Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Regarding the Use of Miniatures

I must admit that I have never used miniatures when roleplaying. Not once have I used them over the entire course of my sporadic gaming career. I know that others have deeply explored the history of minis in connection with D&D, so I won't go there.

Question: What are your thoughts about the use of minis? Do you use them at all? Can you give or take them? Or are they indispensable for your games?

As I have been ramping up my personal gaming renaissance, I have started to consider using minis. Part of it is the growing desire to simply collect them. I feel like I have to fight this urge, because I do not need to buy any more stuff to clutter up my "man-lair" in my basement.

Another part of me is thinking perhaps they would be useful in games that I intend to run. Now, all of this is contingent on the form of my future campaigns. I am starting to think that I might want to explore play-by-chat gaming (I'll explore this in an upcoming post when I have more time), at least for the meantime. In this instance, minis would be pretty much superfluous.

If I were to run a table-top game and decided to go with using minis, my plan might be to use the few plastic and metal minis I own and supplement them with PAPER minis, also known as figure flats.

There are Internet resources for getting these figure flats for free as well as places you can buy them (there's a site for something called Precis Intermedia that offered paper minis called Disposable Heroes, but the site does not seem to be working at the moment).

It's interesting to talk about the paper minis because I was recently digging through the small amount of actual TSR material I have in my possession, and I found the remains of the D&D "black box" I bought around the time it came out. I still have the rulebook, the DM's screen with the pocket that holds the famous "flash cards," and the paper stand-up "counters" (i.e. miniatures) that came with the game.


  1. I really like miniatures, especially the older figures from Grenadier and Ral Partha. I also enjoy painting them, too. I've been doing it long enough to know that I'm fairly middle-of-the-road in terms of painting skill. But that's fine -- it means my tabletop looks very nice overall.

    We probably use miniatures a little bit in every fantasy game we play. Not for the whole session -- only for the critical fight scenes where you need to know where everyone is. I feel like we could easily jettison miniatures and just do it verbally, though.

  2. I did the figure flats thing with my Deadlands game and, while inexpensive and useful, they are nigh-impossible to store well. I ended up putting all of them into a pair of Wheat Thins boxes, where they took up an inordinate amount of space.

    For any future minis-based play (Savage Worlds, 4e, etc.), I'm going to make my own 1-inch washer disc miniatures (http://www.blackbirddreams.com/?p=156) They look really nice and would be easy to both make and store.

  3. I love minis and can barely imagine playing D&D without them, although I've played games where minis were not used.

    Back when we discovered GURPS, my brother & I used Steve Jackson Games' "Cardboard heroes" extensively, which were paper stand-up minis (they still make the and they are still very nice). We stored them all in the box a bottle of whiskey came in, and of course they was lots of substitution ("this biker is a cyborg...").

    I find they add a lot to the gaming experience anyway.

    Flat counters, which are more popular now too, are a very good compromise in terms of storage space and cost.