Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

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Glenn
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Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Glenn » Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:12 am

This one was a bit all over the place. I figure i'll give my own account of what we use minis for an go from there.

Its madness to go down the rabbit hole of always trying to depict every scene with accurate minis and terrain. Thais taking one side to its extremes and most people wouldn't try to do that. There will always be a need for some kind of substitution or abstraction. I saw a post about a guy who had spent $13,000 on his mini and terrain collection and i'm sure even he can't get every scene exact.

Minis for my group save time and confusion. When we started playing 3.5 in 2007 all we had were some old solid color red and blue dnd minis from some unknown used set and that was enough.

Over 10 years we've stockpiled about 60 prepainted minis. Before that we used dice or 1" cardboard circles with painted images on them. There are a lot of cheaper options now. Lots of unpainted 28mm minis work great as well. We've used the same 5 or 6 minis to represent PCs for all our games. The only thing we've tried to get accurate is size. Tall guy gets the tall mini, halfling gets the shorter one.

Here's a list of what i use. a white dry erase mat with 1" squares and 6 different colored markers, a mix of painted and unpainted 28mm minis, and six 3" x 3" x 1-1/2" wooden blocks. I use these for everything. A quick city gate, giant monsters, quickly put them under the mat to represent a hill or valley, wagons, and damn near anything else.

Anything more detailed than that and it slows the game down with me trying to set it up. Even in RP situations its always nice to have the minis on the board, draw a quick scene sketch (20 seconds or less), and then everyone's on the same page at a glance.

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Ikoma
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Ikoma » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:18 am

I was excited to get near my computer to comment on this one!

My background. I love minis. I love the look of them and I love making them. Minis have been a big part of my draw into the hobby since clear back in the 80s. I also have played other much more mini intensive games along that period as well. Never officially got into Warhammer or 40k but I have played large scale war games like Clan War or WarMachine and I've played lots of skirmish games like Blood Bowl. I've always wanted to play Necromunda (never found a group that made the time/money investment in painting up a gang worth it) and I would like to get into Kill Team (skirmish sized 40k space marine game? yes please!). Anyway, I have a paint kit. I enjoy the making, gluing, kitbashing, modeling, painting, etc. aspect of the hobby. So OF COURSE I love to see minis on the table in my RPGs. BUT...

It doesn't always happen. Glenn already pointed out that perfect (or even close) accuracy is really something of a pipe dream. The phrase 'perfect being the enemy of the good' comes to mind here. Chasing 100% simulation is an impossible goal that will leave you broke and frustrated... and probably single. There just isn't the time/money to get that close (unless you inherited BIG money and RPGing is how you choose to spend all your time and money). I don't get to spend as much time painting as I would like. As much as I enjoy it, it is the part of the hobby that tends to get dropped when life is busy.

I echo the the idea that there are lots of options. Not just cardboard cutouts but all the other ideas Glenn put forward. Although I did want to add a fun option I use on occasion, LEGO mini-figs. You won't save a lot of money if you go that route, and they may not fit the aesthetic them some groups are going for. But LEGO is nearly infinitely customizable, and does not require painting. Anyway, all those other options often don't paint the picture of what the monster looks like the way a great mini can. That still falls on the GMs descriptive powers. But it DOES allow for a much clearer picture of what the epic fight looks like. Distances, angles, etc. are much more clearly described this way than with a GM trying to rely on imprecise words. I've seen it where a party spends twenty minutes trying to get a picture in their head for why a plan won't work only to have the GM take 30 seconds to sketch out the map, place some coins as 'minis', and everyone instantly gets the situation.

In my experience, one of the biggest casualties of relying too much on minis can be a loss of verticality in RPG combat. When you are drawing on a flat dry erase board or sheet of butcher paper, it can be easy to forget the third dimension and all your fights can start to feel... 'flat'.

