We truly live in a golden age for the best miniature wargames in 2023. Players can now choose from hundreds of miniature games, covering every conceivable time period, genre and scale to suit their tastes – not to mention an ever-growing plethora of board games with miniatures.
With so much choice, super-accessible competition from the best board games, and a potentially steep cost of entry, it can be hard for a new wargamer to pick where to start a collection – and harder for a veteran to choose what to pick up next – so we’ve made a list of the best tabletop miniature games for you to consider. Once you’ve made your choice, do peruse our guides to painting miniatures and the best paints for miniatures, to get your models ship shape and table ready.
In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war! Published by Games Workshop, Warhammer 40k is the 800 pound gorilla in the room when it comes to tabletop miniature wargames. Set in a truly dystopian vision of the 41st millennium, players take command of an army drawn from one of the Warhammer 40k factions, such as the cruel Drukhari, rapacious Tyranids, or sinister, monastic Space Marines.
With a venerable history dating back to 1987, 40k’s massive, extended universe is explored in hundreds of novels, as well as videogames, comics and Warhammer+ animations. It’s the world’s most popular sci-fi wargame, meaning you’re guaranteed to be able to find a game of Warhammer 40k wherever you go.
If you want to refight World War 2 in 28mm scale, Bolt Action is your go-to miniature game. Produced by Warlord Games and supported by the firm’s extensive range of plastic miniatures, Bolt Action has rules for every theatre and each stage of WW2.
Now onto its second edition, Bolt Action was designed by Games Workshop veteran Alessio Cavatore, who gave the game its innovative activation system. Both players put a dice into a bag for each of the units in their army, pulling dice out randomly to determine who gets to activate a unit next, giving the game the chaotic feel of war.
Star Wars Legion
Star Wars Legion lets you build armies and refight battles from the Galactic Republic, Empire, and First Order eras of the Star Wars universe. Rules for models are split between unit cards and upgrade cards, letting you easily lay out all the rules for your whole army.
Enjoying pride of place in our guide to the best Star Wars board games, there are Star Wars Legion expansions for most of the series’ iconic designs, like the AT-ST and speeder bikes, monumental villains like Darth Vader, and heroes like Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa; it’s a treat for dyed-in-the-wool wargamers and curious Star Wars fans alike.
Marvel Crisis Protocol
Marvel Crisis Protocol (a.k.a. MCP) is a high pedigree product, with rules by Atomic Mass Games, a studio packed with creative talent. Much of the team is made up of veterans from Privateer Press, and were responsible for making that studio’s flagship title Warmachine a breakout hit in the 2000s and 2010s.
One of the best Marvel board games in the biz, MCP boasts world-class sculpts that capture iconic designs from the Marvel universe – Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armour is a thing of beauty on the tabletop. The game has a low model count and a slightly larger scale than most miniatures games, with a big focus on kinetic combat between superheroes and villains, letting you hurl enemies and scenery around the battlefield.
Kings of War
Kings of War is another Alessio Cavatore game, this time produced by Mantic Games. Although Mantic’s fantasy miniatures started out as a budget alternative to Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Kings of War has blossomed into its own game, with a competitive scene and strong identity of its own.
Kings of War is a ‘rank and flank’ fantasy wargame, where large blocks of infantry wheel and jostle for the best position to destroy their enemies, while monsters and magic add to the chaos. The high model count gives Kings of War incredible visual impact, but it’s a surprisingly quick and easy to play game, with rules for manoeuvring blocks of troops instead of single models.