Flipping the Table: Did Removing Miniatures Save D&D? - Page 3
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  1. #21
    Novice (Lvl 1)

    Unpossible E's Avatar

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    Feb 2013
    Santa Cruz, California
    Quote Originally Posted by Cergorach View Post
    While 3(.5)E didn't require miniatures, it was the most popular edition since the 80s. 5E still needs a lot of sales to catch up to that.
    Back in 2016 D&D 5 had already crushed 3.5, (per Mike Mearls), and it's become even more popular since then.
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  2. #22
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unpossible E View Post
    Back in 2016 D&D 5 had already crushed 3.5, (per Mike Mearls), and it's become even more popular since then.
    Good friend of mine from college works for Hasbro. He said the same thing. D&D 5.0 has sold a lot more than 3.5. He said that it wasn't even close.
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  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by vpuigdoller View Post
    My friends and I play online using roll20 and we do use maps and tokens but we didnt before when we played in person. We tried it theater when we switched but was very confusing for majority of the group. I have heard from other groups that when they switched to online gaming they had to start using maps and tokens as well too idk.
    I agree. I never played with minis back in the old days. College apartments, not enough money, lack of artistic talent, etc., meant we had few. I did get a bunch of metal painted by a talented guy I knew who did it for a reasonable cost in the 3.5 days and still have some of those. Even so, minis were optional, though they definitely helped a lot.

    What we did start doing in the mid '90s a lot was the paper tactical map or battlemap done with markers and maybe a few tokens. A piece of paper, a pencil, and some quick sketches went a long way to establishing the nature of the situation and as time went on the call of "can I get a tactical?" became more common. What we didn't have was a lot of formal tactical rules though we had a number of group heuristics to handle the lack of formal maps. For instance, we would give negating saves to a few monsters vs. area effect attacks to represent the fact that they might be on the edge of the effect and thus take no damage. We would often have a caster make an Intelligence check to target a spell. We never really did think of Attacks of Opportunity or good reach rules, though.

    The tendency was there in 3.X already with the introduction of map-reliant tactical things like Attacks of Opportunity. I don't have any 3.X books anymore but I'm pretty sure that they said "Minis are great, use them." 4E just continued that and made it a key part of the business strategy. It was quite obvious that 4E was explicitly designed with minis in mind and WotC clearly intended to push minis, though that seemed to flop. It was almost a minis game and was designed to compete with the numerous mini games around at the time, along with having a lot of things pulled in from competitors like WoW.

    As far as today, the online world, lacking the information-rich environment that comes with all being in the same room together really benefits from a map. In general I try to come up with something decent but there can be some real limitations due to lack of good maps (or time/ability to draw them). One thing I have found playing with a map has changed is the kinds of encounters I run. I used to run much more simple things like, oh, 8 orcs, due to the fact that without a map it was often easier to do that. That kind of encounter seems rather troublesome for a map, so I tend to run larger set pieces when I go through the trouble of making a map. On the other hand, I would also run in multiple dimensions or other things that are hard to depict on a map, so there are some definite advantages not using one.
    Last edited by Jay Verkuilen; Monday, 28th May, 2018 at 11:05 PM.
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  4. #24
    Gallant (Lvl 3)

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    Jan 2002
    Playing D&D theater of mind is not a new thing. My groups played 1e and 2e and 3e and 3.5 as well as Pathfinder sans miniatures without any issues (we never played 4)

    In any case lending a character a figure and teaching them how to use the grid is a very low barrier of entry.

    Now there was loads of fantasy in the 1980's but it was never as mainstream as it is now and it was somewhat age segregated, middle aged people with few exceptions didn't play, women played in smaller numbers and while many people you wouldn't expect whiled away a summer playing, it was a kids/young adult thing

    What's helping D&D now and this is my opinion here is that fantasy is more popular than ever and new people are exposed to the tropes via video games, streaming play and the myriad of books and movies . This has lead to a broader player base which is great for the hobby

    A last thing, the last time D&D was hugely popular was when the rules were simple and streamlined like they were in Basic/Expert. Overly complex games can act as a barrier of entry for a lot of otherwise great players. Now there is market for such things, Rolemaster is still out there and GURPS is doing every well but on the whole, its a niche within the hobby

    5E balances the various aspects very well, low barrier of entry but enough meat for more experienced gamers. It might be the best D&D yet

  5. #25
    Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)

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    Sep 2007
    I think pretty much everyone who started in 1974-76 were miniature gamers, and most used miniatures. The numbers dilute as you go out from there. We continued our war gaming habits; using rulers / yardsticks to measure distance outdoors, using templates for areas of effect, and laying out terrain as needed. D&D was an extension of our miniature gaming. From the beginning I laid out "dungeons" on graph paper (10' to the square) and used cardstock with 1 inch squares penciled on it (equal to 5') for indoor combat. Town, village, lairs and castles ended up being laid out dungeon style on graph paper. My dad was an engineer and we had access to large rolls of graph paper (up to 42" wide and measured in yards). My players were very tactical in their approach (wargamers...), they were aware of cover, chokepoints, lines of sight and so on. We had a blast. It was a series of skirmish level battles played out with miniatures. The game just kept supplying us with new scenarios. My group loved the social / roleplaying aspects too. D@mn, I was lucky
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  6. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Ace View Post
    Playing D&D theater of mind is not a new thing.

    What's helping D&D now and this is my opinion here is that fantasy is more popular than ever and new people are exposed to the tropes via video games, streaming play and the myriad of books and movies . This has lead to a broader player base which is great for the hobby
    I think this is right. It's not the giant reach for a lot of people it used to be.

  7. #27
    I and the groups Im in rarely play without minis, and back in AD&D1 and AD&D2 days, we played with minis of some sort, too (back then it was Risk pieces, with the Is and IIIs representing mooks and big bad guys, and the Vs representing the PCs.)

    Since then Ive found a LOT of people who played without minis, and it was quite the adjustment to realize I was probably in the minority. However, I note that even well-known actual plays like Critical Role and Glass Cannon still use minis, despite this article talking about how lack of minis play helps enable podcasting, etc.

  8. #28
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Mar 2013
    Never used them until 3.5. Used graph paper when it mattered before that.

  9. #29
    I'd like to add our minis are mostly representational. We don't really use them for grid-based tactical play, and I personally don't feel they're necessary for tactical play. I only bust out the grid when I need to draw up a picture or diagram of something the players are looking at. Or when I'm using my Random Dungeon Tiles.

    It's really just too darn easy to bump minis around. I've yet to come up with a good solution to that. Would be really killer if someone made a magnetic dry-erase tile board, and magnetic mini bases. I'd buy soooooo many of those.

  10. #30
    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Jul 2015
    It is great that the game supports both those who use minis and those who don't, but connecting not using minis with the rise of streaming games (many/most of which do in fact use gridded combat) seems like a pretty big jump.

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