The Complete Guide to Buying Tabletop and Miniature Games

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The Complete Guide to Buying Tabletop and Miniature Games

Tabletop and miniature war-games are a widely popular game and hobby. Tabletop games incorporate two main elements; the collection and assembly of highly detailed and customisable miniatures,, and the use of these miniatures in game. A wide range of tabletop games, miniatures and accessories can be found on eBay.

Types of Genre

Many tabletop war-games can be divided into genres. These are the general thematic elements that the games follow. While the gameplay of many wargames can be somewhat mechanically similar, the genres can affect this as well as having a significant impact on the style of the miniatures and scenery available.

There are a few key genres that are widely available. Due to different scales and rule sets, miniatures from different genres, and different ranges, will often not be usable with one another.

Historical Wargames

Historical war games were the first type of war game to become available. These games will be grounded firmly in the real world, and often be based on specific real world conflicts. Popular subject matter for wargames includes the American Civil War, or the Napoleonic Wars, though earlier eras such as medieval and ancient ages are also often available.

Miniatures are often highly detailed, and replicate period infantry, artillery, cavalry and vehicles of the era. Generally, only weaponry available at the time will be usable in the game. These wargames are often used to re-enact real world battles, and players often enjoy the challenge of attempting to win with historically losing forces.

Alternate history games are a popular offshoot of the historical genre. These can be as simple as re-enacting battles with different outcomes, to fictional What If? Scenarios,

Fantasy Wargames

A popular genre of war game, fantasy war games are often similar to medieval styled games, but with strong fantastical elements. These can include creatures such as elves and orcs, and rule sets which include the use of magic and other supernatural elements, such as demonic forces.

Miniatures for these war games can vary enormously in looks and size, ranging from human soldiers in medieval style armour, to giants, and daemons. This range of possible choices for force collection are one of the reasons that fantasy wargames have become popular, as some players find the realistic, uniform nature of many more historical models less interesting.

Science Fiction

Science fiction wargames are a relatively recent addition to the world of war gaming, and have rapidly grown in popularity. Many different miniatures are available for science fiction wargames, and can include human characters, as well as a variety of humanoid and non-humanoid aliens. Advanced technology is often theme, and large models are often available to represent tanks and other armoured vehicles, as well as large alien creatures.

The rule sets often bear more of a similarity to fantasy wargames than historical games, and often include rules for use of psychic powers, magic and advanced technology such as teleportation. Science fiction games can sometimes be faster paced than others due to the availability of vehicles and other elements, bit this is not always the case.

Naval Wargames

Naval war games are an unusual genre, and the miniatures and accessories for these games are not always widely available. These games are not as popular as the land based wargames, but maintain a significant following.

Miniatures tend to represent warships, and often have rules and gameplay to represent damage being done to these ships in the course of combat. This genre is often similar to historical wargames, with available miniatures being modelled closely on real world warships, most often from the First and Second World Wars.

Gameplay can be fairly complex, requiring the use of protractors and other equipment to measure cannon shots and other elements. These games often require a large gaming surface for use, due to the large distances present in real world naval battles.

Science fiction games with similar characteristics to naval wargames are available, represents the conflict between fleets of spaceships.

Air Wargames

Air based wargames are a niche genre, and perhaps the most unusual type of war game. Miniatures and rule sets for use with air wargames can be difficult to find. Miniatures here are most often based on real world aircraft, the main types being available are those based on the First and Second World War, as well as on modern day fighter jets. Some rule sets for these games can be found for free online.

Assembling and Painting Miniatures

Many miniatures require assembly and painting by the player. Miniatures can range in complexity from models made up of a few snap together pieces, to models with many small parts. Models are generally available in two materials.

Metal models are sturdy and heavy. They are often more expensive than the cheaper plastic models, and some ranges of miniatures cast important characters out of metal, though many older miniatures are also metal. These models will require strong metal glue to properly assemble, as plastic glue will not have the strength to hold it together.

Plastic models are among the most commonly available type of miniature, with the majority of modern models being made of plastic. These models can be stuck together with plastic glue. Metal glue should not be used, as this can damage the plastic.

A number of small tools can be useful when assembling a set of miniatures. A hobby knife is useful, for tasks such as removing plastic parts from the moulds they arrive in. A small file can be useful to remove any excess material on the model. While tweezers can be used to grasp small parts, as well as apply the transfers that are often used to add detail such as regiment markings to a model.

A wide range of paints are available. It is often a good idea to undercoat a model with a layer of paint before painting in the detail, as this can improve the finish. Black or white undercoat paint is often available in spray cans to speed up the process, though these should only be used while wearing a safety mask and in a well-ventilated area. Small model brushes are useful for adding details, and old frayed brushes can be useful for dry-brushing. Many war game ranges offer their own selection of paints, and colour guides for miniatures will usually refer to these paints in their instructions.

Rule Sets and Equipment

To be able to use a collection of miniatures in a game, a rulebook containing the rule set for a game will be needed. Different rulebooks are available for different games, and are often only suitable for use with a specific set of miniatures. Rulebooks encompass everything from background fiction about fantasy and science fiction wargames, to rules on movement, force composition and use of certain powers and equipment.

Rulebooks are often updated, and the latest edition of a rulebook should usually be used as these changes often serve to provide better balance to the game and correct problems with older editions. However, players often use older rule sets either because they do not yet have the latest rules or because they have agreed to use the older rule book.

In addition to the rules, there are various items that may be necessary to properly use the miniatures and play the game. These often include tape measures to measure weaponry ranges and movement distances, as well as protractors, rulers and other measuring tools. Dice are also commonly needed, and these can range from simple one sided dice to dice with six and more sides, and can also include specialised dice which present symbols and arrows instead of numbers. Templates to represent explosions or other in game events may also be necessary.


Scenery is an important aspect of tabletop and miniature war gaming, and many players are attracted to the game by the appealing scenery items available. It is important to match the scale of the scenery with the scale of the miniatures, though this is often easy as the majority of miniatures use roughly the same 25mm scale. Some war game ranges also offer scenery specifically for use with their range of miniatures.

Scenery can be cosmetic, to add depth and atmosphere to the table. These often take the form of low walls, trees and foliage,, and other incidental details. These scenery pieces are often likely to impact any ‘line of sight’ rules a game includes. Other pieces of scenery can have significant impact on gameplay, such as rivers which need to be crossed, bunkers and buildings which can house miniatures and tank traps and barbed wire to impede movement. Game boards and mats are also available, which can provide a suitable surface to play on whilst remaining thematically consistent with the scenery.

How to Buy Tabletop and Miniature Games on eBay

A wide range of tabletop war games are available on eBay, including miniatures, scenery, and rulebooks. The listing of available tabletop games and miniatures can be found in the Toys & Games section, under Wargames & Role-Playing.. Items can be arranged by categories such as price, condition and distance to seller and brand. Auction and Buy it Now buying options are also available, providing flexibility in how tabletop games can be bought.

Key information about an item, such as the scale of a miniature, is generally prominently displayed in the item listing. Further information can be accessed on the items page as well as information about the seller such as item reviews and feedback ratings. It is also possible here to ask the seller a question about the item.

If a specific tabletop game, miniature or accessory is required, it may be easier and more effective to use the search function available at the top of every page. Searches can be made within individual categories, or to cover the whole sit. For further information on using the search function, visit the Search Tips page.


Tabletop games are widely popular, with miniatures suitable for a wide range of interests. Many players are drawn to tabletop games due the collecting and model building aspect offered by the building of a force of miniatures, or due to the often involving and exciting gameplay. A wide range of tabletop games and accessories are available on eBay.

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