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"Boutique Games, good or bad?" Topic

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RobH Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 1:45 a.m. PST

What is your view on the growing number of "Boutique Games"? (see below for the type of things this covers)

1: Fantastic. I collect/play several of them.
2: I like them. I collect/play one or two.
3: I would try them if they were not so expensive.
4: Nothing against the idea but none have interested me yet.
5: Would not consider them.

By "Boutique" games I mean the new wave of 28/32mm skirmish games from niche manufacturers. Characterised by unusual settings (even if within recognised historic periods), high production values, small numbers of figures on small tables and premium prices per model. Games that picked up the idea started by Confrontation.
Such as:
HellDorado, Okko, Malifaux, Anima, Freebooters Fate, Spinespur, Eden, Bushido and the upcoming Carnevale.

Feel free to add any others I have missed.

MajorB11 Oct 2011 1:59 a.m. PST


Angel Barracks Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:06 a.m. PST


Derek H Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:11 a.m. PST


Karellian Knight11 Oct 2011 2:20 a.m. PST


evilleMonkeigh Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:22 a.m. PST

6. Put off by the utter lack of campaign systems and warband advancement in all of the above. How can I get attached to my models if I own the same warband and cards 5 other people do?

7. Do not like the ridiculously huge amount of "special rules" – even 'grunt' models often have 4-5 unique rules each – making it less tactics and more a matter of who remembers what rule…

7B. I feel there is so much special-rules meta-gaming that I'm waiting for the game to come out as a collectible card game and dispense with minis and terrain altogether.

8. I don't like the reliance on unit cards that stop proxying (even if there isn't more than 5 models available and you don't want to wait 12 months to be drip fed the latest official release) and the inability to build/points cost your own model stats

My solution – Song of Blades and Heroes (looking into Reaper Warlord and 2HW Warrior Heroes A&A/CR3.0) married to the aforesaid OOP cheap Confrontation metal minis….

langobard Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 2:33 a.m. PST


Sane Max Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:44 a.m. PST


Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 2:50 a.m. PST

A mix between 2 and 4. I have a few of the figures but use them elsewhere and have nothing against playing them as given but have not yet done so.


Renaud S11 Oct 2011 2:50 a.m. PST

I'd love to be interested in, but although I can see a lot of talent in some of them, mostly in sculpting, mostly their universe is either too obscure, weird, dark, or über-geek for me. Please convince me of the contrary !

advocate11 Oct 2011 2:59 a.m. PST


AndrewGPaul Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 3:06 a.m. PST

1, along with

7. Do not like the ridiculously huge amount of "special rules" – even 'grunt' models often have 4-5 unique rules each – making it less tactics and more a matter of who remembers what rule… 8. I don't like the reliance on unit cards that stop proxying (even if there isn't more than 5 models available and you don't want to wait 12 months to be drip fed the latest official release) and the inability to build/points cost your own model stats

It's why I don't play Warmachine, Bushido and Malifaux. MERCS uses stat cards (and doesn't give you the stats in the rulebook, either), but at least sells the cards separately, and the small forces means the special rulesa don't get too out of control.

I disagree with

6. Put off by the utter lack of campaign systems and warband advancement in all of the above. How can I get attached to my models if I own the same warband and cards 5 other people do?

I don't need advancement rules (which are, after all, just more special rules and exceptions to remember) to personalise my forces. A paintbrush does that well enough.

OOP cheap Confrontation metal minis….

Where? Are you keeping them all hidden for yourself? grin

sharkbait Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 3:07 a.m. PST

4 – but I wouldn't have a problem buying a figure or two or more for other games.

LeadAsbestos Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 3:20 a.m. PST

9- They are great, and I'm interested in several, but I've already got a few that I never play! China Town, and Rob, you know our problem w/ 1999!

cfielitz11 Oct 2011 3:40 a.m. PST

3 & 4- Too many seem out of my budget to take a chance on and too many seem too offbeat for my tastes.

evilleMonkeigh Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 3:51 a.m. PST

"Where? Are you keeping them all hidden for yourself? "

I found a guy who sells them at a third original cost. He has (*cough* had) 80% of the entire range.

Next paycheck, evil dwarves warband!


"I don't need advancement rules (which are, after all, just more special rules and exceptions to remember) to personalise my forces. A paintbrush does that well enough."

No matter what colour you paint them, when Lady Justice in red shirt and her brown-coat gunslingers play an almost identical Lady justice in blue shirt with black-coat gunslingers it is a bit of a 'meh' moment. I say this hypothetically, as if anyone ever painted their models other than a direct copy of the studio paintjob. Which 95% of them don't.


I don't mind say 20 or so special abilities, that minis can have in different combinations. I.e. a player with "Stealth" and "Leap" and "Sharpshooter" vs a player with "Stealth" and "Killer Blow".

It's having 5 different rules for stealth *cough* Infinity *cough* that annoys me, or having 5 stealth rules unique to 5 different models *cough* Malifaux *cough*.

Volstagg Vanir11 Oct 2011 3:55 a.m. PST


Generally love the figures, Painters Delights every one of them
have yet to play any of the games, like x42brown.

Add Incursion to the list.
Of all the games listed: the most boutique (and most playable)/

Boromirandkermit Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 3:56 a.m. PST

Rob, a very interesting topic mate. :)
I hope you don't mind if I post some thoughts on it?

I think my upcoming Dawn: Rise of the Occulites game would fit into the Boutique game heading. This therefore places a certain bias on my thoughts as well (to be upfront).

I enjoy the concept of boutique games, they are often creative, interesting and quirky, with very active and passionate designers (something also true of small publishers and some large ones). Boutique games are as you say, niche products with very different concepts or a very unique setting.

Suffice to say that when looking at boutique games in general, every one is different and is its own beast. Some take the path of set stat cards, others have full blown campaign systems. Cutluss for example uses a detailed campaign system, as does Dawn: Rise of the Occulites. It all depends on what you're after in a game.

As nice as our fantasy and sci-fi mainstays are (elves, orcs, dwarfs and undead in fantasy for example), its great to see others doing something new. I get the feeling that the trend with non-boutique games (aka more mass market – GW, Mantic etc…) is to 'play it safe' with more standard races or settings. As such, they are able to price their figures more competitively because a) they sell more figures due to them being more 'standard' and b) you often need more figures to play.

Boutique games often require a lower number of figures and because its a niche idea, they will inevitably sell less figures. This in and of itself will account for the higher prices most of the time I would think (to simply make the game viable and not start losing money!). I speak from personal experience, but that doesn't mean that other's experiences would be the same.

I think as more and more boutique games are released, you will see more variation and innovation as designer's try to make not just their setting unique, but their game as well. I think its a wonderful time to be in the hobby.

All the best,

Chocolate Fezian Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 4:10 a.m. PST

10, I'll get round to them one day

wminsing Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 4:19 a.m. PST

11- Planning to get into one that catches my fancy (Bushido I am keeping a close eye on). The concept of a low model count game with fairly complex model interactions is exactly what I am looking for- I am a terribly slow painter, but like my games to have some meat to them. Special rules do not put me off (I play Warmachine) and campaign rules are not really a requirement (requires a fairly steady group that plays regularly) for me.

Also agree with Boromirandkermit, I think they are in general a good thing for the hobby. They fit a niche and do it fine.


alien BLOODY HELL surfer Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 4:45 a.m. PST

There's a few that have caught my eye, more the figures than the game. Most recently Twilight, although the figures for Rise of the Occulites are nice so I'm sure some of them will make their way into my collection regardless of whether I play the game or not :-)

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 4:46 a.m. PST

12. Never heard of them….

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 4:49 a.m. PST


wminsing Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 5:10 a.m. PST

Most recently Twilight

Yes, Twilight (not the book!) does look quite cool and I agree the Occulites have a weird charm to them!


