Thursday, 2 June 2011

Toy Soldiers: Steampunk Skirmish Games

With all the steampunk novels I’ve been reading recently (see my Pax Britannia reviews) I am in the mood for doing some steampunk skirmish wargaming. I like the quirky styles of some steampunk miniatures, and feel that to really show off their character I prefer to stick with 28mm or larger sizes. I have two or three 54mm figures, including these two from Black Crab Sculpting Studio.
Black Crab Studios - The Lizard KingBlack Crab Studios - The Judge
However, with the price of miniatures ever rising, and metal prices still going up, I think I will probably go for 28mm figures, even though I am only planning on having very small groups of figures on each side (I would think up to an absolute maximum of about 20 per side).
There seem to be a good selection of steampunk style miniatures available from a growing band of manufacturers.
Steampunk DorothySteampunk Dorothy
I have just ordered the Steampunk Dorothy figure from CoolMiniorNot, and I am preparing an order for Design 28 Miniatures.
Design 28 Miniatures Iron MenDesign 28 Miniatures Vampire HuntersDesign 28 Miniatures Victorian Policemen
I also have plenty of the Scheltrum Miniatures Selenites (well I did sculpt them), and their other VSF figures. In fact, I still have the 28mm scale airship that I made around 10 years ago (vac-formed balloon with resin and white-metal gondola)…
Scheltrum Miniatures SelenitesVSF Airship 11VSF Airship 05VSF Airship 06VSF Airship 10
There is also Wyrd Miniatures Malifaux, some of their figures are very nice, although they are a premium priced range, so I don’t really want to buy too many of them. Of course one advantage of going with Malifaux, would be the associated rules system, but I don’t really want to be restricted from using other companies figures.
Malifuax Mannequins
I also have plenty of 28mm colonial figures, from various manufacturers, that could be pressed into service for the odd steampunk game. Off the top of my head, some of Foundry’s Darkest Africa range and similar, as well a large collection of British Sudan campaign figures.
So, which rules to go for? I want a game that has small parties (up to about 20 figures at the most) on each side, but most of the steampunk wargaming rules seem to be mass battle rules.
I picked up When The Navy Walked and it’s expansions from Wargames Vault the other day, which looks interesting, but still too large scale for my taste. I see from their website that The Armchair General are planning a set of skirmish rules for When The Navy Walks, but I want to get going with this just now. I have also been considering G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., which seems to be popular and has been around for quite some time. I have even considered using a slimmed down version of some of the role playing rules that are out there. Talking of role playing rules Space 1889 does have their wargaming rules Soldier’s Companion, but that seems quite restrictive, and I really want something more skirmish based.
When The Navy Walked9090759093
What I was really looking for was something like .45Adventure from Rattrap Productions. Unfortunately all of their different rules sets, which are all wonderfully “pulpy”, miss the steampunk genre, however, as I have most of them, a little conversion work could be a possibility.
.45 Adventure 2ed.  from Rattrap ProductionsFantastic Worlds from Rattrap ProductionsThrilling Expeditions from Rattrap Productions
What is looking most promising at the moment, however, is the rules set In The Emperor’s Name, that is being developed on the Forge Of War/FUBAR Yahoo group. It is a set of rules to fight small scale actions between two “Retinues”. ITEN is actually set up to use the Warhammer 40K background, but having chatted in the group a little, there is quite an interest in developing a separate rules set, to be called (at least for now) In Her Majesty’s Name…
All in all, I think that skirmish is the perfect type of game for the Steampunk genre, so I am really surprised that there are not more rule sets out there yet.


  1. Lead Adventure Miniatures have the license to produce Ratnik Miniatures now.

    They have a growing VSF range of 28mm that has some cute figures in it.

  2. The Ratnik Miniatures range is very nice, I had completely forgotten about them, thanks for reminding me.

  3. In 54mm scale you've also got Smartmax's Smog 1888 range. Beautiful but (very) expensive, alas.

    For skirmish rules, I'd suggest to have a look at Showdown rules from Pinnacle, creators of the Savage Worlds system. Best thing is it's free :

  4. The Smog figures certainly are wonderful. I have my eye on a couple of them, but as you say they are very pricey.

    Thanks for pointing out the Showdown rules from Pinnacle, I give them a go.

    I have found a few new sets of rules now and I will post an update once I have had a look through them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...