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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%


My group has a lot of the old Dungeon Tiles and large maps from 3e/4e days. Add that to the collection of minis and we generally have a decent enough representation of what is going on. I have not seen my dry-erase mat in 30 years, but sometimes I'll use wrapping paper with the 1inch grid inside to make maps from a module.

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I always use painted minis for PCs and nowadays that includes going up to heroforge and creating custom minis that I print and paint. Some monsters are custom painted, most are just the pre-painted minis because I have a bunch and they're easy.

For terrain, I vary and go back and forth. I've tried various options for 3D terrain, but too often it can make things difficult to see. But I have some furniture, tree "stumps" that I made, some barrels and so on that I scatter about. I also made cubes out of clay that can stand in for everything from boulders to walls. But a lot is still just drawn on the mat with dry erase marker. I don't put a lot of pre-planning into maps most of the time because locations my games tend to be made up on the spot dynamic based on player choices. I don't go to a lot of effort to figure out the BBEG's lair most of the time when the players may decide to pursue something else, figure out a way to lure the BBEG out into the streets or something else.

Maybe I'll post some photos later when I have more time.


Once upon a time, pre-3rd edition, I was all theatre of the mind, but these days I prefer a battle map and minis. But then I think combat these days needs to be more visual.


So I took a minute. The scene is simple, the PCs were at a tavern relaxing when a fire giant with his pet T Rex decided to bust down the wall like giant kool-aid men. The PCs have a pet bear, the fighter is a rune caster so they went giant sized*. Most of the furniture was printed, the white blocks are just clay and stand in for any number of things, like the bar at the top and rubble from the wall that just got smashed in. General layout of the tavern was just a quick sketch.


Not the best photos of my minis ever but you get the idea. If there were NPCs in the scene I may use figs from my Bag-o-Zombies just to show where they are in the scene when individuals don't really matter.

*I have two minis for that PC, one normal size and one large sized painted the same. Enjoying painting while having a 3D printer is addictive. :)


I love all of this and I'm so inspired. I think I'm going to finally make a trip to the dollar store for some markers and wrapping paper.

I voted for efficient myself. I've been using the Campaign Cases and for my last two sessions I've drawn out at least one set piece per session.

I've been browsing Ebay for some minis as of late too


As would I...if my painting skills were better than those of a shoe.
Yeah, I'm torn at the moment. I've never painted a mini, and I know I'd be terrible at it, considering my general artistic aptitude. I also have really no desire to get into painting. Seems like a lot of work, cost, and space.

I've been looking at pre-painted minis on Ebay and man.. A lot of them are horrible. Why are the faces all nightmare inducing?

EDIT: I shouldn't say they're horrible. I actually like a lot of them. The faces are often really weird though

Then the flip side is the hand-painted minis, many of which look spectacular, but cost a small fortune. I'm put between a rock and a hard place.

Nightmare fuel at $1-$2/ea or really nice minis at $20+.

Going to stick to tokens for the time being it seems.
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Must continue to resist. . . but a voice in the back of my head keeps saying. . .

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Took a bit to get setup right and you do want a room you can close off while printing and maybe open a window. The stl (file to create the mini) from heroforge is typically around $8, but they occasionally have sales. Of course the 3D printer and resin is a bit more. :) On the other hand you can get monsters from a guy that does them all, his patreon link is here.

As far as painting, I was pretty bad at it at first as well, and had no experience other than models when I was a kid. But while practice doesn't make perfect, it does make better.


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Painting what I think of as table-ready minis is within almost anyone’s grasp. I have played D&D since 1983 and except for two aborted attempts in the late 80s and again in the late 90s, I didn’t start painting minis in earnest until 2020. Once I discovered washes, dry brushing, and using a black primer, I had everything I needed to paint decent minis. They aren’t going to win any contests, but most people are impressed nonetheless and most importantly, they do their job. Heck, for over 20 years I mostly used unpainted minis and that was fine too!

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