Tyranny of... The Grid?

Had to laugh at this. It’s a little extreme, but he has some points I agree with.


Too much rant for me. I stopped reading at [quote=“tyranny_of_the_grid”, post:1, topic:1874, full:true"]
I thought this hobby was supposed to be cheap!

Who said that? Like any hobby it depends on the people pursuing it how much money they want to spend on it.
And “theater of the mind” is a nice thing but why stop there? Why not imagine people to play with - you could play every day! Or just imagine playing altogether. Saves not only money but also time!

Sorry, but no. It is true that not every combat can be represented through a grid based map. But considering how many games actually are grid based I don’t think pure imagination wins the prize here.

In addition narrative combat often times has very simple forms of interaction - just because it would be hard for people to follow an ability-loaded fight without keeping track of positioning and stats. Don’t get me wront - that too can be fun but when I want to play some RPG I like to get invested into the story and the mechanics.

But I guess when imagination is supposed to be the top tier of gaming then I can see why someone could think it should be cheap.:grinning:

Interesting reading, as I’m definitely from the “other side” - I’ve barely played with grid maps in the past and although I enjoyed those occasions, those games simply proved to be different experience in comparison to the “theater of the imagination”. A fun addition, but not a “must have”.

I accept that I might have played RPG in a “wrong way” so far; but back when I started to play, all in the article mentioned points were real. With such background where only a few members could got second-(or third) hand the core books, we weren’t aware that such things are “necessary” (not that we’d have funds or connections to get those). Also, the game was “cheap” - everybody could afforded a few sheets of paper, pencils and some dices from board games (and it was enough, if only one of us had the proper dices). Sure, we tried to draw our own grid maps and use coins to mark our characters, but as soon as you realize that your characters create a new tunnel in your carefully planned dungeon or use the coins rather to toss over each other (because otherwise it is hard to visualize a good brawling), you easily leave it behind and focus on the role playing part. Therefore, the games were easy to improvise and thus, more flexible and fun.

But as @Thopthes points it out, grid based games provide better opportunity to use the game mechanics (DnD 4e was almost unplayable for us in the “theater of imagination” mode, as we couldn’t use most of the mechanics) and to certain game types it simply fits better (Warhammer-series).

There’s a great comment on the Facebook group about the original link

another quote simply says ‘why not both?’ :smiley:

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It depends of the games but D&D started as a tactical miniature game and it often works better as a miniature game…

Purely a matter of preference, priorities, and the chosen ruleset. Meaningful tactical choice can still be created without reliance on precise positioning (or at least a grid), and usage of one doesn’t necessarily elevate a combat encounter into an interesting tactical challenge. It depends on the GM/Group to make one or the other into something enjoyable.

They used grid-less miniature rules in Chainmail and mass combat situations, but the Lake Geneva fellows did not actually use miniatures in DnD:

I don’t usually employ miniatures in my RPG play. We ceased that when we moved from CHAINMAIL Fantasy to D&D.

I have nothing against the use of miniatures, but they are generally impractical for long and free-wheeling campaign play where the scene and opponents can vary wildly in the course of but an hour.

The GW folks use them a lot, but they are fighting set-piece battles as is usual with miniatures gaming.

I don’t believe that fantasy miniatures are good or bad for FRPGs in general. If the GM sets up gaming sessions based on their use, the resulting play is great from my standpoint. It is mainly a matter of having the painted figures and a big tabletop to play on.

Source: http://www.enworld.org/forum/1263669-post6.html


Have to agree with Thopthes that some of the points are a bit silly. Price is one, especially when you can easily use pennies and graph paper. Prep time also isn’t a universal disadvantage, but simply a matter of taste. Some DMs spend months preparing the minutiae of a campaign, others wing it (not that I know any of the latter). To each their own.

I do agree with some of the other points, however. For me, it probably all comes down to time. Nothing wrong with a brief intermezzo, but when tactical miniatures combat goes long, problems can arise.

For one thing, spending two hours on an event that takes 60 seconds of real time, or a page of a book, probably isn’t a great idea in the first place. But there’s also the issue of how the DM plays their role.

If the DM pulls punches, then who really wants to spend that much time on a faux challenge? On the other hand, if the DM tries to play optimally, do you really want to devote a large chunk of your game to purely adversarial play?

Mainly, however, whenever I’m involved in such a protracted combat, I find myself wondering why I’m not just playing an evenly-matched tactical board game against an opponent doing their best to win instead.

In sum, if it’s short and sweet, sure, why not. Just don’t let it drag on too long.