I enjoy thematic wargaming. By which I mean, when I put an army/warband/company/etc. together for a game, I want them all to match and coordinate somehow. And that goes beyond the simple rules requirements of needing minis to all belong to the same faction or alignment, etc. I want them to look fairly similar, have similar attributes, etc., so that there’s a particular flavor to them. In some cases, that’s easy – Space Wolves all wear the same color armor, for instance, or a skeleton army can be relied upon to have the same white or beige-colored bones, rusted armor and weapons, and so forth. It can come down to how you base the minis to make them a cohesive whole; my Death Guard army is completely based using a texture paint that I then drybrushed to bring out its texture – simplistic, but effective, and also sanity-saving when you’re applying texture and paint to nearly 200 minis.
But one issue, especially when you’re deep into a theme of a smaller warband where each mini’s look and relationship to the rest of the group really counts, is actually finding the right mini for the job. And sometimes it’s not easy.
A lot of wargames rules produced now, especially those by Osprey Games, or Second Thunder’s Open Combat system, rely (in most cases) on the gamer to have their own minis that they can use; they, by and large, don’t produce the minis needed to pay the game, just the rules (Now, in the case of Osprey games like Ronin, Frostgrave or In Her Majesty’s Name, that’s not necessarily the case). So that leaves gamers with the need to find the right minis that will fit the particular warbands they’re building.
In some cases, it’s easy. If you’re putting together a D&D-themed band and you need a cleric or a barbarian, there are plenty of minis makers out there that have produced “generic” minis of every role-playing race, class and so forth that will fit the bill. If you’re into historicals, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a small (or large) gaming supplier that will have just about any era covered in your favored scale of miniature.
But, for instance, what if you’re like me and you tend to go… esoteric in your warband construction? Say you’re building a band that’s meant to represent villagers that are part of an ancient cult dedicated to the Old Religion who are bent on sacrificing all intruders in order to ensure a fruitful harvest? You might say that’s a doozey. Where do you go to start finding minis?
I’m in the midst of planning such a band and while it’s not impossible to find the minis, it’s truly tough to find the exact ones that I see in my head. Villager and civilian minis are a dime a dozen, but they tend to skew more medieval/fantasy in tone, so if you’re looking for some that are more 19th-century, it can be tough. And you also need to add in your hero and heavy support models, so the trick is trying to match up your vision to what’s out there. And possibly consider conversions. I’m finding more and more that Googling a particular kind of mini is helping me when I’m trying to visualize. Small, niche companies increasingly seem to be the ones that carry what I’m looking for.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube