Have you seen some videos on YouTube of people playing Warhammer 40K? Think it looks fun but a little overwhelming with all the rules to remember? Well, now you don’t have to wonder! I have looked at the best miniature wargames for beginners and have ranked them on ease to learn and cost to start.
The best miniature wargame for beginners to get started is Gaslands. It has super easy rules to learn, making it easy to get started playing right away, and expanded rules you can add later for extra playability. All you need to start right away is a copy of the Gaslands rulebook, dice, and some toy cars, which you may already have, meaning you do not need to invest a lot of money to start having fun!
While Gaslands is my favorite for beginners getting into the wargaming hobby, I know that each of us has our tastes when gaming. This list has something for everyone, and hopefully, it will help you find the gateway game that will be your first step into this fantastic community!
Best Wargames For Beginners
13. Dust 1947
Dust 1947 is a big contender in miniature wargaming. It reimagines the war with giant mechanized spider tanks, bipedal robots, and mythical monsters based on an Alternate WWII setting. I love the fantastic Dust miniatures; they have such a unique aesthetic.
Rules wise, Dust 1947 is very easy to learn for beginner players. The map grid makes moving a sinch, and the mechanics give you a lot of tactical options in an easy to digest package.
Unfortunately, the cost of entry for this game is what keeps it being lower on this list. Dust 1947 does not have a starter set for two players to get started; each person would need to get their own faction starter set like the Allied Rangers Army Box. And with the cost of each Army Box, this can put off many players from even trying the game.
12. A Song of Ice & Fire: Stark vs. Lannister Starter Set
A Song of Ice and Fire from CMON (Cool Mini or Not) focuses on small-scale battles between Westeros’ various factions. The game’s art is from the book and comics instead of the show, and players field armies from one of the noble houses, capitalizing on each faction leader’s unique abilities.
The ruleset is much simpler than many other systems, and it is straightforward to understand. With all the rules on a single reference card and units on trays, this game is fantastic for beginners just getting into the hobby!
The only problem I have with this game, just like Dust 1947 above, is the cost to get into the game. At over $100 on Amazon, which can be found here, this is a large investment for beginners who are just wanting to try out wargaming and see if they like it.
11. Star Wars Legion
Green and red blaster bolts criss-cross the battlefield, speeders and mechanical walkers zoom through the mayhem. Welcome to Star Wars Legion, Fantasy Flight Games newest miniature wargame. Depending on which era you choose, you will either play as the Galactic Republic/Rebel Alliance or Separatist Alliance/Empire in the galaxy’s cycle of endless war.
Unlike other Fantasy Flight Games like Star Wars X-Wing or Star Trek Attack Wing, the Star Wars Legion models do not come pre-assembled or pre-painted. Don’t let this scare you! They come with instructions and are relatively simple to put together, giving you a great experience in both the hobby of modeling and the fun of wargaming.
While the Star Wars Legion Core Set does come with two armies for you and a friend as well as a stripped-down starter rules set to get you started, the price for one of these sets versus what you get out of it is a little steep for me. With a price point ranging from $75 to $100, this may be more than a beginner would like to spend.
10. Test of Honour
It is a time of turmoil. The Shogun is challenging the Emperor’s might, Clan lords are seizing new territory and settling old grudges, and you must command their loyal samurai to do their bidding. Are you up for the challenge?
Test of Honour is a skirmish wargame with each player commanding 5-20 models. Each force consists of a samurai hero and one or two loyal samurai companions, and various clan soldiers. The battles are swift, rules are easy to grasp, and game flow is randomized by drawing representative tokens from a bag to determine action order. With each match, your samurai will learn new skills and perhaps even take the shameful path of deceit and trickery to gain victory.
The Test of Honour Starter Set contains a full set of rules, miniatures, game cards, tokens, and custom dice for two players. It allows you to play through the scenarios, whether cutting down the enemy, defending an outpost, finding and protecting a spy, telling a tale of bitter clan rivalry, betrayal, and revenge!
9. Warhammer Underworlds
Warhammer Underworlds is an arena-style skirmish game for two to four players that combines both miniatures and deckbuilding. You and your opponent pick a Warband and build a deck of power and objective cards. After placing your Warband on the hex-tiled game boards, you take turns moving and attacking until three rounds have been played.
