April 02, 2021 5 min read
If You’re Gonna do it, do it Right:
Proxy Use in Narrative and Competitive Wargaming
As the wargaming and miniatures industry grows and the amount of people in these hobbies expands, the fanbase’s opinions and tastes are only going to widen.
Over the years, this growth has led a large part of the miniature community to “kitbash” - taking multiple kits that are readily available on the shelf and smashing them together like a plastic version of Frankenstein’s Monster. In doing so, hobbyists can create a unique figure that represents how they would like their unit/character to look, whilst not necessarily buying the exact kit to represent that.
Other times, entirely different models can be used, made by different companies, that capture the eye of a keen hobbyist who says “yes! This thing is much cooler than X, so i will use it as X on the battlefield”.
With the rise of 3D Printing in our hobby space, this phenomenon is on the rise even more than ever, but where does that leave us for narrative or casual games versus competitive play?
Proxies in Narrative Gaming
The narrative scene is where proxies can really shine. Imagine having a campaign or infighting between some Dark Followers trying to worship a Demon of some kind, and this infighting causes the Dark Gods to react and erupt into a giant entity to expunge them in eternal wrath…
Now, what model would you use for that?
Obviously, your choice would depend on the story you’re trying to tell. In this setting, you’re not really limited by what's available from the supplier of the game you're playing, as there's probably thousands of miniatures available (off the shelf, or 3D printable) that would fit the narrative you're creating.
You can make rules that fit the model you're using, and in this scenario, the story you're telling is the most important part, not necessarily the manufacturer who makes the game you’re playing - it's merely a ruleset to help you entertain the people you’re playing with and against.
This is a similar situation to the one we find in casual games. Whether it’s a beer and pretzels type of game, or a practice game for an upcoming tournament - proxies are great as a tool to build a thematic list that you’ve poured your heart into painting, or as a “stand in” before you spend your hard earned cash on a bunch of new units that on paper look amazing, but on the tabletop might not hit the mark.
Either of these two uses are great, and usually it comes down to taste - not everyone is going to like the aesthetic of a certain unit (or even army!) but may enjoy the playstyle, and want to run them out on their nights off work. We should encourage more people to look further afield in terms of miniatures if we can capture their imaginations and get their creative juices flowing to keep them excited about the hobby we all love.
Now, how about an organised event? Can we proxy then?
But also, no.
Proxies in Competitive Organised Events
Don’t get me wrong, proxies in organised events are allowed, but we do have some things to consider.
When playing games where there are prizes to be won and rankings to be held, everyone wants a fair game. You wouldn't want to play a game where you’re at a disadvantage, or your opponent has a clear advantage over you.
I’m afraid to say it, but size really does matter.
When we look at proxies for our armies in a competitive setting, we have to make sure we’re playing on the same level, and different manufacturers make all sorts of models but the sizing can vary wildly.
As such, when deciding which miniatures you can use to represent a certain unit, it's always good to compare the size of the proxy compared to the original model. Too big and you can play at a disadvantage as a model is harder to hide on the battlefield. Too small, however, and they’re usually easier to hide, and this won't be fair to your opponent.
Base size is also super important when it comes to proxies in games where measurements are crucial, and usually means an advantage in either going too large OR too small.
Having a larger base usually increases a threat range for a model, and makes it harder to escape from it. Also, larger bases can potentially give an inflated range to abilities a model might have. “Within X inches” is now “within X inches + Increased base size difference”.
At the same time, a smaller base size means a model or unit could move to somewhere it wouldn't normally fit, or descend to the battlefield in a manner that would not have been possible if it should be slightly larger.
The second thing to consider in competitive games is the model’s aesthetics and what it’s equipped with. When you play a game in a tournament, it helps if both you and your opponent can look across the battlefield and make quick judgements about their next tactical decision, and no one wants a “what’s this guy again?” being constantly asked by either side.
Now, if the opponent is inexperienced then it’s totally okay. However, if a well versed player in the game is constantly having to ask, it might just mean your proxy is a littletoo different to what it’s supposed to represent.
Ways around this can involve making sure the model has a similar feel to what it’s supposed to represent, and making sure the model has the right wargear that it’s using. Whether that's similar looking weapons, or even the original model’s weapons/arms in a kitbash manner as we discussed earlier.
The Number One Rule!
The number one rule, though, is if you plan on using a proxy of any kind, check with your Tournament Organiser (TO) first.
The TO will have the final say about any models that are in play at their events, and there's nothing worse than the idea of spending all this time painting an army of cool stand-ins, for your TO to then say they’re not allowed. But as long as you bear in mind the ideas I've mentioned above, you shouldn't run into too many issues!
Mikey is an organiser of one of the largest competitive 40K event series in the UK, as well as a full time wargaming and 3D printing content creator for Hellstorm Wargaming. In addition, Mikey is a multi-national tournament attendee, and winner of multiple events across the U.K
Check out Hellstorm Wargaming's brilliant YouTube channel for tons of super entertaining content AND you'll see a few videos of collaborations with Heroes Infinite, our 3D Printable Patreon!
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