To Mini Or Not To Mini

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Count Zero
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To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Count Zero » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:09 am

Just out of curiosity, has anyone found that DCCRpg works better or worse using miniatures? I've done both equally the past 28 years, but I'm currently debating which approach to use with this game. There are good reasons on both sides. Discuss. :)
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Harley Stroh » Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:48 am

Speaking only as a fan, I've had great success without minis. Some of the players have commented that they enjoy not using minis, because it forces them to use their imaginations more. (Their words.) Of course this doesn't mean that folks haven't missed playing with minis, only that no one complained about it.

I can easily imagine battles where having minis would be a plus. But I've also run scribbled map battles where the players felt they had to count out their moves, which is definitely not the goal. (I'll let em know if they've tried to move too far.) So over all, I'd say my DCC games are mini-less, with rare, set-piece battle exceptions.

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Ogrepuppy » Mon Oct 03, 2011 12:10 pm

Admittedly my only experience with DCCRPG playtesting has been "me vs. me" because I don't currently have a D&D group, but after 1.5 years of dreaded 4th edition it was with a glad heart that I ran a quick mini dungeon--0-levels versus undead and a few goblinoids (where I played both sides)--with NO MINIS and it worked just fine.

I think--and this is personal OPINION so please don't crucify me if you disagree--that reliance on minis in RPGs over the past several decades has become a crutch to the imagination, in addition to being a huge time-sink (having to draw a battle map and arrange minis has wasted more of my play time that I'd care to discuss).

(Mind you, this is from someone who owns about 200 minis.)
Last edited by Ogrepuppy on Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by GnomeBoy » Mon Oct 03, 2011 1:49 pm

My preference, for future runs of DCC RPG or otherwise, is to use minis whenever it's going to help people understand WTH is going on. Once for a con, I built scale cardboard versions of some of the rooms from WPM to help people grok the layout in 3D, but I sure wouldn't do that for everything.

That said, earlier this year, the first time I tried to run a quick fight without a map or minis (square room, 20x20, one opponent) the new guy got a bit worried he wouldn't be able to get into flanking without a map. Eventually, I just had to say, this is how we're doing this one. And he grokked it once he saw what I was doing and that you don't need the map all the time...

Also, some players play better with minis, since you don't need to keep reminding them that their arms aren't twenty feet long.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Tortog » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:15 pm

Ogrepuppy wrote:...
I think--and this is personal OPINION so please don't crucify me if you disagree--that reliance on minis in RPGs over the past several decades has become a crutch to the imagination, in addition to being a huge time-sink (having to draw a battle map and arrange minis has wasted more of my play time that I'd care to discuss).

(Mind you, this is from someone who owns about 200 minis.)
This is NOT an attempt to crucify you, because I agree with your basic observation. My wife and I have noticed the same general trend of dwindling imaginative powers. Where I disagree is that I don't think that using mini's is the cause. IMO this the result of video-games and movies with big F/X budgets; these two forms of entertainment have robbed people of the need to imagine/visualize anything.

That having been said, my games use a mix of story telling narratives and quick- drawn battle maps with mini's. I've always been proud of my vocabulary & descriptive skills. Honed from years of sitting in the dark listening to old radio shows, but I recently had a group (not my current group) that left me speechless. I had just finished giving a description of the room and when I asked them what they wanted to do next, I had a table full of blank looks and quizzical expressions staring back at me.

Me: "What...? Is my fly open? Booger hanging out of my nose?"

Player: "Um... we don't know what you just said man...it sounded important, but...could you use smaller words?"

I took a DM break to go get some fresh air.

All that aside, I make mini use a standard feature in all my games because I got tired of the endless arguments with conniving players and "their 20ft arms" (as Gnomeboy stated); or, that most pernicious of the many forms of Meta-gamer..."the Specter". These are the ones that go out of their way NOT to be specific about where they are, but always seem pop up where the action is thickest. When queried, they reply with some form of; "oh, I was tagging along behind them..."

I've seen more games and gaming groups dissolve as a result of these kinds of arguments than I can count over the years. Personally, I don't care if DCCRPG supports mini use or not... I can always use the industry standard 1"=5ft and the 25mm scale. It just seems like they are missing a marketing opportunity, or am I the only one who bought some of the adventure specific mini's released for DCC#1 & others?

