“Miniature board games” is a pretty vague topic and that’s mainly because the sheer number of games using miniatures has exploded over the years. The advent of 3D printing has also brought the cost of miniatures down immensely.
This has led them to become more and more common in board games and tabletop games.
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What is a miniatures game?
There are two categories that come to mind when I think of miniatures games.
- Miniature Board Games
- Miniature Hobbyist Games
I consider board games separate from hobbyist games because the miniatures in board games are used to enhance the gaming experience. A board game may use miniatures but it requires no additional setup other than opening the box and setting up the game.
A miniatures board game is a complete gaming experience in the box. All of the artwork and building is complete. You just need to figure out the rules and set up the game.
If you’re looking for a list of sprawling armies, miniature wargaming, and hobbyist miniature games, check out this article.
Now that we’re all on the same page as to what a miniature board game is, let’s dive in and take a look at some of the best miniature games on the market.
Scythe has taken the board game world by storm. It’s an area-control engine-building game set in an alternate 1920s Europa. Players fight for supremacy and land but while farmers toil in the background, massive mechanoid war machines stand guard on the edge of their territory.
Scythe is a very interesting area-control game that combines several different genres together and plays great as a solo game. It’s has a competitive war aspect right alongside its economy-building mechanic. Players also need to win the hearts and minds of the people or risk falling behind their rivals.
Epic Alternate Reality
There’s a lot of different mins here but the most interesting ones are the faction leaders and the mechs themselves. Each faction leader is a larger-than-life character accompanied by an animal familiar. They look really cool and are only outshined by the factions of individualized mechs.
Throughout the game, players build mechs that wander through their territory and are incredibly powerful. Each faction has a unique mech design and they all look amazing… except for the derpy one with the giant wheel coming out of its butt.
- A board game set in an alternate history 1920s period
- It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears,...
- 1 to 5 Players
2. War of the Ring (Second Edition)
War of the Ring is probably the best rendition of Tolkien’s work in board game form. War of the Ring is an epic struggle between the forces of Mordor and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. When played fully, it is one of the few games that have ever captured the grand scope of The Lord of the Rings.
It’s a tense battlefield of Good vs. Evil. The forces of the Free Peoples attempt to shore up all their defenses with a limited number of troops, preparing for the wall of orcs to crash into their ranks. Meanwhile, Sauron’s limitless forces of Mordor march across the board in never-ending waves. Through all of this, the Fellowship of the Ring continues on its quest, forging a legend of its own.
It’s an incredible big-box game that is one of my favorites to play and even works well with only 2 players. If you’re even remotely a fan of board games, fantasy, war games, or The Lord of the Rings, I highly recommend you give it a try.
- For 2 4 players
- Takes about 2 hours to play
- A massive 70 x 100cm Game Board in two sections, 16 Action Dice,...
3. Blood Rage
You’re going to see a lot of games from CMON on this list and there’s a reason for that. CMON knows how to make minis. (Duh, it stands for “Cool Mini or Not”.)
In Blood Rage, players control rival clans of Vikings at the brink of Ragnarök. The world is about to be destroyed and everyone is looking to fight in the final battle to win their place in Valhalla. The gods watch the final conflict, bestowing gifts upon those who please them.
In this area-control game, players fight for dominance, recruiting ancient monsters, and pillaging before Ragnarök and the world’s end. Blood Rage is thought to be the successor to the wildly popular Rising Sun, which has a very similar style and feel to it.
- Amazing Figures - From the different clans, to the ships, to the...
- Breathtaking Art - With Blood Rage, Adrian Smith has created a...
- Custom Clans - Players start with the same abilities, but...
4. Star Wars: Imperial Assault
I’m a huge Star Wars fan and Imperial Assault delivers the nostalgia that I had the first time I rented Star Wars: A New Hope (I wasn’t old enough to see the original in theaters).
With just the core set of Imperial Assault, you’ll get a full campaign to play through with some awesome miniatures including a Darth Vader and an AT-ST. They all look amazing and are pretty easy to paint, even if you’re a beginner.
5. Mechs vs. Minions
Mechs Vs. Minions is a GIANT box of minis. The game was designed by the video game company that brought you League of Legends. They know video games but they show their gaming cred by making a very cool board game as well.
