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"Is anyone else sick of skirmish gaming?" Topic

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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

Skirmish gaming allows you to play a genre or period with minimal investment. 50 figures and a rule book and you're set to go.

But skirmishes have always been my *least* favorite kind of game. I want to be Wellington or Guderian or Caesar. I pay people like Sharpe, Private Ryan or The Hound.

I even play with a group that plays enormous, beautiful skirmishes. 6x12' table, 8 players, and 200 figures aside. But I just find it hard to get excited when victory is controlling the farm house.

Anyone else out there craving more big battles?

rustymusket29 Oct 2017 7:23 a.m. PST

I used to feel that way, wanting to fight only large battles. After a while I discovered skirmishing and found it was enjoyable. Now I like to do both in moderation.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 7:46 a.m. PST

Skirmish All the way. Reminds of my own time running troops in the field.

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 7:50 a.m. PST

Yes, I think the pendulum swung too far the other way in my opinion. The issue with most skirmish games is that 60 seconds after you've left the game you can't remember who won or lost! I realize that the various Osprey rules are the big thing right now, but after having tried a few of them they're pretty bland and generic in their outcomes. The huge issue with most skirmish games is that gamers being gamers, not many want to take the time to detail out the scenario, so a game of Disposable Heroes, Ronin, etc., all end up being the same thing, but with uniforms from different periods. In the interest of time, pretty much no one remembers the special rules, characteristics, etc., for the rules that they are playing.

MajorB29 Oct 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

Horses for courses. There are some periods that lend themselves to skirmish level action rather than full scale battles and vice versa. Variety is the spice of life as they say!

McKinstry Fezian29 Oct 2017 7:55 a.m. PST

I've never stopped playing big battles with smaller scales. The only skirmish I'm willing to do is SAGA or Old West and that is still few and far between.

Gone Fishing29 Oct 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

Yes, I'd place myself on the opposite side of the spectrum as well. There is something a little "faceless" about many big battle games, or at least so I think (though I'll happily play in them). They can also be incredibly slow moving. Skirmishes, on the other hand, can have more personality, generally move much, much faster and have a low entry cost point.

I've noticed this reflects my general reading tastes: I generally choose memoirs, PBI-level books these days to the grand campaign histories; in other words Quartered Safe Out Here to A History of the Burma Campaign, and so on.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 7:59 a.m. PST

Nope like skirmish games because I can field a force quickly (I paint slow) & with less investment than a big battle game. Guess that may be why I like DBA & HOTTS also.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 8:19 a.m. PST

I am actually thinking about shifting from huge armies to multiple skirmish level armies/periods for a number of reasons to include, I can buy less of one thing, I can paint less to get a project to completion(I also hate to paint), I can finish a game quicker, I can use a smaller table, and skirmish games seem to be a great way to get my 12 year old daughter into gaming. We do some zombie stuff now, the Greek Mythology figs have been ordered, and Weird West is not too far off.

Ottoathome Inactive Member29 Oct 2017 8:19 a.m. PST

Dear Extra Crispy

I concur. Skirmishes are a turn off. I quickly get the feeling the gamers think they're sergeant Rock.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

@Gone Fishing: And I read just the opposite: campaigns, movements, social history. Liek you I'll play what's on offer, but I'll note skirmish games can be very s low too….

@MajorB: Of course – some periods just don't fit the big battle model – Vietnam, for example, or the Indian Wars. I like skirmishes in moderation but I'm just burned out I think.

@aegiscg47: Could not agree more. So many of these rules feel super generic (Bolt Action for example). Agree with you on scenarios though. Scenario development often feels like a lost art. Our club is actually very good at this, but then when I play elsewhere it's the same old, same old.

Allen5729 Oct 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

Like you Mark I want to be Wellington or Caesar but more and more I find myself playing board games to achieve that perspective. I don't have the game club, FLGS, or local convention available to permit those big battles and am quite dissatisfied with rules for higher organization level miniatures games. Skirmish games for me seem to be a more viable use of miniatures with more acceptable rules. That said, I admit to becoming tired of skirmish and am thinking about what can be done with 2mm miniatures.

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 8:31 a.m. PST

I'm not sick of it yet but I see your point. I think for the group I game with it's a question of time and space. We only get about 2 hours to play at a time and don't always have a space that the game can be left set up.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

They are popular because of the reasons you state. Not many figures to paint. Cheaper (in total) and quicker to get ready for play. Not my thing ( i enjoy planning out tactics and multi-faceted battle plans) but maybe that is the way wargaming is heading?

Frothers Did It And Ran Away29 Oct 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

I've started rebasing my mediaeval figures onto multi-bases to get away from skirmish type games in at least one era. I like Saga, but having another individually based 50 figure a side game (Lion Rampant in this case) seemed like a redundancy. Having a variety of games is the key, I think, if all I did was skirmish games, or big army games, I'd get pretty bored.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian29 Oct 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

I'll play skirmish games, but I buy and paint for the BIG battle. I think that even Vietnam can be big battle (Battalion+) if you set it up right.

