Monday, May 21, 2018

The Death of Tabletop Gaming?

Credit: Rob Van Der Meijden
It has come up several times I thought I would write about it. Is tabletop gaming a dying breed?

More and more games are coming out as a hybrid of board game and miniature game. Aetherium by Anvil Eight, GodTear by Steamforged Games, Shadespire by Games Workshop, Giga-Robo by Cardboard Dynamo, and Aristeia by Corvis Belli to name a few. Games that go back to the old Battletech method of gaming (ahhh Battletech). And we see people rushing to these games and leaving the tabletop games behind. Why? There is a couple reasons.

No Cheaters
One of the biggest complaints of table top gamers is tape measure creep. An extra quarter inch here. A bumped mini that puts your opponent just out of reach. Even the dreaded my movement MAY have crossed this base but only by a super small amount. This has become null in a crossover game with hexes or squares. Movement is regulated by the spaces on the board. This model moves x squares then I can see it moves x squares. There is no ambiguity (oh! big word time!). Ranges of weapons are easily measured. Facing is a known (take Aetherium. Everything on a line from the back of your base is your rear. Simple). Cover and effects of on the board is simple. They remove the "in/fully in" issue as you can see this effect covers 3 squares/hexes.

Small Model Count
Another big advantage is these games have small model counts. No more lugging around a million models in a huge bag. A side effect of this is that setup is simple and quick. Godtear - Set up your models on the edge hexes. Aetherium - set up the tiles for the board that already have the effects of terrain on them. Small model counts doesn't always mean quicker games. Most of these games can be played in the same amount of time as one of the larger tabletop games, but some are quicker.

Small model count can also mean cheaper prices and higher quality. Since you don't usually have "line troops", each model is unique (sometimes...). This can also let people who can't afford to jump into a game spending thousands for a complete army to play and be competitive.

Less Competitive?
Most of the games I have seen don't have a strong competitive scene. Shadespire is really the only one that has competitive events going on. The others have narrative events or other events but not a lot of competition. This is one of the things I am hoping to see an uptick on as setup for these games is easy and there would be very few TO calls for measurement of questions on terrain.

These games don't have the advantage of the tabletop freedom. The board does limit your movement and plans. The low model count can also mean less choices. Also, it can feel like a board game where it is a one-and-done or a beer-and-pretzel game. Runs are often simplistic for people who like the complexity and charts of tabletop gaming.

But, how do you feel? Do these new round of games feel like they are killing off traditional board games?


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