We’ve all been there.
Game night is quickly approaching, and you’re facing another evening of replaying the same skirmish you and your circle have been gaming out for weeks. It’s time for something new, but how do you find and bring something new to your fellow gamers? It’s not that there’s a lack of options. Quite the opposite, in fact. But some of the wargaming and tabletop industry is so grassroots and “out of the garage” that many games can easily get lost in the folds or cater to a specific market. And in that bevy of indie-level experiences are hidden gems that you and your gaming circle shouldn’t miss out on.
So what’s the secret? In this digital age, is it as simple as browsing the Internet, performing random Google searches, and hoping you stumble upon a diamond in the rough? Yes and no. There is a bit of work behind it, and getting into new wargames that are absolutely worth playing will require you to interact and engage with the broader community.
But before you expand your search into territories that may be uncharted for you, let’s start simple.
Go with Who You Know
If you’ve been wargaming for a while, chances are you have a publisher that never seems to miss. They’re consistent in delivering a worthwhile gaming experience, and your inner circle just appreciates what they put out there. If they have an official website, check for a newsletter that may alert you to upcoming releases or keep a close eye on their social media.
Fans of the street-level combat of Black Powder Red Earth have a few options to keep abreast of any potential new releases. Outside of the official website and social media, there’s a Patreon page that may provide an early glimpse at games to come.
With this hobby, though, we do have to be realistic. Not every publisher utilizes the digital space effectively like _Echelon Software, the team behind Black Powder. That means we’re back to grassroots and keeping an ear to the ground to find out what’s really happening inside wargaming’s indie community.
What Defines Indie Wargaming?
Before we dig too deep into how you can discover new games, let’s quick define what “indie” means in the wargaming community. Ultimately, indie games or publishers are the exact opposite of, say, Osprey, which has a sizable pull as a leading publisher in the industry. They’re small operations, typically run by one or a handful of enthusiasts. What’s great about this sort of “garage-based” operation is that they’re passionate and willing to listen to the community. They were once in your shoes, looking for something new to play. But instead of going with someone else’s product or scouring for something that they knew they’d love, they just built their own.
When we think of indie wargame developers, we zero in on companies like One Page Rules, Metal King Studio, Creative Juggernaut, and the team behind Black Powder Red Earth, _Echelon Software. They’re names you likely have heard before, but their grassroots approach to wargaming and focus on community and delivering what the players love are cornerstones of indie wargaming.
Connecting with the Indie Side of the Hobby
So, it’s 2022, which means you have some very valuable resources at your disposal. First and foremost are sites like BoardGameGeek.com, but that’s less for finding out about new games. To be in the know, you have to find those that engage the community and love to talk about new games they’ve stumbled upon. Find Twitter hashtags that frequently push new wargames, ask members of Facebook groups, or creep through Reddit to see the latest indie game that everyone’s talking about.
Ask questions to see if specific games you’ve heard about would appeal to your circle. If your group prefers gaming the seafaring battles of World War II, ask for recommendations. Prefer the modern-day, fast-paced conflict of Black Powder Red Earth? Put that out into the community, and you’re sure to get recommendations left and right. With the Internet, everything you need to know is only a few clicks away – so long as you’re clicking in the right digital space. Find the right groups, and you may very well stumble across the very indie designers creating the games your circle of gamers will love.
Now That You’ve Found New Games…
We’ve all experienced the pangs of introducing a new game into our circle. Some players will take to it immediately. Others will proceed with caution. The trick is to ease everyone into it and, when all else fails, ask questions. They’re common in the wargaming industry. How one game is played will differ completely from another. Another reason to go with “garage” developers is because they’re typically accessible for questions, comments, and concerns. They want their game to be played in the best way, and it’s very possible that it doesn’t align with their original vision. That doesn’t mean they won’t be receptive to other ideas. Quite the contrary. And you never know – your suggestion may lead to a change in future rulesets they release.
Connecting with game designers will put you on their radar and maybe even make you part of an “inner circle” of sorts that gets you information before it’s released to the general wargaming public. Cultivate relationships, engage the community, and don’t be afraid to try new things, and you’ll have no issue finding new titles to bring to your next gaming session.