Since there is a scant month left before Christmas, this is as good a time as any to do a holiday shopping guide for the war gamers in your life. Be it your significant other, the guys in your gaming group, or your Reddit Secret Santa giftee, I have tried to include a variety of interests and price ranges.
Stocking Stuffers ($5-15)
Combat Wombat 15mm Vehicles– While I have only reviewed the Scarab Fast Attack vehicle thus far, I have held and handle most of Combat Wombat’s wares. Every one of the Combat Wombat vehicles is resin with a turned metal barrel and retails for less than $10. If you buy them in sets of three, there is a $3 dollar discount. Whether the gamer on your list is new to 15mm science fiction or a veteran, there is always room for a few extra tanks, dune buggies, and APCs in anyone’s collection.
Rebel Minis– Rebel Minis are based in Chattanooga, TN and make some really great 15mm miniatures at great prices. I have a platoon of Nazi Zombies, with an eye on recreating Dead Snow. Their Sci-Fi line are a quality near future line minis, with some real gems. I don’t think there is a better transport option for near future American soldiers in 15mm than their MATV Comanche.
Mad Robot Miniatures– Mad Robot Miniatures make my new favorite 15mm science fiction soldiers and aliens. The pulp serials retro cool of the TMC Jump Troops is undeniable and they are a great value at $7 for 10. I have had them for a month and look forward to getting them mounted and painted. Some of the best sculpts I have ever seen in the 15mm scale. The newly released Harook aliens are equally interesting and I cannot wait to get my hands on them.
GameCraft Miniatures– GameCraft Miniatures makes excellent scenery for a number of scales, but it is their Middle Eastern buildings in 15mm that get my attention. The variety of hovels and buildings they have at under $10 is truly staggering. As someone who appreciates realistic scenery but lacks the time and energy to build it myself, I admire the price to quality ratio of GCM scenery.
Astro Miniatures– Astro Miniatures fills a very specific niche in 15mm science fiction miniatures for war games. While 60’s and 70’s science fiction TV shows are a big influence on most of the science fiction war gamers I know, it is a poorly served market. Astro Miniatures make admirably well-appointed space ship crews and metallic aliens that I cannot wait to use in a game of Tomorrow’s War.
Dice- It seems obvious, but I cannot overemphasize how great a gift for the war gamers on your list dice are. Most gamers I know bought the dice they use early in their gaming career and will do so until they are lost, stolen, or damaged. It took my beloved yellow d20 losing an entire edge for me to replace it, and the rest of my yellow dice. A set of basic dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20) is a nice, useful gift, no matter the manufacturer. A set of 10 color matched dice of the same ilk is a must for Ambush Alley players, though not everyone would appreciate my favored set of pink transparent d10’s with silver sparkles. If you are feeling particularly generous, a Pound Of Dice from Chessex or a set of Gamescience Gem dice is a gift worth remembering.
Small Gifts ($15-35)
Ambush Alley Games– Tomorrow’s War is a war game I have reviewed, played, and loved. I cannot recommend it enough, but I will do so again. This is the best gift I can think of in this price range. The book is constructed better than books I have spent over twice as much on. The rules are elegant and enjoyable. If Diehard GameFAN gave a war game of the year award, this would be the undisputed winner. Did I mention I really like Tomorrow’s War? If you already own a copy, buying a copy for the other nutters in your gaming group will pay off for you in the form of additional opponents.
Force on Force is the other Ambush Alley Games book I reviewed this year and it is a very good war game. For my money, it is second only to Tomorrow’s War. If you know someone who only plays one or the other, giving them the second book is a very good idea. Modern era war gaming was something I avoided before I tried Force on Force. It seemed like less interesting and less varied than a science fiction or fantasy setting. After spending several months playing Force on Force, I am a full-on convert. If you the gamer or gamers on your list already have Force on Force, Ambush Alley publish a variety of sourcebooks exploring specific conflicts and theaters. I know I can’t wait to try out Cold War Gone Hot.
Cool Mini or Not– The Dark Age Apocalypse: Core Rulebook was released at GenCon this year and looks to have been a bang on release. While I have not had a chance to pick up a copy yet, I look forward to sitting down with these new Dark Age rules and sorting it out. A game of post-apocalyptic skirmish warfare with big, chunky 32mm miniatures, steeped in the aesthetic of my favorite fantasy artist Brom, can only be a good thing. For $20, this is a hardback rulebook that almost fits in a stocking. Best of all, at $20, it is an easy game to dabble in.
