What usually makes skirmish games different from other miniature tabletop games is your ability to interact with the environment. By the environment I mean terrain pieces on your gaming board. Those that have some experience with skirmish games know that terrain is a big part of game itself. Different levels and places to hide are very important and they have that realistic feeling. Like in real life, you are likely to get behind something when they start to shoot at you.
Depending on your gaming surface and terrain pieces available, you are supposed to think of appropriate strategy for your game. If you want just to roll dice or flip cards then you don’t have to put any terrain just play on a plain table. You will agree that it is not that interesting and what you need is some challenge during your game.
Different terrain elevations play big part of your strategy. It is well known that those that have higher ground are in better position than those under them. It is same in skirmish games. It may be a bit tricky and some might think a waste of time to climb your models to the highest point, however, it has its own purpose. Of course, you are not going to put a melee fighter on a building roof, but rather a ranged unit that can shoot at someone. Higher ground allows your units to see entire gaming surface, that is if you play a skirmish game that uses a true line of sight. In some games there are penalties that are applied if shooting at the enemy who is higher than yourself. Not only that, but some soft covers like short walls of different obstacles apply no more as soft cover, as you are looking at the enemy unit from above, and can see it almost entirely.
No matter in what kind of environment your game it taking place you should always look for some cover. For example, if you are playing on city streets you should behind corners or dumpsters. Point of hiding your miniature is not to avoid the enemy but rather to get some sort of protection. Most games have different rules about different covers that different materials provide. When I play skirmish game I always look for some cover. If you can, it is better to get yourself into cover then to move your full movement ant to stay out in the open. It is always better to survive then to rush things and get yourself killed without a reason.
There is also one thing that I like to do in skirmish games. If you have some sort of rooms or houses on your gaming board I always tend to get inside. There are few reasons. First of all you can shoot throughout the windows and house itself will provide you with cover. Another reason is that if your opponent is to naïve to enter, you can always make an ambush. Close Combat in tiny spaces was always my favorite. Even if you get into trouble you may always run out or even deeper into the rooms.
It is hard to explain different strategies and tactics that may be used in skirmish games as every gaming board is different. I tried to explain some of the most used tricks that people use just to make you aware and not let yourself fall into a trap.