First, a little biographical info to help you to understand my position on this topic.
I have been playing D&D since the sixth grade. This August, Gencon and I will both turn 45. I have Never played in a D&D game that Did Not use minis and a battlemap. I even still have the mini for my first character. It cost me 38 cents at the local bookstore, City News Stand. It is made of 100% real toxic lead, and I painted it myself with Testors enamel model paints and a brush that would be considered huge today.
So what does any of this mean to my vision of the 5th edition of D&D? In all the past Edition Wars, 2nd to 3rd, 3rd to 4th I have heard the same argument. "We never needed minis before. They take away from imagination. They ruin the experience. Why are you forcing this foreign concept on us."
Every time I read these arguments I want to scream. Minis have always been a part of the game. Go back and read the history of how the game came about. Historical wargamers who wanted to play in a fantasy setting.
Now, through the editions there have been changes to how the rules interacted with the battle grid. They have become more restrictive, and varied back and forth on several issues. Many of these changes I do feel were unnecessary, and hindered somewhat my enjoyment of the game. Some of my more tactically oriented friends liked the very parts that frustrated me.
Like having to stand IN a square. When I started playing the grid was simply a replacement for having a ruler at the table. If you were standing on a line and could move 5 inches, you moved your mini up 5 lines.
Spell areas were simpler too. You could have any point on the map be the center of your spell. It didn't have to be the intersection of four squares, or the center of one. Where ever you took the pen and made a dot was your center. Once again the grid helped you map out your spell area without a ruler. If the spell and a mini partially overlapped the DM would usually give you a roll to see if you were in or out of the effect, or just declare it half damage. It was elegantly simple, and prevented the "I wasn't standing there" argument.
Then they said you had to be in a square. This led to whining that people who moved diagonally got to move farther. It wasn't "right", it had to change. So then we had to count every other diagonal twice. Drawing spell effects was a pain. It was good for the sales of templates, though. So then we had all these templates, and they dropped the double move in 4th.
The charging rules have also changed with every edition. Sometimes being so restrictive as to make a charge a very rare event. (I think this will be a future topic.) Opportunity attacks and other sorts of interrupts added to the complexity, and the grid went from common sense useful, to forced obligatory.
Bottom line...Minis and the battlemap are a Sacred Cow that must continue on in DnDNext. So why don't we change this conversation into fixing how the rules interact with them so they are once again a welcome friend rather than a dreaded enemy.
(The dragon can't catch me in his breath. I was standing behind him.)
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