Hey, it's been a while since I started any [Miniatures+] threads, so I thought I'd drop one down for conversation.
In the past in those kinds of threads, I've noticed a bit of confusion when I talk about miniatures use, especially when I talk about the way I recommend getting away from the fiddly rules most folks seem to associate with the use of miniatures in games.
It turns out that something called The Dungeon World Guide
has really covered the approach I'm talking about better than I could. The guide starts talking about running combats around page 10 of the pdf, and gives us this quote:
"Forget what you know about how RPGs work for a minute. Imagine that you're that little kid again, picking up the box with the dragon on it, and you have no preconceptions about combat rounds or initiative or anything. How would you narrate combat?
It probably wouldn’t be a grid-based, turn-by-turn thing; you’ve got board games for that.
You’d probably make it more like the fantasy novels that you read, a series of fast-paced exchanges that jump from one tense scene to another, following the main characters through the fray.
That’s how Dungeon World does it."
What follows the quote are more detailed, mechanics related examples specific to DW. Go ahead and read them, even though I'm not going to specifically talk about those game mechanics.
I want to talk about the approach.
Even though DW isn't a minis using game, when I talk about minis use, the style in that guide is what I'm talking about.
All that cool, chaotic, back and forth stuff? You can approach minis use in games the exact same way, and the benefits non-minis using play gets from that approach apply equally well to gaming that does use minis.
Mind blown, right?
It even has some other implications, if you squint, for minis using play.
Notice how the DW G doesn't use exact measures for stuff, instead just describing and detailing as the fiction leads?
You can use that in minis gaming too. In fact, it can be really useful, especially for someone like me who wants to do what I'd call The Big Table Layout Game. You know, where you want to take whatever play surface you have available and make it represent a big sprawling layout representing kind of a huge area: a whole village, a ginormo dungeon, a big countryside with various locations, whatever.
It's more like what you see miniatures wargamers do at the FLGS than the style of laying out an encounter location, playing a bit, then setting up follow-up encounter locations.
Here's the thing: We aren't war gamers, and that means we can do things a bit different when we approach that minis-using stuff with the mentality of those DW gamers.
First, we can say "Screw Exact Mechanics-Related Scale!!!"
Woot! That's terribly liberating right there!
With war gaming, exact distances related to how far our little lead warriors are allowed to move or shoot or whatever are terribly important. With this other style, that isn't so much true, and it means we can mix'n'match scale a bit.
What becomes important are, well, fictionally important areas and how the minis interact there and how they interact with the terrain at a specific time/scene.
So maybe that ruined castle is just represented by a few broke columns or a room or two, and over on the other side of the table we have a throne room and a couple of buildings that represent that metropolis in another province (because those are the parts we'll be interacting with), and somewhere between them, we have a mountain pass with some rocks and trees that represent that vast wild land that seperates the two areas mentioned.
More than that, it doesn't matter that each of those areas is only 1.5' x 1.5' physically, or that there are other areas that do all kinds of fuzzy scaling out on that table. Maybe there's a cool mansion somewhere that's 2' x 3' where all kinds of action takes place and a little campsite only 6" in diameter out there too. Or a pirate ship that's big enough to physically move miniatures around on that looks rather large compared to the orc village.
It doesn't matter, because we're applying roleplaying game ideas like scene cutting/scene framing/scene setting techniques that we wouldn't think twice about in a non-minis using game to minis-use.
It allows us to lead with the fiction. The exact range of a bow isn't as important as the fact that rushing a guy with a bow could get you pin-cushioned before you get there. We don't even need to be particularly consistent from area to area or game session to game session with those fiddly kinds of scaling issues.
Nuff soapbox babbling on my part for now.