Do you use miniatures and play mats?

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Do you use miniatures and play mats?

- Miniatures, hex grid mat for wilderness and square grid mat for interior location
3
12%
- Miniatures, square grid mat for all encounters
12
48%
- Miniatures, no grid
0
No votes
- Square grid 8,5x11 paper only
3
12%
- Theater of the mind, no miniatures or mats
7
28%
 
Total votes: 25

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shesheyan
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Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by shesheyan » Wed Aug 15, 2018 1:44 pm

Do you use miniatures and play mats during encounters for your role-playing games?
There is no right or wrong answer. I've used all the options in this poll over the years.
Last edited by shesheyan on Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Havard » Wed Aug 15, 2018 2:26 pm

Although I love to collect and (sometimes) paint miniatures, I almost never use them in play. I have done so for a few games, mostly Savage Worlds (less so in D&D), but most of our games use only the "Theater of the Mind". This is mainly because most of the players prefer this style of play.

We occasionally make sketches to illustrate movement if the battle field includes some specific features like fighting on a bridge etc.

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Khedrac » Wed Aug 15, 2018 8:17 pm

Seeing as I mainly play D&D 3.5 these days it's miniatures and a square grid for them, pretty much mandatory for play.
I do get to play in a mainly monthly Call of Cthulhu campaign and for that we don't use either - on rare occasions we will mark up a map on paper to show where characters are.

I generally prefer as few physical aids as possible (they make combat become too like chess). I think when I used to run AD&D I would use miniatures to show relative positions, but not for tactical movement (it's been a long time - I'm not completely sure).
Last edited by Khedrac on Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Kythkyn » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:09 pm

It depends for me. Sometimes I pull out the mat and we get the giant box of minis. Other times it's theatre of the mind. It's also dependent on which game I am even running (and some times how I feel that day)
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by timemrick » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:39 am

I primarily play Pathfinder (having moved to it after a decade of playing 3.5), with occasional 5e games. 3.5 and PF pretty much require minis and square grid maps for all but the simplest encounters, so I'm in the habit of using them for most other games, too. We pull out the hex grid when my wife runs Earthdawn, and sometimes for other games (like Fantasy AGE) that don't dictate a grid, just to remind everyone that this ain't D&D. :ugeek:

Depending on the adventure, the group, and how much time I have to prep, the maps might be drawn as the party explores, or drawn out beforehand. I usually use a 1"-gridded easel pad for drawing maps, though my wife and I do have an erasable map or two that still get occasional use--especially if we need to draw a map room-by-room during a Pathfinder Society scenario (the erasable map's much easier to transport than the easel pad).

We've also started collecting some of Paizo's flip-mats and map packs, mostly the ones that see a lot of use in PFS or that I can re-use in my home game (currently, that mostly means all the desert-themed ones). My wife in particular likes them because she hates drawing maps; she frequently foists that task off on me (the one with the art degree).

As for minis, anyone that has read much of my stuff here knows I prefer to build minis using LEGO as much as possible (and always for my own PCs' minis). However, I do have a tackle box of prepainted plastic D&D minis that I bought for cheap many years back, plus the minis from my HeroQuest boardgame, and that's the default box that we take to PFS when we haven't built customized minis for a scenario one of us is running. I typically use the "mook box" minis when they match the module's foes (undead, orcs, scaly humanoids, etc.) and build the more unusual critters. My wife hasn't been GMing--or building with LEGO--nearly as long as I have, so she tends to just settles for what's in the "mook box" much more often than I do.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by agathokles » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:17 am

I generally don't use minis when I am the master. For most combat scenes, we just use a piece of paper with the initials of PCs and numbers for the opponents. I did use counters for Star Wars Saga (which is basically a d20 game, and thus requires precise placement to activate many powers) and for B10 Night's Dark Terror (which provides them for a larger scale battle involving dozens of goblins and many NPCs). I do have a Pathfinder battlemat and some minis from a Battle of the Five Armies (from The Hobbit) boardgame which I'm currently painting (badly) and which I might occasionally use for D&D battles.

I've also occasionally played in games with other DMs (PF or 5e) which used printed maps and miniatures or cardboard chips (flat or mounted on plastic bases).

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Coronoides » Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:15 am

I can’t vote because it really depends on a few things. If the game is very tactical, if the session has a large number of PCs, if any players are new to RPG, if an encounter has complicated or moving terrain, or if there are a large number of monsters THEN I will use a mat and mini’s or at least a whiteboard. If not theatre of the mind can be more immersive. In most campaigns whether I use these props or not can vary from encounter to encounter. Whether I use hex, grid, or blank whiteboard depends on what the adventure uses. Trying to convert a grid map to hexes is a pain.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by zontoxira » Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:29 am

I voted for minis and square grid, even though I prefer ToM when resolving combat scenes. I have a few players insisting that 5e spells have been designed with grid in mind.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by willpell » Thu Aug 16, 2018 3:52 pm

I sometimes use paper, but a single sheet of 8.5x11 is generally not enough.

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:36 am

You may want to allow more than one answer when completing the poll, as different games (or even different groups or sessions) lend themselves to different approaches.

Also, I was curious if you considered pawns or flat tokens as "miniatures?" If not, you could add some options for those.

For play surfaces, you could include playing on a Virtual Tabletop (VTT) as another option.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:55 pm

I've played with minis, without minis and with (and without tokens on Roll 20 - which is the Roll 20 version of the same thing).

I think it's all down to the GM.

I think that gridded combat can be good at times (as it engages with the situational awareness of the players) but I also think that every edition of D&D should really both work with and without gridded combat.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by shesheyan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:23 pm

Tim Baker wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:36 am
You may want to allow more than one answer when completing the poll, as different games (or even different groups or sessions) lend themselves to different approaches.