The miniatures for Dark Age start at $10 and are some of the best looking metals I have seen in quite a while. I was an avid Confrontation player when it first came to America and did not think I would see its equal again. I was wrong. The Dark Ages minis are gorgeous and very affordable. For the gamer who likes to try other games or paint miniatures with reckless abandon, a couple of Dark Age minis would fit the bill quite nicely. For a bit more, there are several Warband boxes which act as great starter armies for new players. If you are ordering directly from Cool Mini Or Not, do not sleep on the great limited edition Saint Johann model. He looks fantastic and would make a nice stocking stuffer.
Wargames Factory– Samurai Warriors is part of Wargames Factory’s new line of Japanese miniatures called Rising Sun. Wargames Factory makes very good plastic miniatures for an easy price to love. I defy a war gamer to not find a use for 28mm samurai. At $20 for 25 samurai or $54 for 75 or $119 for 175, these are great bang for the buck. With more minis on the way, this looks like an addiction in the making.
Big Gifts ($35-50)
Cool Mini or Not- Dark Age Apocalypse: Forcelists is the all-encompassing army book for Dark Age and it is a massive chunk of dead trees. I like big, thick hardback books and this is a beautiful example. At $40, it is a bigger gift, but it would be perfect if bundled with the Core Rulebook and a couple miniatures.
Zombiesmith– Joshua Qualtieri from Zombiesmith makes some really beautiful stuff in a variety of styles, but the Quar books areas good a place to start as any. At $30 each, they are not cheap, but the art and setting is interesting enough to warrant a purchase. If you throw in a couple of Quar minis, this would be a great way to initiate a new game amongst your friends.
Since Zombiesmith started with zombies, I would be negligent not to mention the hordes of zombies they have. Between Ambush Alley’s Ambush Z and Zombiesmith’s 28mm zombies, it would be pretty easy to introduce a little undead into your loved one’s life. This would be a great gift for a non-gaming zombie fan that you know, too. I got into war games via Battletech because of my addiction to Robotech and Transformers. Another gamer created is another opponent on the table.
Very Big Gifts ($50+)
Games Workshop– I like giving and receiving gifts that someone would not normally buy for themselves. A White Dwarf subscription is something that the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k player on your list would definitely use, but might not buy themselves. Plus, the bonus mini is pretty sweet, so I am sure they would dig that. A pirate dwarf? Yeah, I think that is worth dropping $95.75 on your homey is worth the joys of a short pirate.
Maxmini– If there is one video game character or vehicle I would like to see in miniatures form, it is the tank from Metal Slug. While not identical, the Scrap Tank from Maxmini is like an Orkish dream come true. In Tomorrow’s War, I would love to see a squad of underequipped irregulars doing battle with this bad boy in an urban environment. I can’t wait to see one painted. Judging from the insane detail on the model, I imagine it will look fantastic with some rust and bullet holes.
Zombiesmith- If you are feeling really enthusiastic about getting someone on your list into Quar, there are a number of bundles that Zombiesmith has made available to ease entry into the Wind in the Willows inspired world of Quar. Be warned if you buy this for your significant other, you will be playing this with them for the foreseeable future.
Maelstrom Games– Keirioc-crÃƒÂ³ the Sea Devil is the BaneLegions miniature I picked for this article, but any of the BaneBeasts would have been appropriate. The folks at Maelstrom are responsible for the most disturbing and detailed 30mm fantasy minis I have seen. The sheer size and bulk of their miniatures makes me anticipate their upcoming ruleset. If you are shopping for me this year, feel free to send one of the BaneBeasts my way.
Spartan Games– The fine folks at Spartan Games do a lot of things right. They make rules that people love playing, big miniatures that have a high dollar to awesome ratio, and their aesthetic is easy to love. If you drop 100 pounds on their webstore, then shipping is free worldwide. For 125 pounds, you can pick up the Dystopian Wars Mega Bundle: Naval Battle Fleets. This big box of fun includes the rulebook, a deck of cards, and FOUR fleets. The Kingdom of Britannia, the Prussian Empire, the Federated States of America, and the Empire of the Blazing Sun are all represented and there are enough miniatures to choke a small hippopotamus. For the gamer who deserves a real treat for their holiday of choice this year, this Mega Bundle is more than enough gift.