Ok… I'll Bite.

Everyone seems to be giving in to the temptation and using miniatures. Personally I still don’t see the attraction but I’ll give it a go. Unfortunately my entire model collection these days consists of Space Marines, Imperial Guard and various small bands of models for smaller skirmishes. I have absolutely no fantasy based figures anymore except for a bunch of undead.

So I guess I’ll be doing a future based undead/zombie attack scenario for the test run then.

(Ignore the pink cast… My light tent was giving off some strange colours today and I coudn’t seem to correct them in post)

Now if I’m going to do this I’m going to want to do it right so your experiences will be valuable. So with that in mind I have a few questions.

Does it really matter if figures are only half painted or even completely unpainted?

Does this work well with paper based maps with the scenery drawn on or do you need model scenery as well to get the feeling right?

Just how far do you go if you do use scenery?

I get the feeling I’m not really going to get into it unless I go OTT on the scenery which will limit my model based encounters to a select few predesigned and built battles. Seems to defeat the purpose of using miniatures in the first place though.

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  1. TMan says:

    What do you need: one mini per player and hopefully one per enemy. They don’t have to be painted to be useful. If you are playing 3rd or 4th Edition D&D, it’s really really helpful to know where all those people are shifting, sliding and flanking to and from.

    Use them on a erasable map or printed paper map you make from PDF terrain. (Fat Dragon Games, Skeletonkey Games and others sell printable terrain you can put together once you print it from your printer. Check prgnow.com and search for terrain.) Basically, you just need the grid to maintain easy reference for distance and proximity.

    Scenery is great if you can come up with something. Fat Dragon makes paper constructible models for that sort of thing, but you can always draw the obstacles on your map or use small objects like erasers, poker chips, whatever.

    Of course, if you want to go completely over the top, get out your Visa and hit these links:

    For more affordable options,

    Good luck with your experiment!

  2. Donny_the_DM says:

    yes luke…come to the dark side…embrace it’s tactical superiority…Deny the board-gaminess…It is your destiny…

  3. justaguy says:

    Honestly your questions are largely matters of taste… I use minis, and have no pre-modded terrain at all because that is /way/ to much effort for me. I’ve used pre-painted, self painted, paper cut outs, dice and coins to represent things on a battle mat. But, I’m pretty loose style wise. So long as well all know what is what, the specifics aren’t so important to me.

  4. Patriarch917 says:

    There’s nothing too special about just using miniatures for the sake of using miniatures. But with a rules system designed to take advantage of miniatures, like D&D, they are great. They need not be painted, or even match what they are meant to represent. All of the action is still taking place in your imagination, and the miniatures and maps are there to help everyone sync up what they are imagining.

    3d terrain is nice, and designing a one shot around exactly what you have could be cool. However, usually just drawing the terrain on your map is sufficient. I prefer dry erase tiles, a battle mat, or D&D dungeon tiles.

  5. Bob says:

    See the reason I’m asking about the scale of how far you go with these things is that if I’m doing it this won’t be to aid combat. I can do all that with the paper and pencils that I’ve got at the moment.

    People say it aids the understanding of the situation but I still feel that unless its done correctly it will just distract from the game by taking you out of ‘the gaming zone’. At least if everythings painted and some efforts been put into the maps and scenery then it lessens that.

    Like I say it’ll be my first real attempt at this in 20 years so who knows I may come out of it wanting to rune entire campaigns like it was a game of Heroquest or something. :)

  6. Hammer says:

    Rule of thumb is that if the room contains something that is going to affect combat in a bit way, then it is worth seeing if you can improvise.
    But at the same time if you have something in the room that the players are going to need to be smart to use, then you probably don’t want to make it too obvious that it’s there.

    Outdoor terrain can take a bit of a running jump as far as I’m concerned. It’s D&D not Warhammer ;)

  7. Bob says:

    See for me its the other way about but then thats possibly because I have loads of 40k style scenery on hand

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