Also, I was curious if you considered pawns or flat tokens as "miniatures?" If not, you could add some options for those.

For play surfaces, you could include playing on a Virtual Tabletop (VTT) as another option.
I changed the setting to allow more than one answer. I can't add categories because the votes will be erased. But VTT would have been a good category. Yes for the purpose of this survey flat token/pawns are considered miniatures but not pennies, glass beads, poker chips. If its not a visual representation (2D or 3D) its not a miniature.

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Icarus » Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:28 pm

I think I am probably unique among most DM’s.
Are usually take the map published in an adventure, and blow it up to a playable size and print it at around a 1 inch grid. If there is not already a square grid overlay on it, I add one.

While it does mean that I go through ink every eight weeks or so, it adds a certain something to the atmosphere of the game, and they get a much better feel for what the place is supposed to look like and feel like.
I usually cut them out, so that I can add rooms on the table as they discover them.
Otherwise, I cover up the rooms they haven’t gone to with plain white printer paper, and unveil them as we go.
If it’s a big room, I tape them together.

We always use minis, even for social encounters, since I have lots of commoners for inns and such, too. And even on the town map, to indicate which part of town the players are in so they get a better idea and feel of movement through the city.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Baron » Fri Aug 17, 2018 6:12 pm


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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by shesheyan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:01 pm

Icarus wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:28 pm
I think I am probably unique among most DM’s.
Are usually take the map published in an adventure, and blow it up to a playable size and print it at around a 1 inch grid. If there is not already a square grid overlay on it, I add one.

While it does mean that I go through ink every eight weeks or so, it adds a certain something to the atmosphere of the game, and they get a much better feel for what the place is supposed to look like and feel like.
I usually cut them out, so that I can add rooms on the table as they discover them.
Otherwise, I cover up the rooms they haven’t gone to with plain white printer paper, and unveil them as we go.
If it’s a big room, I tape them together.

We always use minis, even for social encounters, since I have lots of commoners for inns and such, too. And even on the town map, to indicate which part of town the players are in so they get a better idea and feel of movement through the city.
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I've recently met a GM who blows up actual maps of modules. Its cool to have everything precisely defined and in color.

I never did that but made 3D rooms and tunnel with foam core for some important or complicated rooms of a dungeon. It simply takes too much space to store so I stopped doing it.
Last edited by shesheyan on Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by shesheyan » Fri Aug 17, 2018 7:01 pm

Indeed ! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Coronoides » Sat Aug 18, 2018 12:36 am

Icarus wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 5:28 pm
I think I am probably unique among most DM’s.
Are usually take the map published in an adventure, and blow it up to a playable size and print it at around a 1 inch grid. If there is not already a square grid overlay on it, I add one.

While it does mean that I go through ink every eight weeks or so, it adds a certain something to the atmosphere of the game, and they get a much better feel for what the place is supposed to look like and feel like. ...
I have done a similar thing on occassion.
For my Out of the Abyss campaign I otften predraw (reproduce by hand) the published maps on big sheets of card.
For one Green Isles game I found a historical castle map (with the help of this forum) and had it poster printed at the right scale at the local OfficeWorks (an office supply chain store here in Australia).
Either of these will save you ink.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:30 am

When I started, we just had the 4 squares per inch graph paper. Then we all slowly started collecting minis and using them to envision marching order and encounters - without a battle-mat.

These days, all of my players prefer to have personalized minis for their characters and a battle-mat for all encounters.

I've tried a variety of ways to accommodate my players with my need to expedite encounters.

Only one time did I play in a group that was "theatre of the mind" and it was confusing, considering that there were twice as many monsters than there were PCs. The DM always had a different idea of where everyone was, and every player had a differing idea of where they themselves were relative to any enemies.

After one particularly heated argument that took up more than a half hour of our precious game time, I suggested we start mapping and at least mark the map indicating where each PC and visible enemies were. The DM scoffed at the idea, saying that this wasn't a war-game, but 3 of us players - including the one who argued the most about how far away he thought his character was in relation to the deadly pit that started the argument - voted to start using a map &/or minis from that point on.

Theatre of the mind is fine for role-playing PCs & NPCs in non-combat settings, like cities & civilization, etc., but when the arrows, blades, & cudgels start flying, everyone needs to know exactly where they are at - and this can be done on a simple party mapper's map, 1 inch battle-mat or dungeon tiles, and with or without minis. ;)
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by timemrick » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:51 am

Dread Delgath wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 2:30 am
Only one time did I play in a group that was "theatre of the mind" and it was confusing, considering that there were twice as many monsters than there were PCs. The DM always had a different idea of where everyone was, and every player had a differing idea of where they themselves were relative to any enemies.
"Theater of the mind" is fine for some games, but it breaks down if there is too much information to process, as was clearly the case in this game.

I played for several years in an excellent Buffy/Angel game that hardly ever needed any visual aids for combat. The rules incorporated a certain amount of maneuvering (feints, parties, etc.) but dispensed with the finicky tactical positioning of d20 games and the like. Towards the end of the campaign, as the enemies got tougher and more numerous, we did eventually use minis for a few fights, just to keep track of who was fighting whom. But even that much only happened because I was in the habit of making LEGO minifigures for the PCs in any game I played, whether we needed them or not.
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Dread Delgath » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:12 am

Before D20 Star Wars came out, a friend designed his own D20 rules for Star Wars, and we all had Star Wars Lego figs for our characters. That was hella fun!
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Re: Do you use miniatures and play mats?

Post by Irondrake » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:30 pm

Yes, I've used miniatures in all D&D campaign's I've been involved with or run. Currently we use a mix of plastic and metal figures and cardboard minis.

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