The major mechanic used in Mechs vs. Minions is a programming mechanic. It’s a cooperative game so players will need to work together to make sure their mechs are in the proper position to beat up the many, many minions in the box (and to not accidentally get in each other’s way).
There are multiple scenarios to play through with variable objectives and the 4 hero mechs come prepainted in a quirky-fun art style. The rest of the minion minis in the box aren’t painted but when you see how many actually come in the box, you’ll know why.
6. Star Wars: X-Wing
Star Wars: X-Wing is the much smaller scale cousin to Star Wars: Armada (we’ll talk about Armada in a minute). Both are awesome Star Wars board games that everyone should play.
Star Wars: X- Wing puts players in the cockpit of their own fighters in a small dogfight arena. Players control one of 2 factions: the Empire or the Rebels and will send out ships to capture objectives and blast their opponents out of space.
Players can use the system to customize ship loadout and pilots to enhance their effectiveness. The miniatures themselves are all prepainted and look so cool when placed down on the table.
Pro Tip: If you don’t feel like shelling out money for a giant playing mat (since there’s no real board), you can grab some space posters at a Target or Walmart and lay them down for the playing field.
The Expansions Are Where It’s At
The only real downside I can knock X-Wing for is the core set. It comes with 1 X-Wing and 2 Tie Fighters. There are a ton of expansions that add all kinds of flair and different ships.
The system is designed so that one ship can be outfitted in multiple ways. So even though the model is the same, the gear it’s carrying in the form of equipment cards can drastically change up its combat abilities.
- A game of tactical space combat in the Star Wars universe for two...
- Take control of the most advanced starfighters in the galaxy
- Contains three detailed, painted miniatures: one X-wing and two...
7. Rising Sun
The old gods, the Kami, have returned and are fighting for supremacy. In this area-control game, players send out troops to fight and die for honor, glory, and a return to the old ways.
Rising Sun is produced by CMON and designed by Eric Lang, so you know the design and production value are going to be of the highest quality. CMON pulls out all the stops for these miniatures in this Japanese-inspired game, bringing to life Japanese folklore with highly-detailed miniatures of gods and demons.
The gameplay is also rather deep. Players have multiple paths to victory and in Rising Sun, simply having the largest force to smash through a territory doesn’t guarantee victory.
Intrigued? Check out our in-depth review of Rising Sun and its expansions before you buy!
- For 3 to 5 players. 90 to 120 minute playing time
- Unique battle system : Eric m. Lang has developed a completely...
- Fantasy art : artwork by the legendary Adrian Smith Will...
8. Descent: Journeys in the Dark (Second Edition)
In Descent, one player takes on the role of the evil overlord of the dungeon, controlling all of the monsters and baddies down there. The hero characters then must attempt to make to the end of the dungeon… without getting slaughtered.
It can be played campaign-style with the hero characters gaining new equipment and abilities after each dungeon but… the overlord will also be growing stronger as well.
The BBEG is Right Next to You!
One of my favorite aspects of Descent is the player-driven baddie. It completely changes up how the game is played. Having an actual human mind to go up against instead of a set of pre-programmed motions and probability drastically alters the difficulty and outcome of the game.
There are hero minis that come with Descent but I think it’s the monsters that really make the board come to life. Each one is so well done and can be played right out of the box. You can paint them but I kind of like the angry red color they come in.
- It is a board game in which one player takes on the role of the...
- During each game, the heroes embark on quests and venture into...
- Featuring double-sided modular board pieces, countless hero and...
9. The Others: 7 Sins
The 7 Deadly Sins have been granted physical form and it’s up to the members of F.A.I.T.H (Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors) to stop them.
1 vs. All
Stupid name aside, the game offers a 1 vs. all situation where one player controls all manifestations of sin and horror that roam the board, looking to kill the player characters of F.A.I.T.H.
I really like the gameplay of 1 vs. all. It creates a lot of tension on the board and no matter which side you’re on, everyone walks away from the table with an incredible story.
The real stars of the game are the manifestations of the actual 7 sins. CMON created some awesome-looking monsters that remind me of a Cthulhu-inspired Lovecraftian horror.
- For 2-5 players
- 90 minute playing time
- Modular storytelling! several different aspects of each adventure...
10. Arcadia Quest
Arcadia Quest is a charming little dungeon brawler game. Players control their own little guild of adorable heroes and send them out to complete quests, objectives, and kill some freakishly cute monsters.
