Saturday, 6 February 2010

Miniatures or Not Miniatures

Do you use Miniatures with your Games, being "Old Skool" I do - even though WotC have pretty much made it mandatory to run games effectively now that you HAVE to use a battle grid and miniatures making combat more like a tactical wargame - I don't really use them in that way.

They are there (at least from my own perspective) to -

Add Flavour.
Its a far more evocative scene in a Tavern (for example) if the Players know where their characters are standing in the room, where all the exits are, and exactly where the "Mysterious Stranger" is standing - and (hopefully) exactly what he looks like.

Stop Arguments.
How many times has a player argued his character wasn't standing there when a trap went off, or he wasn't "at the back" when those Orcs attacked. If the PC's miniatures are lined up in "marching order" there can be no arguments of that sort.

Scare the CRAP out of your Players.
You are attacked by 10 rampaging Ogres" is no where NEAR as scary as actually putting out 10 Ogre Miniatures, then telling them to roll for initiative. Likewise a Beholder looks scarier "in the flesh" on the table, indimidating the party!

Resolve Combat.
But not in a move your miniature and roll your attack sort of a way, in a broader more role-playing friendly manner. Who has line of sight to what, can the Thief get near enough to attempt that Back_Stab, or is everyone too close together for the Wizard to attempt that Fireball.

There are most likely to be many MANY more reasons than the four I have listed above, Miniatures should be treated as a tool to enable your Role Playing - they should't be allowed to take away from it (I'm pointing at you Wizards).


  1. Miniatures! Or figures as we always used to call them. Of course I used them; our group always did, right back from the start in 1979 so as far as I'm concerned, WotC are a bunch of johnny-come-latelies. We also had the Games Workshop dungeon floor plans, which are now as rare as hen's teeth, so I've had to make my own, which is basically an inch grid on sheets of A4 cardboad (cannibalised copier paper boxes).

    All your reasons are tip-top, especially the Scare the Crap out of the Players (hey, have you seen the Armalion Undead Ogre figure?). It's all very well to say that the party is surrounded by bloodthirsty orcs but it brings it home when you see your adventurer figures actually hemmed in by a mass of metal.

    Stop Arguments, Resolve Combats - I ask myself if a group doesn't use figures, how the hell do they know where everyone is? Yeah, I know the 'imagination' rejoinder but I think of a lot of other things during a melee and having to keep track of imaginary enemies whilst rubbing out my hit points, crossing off my arrows, wondering whether the car will start for the drive back...

    And if we weren't meant to use figures in Old School, then why the hell were Citadel making them back when I started?

    Cracking blog, anway. I shall follow you from now on - nice to find another Brit gamer (I'm based just outside Hull).

    All the best!

  2. I hadn't seen the undea Ogre no - am checking it out now!

  3. I agree with everything you've said. However, we've got boxes upon boxes of lead figures in various states of decoration (pretty dismally in most cases I must admit) we've got a battle mat but to be honest, the figures tend to stay in the boxes until we get a 'technical' situation, and even then the dwarf gets represented by a halfling, the elf by a barmaid, the fighter by a bottle top - you get the picture. I find them too fiddly and they slow things down in a lot of cases. The battle mat is useful though to sketch out maps, make notes on, and catch wine spills.

  4. We don't use them ad nausium, but they are nice to have around (if you get me) - if you used them to the extent they are SUPPOSED to be used with the new 4th Edition (not) D&D - you would go crazy I reckon! As for the lead mountain - I've discovered something wonderful (well, not really discovered LoL) - DIP! - Commonly known as quick shade. Block your models in, and dip!

  5. Thanks for the dip tip. I'll have a look into that I reckon. The fact is miniatures are cool - you buy them because they look awesome, not for practical reasons. They are nice to have around. Our D&D shelves need a serious tidy up anyway, time to sort out those little men.

  6. I have loads to paint too, and my Mrs isn't a gamer so I get no help LoL!