22 August 2012

GameTalk - Minis vs Cardboard

What's the primary fascination with miniatures, and what can they do better than cardboard on the tabletop?

By: Brant


Brian said...

Visuals, it's all about visuals. And tactility, if that is a word.
Miniatures rules still contain lots of concepts that haven't been adopted to board wargaming but could - and vice versa, to a lesser extent.

mad padre said...

I think Brian nailed it. I would only go a bit further and say that good miniatures rules allow for greater flexibility in designing a scenario, and more latitude in interpreting the rules and using the rules as a "tool kit" (this is especially true of English publishers such as Richard Clarke et all at Too Fat Lardies). That being said, some classic boardgames can be visually stunning. SPI's 1970's monster Waterloo game, Wellington's Victory, is a beautiful thing.

Jack Nastyface said...

Using miniatures CAN make determining LOS/LOF a physical activity instead of just a "rules based" algorithm.

To wit: can a figure standing at the edge of a 1st-story roof see and shoot another figure that is crouching down behind a wall at ground level? And does he have LOS/LOF to another character standing out from a wall?

If your ruler / string / measuring stick can touch the head/body of the shooter and the body of the target...then yes. In a cardboard game you'd have to look at the LOS rules.

This made a life-saving difference in a recent game of Wings of War where the use of the "shoot the plane, not the card" optional rule saved me from a close range, sustained-fire burst from twin spandaus.

I also like the "free form" movement of mini-based games instead of the hex / square / map area based movement of traditional board maps. Exceptions exist, of course (aforementioned wings of war, Jutland and I think one of the SPI Art of Siege maps was "hexless") but overall it is nice to be able to move exactly the distance you want...especially in tactical games

And as mentioned by both above contributors...the visual spectacle of a minis can be compelling. It's nice to hear your mates offer up "...nicely painted Pathans there, Jack!" just before they trounce you.

Yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface

Brian said...

Dead right about the LOS/LOF issue, Jack. I've even seen people use those little laser pointers or homemade periscopes to ajudicate these things.

But still, a lot less verbiage than board wargames; by the time the original Squad Leader system had metastasized to Crescendo of Doom, I thought, "c'mon go to miniatures already..." some did, but SL/ASL just kept growing!

DomS said...

I don't find the LOS issue that compelling because miniature poses are often not particularly realistic for a combat situation (particularly in the modern era). While useful for vehicles, where infantry are concerned some games (such as Force on Force) assume that infantry are making the best use of available cover, so the miniature becomes less important for evaluating LOS.
They are visually appealing. I am biased however by my interest in contemporary gaming and unfortunate obsession with accuracy. The differences in uniform and kit even year-by-year during the Iraq war mean that collecting miniatures to game this setting is a challenge. I admit this is my own fault for being such a pedant. But then there is cost and storage to consider...

EastwoodDC said...

Collecting Miniatures can be a hobby in itself, completely aside from any game.