Squares in Combat?

I have not played recent editions of AD&D or any d20 games so bear with me. Why is tactical movement listed in 'squares'? Should battle be conducted with miniatures on a square-limned board? Is this just there for those who DO use miniatures? If neither of the above, what's the advantage of using that jargon, it doesn't help me visualize combat.

Thanks for any help.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
GentlemanSavage said:
I have not played recent editions of AD&D or any d20 games so bear with me. Why is tactical movement listed in 'squares'? Should battle be conducted with miniatures on a square-limned board? Is this just there for those who DO use miniatures? If neither of the above, what's the advantage of using that jargon, it doesn't help me visualize combat.

Thanks for any help.

Each square is 5 ft. by 5 ft. if that helps you visualize it; 3.5e D&D uses squares because they expect you to use miniatures and battle maps.
 

InsomNY

Mongoose
Yes, what Chef said. Some parts of combat don't work as well if you don't have some sort of visual reference. Close-range magic spells, attacks of opportunity and splash weapons are in that category. You don't need to shell out for fancy miniatures if you don't want to, but counters on a square grid help immensely with the tactical parts of combat.
 

Johannixx

Mongoose
Chessboards work surprisingly well for cheap mini combat. Pick your piece and color, and you've got the square grid all layed out.

Personally, I love buying minis (quality minis where I know what I'm buying, that is), painting them, and sometimes even modifying them to suit the character. But using minis (for me) greatly enhances combat, as you know precisely where everyone is and how far they can go. No more 'guestimating' how many range increments or whether you can charge an opponent. It's all cut-and-dried. That said, I prefer hexes to squares ;)
 
Hmmm, why can't battle be conducted as it is in other games (without minis and visual references)? Sorry, I haven't gotten to reading most of the book yet, so I'm sure I'll find the answer then, but is combat SO tactical that you must have minis or markers to keep track of it all? That would sadden me.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
GentlemanSavage said:
Hmmm, why can't battle be conducted as it is in other games (without minis and visual references)? Sorry, I haven't gotten to reading most of the book yet, so I'm sure I'll find the answer then, but is combat SO tactical that you must have minis or markers to keep track of it all? That would sadden me.

That's the way d20 has been designed, to be more of tactical miniatures wargame. WoTC did this to sell miniatures and wargame rules, eating into the market held by Heroclix, Warhammer, MageKnight, etc. The tactical nature is a blessing (for those who have minis and a desire to get tactical) and a curse (for those who don't).

I have around 500+ minis (most finally painted!), a $50 dry erase battle map (hexes on one side, squares on the other), and a bunch of mounted full color Hero Quest tile "battle boards" which I got free online (cut and combined and mounted myself, so now I have gridded forests, inns, taverns, temples, crypts, pirate ships, sewers, secret bases, etc.).
You can get free gridded tiles pull-outs in certain back issues of Dragon magazine, and you can buy cheap pre-painted plastic minis or cardboard counters in game stores.
 

Phil

Mongoose
I'm running a D&D game at the moment and don't tend to use minatures (or counters). It really depends on your play style and group - my players accept DM fiat where necessary and we all describe actions so even working out AoO isn't a great hassal, we just use a narrative form of combat - having said that, I do tend to use a dry-erase battle map and whiteboard markers for really complicated stuff.
 

Geezer

Mongoose
Phil said:
I'm running a D&D game at the moment and don't tend to use minatures (or counters). It really depends on your play style and group - my players accept DM fiat where necessary

It works fine doing this. The hard thing to really visualise without minis (or something like it) are some functions in combat, like opportunity attacks, flanking, and sneak attacks. Also movement tends to become abstract.

I have never played D&D with minis, but I would if there was an opportunity. I guess when the other in the group don't like it, its hard to convince them.
 

Iron_Chef

Mongoose
There are free "cardboard heroes" online if you're desperate for minis. Here are ones you can use for Picts: http://www.playwithbob.com/conan/Figs.htm

Here is a link to a ton of very cool full color free downloadable grids (the same ones I used to make my mounted battle boards). There are some generic ones, too, so you won't necessarily need a dry-erase battle mat.
http://www.aginsinn.com/tiles.html
 

sanseveria

Mongoose
With my group qwe use a white board, or visual board. We have a few of these hanging on the wall, we use these to figure out positioning in combat, marching order, etc...

We find this works just as well, plus its saves us a bunch of money.

SS
 

BhilJhoanz

Mongoose
We almost always use minis and a a dry erase mat. It makes combats go faster actually, since it removes misunderstandings and allows you to use feats that might otherwise be tricky to adjudicate.

Remember D&D evolved from Chainmail which was ONLY a miniature combat system -- so the heart of D&D is based in mini combat -- we leave our RP for the RP moments and keep combat cut an dryed.
 

argo

Mongoose
GentlemanSavage said:
Hmmm, why can't battle be conducted as it is in other games (without minis and visual references)? Sorry, I haven't gotten to reading most of the book yet, so I'm sure I'll find the answer then, but is combat SO tactical that you must have minis or markers to keep track of it all? That would sadden me.

The short answer is: it can. d20 combat can easily be run without minis, in fact a great many people perfer it that way, however a game with mini combat and without mini combat will look _very_ different. I find that combat without minis tends to be a lot more "free form" sort of in "storyteller mode" with the positions and actions of participants being "retconned" almost every turn to fit in with what is currently happening, also a lot of the more obscure rules (in particular AoO's) are simply forgotten. Combat with minis becomes much more of a tatical wargame, which is very engaging for some players, and I have found that it actually tends to encourage creative use of player abilities as they look at the battle mat and notice some detail that they otherwise would not have remembered and get an idea for a wacky plan.

It is importnat to note that neither style of play is "better" than the other. It all depends on your group and what they find to be fun. If you want to play without minis then don't worry so much about weither a person was standing right next to the table or five feet to the left if it means they can't do what they want to, and don't sweat rules like AoO's and exact placement of spell effects too much (the spell hits who the caster wants it to and misses who he wants it to). If you want to give minis a try then don't be intimidated by the cost, you don't need $500 worth of figs just to get started. A dry erase battle mat doesn't cost too much and will last a long time if you take care of it, you can use dice or coins or cardboard cuttouts or whatever for figs to get started and slowly build a collection over time if you want. Personally, after having played with minis and without I am a mini man until the day I die and I am glad that the rules support that mode of play as it is easier to let the rules slide than institute house rules to support minis. But your game is just that, yours, so do whatever makes it fun for you. :wink:
 
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