Need opinions on fast/affordable tabletop miniature games

Hey everyone. I was hoping to get some suggestions on tabletop miniature games (preferably hex-based) that were fast to play & learn, had a slick game system with minimal overhead and not too expensive. I haven't had that much exposure to this genre but I'm interested in learning these types of systems for a game development project I'm working on. It'd also be nice to have something new to play at a geek party I'm heading to tonight.

I've been looking at purchasing Starfleet Battles (which overlaps the game dev project a lot) or even Squad Leader but was also thinking learning a game like AT-43 (which I just discovered) or maybe a WW2 game like Flames of War might be interesting as well. I guess what I'm looking for more than anything is learning about simple game systems that facilitate this sort of gameplay without spending too much money or getting bogged down in rules.

So my GWJ grognards and arm-chair commanders... any suggestions or thoughts? Is there a particular game (possibly starship capital ship combat related ) that I should keep my eyes open for?

Thanks!

My friends and I just picked up the Starter Box for Classic Battletech. We've only played two short games using the most basic rules, but it seems like it is going to be a lot of fun. Plus looking through the rulebook I can tell that the game has some serious depth to it. I'd definitely recommend giving it a look.

If you want something that is extremely simple and streamlined, check out Heroscape. The base set comes with a ton of figures, has interlocking hexes for customizable 3D terrain and is really quite cheap. You can often find the base set for around $20 or so.

While it may not quite fit strictly into the "miniatures" category, Tide of Iron is a fun squad-level WWII war game that is easier to learn and play than the more involved war games like ASL, etc.

I've heard of Ogre but I've never played it myself. It's supposed to be very light on rules but fun.

While it's not released yet, you could look into Battlestations: Fleet Actions. It is a spinoff from the Battlestations game. You could probably contact the designers and possibly even get a preview set of the rules or something. Even just looking at Battlestations, it has some interesting stuff with space combat and ship movement.

Blood Bowl is quite possibly the best game ever created by men.

The price can be a bit prohibitive but it's nothing compared to other Games Workshop games. You have humans and orcs in the box but you may want to buy other races. I think a Blood Bowl started kit is 70-90$

The length of a game can be anywhere from 2h to 8h depending on the skill of the players. (usually, the better you are, the longer the games)

There's a videogame coming out pretty soon <3

I can toss up a second for Ogre. Steve Jackson created a classic there. Clean, simple rules, plays very well and quickly. The followup, G.E.V., is more complex, but still fairly simple.

Starfleet Battles, heh, SFB is a great game, haven't touched in 10 or so years. Its the Squad Leader of tabletop space ship combat. (D6.683) is the third subsection of (D6.68) Disrupted Fire Control, which is the eighth subsection of (D6.6) Active Fire Control, which is the sixth section of (D6.0) Fire Control Systems, which is the sixth rule in (D0.0) Combat.) ... ya, its got a learning curve that's pretty daunting, and I'm speaking from years of experience of teaching people to play it. Still, great game. Its is definatively not a 'simple game system' and you _will_ get bogged down into rules unless they've done an immense overhaul of the system since I played it last, and a quick look at the wiki says otherwise. Still, two players familiar with the rules, sticking with 1 or 2 cruiser class ships or smaller, each, that's a fight thats doable in an hour or two. Except when the two players are masters of the game and their chosen cruiser, then the game can turn into an epic struggle that lasts hours and hours. Been there, done that, enjoyed the hell out of it.

The original Starfire was a simple, clean game, but its since expanded well beyond that.

And as long as you stick to the starter box, and don't start throwing in the addons and expansions, BattleTech would meet the criteria you listed. Good game, as long as you don't get crazy with the number of mechs on the field it will play out in a reasonable time, suitable for a worknight. Save the company vs company (or larger) actions for the weekend. Stock mech fights also tend to be shorter action than fights with a lot of custom mechs - makes it easier when you put down a miniture or a marker for an Archer class heavy mech, and the other side knows its an Archer without you having to explain what they are actually seeing.