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D&D General How Do You Like Your In Person Tactical Setup?

How do you like you D&D tactical setup in person?

  • Nothing: Theater of the Mind

    Votes: 10 11.0%
  • Simple: sketches and improvised tokens (pennies, dice, M&Ms, whatever)

    Votes: 11 12.1%
  • Efficient: Dry erase or printed maps with tokens, pogs, figure flats.

    Votes: 38 41.8%
  • Spiffy: Minis and terrain, painted or not, probably DIY

    Votes: 20 22.0%
  • Baroque: Detailed terrain and painted minis of high quality and deep immersion

    Votes: 2 2.2%
  • Digital: table displays, VR, augmented reality, etc.

    Votes: 6 6.6%
  • I don't play in person and it makes me sad.

    Votes: 4 4.4%


This poll is about playing D&D in person, and how you like to visualize and setup the tactical situation at the table. I did include a poll option "I only play online" just to let those folks chime in, but a separate poll would be needed for all those options.

Also, note that this is about your preferred setup, hence why I kept it to one answer. I want folks to answer with what they prefer in most situations playing D&D in person.

As usual, feel free to expound in the comments.

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For my own part, I prefer the "efficient" route: dry erase tac-tiles and pawns. Every once in a while I get the desire to do something really elaborate but then I remember I have neither unlimited money nor unlimited time.


Moderator Emeritus

I paint table-ready minis and I craft terrain from upcycled materials and crafting foam. I like to have at least one set piece set up per adventure (so it might only be once every three or four sessions) but also use DIY scatter terrain and dungeon tiles. (see examples below)

All that being said, the scatter terrain and minis are most often used in combination with a wet-erase battlemat and/or hand drawn maps on one inch grid paper - and occasionally we just go the "Efficient" route. So basically, 2.5D. I avoid terrain with actual walls because it gets in way - so I find ways to indicate where walls are when necessary.

Examples below (the last pic being an example of how I do remote play as well - the labels on the image clearly identifying stuff when we had to break off a session mid-combat)

Assault on Lil Kippers.jpg

Troll Hole - Alston & His Big Folk.jpg

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My set up is in the middle of Theater of The Mind, and simple. I hand draw maps when I need them and everything else is Theater lol. I don't do tokens as the maps are mainly as an aid to show size and even the shape of a room. When you play with a large group some things can get lost in the talking lol.


I went Spiffy as well, although my format seems to have parts of several different ones. Spiffy seemed the correct middle ground to vote for.

I use D&D pre-painted miniatures and most of my maps are color laser printed-- so it's the 'printed maps' of Efficient, along with the painted minis of Spiffy/Baroque (although not the DIY part of Spiffy, nor the "detailed" painting of Baroque.)


I didn't vote because I like a few different ways.

In recent memory, we've done simple, using Lego figures, chess pieces, and some painted figures of the heroes to clear up confusion of where people are. We've also used a dry erase map and scribbled on it while using the same tokens.

Then we ran digital while covid was happening, in that case we used the options in roll20, sometimes I made detailed maps, other times I used a map which was effectively just like the dry erase board. This was more tactical but took a little more set up than the in person group.

I liked all these options, I think they're good for different tables, but probably wouldn't rate any as my preferred option.

Distracted DM

Distracted DM
I'm somewhere between baroque and spiffy. I use a chessex wet erase mat for battle maps so the board can be whatever I think up, but I have $$$$ of minis- I really only use the load of prepainted ones I've collected... The mountain of unpainted sit in their forgotten hoard.


Victoria Rules
Somewhere around 'efficient' here: chalkboard, minis, few if any other terrain elements represented as anything other than marks on the board.

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