You can use your power cards to introduce effects and reactions that can swing the battle in your favor between actions. The key to mastering this game is building the best deck you can and deploying these abilities at the perfect time. Defeating your opponent’s Warband does not guarantee victory; capturing objectives, and tactical choices will gain you the glory points you need to win!
Warhammer Underworlds: Direchasm, the newest edition, has everything you and a friend need to play. The core game box includes two warbands of push-fit miniatures, Myari’s Purifiers and the Dread Pageant, rules, game boards, and cards. Once you know the rules, games will take around 30 minutes, making this game great for beginner wargamers!
Welcome to the 31st century Mechwarrior! You are an elite pilot of a Battlemech, a giant robot that is the culmination of human battlefield technology. BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat is a tabletop wargame, similar to Warhammer, played on either a hex map or traditional terrain map. Take command of a group of walking death machines as you try and outmaneuver your opponent in tactical combat.
BattleTech is all about strategy, outwitting your opponent by using the strengths and weaknesses of given mechs to your advantage. Dice give the game randomness for determining things like hit locations. There are rules for customizing or designing your mech, as well as supplements that allow you to create your war campaign! And if you love Game of Thrones type intrigue, you will love the lore of the BattleTech Universe.
While this game has been around for a long time, it has recently gotten an update with two great box sets to get new players into the game. While BattleTech Beginner Box is the cheaper option with a slimmed-down ruleset for new players, I would recommend getting the BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat full box set since you get more out of it. Check out my Supreme Guide to BattleTech for more details!
7. Star Wars: X-Wing
Star Wars: X-Wing has been one of the top miniature games on the market since its release six years ago. You assemble a squadron of iconic starfighters and pilots from across the Star Wars saga and engage in fast-paced, high-stakes space combat. If you love the Star Wars movies or video games, then this game is definitely for you.
Recently updated, Star Wars: X-Wing 2nd Edition includes everything you need to get started. High-quality pre-painted ships, movement templates, ship and pilot cards, dice, and much more. Intuitive mechanics create a tense atmosphere that focuses on flying starships physically in epic space battles.
This fantastic two-player game can range from small skirmishes involving one or two squadrons of fighters to massive battles. From secretly planning your ship moves to blasting your enemies out of space, this game is a must-have for anyone who loves spaceships and tactical miniature games.
6. Star Trek: Attack Wing
While Star Trek is most well known for its beautiful themes and thought-provoking ideas, there is one thing all sci-fi fans love about this series: the space battles. Whether it’s the U.S.S. Enterprise taking on a Borg Cube or a Klingon Bird of Prey destroying Jem’Hadar Attack Ship, the spaceship combat in Star Trek is unique compared to most other sci-fi shows.
And now you get to be in command of some most famous ships from the franchise! Based on the same system as Star Wars: X-Wing, Star Trek: Attack Wing features excellent pre-painted ships, movement templates, dice, and more. The vessel can be customized from the captain, crew, weapons upgrades, and technology modifications using the ship cards.
From one-on-one ship fights to massive space battles like the assault on Cardassia, this game is a must for any trekker looking to get into tabletop miniature wargaming.
5. Flames of War
The Flames of War system is a conventional WWII miniature wargaming system. It uses 15mm scale models and doesn’t require you to use Flames of War miniatures. As long as they’re the right size, you’re ultimately allowed to swap out any models you have. Since it’s historical and not Cthulhu or zombie-inspired, you have a lot of leeway in model choice.
As far as standard settings go, Flames of War performs beautifully as a miniature wargame. Its development company, New Zealand-based Battlefront Miniatures Ltd, seems to actually care about its player base and actively listens to its players for updates.
The Flames of War: Hit The Beach two army starter set comes with everything you need to play right out of the box. Two armies (American and German), a complete rulebook, a quick start guide, unit cards, and dice give you and a friend all you need for $50. That is a fantastic value for all you get!
