Loot From The Gaming Shop
Got out to my friendly neighborhood gaming shop, this past weekend, and came away with some new entries in the never-ending struggle to properly depict tactical maps in a fantasy world.
I prefer to use miniatures on a map, whenever possible, for just about any combat more complicated than “I sucker-punch him”. I’ve been known to pull out the vinyl mat and minis without combat, for nit-picky movement details. Things like, figuring out who gets caught in the flame jet trap, or what happens to the climbers when an avalanche drags off the last person in line.
The problem is, I don’t have the room or money to collect metal minis. (At least the kids are getting old enough now, I don’t have to worry about them being eaten.) (The miniatures, not the kids.) When I was young, I painted miniatures; it was fun, but I’ve got no desire to return to that hobby now.
I’ve gone through all the usual substitutes. I’ve used spare change (good for zombie hordes!), random dice, the kids’ Lego guys (and army men, and little plastic critters from gumball machines, and…). For the Old West game, I indulged in full-on papercraft and folded 3D miniatures out of cardstock. These days, I’ve pretty much been using a combination of tri-fold and A-frame paper miniatures, along with some flat counters. Including pennies for the zombie horde, when necessary.
I’m not entirely satisfied with my current options, so I’m looking for better paper minis, and/or some new substitute to replace them, if something better comes along. I like having something more visually distinctive than a mook-penny or a numbered counter, but I also don’t like having to “re-skin” my minis. “The part of the troll will be played by this ogre, and the part of the kobolds will be played by these tumbleweeds.” Ick, no good.
Yes, I’ve thought about going to some sort of virtual table top. Haven’t, yet. That’s a bigger leap than I’ve been prepared to take, so far.
So, anyway, I went to the game shop and got some goodies.
* * *
I grabbed this’n used. The tin is packed full of cardstock counters… and when I say “full”, I mean “wall to wall”. The cards fit the tin so tightly that its something of a struggle to remove them. Won’t be a problem once they’re fully cut out, of course.
There’s also a 16 page booklet with monster stats. The back of the booklet is the OGL, version 1.0a, and there’s a note saying the critters are open game content. Hmm, I’ll have to take a closer look and see if there’s anything that might be handy in the current dungeon… Anyway, there’s entries for Chilling Bones, Forsaken Slain, Lingering Arcane, Netherlord, Pyre Archer, Spirit of Despair, Stone Behemoth, and Zombie-comma-Plague.
The Stone Behemoth appears to be some sort of animated undead fossil. The picture is of a T. Rex skeleton. Those who are familiar with my methods will not be surprised to hear that I’m terribly interested in taking a closer look at the Stone Behemoth.
* * *
Next up: Disposable Heroes! I’ve heard about these for a long time, but never had a chance to look them over up close.
As it turns out, they’re very nice-looking. The images are more cartoon than realistic, while I like. I find, if they’re too realistic, they just end up muddy and dark, and it’s hard to tell one figure from the next.
Another great feature is, they’re numbered. It looks like there are four copies of each picture, and each one has a number in the corner. I’m pleased on both counts. It’s good to have duplicates; I suspect it’s more likely to need “three burglars” or “a hunting party of rangers” than “a fighter, a thief, a cleric, and a wizard”, even if that is the players’ group. Then, when you put that group on the field, you’re going to have to be able to tell who is who, unless they’re a bunch of mooks that are either 100% healthy and in tip-top shape… or dead, down, and gone. That’s true even if they’re not exact duplicates. “Are you aiming at the snarling goblin, or the sneering goblin?” isn’t nearly as efficient as having a handy unique identifier.
So, funny thing. The cover sheet mentions how you can fold the minis A-frame style, or you can put them in plastic bases. Looking at that, I think it’s a great idea, and start trying to figure out where to find such plastic bases, since the shop didn’t carry them. (I’m sure there are people already realizing I’m an idiot, right there.) I hit Google. I’m not sure what to call them, so I slowly improve my search. I keep finding where you can buy plastic game pieces, like for board games, in lots of thousands. If you happen to be manufacturing a board game, which (sadly) I’m not.
In the end, of course, my searching paid off. I finally found a company that sells the perfect bits of plastic, in reasonable-sized lots for the home user. That company? Precis Intermedia. The folks who make Disposable Heroes. Their web site was on the package, right there, plain as day, right next to the logo. Astonishingly, they’ll sell ya the stuff ya need to use the stuff that they sell.
So, yeah, that’s the kind of idiot I am. Take heed.
Still, I expect to be sending them some money here in the near future.
* * *
This next one looks promising. They’re a bunch of one-, two-, and three-inch counters with monsters on them. They say you can use dry erase markers on them for condition markers. I think I’m more likely to mark them up with numbers and keep track on my scratch paper, but we’ll see.
I doubt the biggest ones will be much use, but the one- and two-inch sizes look like just the thing. There’s a couple of giant spiders, some gnolls, some undead. Looks like a nice selection. The pictures seem to be generic enough to re-use without offending my anti-re-skinning peeve. One generic goblinoid is about as good as another, generally. A humanoid made of flame might be a fire elemental or a Flame Lord.
They’re put together similarly to a button one would pin on an apron to increase one’s “pieces of flair” count, but without the pin part. They’ve got a little bit of weight to them, which paper minis and cardstock tokens lack. I’m looking forward to seeing how they work out in play.
Also a good reminder… I always forget, beholders are really big, aren’t they?