Tabletop miniatures games are, by far, my favorite hobby. I love every aspect of the miniature gaming process, whether it’s assembling them, painting them, and of course, playing with them. So obviously, when I saw two new miniatures games that were on display at Gen Con that are part of two of my favorite franchises, I took a particular interest in them. Those games were Star Wars Legion, and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. I’m unbelievably excited that two IPs that I love are being turned into my favorite type of game. I eagerly searched the internet all weekend for any information I could find on the games. However, as I watched some gameplay videos, my hopes and dreams for the awesomeness of these games were crushed before my eyes. Both of these games implement the worst mechanic to ever curse the tabletop world: maneuver templates.
It’s no surprise really that more games want to use this template format, since the current king of miniatures games, Star Wars: X-Wing has popularized the template system. For those who haven’t played X-Wing or similar games, miniatures are moved around the play area with the help of pre-cut cardboard templates which lay out the exact path and destination point of each miniature when they move. But does that make sense for all games? No, and frankly it especially doesn’t make sense for any game not taking place in an air plane or space ship – outside of these genres, the mechanic is just stupid. When you consider that a turning maneuver is vitally important to aerial combat, a template is the best way to replicate that. However, when dealing with ground based combat, templates are completely unnecessary. Tape measures which have worked just fine since the start of miniatures gaming, and they still work great today because they are cheap, portable, and keep the focus on the miniatures themselves.
I can go on Amazon right now and order a tape measure for just under $5, but if I wanted to get acrylic X-Wing templates (because who wants to use card board?), I will have to pay at least three times that amount. So it should be fair to assume that adding these plastic and acrylic templates to Legion and Wasteland Warfare will surely increase the price of those products if the designers go for the higher quality components, or indirectly for gamers such as myself who will get them from a third party.
Once publishers sucker you into buying one of these games with templates, you will have to find space on your gaming table to put all of the crap they are forcing you to use, and you will also have to transport all of the crap wherever you go if you want to play a game outside of your home. Let’s take a look at some pictures I took as evidence. The first picture below is everything I own for Age of Sigmar by Games Workshop (Please don’t judge my half painted minis).
Now, we will take a look at everything I need to play one competitive list of X-Wing.
Look at all that crap! And that isn’t nearly everything I bring with me to the local game store; it is only the bare minimum required to play the game. With only three minis, X-Wing still takes up significantly more space than Age of Sigmar, so just imagine what it will be like carrying around everything you need for Legion, with all the template maneuver crap and way more minis.
When I buy a miniatures game, what I really want to spend my money on is miniatures (a weird concept, I know), and by adding more unique parts to these games, companies are just distracting from what the focus of the game should be. Having unique parts for your miniatures game typically means that there is a core box that is a necessary purchase, because they usually contain items you cannot get anywhere else (like the templates). But if I don’t want to play either faction in the core box, I now own a bunch of miniatures I don’t want to use. Instead, why don’t publishers just sell boxes of miniatures and a rule book? Then I would only need to buy the miniatures that I want to use.
Creating all of these extra components for miniatures games is a huge mistake. I cannot believe I am about to say this, but more companies should look towards Games Workshop for how to market a miniatures game. If I want to to play Age of Sigmar, I just need to purchase a box of miniatures, that’s it. The rules are free online, the dice used are just standard six-sided die (and every tabletop gamer has more of those than they know what to do with), and a tape measure is all that’s needed for movements. Sure, you can buy other products for Age of Sigmar (accessory books and terrain, for example), but those components are not required to enjoy the game, and in the end that keeps the focus of play where it needs to be: on the tabletop.