RobH Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 5:17 a.m. PST

Hmm, seems I did miss a few then: apologies to the talented people concerned.
Dawn Rise of the Occulites

Also a couple of "new" answer options that I did not consider.
6: Definite interest but I am waiting for one to really grab me.
7: Never heard of them (thanks Cerdic)

As for me, I am a mix of 1 & 3
I really like the concept of warband sized, highly complex games with beautiful miniatures and rules which feature a lot of weapon/skill/ability interactions.
I have 1999, Confrontation and D&D Chainmail which fit into this style (shame they are all dead games now).
Over the last few years lack of funds has restrained my "lets give it a try" impulse, but I already have a feeling that Carnevale is going to prove my undoing with the new batch……can't help it, I love Venice!

Garand11 Oct 2011 5:28 a.m. PST

Infinity is OK, but the thing that really puts me off on these games are exactly the fact that they require so few figures. Skirmish gaming really isn't my thing, and I'd much rather play a game with several dozen to a hundred 28mm figures than with 10. In the end, to put this in a historical context, I'd rather play the Battle of Cannae than an Irish cattle raid…


sharkbait Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 5:37 a.m. PST

2 – Now that Incursion is considered a "boutique game." Don't really have any interest in playing the others mentioned.

joshuaslater11 Oct 2011 5:58 a.m. PST

2. I got into Spinespur and it was fun for a while. It's one of those games you can break out on occasion and play for some horror gaming.

I'd like to be able to afford all of the new niche games, but for now I'm painting up an army for Reaper's Warlord.

richarDISNEY Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 6:24 a.m. PST

While Spinesupr was a 'boutique' game, it really is a TON of fun.

PatrickWR11 Oct 2011 6:46 a.m. PST


Remember when WarMachine would have fit this description?

Matheo11 Oct 2011 6:53 a.m. PST


Hawkmoon1 Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 6:55 a.m. PST

Hi Rob,

I have Okko, Confrontation, & Anima. I love painting miniatures and most boutique games have high quality sculpts with nicely produced rules sets which are, playable, competitive, and in most cases have a closed rule set. Most of the games mentioned have great websites with active forums so players can discuss rules & strategies. Having a large family I have no time to produce massed ranks of miniatures and would rather paint a few high quality figures and get into a self contained game system as soon as possible. I'd rather seem a few nicely painted & based metal miniatures on a well presented board then a mass of unpainted plastic.
The most surprising phenomenon these companies have helped to produced over the last decade is the notion of a dead system.

Lion in the Stars11 Oct 2011 7:13 a.m. PST

It's having 5 different rules for stealth *cough* Infinity *cough*
Camouflage and Hiding:
Mimetism: -3 to hit.
Limited Camo: -3 to-hit and can be deployed as a marker which must be discovered, but cannot return to a marker.
Camo: -3 to-hit and can be deployed as a marker which must be discovered, and if out of LOS can return to being a marker.
TO Camo: -6 to-hit and can either be be 'deployed' with location written down, appearing as a marker once it moves from the deployment location, or deployed as a marker which must be discovered, and if out of LOS can return to being a marker.

Each level is a bit better than the one before it, but you almost always see models with either Camo or TO getting deployed. Learn them in order and they're really pretty simple to keep track.

And my answer is 1. I have Infinity, Anima, and Hell Dorado. Anima and Hell Dorado because the minis are cool, and Infinity because not only do I like the minis, but the rules are tight, too.

The biggest issue with any 'boutique' game is the quantity of terrain you need. Every single game listed needs two or three times the amount of terrain used by 40k, WHFantasy, or Warmahordes. What time you save in painting minis you spend in making terrain.

M C MonkeyDew11 Oct 2011 7:18 a.m. PST

5. and

N: If I want figures at ridiculous prices I will buy them from GW. At least they have a vast catalog. : )

Also very much in the "no special rules" crowd.

Willtij Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 7:46 a.m. PST

3 and 4

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 7:49 a.m. PST


In the end though, I prefer generic rulesets with the ability to choose whatever figures I want (usually from cheaper sources) without having to learn a new game each time.

Alot of the miniatures are quite nice looking though which means that when they end up in the bargain bin in about 18 months I can add some cool figs to my collection.

hwarang Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 8:01 a.m. PST

4, effectively 5 I guess.

flooglestreet Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 8:09 a.m. PST

I used to be a 4 but Dawn makes me a 2.

