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The GameGuy: The “Miniatures” Edition
By Mark H. Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Turn off your computer. That’s right, you heard me. Turn it
off and come over here. No, I’m not going to suggest something radical like
going outside or spending more time with your family. Nah, none of that; I’m
suggesting you turn off your computer and get a little old school, play
something that you might not have played in awhile, play something that is as
old as gaming, but with three new releases is as hot as Eliza Dushku. I’m
suggesting you throw a game of miniatures on the table.
Gaming is all about immersion --getting away from the tedium
of our daily lives, and nothing provides this immersion better than beautifully
painted miniatures and a well-landscaped battlefield. Perhaps one of the simplest
ways to get into miniatures is with any of the pre-painted games on the
shelves. Two of the best are Heroscape
and Star Wars Miniatures.
(www.heroscape.com), is amazingly simple but also intriguingly complex --warriors
from all eras have been called to do battle in the mythical land of Valhalla. One
scenario might pit World War II-era paratroopers against a band of samurai, the
next a fight between giant Mech-like creatures and Matrix-style agents in
black. The incredible thing is that the combatants are finely balanced, and
each group of miniatures had its own strengths and weakness that allow it to hold
its own against the others, each rolling a number of attack dice delineated on
its card against a defender’s defense die. Blocks are subtracted from hits and
the results are the wounds inflicted. The battles are intensely exciting
affairs, further enhanced by the beautiful pre-painted miniatures and terrain.
Yeah, I said terrain. Heroscape comes
complete with not only 30 painted figures, but also terrain hexes that can be built into any landscape your mind
conceives. What’s way cool is that the hexes will work with your other 28mm
miniatures to boot.
Star Wars Miniatures
(SWM), which is published by Wizards of the Coast (www.wizards.com),
doesn’t come with terrain that can be built, but it does ship with some
handsomely painted miniatures. A collectors’ game through and through, SWM is sold in starter and booster
packs. The starter packs, which are
available in the original Clone Strike
and new Rebel Storm flavor, ship with
ten miniatures, a colorful map, and everything that you need to start playing. Later,
you can grow your collection with booster packs. The game is based on the
venerable D20 system, which means it’s fast paced yet believable. If you buy a
starter set make sure you also pick up a copy of JD Wiker’s Ultimate Missions: Rebel Storm –a
well-designed set of missions for your miniatures to fight through. Be
forewarned, however, you’ll probably need to buy a few more Stormtroopers
before you can play all those missions.
Speaking of well-designed missions, how about Games
Workshop’s latest offering, Battle for
Macragge( www.macragge.com)? Warhammer 40K has long been considered a
tough game to master, and an even more expensive one to own, but with Battle for Macragge the Workshop is
trying to change all that. The game is a complete starter set for Warhammer 40K. And when I say complete,
I mean complete. There are Space Marines (the good guys), Tyranids (the bad
guys..err… I mean bugs), terrain, rules, painting instructions, templates,
dice, and a six-mission campaign book. Nah, nothing’s painted, but painting
these beautiful plastic miniatures is half the fun. The game is the most
complex of the three, but also the most rewarding. And with the huge following
Games Workshop games have, you’ll never lack for opponents… or fun.
And fun is what it is all about. I love computer and video
gaming, but ever so often I need to put them down, break out a cold beverage
and sit across the table from a real person, and play with real miniatures.
It’s real cool.
© Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
H. Mark H.
Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written over
40 books and designs games including his soon to be released Lock ‘n Load
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