I agree with Otto that most gamers want to be Sgt Rock, not COL Fury.

I want to get all the toys, so need to play a bigger battle to get to use them (realistically) rather than force them in to lower levels ala FOW/TY

Tacitus29 Oct 2017 8:47 a.m. PST

Sometimes you can be Patton, sometimes you can be Sgt. Rock. It's a great hobby.

Black Hat Miniatures29 Oct 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

I also came to the conclusion that I prefer mass combat games – even if they only involve a small number of units to skirmish style games.

I sold off a lot of my skirmish style collections such as Pirates or converted them to mass combat e.g. LOTR using Kings of War and have been concentrating on mass combat games recently..


DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Larger Battles only – unless I am playing with some friends who want to do a small skirmish or other small game

Mocaiv29 Oct 2017 9:37 a.m. PST

I like big games, but I do not have time to paint big armies.
Smaller games work for me these days.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

Not entirely. no. I play lostly Pulp, Fantasy and SF, so skirmisk level works perfectly for those. However, I also have the 40mm F&IW collection I've been trying to sell, and in this case I am tired of skirmish. I'd like to beable to do Bushy Run, and the assaults on the forts, but I don't have th efunds to buy that many more 40mm, nor cna I do the conflict in a smaller scale as well.

rvandusen29 Oct 2017 9:45 a.m. PST

I'm pretty much a skirmish guy, or small battles. Like Gone Fishing, I most enjoy military memoirs with the worm's eye view of things.

For larger-than-skirmish battles I prefer wars with smaller fights such as FIW, AWI, Old Northwest Indian War, War of 1812,colonial wars, Dark Ages, Medieval, etc.

advocate29 Oct 2017 9:51 a.m. PST

I enjoy a variety of games but find the 'gang level' games with half a dozen figures per side generally not so much fun.

Ceterman Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 9:56 a.m. PST

+1 Tacitus. My thoughts exactly.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 10:06 a.m. PST

I've always enjoyed both!

Northern Monkey29 Oct 2017 10:28 a.m. PST

Tacitus has hit the nail on the head. Vive la difference!

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 10:45 a.m. PST

I really like both. As Extra Crispy says skirmish works great for Vietnam and the Indian Wars. I also use it for WWII. But ACW and Napoleonics are large masses for me.

What does bother me is that so many local convention games I see are almost exclusively skirmish games. Often with the latest rule set which as mentioned above are very often very generic in play. Only the uniforms tell you the period.


Dennis030229 Oct 2017 10:54 a.m. PST

Skirmish player always. Reminds me of my days in the USMC. Larger stuff is boring, too expensive and takes up too much room.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 11:04 a.m. PST

I prefer to skirmish more than big battle, but a mix is indeed, nice!
Its good we are different, and like different things, the trick is to be tolerant of those who do not share our preferences.

Ottoathome Inactive Member29 Oct 2017 11:12 a.m. PST

I'm in it for the pageantry, the panorama of armies and banners. That's why my favorite periods are the Renaissance to the 18th century. That's why I mount my figures on large stands with a whole regiment of 36 30mm figures on one stand. Because it looks so damn handsome! I don't want my gamers piddlin around with little stands making cutesy formations and imagining they are Lt. Beitz barking orders to Sgt Bloez about squaring a corner and making sure flints are freshly chipped. I want to be the general on the hill drinking a toast to my fellow commanders with the regimental bands playing their marches and airs. I don't want skirmish games where you get down in the mud and the blood and the grime.

Id' rather live like the upper class than die like the lower class.

My favorite line from Wateloo is when Siborne says to Wellington "Napoleon has ridden within range, do I have your permission to try a shot!" And Wellington replies "Certainly Not! Generals have better things to do that go around shooting at each other!"

Gone Fishing29 Oct 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

This has been an interesting thread. Thank you, Crispy, for bringing it up. And as others have said, let's just stay clear we're dealing with preferences here, not Objective Truth.

Just thought I'd qualify that for me personally the definition of "skirmish" is somewhat fluid; while it can indeed be patrol-level games of, say, half a dozen combatants per side, it can stretch up to far more figures: I'd label both The Sword and the Flame and Lion Rampant (both games I love) as larger end skirmish games. Just to be clear, as I said.

Great fun to read the responses!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 11:34 a.m. PST

I love skirmish games.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 12:33 p.m. PST

@Gone Fishing: Agreed. Saga, Lion Rampant and their ilk are skirmish to me, where 1 figure = 1 man, and you're dealing with a couple squads per player.

@Dennis0302: Big and storage are relative. I have some big 6mm armies for the SYW and they take up about the same amount of room as my choppers for Vietnam. For whihc I then have vehicles, troops, and terrain!

