Board Games That Could Double as Playsets

Article by "Chaotic Neutral," Played Together.

Sometimes I look at a board game and the miniatures look so freaking cool; I could see myself playing with the figures alone without even running the game. That’s right! I’m talking about unleashing my inner 5-year-old and having a play session with the miniatures. Who needs a rulebook when you have all those tiny creatures, heroes and villains ready to go on an epic adventure you’ve already planned out in your imagination?!

I’ve gone as far as catching myself missing key information about a game I’m participating in, or forgetting it’s my turn because I’m sitting there playing with my allotment miniatures or resources. We’re all guilty of it, but now it’s time to indulge in the guilt. I’m letting you know that it’s ok to bust out the tiny figurines, and create your own adventures. No one will know. It’ll be our little secret. In fact given that we’re all limited on social interactions thanks to the Great COVID Plague™ we have no choice but to get creative if we want to enjoy 90% of the board games we own that don’t have a solo mode.

Naturally, what follows next is a list. Using no scientific or journalistic methods whatsoever, I put together an arbitrary list of the games with the best miniatures that can be played on their own:

Mansions of Madness


©2018 Andreas Kontokanis, MoM_cultists courtesy of Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

They might as well go into the toy-making business with the creative monsters this company unleashes. It’s a travesty that they haven’t doubled down on those fantastic miniatures by selling them sans game and making insane cash. Especially, since it takes at least 3 hours to play a session. Save yourself at least 2 hours by creating your own adventure with the monsters and investigators. Better yet, dedicate the full 3 hours playing with the miniatures

Descent: Journeys in the Dark (et al).

An oldie and a goodie when it comes to fun miniatures. Pretty much any campaign game lends itself to having a great assortment of minis, and if you’re extra lucky with your game, it comes with the added benefit of terrain for those days when you're having trouble getting the imagination juices flowing. I particularly chose Descent for this list because the monsters are very “extra.”

Star Wars Imperial Assault

©2015 Guido Gloor Modjib, AT-ST courtesy of Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Fret not, my sci-fi enthusiasts. Chaotic Neutral has you covered with Imperial Assault. What more could you ask for? You get a ton of Star Wars miniatures for one flat fee. Alternatively, you could spend hours on eBay over-paying for star wars miniatures, or just visit your local game store where an Imperial Assault box full of rebel scum and imperial trash are waiting to go on the galactic adventure of a lifetime.

Wasteland Express


Have you ever pretended you’re Mad Max, and/or fantasized about being a long haul trucker in a post-apocalyptic world? If you answered yes to either, then this board game has the miniatures for you! Not only are the tiny vehicles great for hauling resources, it also includes one of the best board game container designs to hold all those miniatures. The perfect game for having miniature adventures on the go! Next time you’re waiting in line to go into a store, or to get your COVID test, bring these miniatures along and you’ll be next in line in no time.

Honorable Mention: Warhammer 40K

The only reason I’m including Warhammer is pre-emptive. I don’t want to hear about how Warhammer is already a way to play with miniatures, and as a result, that my list should be moot. My argument against this logic comes down to our common enemy: money. Why pay casino amounts of money for Warhammer miniatures when you have an incredible 2-for-1 deal sitting inside each board game you already own?

Now get to cracking open those board game boxes, my friends. A new world of adventure awaits!

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