It’s a very fast-paced, run-in-and-smash-stuff kind of game that I really enjoy. The art style and mini design also make it a unique choice. Many game designers opt for the super-detailed, badass-looking minis. These guys are squat little caricatures of monsters and heroes. They’re delightful.
Arcadia Quest has a lot of things going for it. It has built-in campaigns with a lot of replayability. Each game is set up with a different board layout and a different objective. Players will be able to mix-and-match to create some truly unique scenarios for their guilds to battle it out in the dungeons.
- Awesome Figures : With twelve highly detailed Hero figures and...
- Simple Battles : Confrontations are quickly and easily resolved...
- Incredible Upgrades : Players can gain items and equipment...
11. Zombicide: Black Plague
Black Plague takes Zombicide back in time to a medieval fantasy world. Zombies have been awakened by evil necromancers and the never-ending horde is coming for you. You’ll swap out chainsaws for battle axes and swords, shotguns for crossbows, and you’ll fight through the streets in a fantasy brawl against the forces of evil.
The miniatures are in Zombicide: Black Plague are top-notch and the other components are pretty incredible too. I particularly like the character boards that CMON puts out with the series. The boards keep everything organized, hold all of the information players need, and look great on the table too.
- Monstrous Minis - From the Survivors, to the evil Necromancer, to...
- Player Boards - These helpful, plastic boards allow players to...
- Scary Scenarios - The included scenarios will send players to...
12. Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt
The Legend of Drizzt is the third game in the D&D Adventure System series from Wizard of the Coast.
It introduces the legendary hero Drizzt along with several of his companions. Along with the legendary heroes, this standalone expansion also adds cavern tiles that allow players to go from running through a marsh to stumbling upon a cavern filled with nasty monsters.
The game balance is actually very well done here. Usually, when you add a legendary hero to an established game, they’ll completely outshine the generic characters. Not so here. The game is extremely well-balanced so that Drizzt and the gang don’t steamroll the no-name heroes from the other expansions.
It’s always fun to be able to control your favorite characters in a board game, so if you’re a fan of the Drizzt novels, this is a great set to add to your collection.
- Designed for 1 to 5 players
- Features multiple scenarios, challenging quests and cooperative...
- Contains: 42 heroes and monsters, 13 sheets of interlocking...
13. Star Wars: Armada
We talked about Star Wars: X-Wing as a dogfighting miniatures game and now it’s time to move on to the high-stakes game. Star Wars: Armada takes you out of the cockpit and places you squarely in the command chair. Instead of dog fights, you’ll be responsible for an entire fleet of ships.
Now You’re An Admiral
The space battles in Armada are much grander in scale and highly-strategic. But… just because you have the biggest ship on the table doesn’t guarantee a victory. Bombers will be able to take down your capital ships, fighters will be able to counter bombers, capital ships can fire devastating volleys, and corvettes will be able to slip behind enemy lines to fire at weak points in the hull.
You’ll be orchestrating massive battles and each one is represented by a prepainted miniature that looks fantastic. They’re table and showcase-ready straight out of the box. Some of the larger models push the definition of miniature but that’s okay too.
- A two-player miniatures game of tactical fleet battles in the...
- Core set contains includes three pre-painted capital ship...
- Ships utilize a unique, articulated maneuver tool to quickly set...
14. Mice and Mystics
Imagine a Brian Jacques novel turned into a board game…
Mice and Mystics is an adorable storybook-inspired dungeon-crawler with a healthy amount of role-playing thrown in. The Prince and his court have been imprisoned during a coup by the evil witch Vanestra. The only way to escape from the dungeon is to have the court wizard turn everyone into mice and escape through the sewer grate. The only problem is… he doesn’t know how to turn you back.
Tell A Story While You Make Your Escape
Everything about Mice and Mystics is adorable. It’s probably one of the cutest games I’ve ever seen and it’s very story-heavy. Everything is reminiscent of a storybook and players actually get to read large expositions in between missions to set the mood and give a backstory for our mousey heroes.
The game comes with miniatures for all the hero characters and some oversized miniatures for all of the enemies you’ll face. In keeping with the theme, players will be fighting cockroaches, rats, spiders, and the dreaded centipede. Each one looks fantastic even unpainted but they really pop with some quick painting. Even amateurs will be able to try their hand at painting here.