Buck21529 Oct 2017 12:36 p.m. PST

I like ‘em both! Like everyone else, I want to be a
Patton, Caesar, Grand Moff, etc., and get a "command view" of units larger than companies take a town, river, etc. Some games I want to be General Bradley, "the soldier's General", other games I want to play that soldier in a skirmish game for a "thirty-yard" view of the battlefield. Nothing wrong with mixing it up between skirmish and larger battles…

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 12:44 p.m. PST

While I go like both I am much more of a grand tactical gamer – love to push those big battalions forward1

Dynaman878929 Oct 2017 1:06 p.m. PST

The sweet spot for me is games where a base is a squad or platoon. Larger than that is generally board game territory and smaller than that I don't generally play. Exception for modern anti-insurgency games since individuals are often the only way to get a decent size force on the table.

Texas Jack29 Oct 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

I am not a big fan of skirmish games, but in their place, such as WWII, they are fine.
When it comes to 19th century warfare, I prefer the big battle with all its beauty. WWII is fine, but a good Napoleonic battle should be with big battalions!

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 2:03 p.m. PST

I think there is a balance between the two. I like the fact you can play a quick game. I love big battle too. little of this little of that. Skirmish games seem to be slowing down some though.

BrockLanders29 Oct 2017 2:56 p.m. PST

We play 10mm for large scale WW2 battles and 28mm for skirmish, and love both.

whitphoto29 Oct 2017 3:37 p.m. PST

I overwhelming prefer it. A lot of it has to do with time.

Doug MSC Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 3:38 p.m. PST

I game in 40mm. I enjoy big battles, small battles and skirmish battles. I like the variety and the feel of all three types of gaming. It all depends on what I want to game at the time I play.

KSmyth29 Oct 2017 3:49 p.m. PST

I'm a huge Lion Rampant fan, as well as the rules that have followed on. They are fun and easy to teach others, and are finished in a couple of hours. However, here are some suggestions to add just a little more something interesting to them.

1. throw out the point systems. Yes let them guide you, but points against points is sterile and, well, pointless.
2. Play multi retinue battles. I've run games with six retinues in a convention environment, had real objectives and reached a conclusion in three hours.
3. The Mersey rules encourage creativity so think outside the box. Before Pikeman's Lament my friend and I wrote a n Aztec and Spanish set of rules--Quetzacoatl Rampant. I've adapted The Men Who Would be King to American wars in the woods--America Rampant.

I totally understand the desire for big battles. Ten years ago I wrote an article about the scourge of singly mounted figures and what they were doing to the game. There is certainly room for big Napoleonic or Seven Years War or ACW, but skirmishy games don't have to be limited or small, or line 'em up and shoot. They can be a lot more interesting with a little effort.

redbanner414529 Oct 2017 4:03 p.m. PST

Enjoy both but big battles are the most exciting.

battleeditor Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

Each has their place, and I enjoy skirmish games, especially when they arise from an ongoing campaign and have a valid place in the larger picture. But at heart – and this will surprise no-one – I'm an old school, big battles man. Nothing surpasses the thrill of commanding a mass cavalry charge that smashes through the enemy lines in a horse and musket era game, or the disciplined legions of ancient Rome munching their way through hordes of barbarians, or even the heart-thumping rampage of Rommel's panzers carving up the Allied positions in France, 1940. The command of larger forces is challenging and exhilarating in a way that playing with a handful of miniatures, however much fun, can never be.


Personal logo Zeelow Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 4:27 p.m. PST

Skirmishes for me. 15-20 maximum figures per opponent-unit. Micro scenario, fighting starts very fast and furious on a battleground no larger that 3'X2'.

Since I was a kid in grade school I've mainly played small short solo games. And now as a septuagenarian when at a Hobby Day or a convention I provide a fast starting engagement, fast moving and furious skirmishing for those who are of like mind. Lots of hands on and little time to drink your favorite beverage.

14Bore29 Oct 2017 4:51 p.m. PST

I keep wanting to do skirmish because big battles take so much time. But need solo rules and already have a few figures in musket era

Jozis Tin Man29 Oct 2017 5:14 p.m. PST

Depends on the period. WW2 – Modern I want to be a company commander or a Brigade Commander.

AWI I like Skirmish AND Big battles. I want to be Greene, Morgan or sometime Marion.

vagamer63 Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 6:25 p.m. PST

The "Big" problem with Skirmish Rules, is eventually escalation creeps in one way or another. It keeps growing until the players suddenly are no longer playing a Skirmish Game, but something more akin to a Company, Battalion, or Army Level game. What's worse is rarely do the players even realize they've escalated the game beyond what the rules were designed to reflect!

Early morning writer Inactive Member29 Oct 2017 6:42 p.m. PST

Skirmish is like oatmeal – without any liquid or extra flavoring – it may be nutritious but it isn't vey palatable to my tastes.

Whereas a well put together 'big battle' is like a fine multi-course gourmet meal – something to be savored and given time to enjoy. And the best of such meals are long remembered.

So, I ask the skirmish squad here, how many of your skirmish games were truly memorable? And last weeks game doesn't count, too recent to be considered memorable.

I can remember many epic 'big battles' with some from more than two decades ago.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP29 Oct 2017 8:05 p.m. PST

I,too, want to be Napoleon not Sergeant York.

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