There’s so many skirmish games on offer as an alternative to big battle games that have formed the foundation of so many tabletop gaming journeys.
Alternatives to Warhammer 40,000
Well established in the tabletop gaming world is 40K. It’s enjoyed by many but can be expensive bloated and take a long time to finish each game. If you’ve been looking for some smaller alternatives with sleeker game-play and cheaper investments, it could be time to explore some of the skirmish games on offer!
What’s great about skirmish games?
- Small model count
- More terrain interaction
- Often more tactical
- Alternating movement & actions
- Cheaper buy-ins to get started
Here’s some recommendations for Skirmish games to try in 2024
Infinity by Corvus Belli
Infinity is a game that keeps you engaged throughout. The rule-set is sophisticated and lends itself to cinematic game-play. It has steep but rewarding learning curve and eases you in with the basic ‘Code One’ system. It’s set in the far future of humanity with soldiers, A.I, aliens, robots and hackers. The army builder and rules for Infinity are all also free!
Terrain for Infinity
Infinity is usually played on a 4×4′ table with tightly packed terrain that offers lots of cover. Interconnected sci-fi buildings, ladders and walkways are a key feature, as is a fair amount of scatter such as crates, vehicles, walls, barriers and cyberpunk style advertising.
Stargrave by Osprey Publishing
You control a spaceship crew using any miniatures you like and focus on simple, yet sturdy gameplay that is packed with narrative opportunities. The core rules get you started with single games or an ongoing campaign, whilst the plethora of additional resources deliver a range of extended gameplay opportunities.
Terrain for Stargrave
Stargrave is fairly open in terms of terrain options as it’s based on any number of alien planets, space stations and even starships. You could set your game on a barren, alien world or an old world, low tech settlement or super-advanced tech-based civilisation.
Star Wars Legion by Fantasy Flight Games
Star Wars Legion can be played as small skirmish games or epic battles set around any of your favourite Star Wars moment. It definitely scratches the itch for all Star Wars fans and uses a nice proprietary dice and card system for activation, skills and combat mechanics.
Terrain for Starwars Legion
Star Wars Legion tables are typically 3×3′ or 6×3′ and heavily influenced by the Star Wars universe.
Marvel Crisis Protocol by Atomic Mass Games
Using bigger minis but an easy to grasp game mechanic, you’ll control a team of your favourite X-Men characters to complete objectives and gather power to unleash your super powers. The system uses unique dice and character cards to keep everything flowing.
Terrain for Marvel Crisis Protocol
Set in the near future or modern day Marvel Universe, most games play on a 3×3′ table with modern, urban structures. You’ll also see scatter that superheros can throw such as dumpsters, cars, lampposts and even small street vendors. Scenery is categorised into sizes which represent how hard it is to throw, so it’s good to have a mix from tiny to extremely huge terrain.
Starwars Shatterpoint by Atomic Mass Games
Set after Attack of the Clones, Shatterpoint is similar to Marvel Crisis Protocol in many ways as you control a small group of heroes / villains in the Star Wars Universe.
Terrain for Starwars Shatterpoint
Shatterpoint is slightly larger than most wargames, at 40mm, you’ll need larger scaled terrain that matches your preferred setting in the Star Wars universe. Multi-level buildings with walkways and line of sight blocking terrain are essential.
Necromunda by Games Workshop
Although the rules can be cumbersome, the lore and core mechanics of Necromunda are definitely something to enjoy in this action packed game. You’ll use a special set of D6 and templates to control a gang that evolves over time as you play. Games are quick, fun and usually have some great and memorable moments.
Terrain for Necromunda
Necromunda is rich in Grim-dark theme and set somewhere in the depths of an imperium hive world. On any of these ancient gothic inspired battlegrounds, you’ll find gangs fighting for survival amongst the muck, rust and toxic waste. The infrastructure is decaying and raw. Industrial piping, heavy and corroded bulkheads are key features along side the leaking filth, goo and blood.
Killteam by Games Workshop
As a quick alternative to 40K, Killteam pits two groups of combat specialists from the armies you know and love against each other. Models that are usually constrained to squads are now represented as characters who operate independently, but as part of the Kill Team.
Terrain for Killteam
Killteam is set in the Warhammer universe but played on smaller tables, usually 30×22″. Games can be set in any environment related to the Grim-dark setting and usually feature industrial or military settings unless you prefer ruined battlefields or xenos (alien) world’s. Pipes, landing pads, industrial platforms, ruined walls and supply depots are quite common.
Deadzone by Mantic Games
Set on any number of colonies or alien worlds, Deadzone is a unique skirmish game that places your battles in containment zones of the Warpath universe.
Terrain for Deadzone
Deadzone is unique in that it uses a 2×2′ table, split into eight by eight 3″ grids. As a result, terrain is usually built around 3″ cube layouts. You’ll often see industrial settings, military structures or scientific facilities.
Judge Dredd Miniatures Game by Warlord Games
A fun skirmish game that explores the narrative fights and missions of the classic Judge Dredd comic books. Gangs vs lawmen or bizarre aliens are the focus of this skirmish game that uses a clever system of dice, character cards and tokens for activations.
Terrain for Judge Dredd
Set in Mega City One, this bustling and painfully overcrowded metropolis (The Big Meg) is packed full of comic book charm – Think of any stories from the 2000AD comics. Futuristic, but rundown buildings are a must, then supplemented with walls, vehicles and other scatter terrain.
One Page Rules by OnePage Rules
If you’re after a snappy rule-set that’s easy to learn and flows well, One Page Rules offers a basic mini-agnostic set of rules that expands into less-bloated alternatives to some popular games. Their games include Age of Fantasy, Grimdark Future, Firefight, Regiments and more!
Terrain for One Page Rules
One page rules is a very open system and all about your choice of setting and enjoyment. Terrain options are entirely up to you but should typically include a range of line of sight blocking scenery in a theme of your choice!
Cyberpunk: Combat Zone by Monster Fight Club
This fast-paced, smart and easy to play system uses colour coding for movement, range and actions. The characters, weapons, hacking programs and scenarios are all represented by cards which streamlines gameplay and let’s you focus on the action. One of the core mechanics is the [Re]Action system which allows gang members to respond to damage and really shake up the dynamic of the game.
Terrain for Cyberpunk Combat Zone
Set in the Combat Zones of 2045 of the Cyberpunk timeline, this setting is the battlefield for numerous gangs, each striving to establish dominance and maintain ground. The theme is ultimately “Hi Tech, Low Life”, so you’ll find dystopian, futuristic buildings, battle damaged structures, rubbish, sprawl, abandoned warehouses, barricades, ruins, supplies and sci-fi vehicles.
Mars: Code Aurora by Samy Maronnier and Hugo “Minus” Nivesse – Available via Northstar
Recently translated into English, this mini-agnostic skirmish game is set on Mars after colonisation attempts went bad. The rules are easy to grasp and feature elements reminiscent to Infinity.
Terrain for Mars: Code Aurora
Set on Mars, you’ll want plenty of industrial and space-based habitats and infrastructure. As a mini-agnostic game, you’re open to choose what works for you!