I sometimes like to imagine what a person thinks when they walk into a miniature game store for the first time. Seeing random players move around little models with weird names like Space Marine or Warjack and whooping for joy when a random roll of the dice removes the opposing player’s figure from the table. How can anyone, they may ask, get any satisfaction from something like this. What is it about the game that appeals to them?
I can’t speak for everyone when that question is asked. I know many people love the competitiveness of the game. Diving into codices to try to get any possible advantage in a tournament. Other just like the look of the figures. Painting them and watching them strut their stuff across the battlefield.
For me, it’s always been about the lore. Going through the game and finding out which armies speak to me. Am I inspired to play because of the nobility of the Stormcast Eternals? Or perhaps the sadism of the Dark Eldar gives me a bit of a thrill. Maybe I like the idea of an army of Trollkin healing up to give their enemy another black eye, or watching nomads troopers laying waste to those who would dare to try to control them.
As I have said before in other articles, I don’t have the time or money to get into miniature gaming. Otherwise my non-existent army of fully painted Seraphon or Tau would lay waste to all before them. But I love to explore the lore of these various universes. If done well, it can enhance any game and make a player feel an attachment to a particular faction. Allowing a potential player a chance to think how these little people live and grow in their own strange, but violent, world. Its why narrative campaigns are so fun to play and, surprisingly, watch.
For those who don’t know, a narrative game is when players use their armies to tell a story. Using the consequences of those battles to help determine where the story goes. Sort of like a role-playing game, but you control an entire army and not just one character. If you’re invested in the universe, you don’t just see little models crisscrossing a table. You see an epic battle happening between two armies to control an important strategic point, settle a long time grudge, or stop an ancient evil. If you want a good example of this, try out Miniwargaming. They do a good job at creating fairly epic stories between opposing armies in their narrative campaigns.
To me, lore helps to define a universe and lets it grow. With a solid understanding of where a particular faction is coming from, a company can keep a army consistent. Allowing for new rules and models that fit the main theme of that force. It also allows players to bring in their own twists to their favorite factions and allow their imaginations to figure out why these twists are suddenly part of the wider story of the universe. Its these little twists that keep people back for years, or even decades, to find out how their favorite fictional worlds have changed and how they can help change it in the most fun, and mostly violent, way possible.
As a side project and a fun writing exercise, I’ve decided to explore the lore of these various miniature wargames on my Youtube channel. Usually a short story combined with a description of what makes the race unique. It’s a fun way to improve my writing and explore the various universes I love to dive into. If this sort of thing appeals to you, consider giving it a look. I can’t promise my stories will always be good, but I can promise they will have words in complete sentences. That is usually a step in the right direction.
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