4. Blood Red Skies
Do you love WWII fighter games? Does the thought of fantastic aerial dogfights between massive formations of fighter planes enthrall you? Then Blood Red Skies is the game for you! Developed by Warlord Games, Blood Red Skies is a tactical air combat game where you command a fighting aircraft in thrilling dogfights set in World War II.
Packed with everything you need to play, the Blood Red Skies starter comes with 12 planes (six per side), dice, rulers, and terrain/air markers to spice up the battlefield. Plus, you’ll have the extra rules to introduce the scenario cards that allow you to fly them just the Aces of WW2. And the best part, everything is snap-fit, so you don’t need any glue to get started!
With easy-to-learn rules and games that can be fought in forty-five minutes or less, this is the perfect choice for new wargamers! Check out the Blood Red Skies – Battle of Britain starter box and become an ace fighter pilot today!
*Note: The Blood Red Skies – Battle of Britain box is out of stock at the moment, but you can still get many of the plane sets through our link. Warlord Games also has a free set of rules here!*
3. World of Tanks
GaleForce Nine has been a big name in the world of miniature wargames for a long time. One of their most popular games, TANKS, has recently undergone a facelift due to a partnership with one of the biggest tank games of all time, World of Tanks!
Based on similar rules to TANKS, World of Tanks is a fun and fast-paced game of tactical tank combat that pits players against each other with the most iconic tanks of WWII. The starter set contains everything you need to start playing, including four highly detailed tanks (American, British, Russian, and German), tank cards with stats, crew & equipment upgrade cards, terrain, and custom dice.
World of Tanks is an easy to learn, quick-play game for anyone who loves tactical combat and history. If you are a fan of the video game and think of getting into tabletop wargaming, then this is the game for you! Are you ready, Commander?
2. The Walking Dead: All Out War
The zombie apocalypse has happened, the undead wanders the Georgia countryside, and you struggle to survive in this strange world. The Walking Dead: All Out War is a survival miniatures game based on the characters from the bestselling comic series. Your group will be pitted against other survivors and Walkers in a game where everyone and everything is trying to kill you.
Each player controls their group of survivors represented by finely detailed unpainted plastic miniatures, a character card highlighting their game stats and unique abilities, and a selection of weapon and equipment cards that allow you to upgrade your characters. It also contains a game mat, a selection of barricades, abandoned cars, and supplies to give it that authentic The Walking Dead atmosphere, as well as rules for running simple campaigns and basic guidelines for designing your characters.
One of the best things about The Walking Dead: All Out War is the AI system built into the game. The Walkers are a threat to both players, and they will attack the nearest character to them depending on your actions. This is a fantastic mechanic, and it also allows you to play this game solo, letting you learn the ins and outs of the game before you even try to compete against another player.
I recommend picking up The Walking Dead: All Out War Core Set; it contains everything you need to play for under $50. Plus, numerous expansions let you expand your playstyles later.
1. Gaslands: Refuelled
Welcome to the post-apocalypse! Engines roar and gunfire rings out as the cars around in a no-holds-barred battle to be the winner. Gaslands: Refuelled is the game of vehicular mayhem, based on classics like Death Race and Mad Max, where you race around the track in your souped-up death machines using your skills and machine guns to live another day.
What makes this game my pick for the best wargame to get started as a beginner is the simplicity of gameplay and miniatures. Well, the lack of miniatures. You only need a copy of the rules (either the Kindle or hardcover) and some toy cars for this game. That’s it! If you’re like me and have kids, you probably already have some Matchbox cars lying around, so you are halfway there.
With easy rules to learn, movement templates that can be made from paper cutouts, dice, and a ton of weapon options, this game is perfect for beginners. This was the gateway game for my son; he loves being able to outmaneuver me around the course and cause me to crash!
With easily adaptable rules for almost every situation, this game allows you a lot of variety while keeping things simple for newbies. There is even a community on the internet devoted to modifying toy cars for this game. Adding weapons, painting, to creating custom chassis for your death machines, Gaslands: Refuelled is fantastic!
Whether you are a complete beginner, have a bit of experience, any of these tabletop miniature wargames would be great for you to get started. There are games for people who want quick, easy gameplay to ones that want long, in-depth tactical battles. Whichever of these games you choose, I guarantee you will have some fun. I wish you happy gaming!