There is also the idea of digital minis. Last week you talked about games going online as a response to 'global events'. Software like Roll20 (among numerous other options) allows for digital tokens that serve as minis. Google (whether they are a monopoly or not :-) ) searches are a great way to build an impressive library of tokens. And computer search tools can let you find the token you want much quicker than sorting through four big plastic bins or whatever mini storage solution you have going on.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Wayne » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:38 am

Ikoma wrote:There is also the idea of digital minis. Last week you talked about games going online as a response to 'global events'. Software like Roll20 (among numerous other options) allows for digital tokens that serve as minis. Google (whether they are a monopoly or not :-) ) searches are a great way to build an impressive library of tokens. And computer search tools can let you find the token you want much quicker than sorting through four big plastic bins or whatever mini storage solution you have going on.



Digital was a part of the conversation, but due to Brodour's passion for the mini hobby that ended up not being really discussed until what became the second episode.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Ikoma » Tue Oct 27, 2020 11:47 am

Looking forward to it!

Also, I forgot to mention I am a little surprised Brodeur didn't mention zenithal shading while priming as a cheap and easy painting hack for beginners.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Wayne » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:42 pm

Ikoma wrote:Looking forward to it!

Also, I forgot to mention I am a little surprised Brodeur didn't mention zenithal shading while priming as a cheap and easy painting hack for beginners.



Would have gone over my head. I don't even understand the need or purpose of priming.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Azhrei Vep » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:31 pm

He lost me at attaching stuff to a drill. Now I have need to buy a drill just to use minis? This is getting expensive.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Lord Foul » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:37 pm

Azhrei Vep wrote:He lost me at attaching stuff to a drill. Now I have need to buy a drill just to use minis? This is getting expensive.

That seems excessive nerditude to my mind. I have always used minis and have accumulated a vast collection over the years... without ever having to resort to power tools.

I don't know; some people just can't seem to imagine a situation where it's better using a nailfile instead of an assault rifle!
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Ikoma » Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:31 am

Wayne wrote:
Ikoma wrote:Looking forward to it!

Also, I forgot to mention I am a little surprised Brodeur didn't mention zenithal shading while priming as a cheap and easy painting hack for beginners.


Would have gone over my head. I don't even understand the need or purpose of priming.


Here's the part where I have to fight my inner enthusiast / nerd from starting to explain it ALL and being a little (or a lot) annoying about it. :D
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Wayne
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Wayne » Wed Oct 28, 2020 10:48 am

Ikoma wrote:
Wayne wrote:
Ikoma wrote:Looking forward to it!

Also, I forgot to mention I am a little surprised Brodeur didn't mention zenithal shading while priming as a cheap and easy painting hack for beginners.


Would have gone over my head. I don't even understand the need or purpose of priming.


Here's the part where I have to fight my inner enthusiast / nerd from starting to explain it ALL and being a little (or a lot) annoying about it. :D



Don't worry Brodour does that all the time.
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Re: Episode 554-Part 1 mini arguments

Postby Simon Wizado » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:32 am

This topic is really interesting to me, considering I never actually played with minis but lately wondered how much it might have improved my experience to have not necessarily minis but some sort of token to move around a map. In the past, I actually brought printed maps to the table, of buildings and dungeons I had created myself on some graphic app.
Once the party entered the dungeon, I'd have them draw their movement on the map with pencils, which would after a while make the map completely unreadable and the current location of chars untrackable.
This would have been way easier to do with some sort of mini, token or whatever to help ease it and reduce the hassle.
Lately, instead of buying actual minis, I looked for portraits of characters online, decided on some race/class combo they would embody in my games and print them to apply them to some sort of cardboard token. They don't take up much space, so I can have a big number of them in relatively little space, if I want to, I can reassign many of them, and I can, usually, create some appropriate depiction even for exotic races, character classes or creatures in little known systems, as long as I can find some nice pictures of them in either the official sources and rulebooks or online.
The disadvantage is of course that it takes preparation and an idea which creatures etc. will be used in a given campaign or even an individual game session, or immense effort to have every possible creature prepared ahead of time if you want to work with things like random encounters, but on the other hand, it's comparably cheap to assemble a number of tokens as needed instead of minis that often have to be improvised because the creature needed is just not available as a mini.


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