I discovered at the last game session that I'm not the only avid mini painter at my table. One of my players is also into the mini's (and is a fair talent to boot) so in the near future I will be posting a "group photo" of PC's. Including one I sculpted from scratch. :mrgreen:

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by reverenddak » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:24 pm

Count Zero wrote:Just out of curiosity, has anyone found that DCCRpg works better or worse using miniatures? I've done both equally the past 28 years, but I'm currently debating which approach to use with this game. There are good reasons on both sides. Discuss. :)
I find that DCC lends itself to non-mini play extremely well. DCC combat enables abstract play with its Fumbles and Crit tables. It encourages descriptive & narrative combat, especially with the MDoA. This creativity is what I like about it the most, versus the tactical nature of 3.5/4e. Those games needed minis. I'm not interested in that kind of gaming, obviously others are. I remember talking to a wargamer that now "loves" 4e, he hated D&D before... and obviously didn't try 3.5 or he would have enjoyed where that game was going. (people forget the main difference between 3.0 vs 3.5 was the emphasis on the grid.)

There will obviously be moments in a complex set piece that may get confusing using narrative alone. I still point to areas on map to give people general ideas of where everyone is. A couple of my players are really good mappers, who I encourage to map. You'd see scribbles all over their maps of who was where, etc. But when it comes to action, they need to describe it to me, no counting squares and looking at the map. It's way more engaging that way, and the line between combat encounters and exploration is fuzzier that way. I'm also a bit looser with initiative. It really comes to how much emphasis is spent on combat. Combat is now less than 50% of the time spent playing.

Tortog, it sounds like you're using minis the way they're meant to be used in DCC.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by tovokas » Mon Oct 03, 2011 5:40 pm

I like that DCC is written specifically so that minis aren't required - but as a long time battlemap printing guy I'm sure they'll find a place once the funnel is traversed. I wouldn't want to try to manage minis with 15-20 characters on the board, but once things settle down to a more manageable party size I'm sure the lure of the spectacle will call me back...

From a prep standpoint however, the idea of not having to prepare paper minis and battlemaps for each adventure is appealing.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Tortog » Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:51 pm

tovokas wrote:I like that DCC is written specifically so that minis aren't required - but as a long time battlemap printing guy I'm sure they'll find a place once the funnel is traversed. I wouldn't want to try to manage minis with 15-20 characters on the board, but once things settle down to a more manageable party size I'm sure the lure of the spectacle will call me back...

From a prep standpoint however, the idea of not having to prepare paper minis and battlemaps for each adventure is appealing.
Actually I found that using mini style play helped keep the 0-lvl game better organized. Though I was using different color chits of card-stock, folded in half. The players put "f" & "b" for front and back + the PC's name. Though Reapermini has been running a line of "townfolk" for years now... (there are 10 sets now) I've been saving up to buy'em specifically for the 0-lvl gaming.

@ reverenddek> Thanks! :D
For the record I DETEST the square grid... for me there is nothing quite so satisfying as seeing the players eyes light up when I go get my 32x40in. wet-erace map, whipping it out... then watching their faces as it registers in their minds that the mat is covered in hexes. Over-sized Battletech, hexes... I just use them as an aid for drawing the scenes. They can't count them out because it's a non-standard measure. :twisted: that's when I bring out the tape-measure and my antique brass mapping calipers... They usually piss & whine for a while until they realize that they have MORE freedom to maneuver.

When I was running more 3.5 games I'd use one of those "flexible" rulers. You can find'em at art & drafting supply shops and I'd hand it to the player and say, "show us where you move, then hand it to the next person in the Initiative stack." They'ed bend it to the path they wanted then measure how far they can go.

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by abk108 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:27 am

in other games, like 3E or 4E, I think Minis (or surrogates, like colored pins for example) are a necessity: tactical movement is implied in the game system, and really you are screwing the game up if you take that element out of it.

In DCCrpg, however, i round it worked easily without minis. What I do is conceive the combat as different clusters of people in melee, like small mini-combats.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by finarvyn » Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:33 am

I play my RPGs almost exclusively without minis, although I have a bunch that sometimes I dust off for special occasions. More often than not, I'll play without minis until something particularly important or confusing occurs and in that case I scribble a quick map on a sheet of notebook paper and my tell the players "okay, the wizard is the yellow d4, the fighter is the orange d6..." My DCC games have been no different from my OD&D and/or C&C games in that we can mostly operate without minis.

On the other hand, when I first teach kids and newbie adults to role play, I've found that minis help them see the action. HeroQuest (the old MB board game) is excellent for this as is the new 4E Ravenloft board game series. Sometimes they ask to play those games just to move little dudes around the board, but most of the time it's all in our imaginations.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by jmucchiello » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:42 am

I played Moldvay B/X with and without minis and preferred it with minis. I played 1e with minis. I played 2e with minis. I played Champions with minis. I played GURPS with minis. All before I played 3e with minis. Why would I stop playing with minis?