28mmMan Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 8:16 a.m. PST

"HellDorado, Okko, Malifaux, Anima, Freebooters Fate, Spinespur, Eden, Bushido and the upcoming Carnevale"

As per the example I am thinking that boutique is themed small gaming business then I am am a huge fan.

Take a unique or interesting situation/theme create rules and make miniatures, what is not to like?

HumorousConclusion Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 10:11 a.m. PST

It's interesting to see people picking up on the lack of 'advancement' rules as being a problem.

My issue with many of the Games Workshop games that pioneered this approach (Necromunda, Mordheim, Gorkamorka and the 'Legends' series) is that many of them didn't play very well as one off games, often being too short and lacking in detail. To get maximum value you had to be willing to play a long game.

The approach of most of these 'boutique' games is to treat each model as a unit would be treated in a larger scale game with a similar number of special rules. Some get the balance right better than others. But they have the advantage of being enjoyable to pick up and play and having a bit of depth in a one off encounter.

HumorousConclusion Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 10:13 a.m. PST

Forgot to add my vote. Very much 1.

They are actually much cheaper to collect for the most part as you need far fewer models even if individually they are more expensive and they actually give me a chance to get all of them painted.

28mmMan Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 10:18 a.m. PST

A 1 without a doubt.

Grand Duke Natokina Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 10:57 a.m. PST

I'll play any that are historical if I can use somebody else's stuff. Can't afford to buy into a new scale that my buddies don't play in.

Personal logo Dasher Supporting Member of TMP11 Oct 2011 1:38 p.m. PST


Rhoderic III and counting Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:35 p.m. PST

I don't think I could ever be happy playing only boutique games, but playing one or two "on the side" of my more extensive projects is something I could easily imagine for myself. Their self-contained nature is part of their appeal to me. When the game boils down to well-defined factions framed within well-defined settings with a small number of stylish and characterful miniatures available for each faction, I need not worry that the game will turn into a massive, "horizonless", amoebic project fraying my sanity (I have too many projects like this already and keep having to jettison old ones as new ones come along).

That said I have a few reservations. First, demands on terrain and scenery can be an obstacle. Carnevale for instance is set in a fantastical renaissance Venice. That would make for a very intense scenery-building project. Second, sometimes the line between "comic book stylish" and "silly" gets overstepped. I like many of the figures for Infinity, but some go too far trying to transfer elements of history and mythology into an ultra-futuristic setting, and I feel that the designers are somewhat ignorant about the various real world cultures they keep drawing on, which results in some shallow stereotypes and cultural misapprehensions. Third, I'm not sure I'll like the rules systems which seem to often rely heavily on card-based mechanics and "special ability combos".

But ultimately, I'm somewhere between 2 and 3. I don't play any of these games but they do fascinate me and I might take the plunge soon.

blackscribe Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 2:58 p.m. PST


billthecat11 Oct 2011 3:01 p.m. PST

Pretty much #7, above.
Too many cards.
Too many special rules.
Overpriced miniatures.
Unappealing settings.
Seems to be the trend in the hobby.
Fortunatley, I write my own rules or use older sets, with the miniatures I like. I think that the glory days of Rogue-Trader style gaming are over, also this may be partly due to competition with video games.
Just say no to corporate marketing and domination!

Lion in the Stars11 Oct 2011 4:10 p.m. PST

Overpriced minis? Yes, seeing an individual figure for $10 to $15 hurts some people.

Guess what? You need 10 minis or fewer for these games. Your total *ARMY* can be less than the cost of a single battalion of Napoleonic minis. I can buy TWO armies and the rulebook for the cost of a single force in other games.

Let's not forget supply and demand here. You really only need one or two figures of each type (generally) for a boutique game. This means that even if there are 5000 people playing the game, the max sales are about 5000 units. For other games, the max sales are many times higher, so the capital costs can be spread out over more minis. This makes each mini cheaper.

Mister X Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 4:56 p.m. PST


Rhoderic III and counting Inactive Member11 Oct 2011 5:05 p.m. PST

Just say no to corporate marketing and domination!

How so? There's nothing "corporate" about it. These are garage-scale vanity businesses if anything.

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