Ready to dive in? Check out our full-review of Mice and Mystics before you take the plunge.
- Mice and Mystics will provide any group of friends with an...
- A game for 1 to 4 players
- 60 minutes playtime
15. BattleLore (Second Edition)
The battle system is designed to recreate a general’s view of battle and simulate the inconsistencies of war along with a breakdown in communication lines.
Players only have a limited number of orders to give and the optimal order won’t always be available. You could end up with a devastating strike ready to deploy but somehow be unable to get the orders to your troops, leaving your strike force sitting idle on the field.
The mechanics are fantastic and when completely set up with elven archers, giant spiders, and elementals, the board looks astounding.
- A board game of tense, squad-based battles for two players
- Command armies in the heat of battle
- Create new scenarios in every game, or engage in a narrative...
16. Shadows of Brimstone: City of the Ancients
Shadows of Brimstone is an odd mashup. Think: Western meets Cthulhu. I know the idea of a tentacled horror in a cowboy hat sounds odd but the two actually complement each other rather well. In Shadows of Brimstone, players delve into the mines of the Old West, searching for Darkstone, a newly discovered mineral that gives strange powers.
Shadows of Brimstone is a dungeon-crawler with some really cool minis. Players can either play one-shot missions or extend their experience through an intricate campaign system with persistent characters that level up, gaining incredible powers, crippling injuries, or slowly become insane through exposure to Darkstone.
The miniatures here are all in-keeping with the theme (strange as it may be). One of the major differences, however, between Shadows of Brimstone and the other games on this list is that the miniatures don’t come prebuilt. There’s a minor bit of gluing involved to create all of the miniatures but nothing too crazy.
Be sure to check out our complete guide to Shadows of Brimstone before you buy!
Zombicide is hands-down one of the best zombie board games out there. It has everything you could possibly want and a bunch more stuff you probably didn’t even know you wanted.
Zombicide is full of detailed, horrifying, rotting zombies of all different types. Fast zombies, slow shambling zombies, giant mutated zombies, and even your favorite gigantic bloated gross zombie.
The Zombicide system is an awesome dungeon-crawler experience in which players search through rooms, kill zombies, and attempt to escape abandoned cityscapes… all while being pursued by an inexorable zombie horde.
The Zombicide System
The system is designed really well too. Players are able to level-up and gain more powerful abilities as the game goes on but as they get stronger, so do the zombies. Zombie spawns are determined by the highest-level player so if only one player is tanking everything, you’ll quickly find yourself swarmed and eaten. It’s one of my favorite cooperative games and it’s one of my favorite zombie games.
- Cool Corpses - Zombicide comes loaded with incredible miniatures....
- Challenging Scenarios - Players will face off against ten...
- Limitless Potential - With modular map tiles and all the zombies...
18. Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak
Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak expands upon the Zombicide world. Each version of Zombicide is basically a standalone expansion. You could simply pick your favorite and have a complete box experience. Or if you’re really feeling the need to slay some zombies, you can start to combine the different boxes to add to whatever set you already have.
Up Close & Personal… With Berserkers
Prison Outbreak shifts the game by focusing on indoor close-quarters combat and adding a lot of weapons to accommodate. You’ll need those new weapons too with the all-new berserker zombies. They’re completely immune to ranged weapons so you’ll need to engage them in close quarters.
Prison Outbreak is probably one of my favorite Zombicide boxes and as always with CMON, you’re going to get a box filled with gorgeous highly-detailed minis.
- For 1 to 6 Players
- 60 minute playing time
- This is a standalone game that can also be combined with...
19. Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon
The next 3 games on this list come from the D&D Adventure System board games. They’re designed to be a distilled D&D experience without a dungeon master. They’re also heavily focused on the combat aspect of Dungeons & Dragons.
Wizards of the Coast has been putting out new editions to mirror their roleplaying counterparts but there’s enough there that you can use the miniatures, tilesets, and heroes to make your own adventures too. The minis and tiles can perform double-duty if you want to sit down to play a board game or if you’re running a regular D&D campaign.
