Miniatures Agnostic games are great, there's something freeing about not being constrained by the styles and aesthetics of a single line of Miniatures. Sometimes you have a story you want to tell via the medium of little plastic men but the more well known rule sets don't fit what you have in mind and sometimes it's Christmas Day 2020 and to distract from the fact you your family is playing exploding kittens 2000 miles away you crack out a solo game of Zona Alfa. True story.
If the idea of a miniatures agnostic game is a new concept to you all it means is a game that let's you use whatever miniatures you have in your collection or have randomly decided to impulse buy because oh look big stompy robot, I'm sure that'll be painted before the heat death of the universe. Some games might have miniatures released in conjunction with a game like Northstar Games plastic kits for Frostgrave and Stargrave but you are by no means expected or forced to use those kits at any point during your game though they are superbly modular and characterful kits ti give you a headstand and some inspiration as well as being incredible value.
With that preamble aside here are some (5) awesome miniatures agnostic games that I've had my share of fun with and think make great alternatives to the norm.
Published by Osprey Game's (actually most of these are from Osprey), Stargrave sees players create ragtag crews of daring space adventurers amidst the backdrop of a galaxy ravaged by war. Whether seeking fame and credits or just barely keeping food in their bellies Stargrave is a super catalyst for fun and creative 10 man crews with daring captains and first mates taking the lead. Stargrave as with all of the games in this feature is played on tables no bigger than a four foot square but can be squeezed down to 2 feet fo quick and violent solo sessions.
Stargrav opens the the floodgates of possibly wide open when it comes to choosing minis, even if this os your first step outside of the realms created by well known Nottingham based games studios most minis you already have in your collection will be great for telling a new story of a crew of a few humans, a space elf and a green skin fighting off space bugs to acquire a set of power armour.
This fantasy fantasy predecessor to stargrave sees a wizard, their apprentice and a band of hired help ranging from noble knights and savage barbarians venture into Into the chilly streets of the titular city in search of arcane relics and forgotten magic.
Now in its second edition Frostgrave has a massive wealth of material to explore to make your excursions into those snow covered streets as much your own as the miniatures you have created and converted.
As an honourable mention if you prefere tropical islands to frosted cobbles then Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago may be of some interest and may be worth seeking out.
If you want to know more about Frostgrave, particularly the second edition then check out Jim Cohens review of the book elsewhere on the Zatu Blog.
The only game not published by Ospray on this list Five Parsecs From Home is a scifi skirmish game that sees space faring superstars exploring an always exciting but sometimes dangerous galaxy in crew of often no more than six as they take hair raising jobs and explore distant jobs.
While most of the other games featured here have some sort of optional rules for solo play Five Parsecs From Home is the only game to be written specifically for solo gaming. The game uses a wonderful system to procedurally generate a plethora of missions to get you to explore new worlds and miniatures that you forgot you bought.
For more independent and nuanced thoughts on this game check out the brilliant review from Geoff Dibb.
2- Garlands Refuelled
Starting life as part of Osprey Games incredible series of "blue Book," Gaslands refuelled takes the original brilliant engin of post apocalyptic vehicular madness and gives it a new body and some new wheels* in the form of this wonderful glossy hard back book and a healthy dose of content not seen in the original book
Gaslands lead itself well as an awesome intro to the world of wargames as it in many respects plays like a board game might with possibly the simplest rules on this list, and its own unique templates. The big difference with Gaslands it the miniatures that were clearly in mind when this book was written, not hulking genetically altered space warriors or sneeky goblins taken from other miniatures games or companies but toy cars, things like matchbox cars that can be bought for a matter of pounds from toy shops or possibly pennies in charity shops. In this regard Gasland brand of Mad Max and Twisted Metal inspired carnage is the most accessible and readily available. Gaslands is a game that above all others on this list encourages customisation and kit bashing, putting spikes and ploughs made of plasticard and scrap on the fronts of vehicles and rummaging through recycling bin for old cereal boxes and bottles to create race tracks and obstacles.
1- Zona Alfa
Part of the previously mentioned collection of "blue books" published by Ospray Games Zona Alfa takes inspiration from ideas seen in books like A Roadside Picnic and more recently The Southern Reach trilogy, the first novel of which would be made into the film Annihilation. Gamers may be familiar Zona Alfas premise through titles like Stalker, Chernobylite and Metro 2033.
Zona Alfa sees groups of scientists and soldiers exploring an exclusion zone contaminated by radiation and inhabited by twisted mutants, zombies and gravity warping anomalies as they search for artefacts and technologies of unknown origin. With rules for fast and deadly combat and tables for all sorts of creatures and creations Zona Alfa might be perhaps the most tonally dour game on the list but it's near future, urban apocalypse let's players use a variety of different miniatures they might have across different manufacturers.
There are of course loads of other games that allow you the freedom to use whatever miniatures you have, some of them even freely available online but these are the games that captured my interest at first and all are available at Zatu so you don't have to go far to get your hand on them or to get started on finding the perfect miniatures for each game.