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by GnomeBoy » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:48 am

jmucchiello wrote:I played Moldvay B/X with and without minis and preferred it with minis. I played 1e with minis. I played 2e with minis. I played Champions with minis. I played GURPS with minis. All before I played 3e with minis. Why would I stop playing with minis?
j, I'm unclear -- what are you trying to say?



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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Harley Stroh » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:22 am

Count Zero wrote:Just out of curiosity, has anyone found that DCCRpg works better or worse using miniatures?
So it would appear the answer is, "Yes."

:twisted:

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by jeff » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:22 pm

GnomeBoy wrote:
jmucchiello wrote:I played Moldvay B/X with and without minis and preferred it with minis. I played 1e with minis. I played 2e with minis. I played Champions with minis. I played GURPS with minis. All before I played 3e with minis. Why would I stop playing with minis?
j, I'm unclear -- what are you trying to say?



( :mrgreen: )
I think he's trying to say he likes using minis.

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Count Zero » Wed Oct 05, 2011 3:44 pm

Harley Stroh wrote:
Count Zero wrote:Just out of curiosity, has anyone found that DCCRpg works better or worse using miniatures?
So it would appear the answer is, "Yes."

:twisted:

//H
Heh, indeed. I think I will go with a slightly abstracted take on minis, using them to show relative positions, etc. I want to give narrative freedom to the players but I want to avoid debates about "who was where when". Kinda like what we did as kids in the 80s with soda caps and dice. ;)
On a side note i wanted to give a shout out to the great community here. The posts are informative and the people are helpful. Very much like the folks over on the Pinnacle forums. In an age of internet angst it's very refreshing.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by JediOre » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:23 pm

Count Zero wrote:On a side note i wanted to give a shout out to the great community here. The posts are informative and the people are helpful. Very much like the folks over on the Pinnacle forums. In an age of internet angst it's very refreshing.
See, I told you guys we need to keep up the appearance of angst just to keep the riff-raff away! :lol:

Seriously, Welcome to the forums Count Zero. I've found this to be the best forum boards on the 'net. This is my "go-to" web page when I fire up the computer.

Concerning the question, I'm mainly against the use of miniatures with the one exception of using them for marching order. Everyone can pick out a figurine that best suits their mental image of their PC and we line 'em up on the table for marching order. Gee, we haven't done that in several years. I miss it. We'll have to get that back in the game!

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by abk108 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 4:37 pm

Harley Stroh wrote:
Count Zero wrote:Just out of curiosity, has anyone found that DCCRpg works better or worse using miniatures?
So it would appear the answer is, "Yes."

:twisted:

//H
Wrong.

I reckon the answer is 42.

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by EeonEM » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:08 pm

We've always used minis, whether it be D&D, MERP, Shadowrun, CoC, Runequest or now DCC, and uptil recently they have always worked well for us.

But ... a while ago after playing a little 3e with another group I was quite taken with the nice grids, predrawn battle maps and nice neat 1" square bases for the figures. All these new fangled things I'd never really seen much of before.

That's cool, I thought. So I proceeded to create 1" square bases for all my minis and introduce grid patterned maps into the game, instead of free hand drawings and white boards.

Well, what a mistake. Now we don't role-play combat any more, we play chess instead. Micro managed movement and an almost total loss of creativity appear to be the result.

I'm about to launch into the painful process of removing the square bases off my minis!

So, I guess my point is that, in my opinion at least, minis can work fine. But in common with many things in life, it is how you use them that makes all the difference!

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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Aplus » Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:51 pm

I've played both with and without, and found it to work equally well both ways, it is simply a matter of preference. Sometimes we play with full-blown 3E-style combat, sometimes more abstract mini use, and sometimes we just don't use them at all.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Aplus » Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:29 pm

P.S. - I really like the idea of using minis but no grid. In my games I think its the square-counting that really slows things down more than anything else. I think I'll try that tomorrow!
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by finarvyn » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:37 am

Aplus wrote:I really like the idea of using minis but no grid. In my games I think its the square-counting that really slows things down more than anything else.
In find that scribbling down tactical maps on notebook paper works fine, since I'm mostly interested in general location of characters than square counting. My main need is to know who can attack who and if the thief can get around for a back attack. :lol:

Also, I find that my female gamers start to lose interest a lot faster than my male gamers when we start square counting. My old wargaming buddies loved battlemaps, my newer group not so much.

Just my experience with this.
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Re: To Mini Or Not To Mini

Post by Pilgrim » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:25 am

Generally, I'm of the mind that minis shouldn't be required, though can be used as long as the game is divorced form using them for anything more than clarification during combat or similar situation.
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