.” That was a Flames of War player said this to me. At the time, I was a local Flames of War Tournament player transitioning into a person that plays a plethora of systems.

I don’t recall the exact year, but I remember this catching me as an odd statement. Flames of War still dominated Bolt Action back then, but Bolt Action started to enter the local scene. I was one of the people that made the switch early. On top of making that switch, many games outside of WW2 captivated my interest. RAFM – USX: Modern Day Heroes, the Blue Cover Osprey Wargame Series, Field of Glory, and Age of Battles by Zvezda all were in my collection at the time.

It is funny. I found the comment strange that my friend felt I was into “obscure” games, but looking back on this list, he was right. The games listed are obscure, especially when the local gaming shops do not carry any of them.

The Local Scene

At the time, my local gaming stores carried… GW (Warhammer), Privateer Press (Warmachine/Hordes), Wyrd Miniatures (Malifaux) and BattleFront (Flames of War). To anyone in town, games outside of these would seem obscure. How one even gets into these games or learns about them is a question onto itself.

Now the stores changed what they carry since. Most of them now carry the miniatures games by Fantasy Flight Games (X-Wing) and one of them even picked up a significant selection of the Warlord Games titles (that store is my favourite one in town). Still, Osprey Games and many of the other companies that I love are not carried in my FLGSs (friendly local gaming stores).

So, how does one get into these games? The Internet is one great way to find information on games. That is actually one of the objectives of this website. Another fantastic way is gaming conventions.

Conventions

My favourite type of gaming convention is the ones that run Demo and Participation Games of various gaming systems. I much prefer that to tournaments as it lets you try something new and experiment with different miniature sets. The best part is that the GM generally provides all of the necessary gaming pieces (including awesome looking tables and miniatures).

Tournament based conventions are also cool, but I suffer the problem that the games they play don’t tend to be the ones that I collect.

Mixed conventions, in my opinion, are much better than an event that is strictly one way or the other. My hope for mixed conventions is that tournament players from one system will give the participation games a try and perhaps pick up a new system. That said, the tournament players in my area are not typically into “obscure” miniature wargames and prefer to focus on a single game. I get it. I used to be strictly a Flames of War player. Learning new systems can have the side effect of getting the rules of one system mixed up with another.

That said, players that take in more than one system have better diversification and are better off if the game they support fades away from their local community.

Personally, I think Conventions are the best way to get others involved with the more “obscure” companies in gaming. Please keep in mind that I live in Canada. Your country might be different, and if it is, please let us know in the comments section of this post.

How do we get more People Interested in Miniature Gaming?

The big question I always think about is “how can we make Miniature Wargaming more ‘Normal’ in North America (Canada Specifically).” The Conventions are great, but only capture the interest of the people who already know about miniatures.

An Idea

One person was telling me that he thinks the secret is to get demo miniature wargames in mainstream conventions (such as Comic-con). Not only does he think we should get those games there, but also show them how affordable it can be to get into the game. Introducing a non-gamer to a system that would cost them $500 to $1500 to buy just a single army can be intimidating. Instead, introduce them to Kill Team or a non-GW Skirmish game where the costs are low.

He also mentioned to not make the table the best looking it can be. Instead, bring paper terrain (or at least affordable terrain) and get them interested in the game play and affordability of the game. Parents don’t mind spending $50 to $100 on something that will make their kids (or them) happy. If they see it as a $500+ investment and a large time-sink, they are more likely to walk away.

I think this man has a good point about going to the more “mainstream” events with our miniature games. Many people in the “alternative gaming” scene have a love-hate relationship with GW. Personally, I think they are really good for the hobby. I also think that we have to work hard so that people know that they are not the only facet of our hobby. There is so much out there available, and it can be easy to get these games if only you are aware of the products.

How I want to help

Getting “obscure miniatures games” out in the public will help make them seem more normal. The more exposure that they get, the better. Our hobby needs to recruit new people, and getting the games out in the public at events, conventions and on the web will help with that goal.

What I want to do to help is create a page on this website dedicated to Miniature Gaming Events (Conventions) in Ontario (Canada). On this page, I will list all the events that I know going on in Ontario with dates, links, and a brief description. I will do my best to list every Convention and Large gaming event that I know of in Chronological order. My hope is that this page will become a resource to event organizers and potential attendees alike.

I am also offering free sidebar ads to any Ontario Gaming Convention that run “obscure” miniatures games. It is okay if you are also running games by GW, Privateer Press, or Wyrd Miniatures, but I want to know that there will be representation of other systems too. The ads will be 300 by 250 pixels provided by the Event Organizer and will link to a page of their choosing.

If you are interested in appearing on the list, or a free ad, please email me. Eventually, I may make a form and separate section to make the process easier. For now, email and keeping me informed should work good enough.

Wrapping it up…

Hopefully you found this little piece interesting. A string of Facebook conversations inspired me to write the article, with the specific question of how to get more people involved in our hobby.

I plan to continue running games at conventions and writing convention reports to the events I attend. I also plan to create a section of this website listing all Ontario based gaming conventions that I can. Finally, I am looking for ideas on how to introduce more people to miniature wargaming.

The thing that keeps me away from GW is the price to buy fully into their games. Perhaps showing people how affordable Gaslands, Frostgave, or even Kill Team can be could get more people interested in our hobby. What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below.

Until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!

5 thoughts on “Making Obscure Miniatures Games “Normal”

  • October 23, 2018 at 2:27 am
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    Hi Jacob, About game systems that are not mainstream: I picked up USX: Modern Day Heroes after playing it at Hotlead a number of years ago. Then I went out and acquired figures — specifically, the Wargames Foundry Street Violence series — thinking I would have a chance to play them again. No opportunity has arisen, and my dozens of figures — SWAT teams, gangsters, yakuza, punks, etc (you’ll notice no Cthulhu or magic figures, the magic space is not my space) — sit in foam, waiting for their day of glory. So how can I get them into play?

    Reply
    • October 23, 2018 at 5:30 pm
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      Hey Bill,

      I hear you. I think you just have to ask the right person to give a game a shot with you. I run into it too. You could also run a Convention game with them. I did that with my USX figures and A Fistful of Kung Fu at one of the Broadsword conventions.

      Reply
  • October 24, 2018 at 5:01 pm
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    Currently playing the obscure, Twilight, Chronicles of Anyaral. Quite a different spin on game play (opposing combat counters trying to out bluff your opponent and two dice) Fantastic alternate Fantasy background and miniatures (No Goblins, elves or Orks) Small amount of minis needed (No massive armies required) unless you start to collect all the different factions. Started looking at it about four years ago then started playing catch up with two guys at the local club, Now its starting to take off as it is Not 40K with a million saving throws Not BA (or WWII 40K as I term it) with iffy power gaming army lists, something really quite fresh in game terms!

    Reply
  • October 30, 2018 at 1:52 pm
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    I am constantly demonstrating “obscure” games. But they are to remain obscure because
    1. No one is willing to invest the time in them. Whether it be buying or just painting up their miniatures
    2. “No one else” plays. Apparently I do not count!
    3. It isn’t “popular”.
    4. The LFGS won’t support it.
    Sad really, but without “obscure” games being given actual shelf space, not many are going to flock to play.

    Reply

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