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Is gaming *with* a map and minis really bad?

theredrobedwizard

First Post
As a partner to this thread, I figured I'd ask the opposite question. Is it really that bad to use a map and minis? Does it bog down combat that much? Are chessex battle-mats really expensive or something? Do they really preclude roleplaying?

What say you, gathered EN World poster-types?

-TRRW

(fake edit: For what it's worth, I even play World of Darkness with a battlemat, just for simplicity.)
 

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KB9JMQ

First Post
We use a map (drawn on Tac-tiles) and DDMs.
I have always liked physical representations for where everything is.
Yeah we think a bit more tactical then we used to but it doesn't slow us down to do so.
I have played with and without maps & minis and just prefer to have them.
 

Thornir Alekeg

Albatross!
No, it isn't really bad. It also isn't really essential. I've played both with and withour maps and minis. Each way has its ups and downs.

Sometimes games with maps and minis can start to feel too wargamey. It can bog down when people try to make moves like a chess game, plotting the perfect sequence of steps and final position.

Somtimes games without maps and minis can be difficult to figure out the scene and you discover that your interpretation is very different from the DMs. It can bog down when you have to backtrack because you didn't understand the situation, or worse when arguements break out.
 


Alnag

First Post
theredrobedwizard said:
Is it really that bad to use a map and minis? Does it bog down combat that much? Are chessex battle-mats really expensive or something? Do they really preclude roleplaying?

To answer your questions. No. No. Well... yeah. Mins are pretty expensive. At least for me. But I have some anyway. No.

But... I don't use them much. And I will tell you why. The true reason is mobility. If I would be playing at home it would be absolutely different kind of thing. But one have to travel half the city across with public transport. So I usually take PHB only (even if I am DMing) and of course set of dice. We don't use battle-mat, but we use the free dice as reference.

You are d4, you are d6, and these two d10 are goblins. Sometimes (low levels) we can countdown the hitpoints by rotating the dice accordingly.

So the answer is visual reference yes. The according mins and maps no, because the hinder the mobility. (We sometimes play in tearooms and such spaces, or even outside...)
 


w_earle_wheeler

First Post
It isn't bad. That's how I and everyone I knew did it back in the day. It has never been the "proper" way to play D&D -- which, as everyone here probably knows, started as a tabletop miniatures wargame -- but that's the way we did it.

The downside? Battles can take more time, miniatures are expensive, and if you play outside of the home you have to lug the maps and miniatures around with you. Using counters instead can less that burden a bit. Also, non-tactical minded players generally have an easier time when they can be more free-form.

The upside? Battles can have more detail, the D&D already has many rules designed with tabletop battles in mind (ie, you don't have to exclude rules or worry that a player will choose a feat that is useless without miniature combat), miniatures are cool and we all wanted them as a kid, Dungeon Tiles are cheap, there are less disputes with the DM because everyone can see exactly where they are.
 

Crothian

First Post
There is nothing bad with using them. It's like anm DM screen it is something that is good for some groups but not good for others.
 

maddman75

First Post
As I said in the other thread - map and minis good for a tactical game, bad for a cinematic one. Its like asking is chocolate is good for cooking. Sure, if you use it to make some brownies. But I think I'll pass and putting it in my lasagna.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
It isn't really bad, no. It isn't very preferable either, though. When I'm playing a roleplaying game, I don't much like to stop playing the roleplaying game and play a tactical miniatures minigame.

However, I really like d20 because of the depth and breadth of material for it, so rather than convert everything I want into some other system that has a more cinematic combat engine that doesn't require graphical representation on the table, I just make my peace with the battlemat and move on.

One of the things I'd most want to see for 4e (while conversely thinking this is one of the least likely to happen) is a combat engine that is friendlier to being used with just verbal description.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Minis and a map are a tool. The tool itself isn't really bad or good. What matters is whether you need the tool, and how you use the tool.
 



Laman Stahros

First Post
I have always used some sort of visual aids in my games. It helps keep everyone on the same page as to where everything is. I use my battlemat with coins, dice, beads, or whatever I can scrounge to show where things are.

Visual aids do not slow down the game, people taking too long to make decisions slows down the game. I used to have an egg timer, and everyone had 30 seconds to decide what they were going to do or stand there confused. Sped up the slow pokes greatly. :lol:

As always, YMMV.
 
Last edited:

Kahuna Burger

First Post
Hobo said:
It isn't really bad, no. It isn't very preferable either, though. When I'm playing a roleplaying game, I don't much like to stop playing the roleplaying game and play a tactical miniatures minigame.
That interesting. I can't say I get that feeling when moving in and out of combat. In D&D I try to maintain an awareness of my characters' mechanics outside of combat and of their personalities and RP history in combat. It doesnt feel like two different games to me. If the battlemap did give me that sensation I could see not enjoying it's use....
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Kahuna Burger said:
That interesting. I can't say I get that feeling when moving in and out of combat. In D&D I try to maintain an awareness of my characters' mechanics outside of combat and of their personalities and RP history in combat. It doesnt feel like two different games to me. If the battlemap did give me that sensation I could see not enjoying it's use....
I try to too, and I think I'm reasonably successful at it, but I think the mechanics being written as they are--where some kind of visual representation of combat is almost essential to avoid combat just being a confusing nightmare--certainly hinders me rather than helps me in that regard. D&D in combat and D&D out of combat feel like two different games.
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
When I started, I never used Maps and Minis, but it was me and one player only, so narrating action was pretty easy. Later when I gamed with larger groups, we always used some kind of spatial representation (in the late 1980's it was a laminated 1" graph paper mat and Risk pieces). Somewhere along the way it became "bad" to use spatial rep, but my groups never had that mindset.

We do THINK about the mat far more than the older groups did, because of op-attacks, exact measures of the fireball radii, exact measures for cones, etc. but in general I don't feel like it interferes with our suspension of disbelief any more or less.
 

tzor

First Post
I've been playing with maps and minis since 1980. Many are saying that it's a tactical thing. I disgree. It can be a tactical thing, but it can also be a right brain / left brain sort of thing. I really find it easier to role play if I can see a visual of the situation, even if that visual isn't exactly what is actually happening, even if the mini bears only a passing resemblence to my character (or is in fact a d6).
 


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