Miniatures are one of the iconic accoutrements of RPGs. First, the “funny” dice, then maybe lots of books, then minis. Minis may be #2 and books #3. Not sure, nor does it matter. Minis are iconic, which is weird, because I’ve been playing off and on for twenty-something years, but I’ve only started using minis since playing D&D 3.5. I had — and painted — a small handful way back in my roleplaying career, but the prospect of getting enough of them to use in all my games was just too expensive then (when I was in junior high). I never got back into them when I could afford it.
But, now I’m playing a lot of D&D again, and D&D 3.5 is a game with combat that’s pretty tactical in nature and is designed to be played with miniatures. I’ve done it both ways now, and I really prefer playing with minis. It makes things like Attacks of Opportunity and dealing with reach so much easier to deal with. Sure, you can play just fine without them, but I think it enhances the tactical nature of D&D combat.
While I like minis, I don’t have the time or patience to paint metal minis (and I don’t really want to spend the money, either), and the way WOTC markets the plastic minis is a pain in the ass for us roleplayers. If they’d market them individually, I’d get the plastic ones. However, I’m too short of time (or too lazy, more likely) to hunt down singles or trade for the ones I need. I’m lucky that one of the players in my game is also a D&D Minis player, and we usually play at his house. So, I can just use his minis (and I usually do). I don’t, however, own any miniatures or counters or a battlemat.
I’ve been thinking about what to do about the minis situation. I’d really like to have something of my own to use in our weekly games (and other games as well), but I hadn’t really sat down and looked at all my options until this week.
Since you can’t (affordably) get pre-painted metal miniatures (and I’m too lazy to paint them myself), and the pre-painted plastic minis aren’t marketed in a way that’s convenient for us roleplayers, I’ve decided to go with counters.
Counters, on the other hand, are cheap and useful. If you have something like Fiery Dragon’s Counter Collection Digital (nearly a 1000 different counters), a ream of cardstock, and an ink-jet printer, you can print out all the ones you need for a session and not have to do any substitutions like you might have to with plastic minis. They’re also a lot easier to store and transport.
So, I’m going with counters (specifically the Fiery Dragon Counter Collection Digital, mentioned above). I’ve used a few I’ve gotten from other sources and samples, and I think counters rule.
Of course, once you pick your counters/minis, you need a field to play them on: a battle mat. I’ve played on the vinyl battlemats, and I’m not impressed. I think every one I’ve played on had some sort of “memorial” feature due to someone using dry erase instead of wet erase markers on it. That and they’re expensive and ungainly to transport and store. So, that leaves pretty much two options: Tact Tiles and the Flip Mat. Both are cool in different ways. I’ve got a set of Tact Tiles on my Christmas list, but I’ve already ordered a Flip Mat since they’re inexpensive and Ã¼ber-portable.
In addition to mats and counters, I’ve found one other cool related accessory: Fiery Dragon’s Battle Box. The quick-reference cards are worth the price alone, but you also get some spell effect overlay counters, some optional rules, and a single d20 (not sure why, but there it is).
So, there’s the physical landscape. More on the other stuff coming this week.
[NOTE: I started this last week, but we played our weekly session last night sans minis and I REALLY wished I’d had them. I’m addicted.]