Figuratively Speaking: Miniatures in Gaming

As it often turns out with a game night looming, I am pressed for time, so I’m going to curve time and space and direct you all to go over and read GamePlayWright. Today, Will Hindmarch brought up the usage of miniatures in gaming and, though I had other things much more pressing, I daresay I was compelled to respond.

You know me as a minimalist who rarely uses miniatures. I had an opportunity to explore that today. Since my responses were pretty lengthy, it cut into my post over here for today, so I’d like you to go over there and comment there, here, or on our Facebook page. Just sound off. I’d love to hear where you fall on the miniatures spectrum. Why? Why not?

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!


3 Notes on, Figuratively Speaking: Miniatures in Gaming

  1. I have been using minis for years now. I used to run without, just a generic map scratched out and players would point where they were. But then my regular group, who can sometimes get a little fixated on specific details, almost demanded minis. That was about 8 years ago and have been going strong with minis since.

    A couple of weeks ago I was playing a game at Genghis Con 2012. It was Agents of Oblivion run by…oh what was his name…Steve…Sammy…Oh, right…Sean. He ran the entire game without big drawn out maps, no minis, and just little maps scratched out on a piece of notebook paper. It took almost one full second for my brain to take over and see the combat in my mind.

    I will admit something, the game was better without the minis. But…I think it fit the style of the game and the GM. Sean mentioned he had GMed before I believe, so I think he was comfortable with that style. Later that weekend I ran a Deadlands game and I used minis and the cool new magnetic markers I purchased to keep track of shaken and wounds on each mini. And it worked, because that is how I wrote the game and ran it in my head before the game. Could I run that game without minis? Maybe…but there was a lot of awesome stuff that happened (explosions and such) that caused a lot of close calls. The minis seemed to highlight just how close things got to going wrong for the players.

    I’m running a different type of game for my players this weekend, Kingdom of Nothing, and as an experiment I will use no minis. And this is with my regular game group, I will see how they handle it. To be truthful the whole game is a bit of a gaming exercise with my group.

    In the end, the answer is: Yes, but.

  2. I use half inch round magnets with stickers on them, on a magnetic white board surface. They are more in keeping with the one inch equals two yards scale of Savage Worlds, and allow players to know where the characters are on the battlefield without getting too hung up on the visual representation. I think rpgs are more akin to novels than more visual media, and should not get hung up on that aspect. That spoils the imaginative element of it!

  3. My group has been playing Savage Worlds almost exclusively for a long time now. Long enough I was getting very sick of it and only the premise of Agents of Oblivion made me hang with it. but I also knew that I was going to run AoO with a very different style. The first things to go were minis and detailed maps.

    I wanted them doing spy stuff. I wanted sneaking around, I wanted the Drop gotten, I wanted cell phone detonators, basically I wanted bond and burn notice and Splinter cell stuff. This game lets you enjoy the planning and execution, but the minute the map and minis would come out, it’s a different game. People chat while I sort it out, I don’t have the right mini so I have to keep explaining what things are, it shifts from spy stuff to combat stuff. It needed to be more seamless.

    That said, even in my head, there’s still totally a place for the minis. There was a warehouse, big damn robots, and the space was going to matter so I decided for that session we needed minis. I found a Heroclix warehouse, borrowed some robots, and it was great.

    Tomorrow night, though, we’re back to no maps and I don’t see another scenario in my plan that will make them as fun or necessary as they were last session. So I guess I’m now a mix and match buy, but 80% no maps/figs, 20% with.

    It makes me think I wouldn’t have grown so tired of SW if we hadn’t been as religious with the maps. And that is very interesting to me. (ahhh, navel gazing)

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