Wrath of Ashardalon was the second game in the D&D Adventure System and introduces Ashardalon to the mix, one of the oldest red dragons in existence who is always searching for a way to become immortal. Players will be able to choose from 5 characters, and each character has multiple skill sets. They’re all mutually exclusive, so you’ll need to play a character over the course of several games to get the full effect.
If you’re a fan of D&D and don’t feel like shelling out a ton of money for all of the crazy miniatures, the Adventure System games offer a ton of minis and a great D&D board game experience.
- A heavy shadow falls across the land, cast by a dark spire that...
- A cave mouth leads to a maze of tunnels and chambers, and deep...
- Designed for 1-5 players, this boardgame features multiple...
20. Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft
This was the first game in the D&D Adventure System. Castle Ravenloft is home to the ancient vampire Strahd… which means Castle Ravenloft actually pulls double-duty as an excellent Halloween-themed game too.
Your heroes will have to face vampires, werewolves, and zombies. All of the monsters are perfectly-themed for the creepy and macabre Castle Ravenloft and all of the minis that go along with it are extremely well done. It’s one of my favorite games in the Adventure System.
- 1 to 5 player game
- 60 minutes to play
- Dungeon crawling action and terrifyingly fun quests
21. Dungeons & Dragons: Temple of Elemental Evil
This version adds an official campaign system to the D&D Adventure System series. Players will be able to use persistent bonuses between games and continue to level-up their characters.
The Temple of Elemental Evil adds all-new characters, minis, and expands upon the rules of the previous games. You’ll get another dragon miniature along with a ton of new baddies that unsurprisingly include various elemental and cultists. Probably my favorite mini in the box, however, is the 2-headed Ettin creature. He just looks nasty.
- For 2+ Players
- 60 minute playing time
- Can be combined with other D&D Adventure System Cooperative play...
22. Fireteam Zero
A black ops team has gone completely undercover. All records of their existence have been completely wiped out. Players take on the role of each team member and are tasked with searching out supernatural entities and destroying them.
The atmosphere of the game is very dark. I really like all of the artwork and the super-cool monster miniatures. Even the regular minions are these weird human-spider-limbed hybrids that look fantastic on the board and really add to the horror elements of the game.
The game offers plenty of tactical strategy with variable player powers and equipment. It also comes with multiple scenarios and objectives that bring the story to life.
23. Rivet Wars: Eastern Front
Rivet Wars is an adorable, highly-strategic war game. It’s similar to old school RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games. The goal is to gather resources to counter your opponent’s units and capture points.
Rivet Wars: Eastern Front has some of my favorite minis on this list. They are absolutely adorable. In your army, you’ll find awesome-looking spider tanks, uni-wheeled scout vehicles, and cartoonish minion-shaped ground troopers.
The game does give the same feel as an RTS and it’s a surprisingly deep game for how cutesy and silly all of the miniatures look. It reminds me of the artwork from the Metal Slug games I used to play when arcades were still a thing.
Hybrid Game – Kingdom Death: Monster
Kingdom Death: Monster is in a category all by itself. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a base game that retails for $500 USD. I’ve also never seen a board game that weighs almost 20 lbs. before. Seriously, it’s that big and heavy.
Kingdom Death is in a weird hybrid category of board game and hobbyist game. It falls somewhere in the middle. For one thing, the game itself is a complete experience in a box. Everything required is already there, just like a board game.
A Complete Experience… That You Build Yourself
On the other hand, the models and miniatures in the game are presented hobbyist-style. They’re on sprues unbuilt, and it is required that you at least take them off the sprues and glue them together before you even get to play your first round. On top of that, Poots, the game designer regularly puts out special edition models, some that have a bearing on the game and others that are just fun to look at.
It’s a weird hybrid of the two but Kingdom Death has always been in a category of its own. I was lucky enough to play a friend’s copy and I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It’s kind of like if the Monster Hunter and Dark Souls video games had a weird board game love child that became a serial killer.
In Kingdom Death, you’ll face impossible monsters, use the monster parts to build equipment, and then watch your favorite character get devoured and mutilated. It’s an experience.
Aesthetics are an important part of board games. Sometimes a game can be ugly as hell but still be fun to play. The aesthetics and production value of a game can drastically affect initial impressions as well as the overall experience.
Good miniatures don’t make a fantastic game but they really are part of the entire package.
Did your favorite miniature board game make the list?
Do you want to argue about my definition of a miniature game?
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