Minis or Theatre of the Mind? (Survey)


Well, that was fun
Staff member
Tabletop roleplaying games are all different; even D&D editions are all different. Some rely heavily on tactical encounters featuring grids and miniatures; others take place entirely in the imagination. In D&D terms, for example, 4th Edition was very mini-centric, while 5E is much more accommodating of theatre-of-the-mind. Each has strengths and weaknesses - arguably, the former allows for more precise, tactical play (which many groups enjoy), while the latter allows for more flexibility and more cinematic encounters. Which do you prefer?



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Both. I don't have a poll option for me, sorry. We use TotM for most encounters. We use minis for things like marching order, or for large battles that require it.


Too bad there isn't a middle-ground. I use both; the larger, more important, or more difficult the encounter, the more likely I am to break out the miniatures.

From a certain perspective, I prefer TotM because it's most adaptable, requires less prep time (I don't have to draw anything out, in advance or ad hoc), and doesn't run into problems with (for example) the Wizard player counting off squares to see how big his fireball is so that he can drop the boundary right between the Fighter PC and the troll she's in melee with.

On the other hand, minis are a lot less prone to misunderstandings, ambiguity, and similar complications.

Edit: I guess my actual preference is TotM. I checked minis because that's what we do most often. I've been intentionally working towards more TotM, though.
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Ed Laprade

First Post
Minis. I've always disliked TotM because its way too easy for confusion to set in, especially if the DM forgets to mention something. I don't know how many times I've heard "Well, if I'd known that, I'd have..." when TotM is in effect. But it rarely happens when the minis are out for all to see. IMO, YMMV, etc.


First Post
I'm such a visual person, minis are a must for me. I also tend to play in larger groups, so it is helpful to lay everyone out where everyone can see. My current group has 9 players (and a ranger pet) so 10 pcs plus enemies is a LOT to keep track of mentally.


I prefer Theatre of the Mind, but my online group prefers using minis (technically images on a computer screen, but you get the point). My players enjoy it because it gives them some visual reference, but I find for myself it's actually a little distracting. It's harder for me to acknowledge that there's more to a place than just a giant white vinyl Grid, or that there's supposed to be a ceiling in this cavern, while going TotM allows me to more vividly imagine what's going on, I find.


Demon Lord
We throw out minis for marching order and sometimes I use them just to mess with players to show them what they see, but that's about it. Theatre of the mind for 30+ years now.


I voted minis. I prefer minis on a hex versus a square grid, and have used minis since 1994 1e AD&D. We played theater of the mind before that for a few years, and it works. Our use of minis now is different than it used to be and seems to be much more 'tactical'.

I do like that things seemed more, well different when we did TotM back in the day....not sure how to explain it. The feel at the table was also different when we used minis more loosely and less like a mini wargame like we do now.

I will admit though, a couple of years before 3.0 came out our mini use at the table did get more realistic with facing and stuff.


For any combat that is more significant than a casual skirmish, miniatures are a must AFAIC. What's worse is that most DM's who insist on TotM are also terrible at remembering positions, judging distances, description and answering any of those questions, so any sort of tactical or strategic gameplay becomes impossible.

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