5E How Often Do You Use Grids?

How often do you use grids in your 5e game?

  • Never (only theater of the mind - no grids)

    Votes: 7 9.0%
  • Rarely (climactic battles - around once every other session)

    Votes: 7 9.0%
  • Occasionally (averaging out to once a session)

    Votes: 11 14.1%
  • Regularly (most battles are on a grid)

    Votes: 31 39.7%
  • Every battle

    Votes: 15 19.2%
  • I use grids for even roleplaying encounters

    Votes: 7 9.0%

  • Total voters
Feel free to elaborate below....
I'm running a storyline, right now, where D&D characters are stuck in the World of Darkness. I always ran Storyteller TotM back in the day (for want of available play space, I also ran Champions! that way, which isn't really even a plausible claim, to me, and I clearly remember doing it), so in honor of that: no grid until they escape.


Magic Wordsmith
I use grids for every combat and evocative art for other kinds of challenges. Sometimes grids for exploration, but only because the dungeon, say, is mapped out so it lends itself to positioning and the like when resolving actions.


I mean.. kind of all the time but kind of not at all.

I use Roll20 a lot so grid is kind of the default. However, we don’t always use the grid as precise units of measure.

So, all the time I suppose. Just not often a real stickler for every inch on the map.


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I remember using a variation of a grid (pocket change and Monopoly figures for PCs and monsters) in the 70s. I just find it easier to understand where everybody is in combat rather than guessing. I probably wouldn't bother with easy encounters, but we just work together and narrate those anyway without ever rolling a die.


I hate to give a number. It is generally with my groups that some campaigns we do and some don’t. Normally it’s all or none for that adventure path or setting. It is very interesting to play both ways because the game unfolds differently from what I see anyway. Without them, from my experience, combat goes faster and their is more emphasis on exploration and social interaction. Less combat analyzing and more of why are we doing combat. And let’s get it over with.


I voted regularly. In my longest running group, we almost always use a grid because my friend drew and sealed a grid onto the surface of the table we normally play on, so it's very convenient. That group very much enjoys tactical combat. We don't have combat every session, but they certainly don't mind when the evening ends up being mostly combat.

That said, with my newbie group it depends on whether I'm feeling like it (and if I remembered to bring my grid). If I forgot the minis or want to rush the encounter along (because we only have a short time left to play) I'll happily go theatre of the mind with them. They're happy either way, as that group is not very combat focused. In fact, they often go out of their way to avoid combat, if possible.

And for the solo game that we run at my place, when the main group can't meet up, we never use minis. ToM all the time. That varies. Some nights there's no combat, other nights there's plenty.


Mod Squad
Staff member
When running games other than D&D, almost never.

When running or playing D&D... sometimes. And when we do, it is decent odds we are not worrying about every 5' square. When the situation is very simple, in terms of tactical positioning, I'm probably not using a grid, and use theater of the mind instead. When the tactical situation is a tad more complicated, such that it would be a burden and error-prone to expect everyone to remember all the elements in play, then a grid comes out.


Cyclone Ranger
Since I've been playing online (using Tabletop Simulator), the gid is a regular feature.


I run my games on a tvbox with arkenforge on my laptop (Think of it like a meatspace roll20 or something) so pretty much use grids all the time unless a fight is more of a narrative speed bump than something to feel threatened by. Generic maps like a fprest road, lakeside cabin, etc get reused frequently & are often just representative of a generic stretch of road rather than an exact thing.


Wish I could vote twice. I currently only game on Roll20, where the mapping system makes it extremely convenient to do combat via grid, since you already have the exploration area mapped out anyway. Occasionally a non-standard combat will occur, where I'll just use TotM, but in general the grid is a constant.

That said, back when I DMed IRL, I almost never used minis, mostly because I didn't own them. I had a dry erase grid map that I would use for major combats, but our "minis" were often coins and other chits. One of my favorite combats involved a near infinite number of weak monsters summoned every round to protect the BBEG, so I used a giant bag of skittles for them (you eat what you kill) and everyone had a fantastic time.


Both TotM and grid regularly. The grid has nothing to do with tactics. That can be done TotM just fine. The grid makes it easier to illustrate relative position and track things. I've used X's and O's on a chalkboard too.


In almost all my games, it's theatre of the mind. My players are improv and roleplay heavy - and generally try to solve problems without violence, so combat doesn't happen every session.

The game I'm currently a player in has been using gridless maps as well. Very nice honestly when the GM can just say something is 25ft instea d of 30 to get the halfling there early.