Miniature Style Games for Kids

Carlos from Texas writes…

Greetings fellow geeks and dads,

Loved your review of Space Hulk. So glad to see that the game is playable with kids! I love miniatures (Warhammer, mostly) and want to play with my son, age 5. I don’t want him to play with the Warhammer, however, because I don’t think he’ll treat them with the proper respect that they deserve. After spending hours painting the miniatures, you understand my hesitation to put them in the sticky hands of a 5 year old.

But I want to play miniature games with him! Do you have any other game suggestions that would be fun to play with kids around my son’s age that use miniatures? Space Hulk is very expensive and very hard to find. I need alternatives!

Carlos, thanks for the complement and your question. It is great to see that there are other parents looking to the tabletop gaming hobby to maintain a good relationship with their kids and teaching them some valuable life lessons!

I get the idea from your post that you are looking for a confrontational (battle) game that can be scaled down to your son’s level, gives a good tactile feel, has great aesthetic looks, and flat out fun and engaging. I understand your dilemma, as five-years old is an odd age when it comes to playing miniature games.

When my son was five, I could trust him to not put the dice in his mouth, yet he was not yet at the age where he understood how delicate “Daddy’s toys” were. At five-years old, I had to resort to more robust components or ones I would not be at a loss should damage occur. Now that he is six, there is an additional level of maturity where I can trust him to play nicely with my supervision.

Great Games, Bad Market

Miniatures games come in various levels of quality and rule depth. Unfortunately, they can also go out of print if the market does not support them. For example,  Heroscape has recently been put on the chopping block but you can still find Master Sets in larger department stores as well as places like Amazon.com.

Heroscape is my first recommendation as it can scale with your son’s age. Using the basic rules, the game eliminates the special powers and assigns each model 1 hit point. The game comes with inter-locking terrain that allows you and  your son to  customize your battlefield. The terrain is hex-based, meaning no measuring is required, and each model has an assigned number value that specifies the model’s movement and combat range, if applicable. Additional models sold are not in blind packs, so you know what you are getting.

Again, Heroscape has been discontinued by Wizards of the Coast making general availability limited and the listed price can vary from clearance to outright gouging.

There’s No School Like Old School

You mentioned that you are a Warhammer player. Chances are your son already has some plastic army men, which provides familiarity for both of you on different levels. Assuming you do not have any sets of little green plastic army men, they can be purchased at places like Target and Walmart. Some even include things like tanks and cannons. This provides you with a method to teach him some of the basic Warhammer rules while using the green army men as proxies, or better yet, an opportunity to design a new Codex!

I did this same thing with my son when he was younger, using simple rules from the game of Risk. Movement was not really regulated. For combat, we simply rolled buckets of dice (kids love that!) and compared highest die rolls. Tanks got more dice than infantry, but other than that, the rules were pretty simple and he could feel free to knock my guys over should he roll well.

I think any of these options will provide fun for the both of you. Feel free to write us back letting us know what you did and the results!

About Karl

Board Game Fanatic, and Father of Two, Karl played many of the games seen in big-box stores growing up, but much of that changed when he was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in 1982. From there, he was also exposed to “dudes on a map” games such as Axis & Allies, Fortress America and Supremacy. After his grade school gaming friends moved away and Nintendo and girls became more interesting, non-electronic games took a back-seat. Sixteen years later, a co-worker suggested getting together to play a game called Illuminati. This sparked a level of interest that led Karl to want to know more. His search led him to a site called Boardgamegeek.com (GeekDo.com). Eight years and 800+ games later, it is safe to say Karl is pretty engrossed in the hobby as a player and a collector of table-top games ranging from wargames, minatures, card games, Eurogames and of course, Ameritrash. While Karl began by introducing simple abstract games to his children (Checkers, Blokus, Go, etc.), he has also been introducing his two children to character genres typically cherished by geeks, thereby providing a good base for introducing table-top games to them which carry similar themes to make the play more interesting and story-like. He hopes that by playing games with the children while they are young, they will continue the hobby later in life and still want to play with Daddy even as teenagers and older. Karl goes by the handle kfritz on Board Game Geek.
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4 Responses to Miniature Style Games for Kids

  1. Luis Matthews says:

    While a bit more of a wargame than a minatures game, I find that I can get the same fix by playing some Memoir ’44 (days of wonder) with my 7yo.

  2. Cyrus says:

    Memoir ’44 is a great game! I have BattleLore and am looking forward to playing it my sons when they get older. Both Memoir and BattleLore take a lot of reading…my Little Geeks aren’t there yet.

    In the meantime, Heroscape is doing the job, nicely.

  3. Brian says:

    my 6 year old loves heroclix

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