For combat with more than 5 I will pull out minis. Exploration going into towns 99% theater of the mind
Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that optional DMG rules are on par with 13A's standard rules, that's a pretty big failing when you think about it: the game is supposed to default to TotM, yet the mechanical presentation of the PH isn't conducive to that. Support for TotM - along with the 'tactical' module - is relegated to the DMG.
It's not just that the rule is in the wrong book, but that it's tacked-on. 5e is full of references to distances in feet, geometric areas, relative positions and the like. 13A consistently uses its TotM terminology throughout - 1d3 Close Enemies, 'Engaged' and so forth - as well as providing some measures.I never disagreed with that. Like I said, it's in the wrong book. It should've been in the same sidebar as the basic grid rules in the PHB and Basic rules, titled "Theatre of the Mind and Playing on a Grid".
I've found that as DM if I use a drawn grid or poster map I tend to point to the map rather than describe things, so Ive started to use minis on bare tabletop just as relative distance markers.
This!in our group theatre of mind tends to bog down in dicusion/confusion about exact positioning.
So ploping down some minis is usualy faster.