Ditch the Grid for Combat, Go w/Measured Distance?

So, it's occurred to me that one thing I might like in D&D 5e is a miniatures combat system that ditches the grid in favor of measured distances -- in other words, the way most skirmish-level miniatires combat games play it.

I am currently a player of both WarMachine and Malifaux, and in the past have played many games, including the old D&D Chainmail (which came close to developing a measured system for 3.0). A measured system is so much nicer than a grid for adding a bit of realism to a combat scenario. It would require all combat powers, abilities, spells, and effects to be dictated in distances instead of grids, of course -- so a fireball would be, say, a 3" radius from the point of origin, etc.

The one concession that such a system would need, would be the adopting of a standard base size for miniatures used in combat -- stnadardizing base size being vital to determining when something is/isn't within an effect, or distance between models. 30mm, 40mm, 50mm round being popular right now, but adopting the existing basing sizes of D&D Miniatures would be equally awesome (and make those miniatures instantly adaptable). Minis without such bases culd easily be attached to such a base, or even one made of cardstock or paper.

In the "modular format" 5E is currently said to favor, it could even be one alternative. There could be grid combat rules and measured combat rules.  But it would mean developing both grid and measured effect distances for all spells, powers, etc.
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I'd be fine with that.  

I will likely always use a map - but I don't really care if it's got the squares on it, has hexes, or I use a ruler to measure it.

You could still have 5' steps back, you could still Push, Pull, Slide, or whatever targets.  

I think that it would work better for those who want a more narrative approach to the game, but still allows for tactical combat (I mean, Makai Kingdom was done this way, I <3 that game) 
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A grid is measured distance, more or less.  A hex-grid would be better at it, though.
Neither should be mandatory.
I would not be against that. I use distances in a lot of the other miniatures games I play and freeing the maps from the grid would be pretty liberating. It might even make for a system which is easier to translate back and forth between map based and narrative based combat.

always used grids/graph paper, always will, but if they want some add-on content for those that dont want to use it, more power to you

the number converts neatly into inches, so there is no real reason for ditching that I can see.
@QMark: Yes, but it's more abstract and leads to strategy issues in combat, especially with PC groups who are into that sort of thing. Also, I always have hated every single solution I've ever seen to the "diagonal" problem.

A hex grid would be an improvement over a square grid, for sure, in terms of "realness".
the number converts neatly into inches, so there is no real reason for ditching that I can see.


It over-abstracts movement and positioning, to the point where it can hurt the immersivenenss of expereince. 4E was especially abstracted to the grid! And there's the problem with measuring diagonal movements ...
the number converts neatly into inches, so there is no real reason for ditching that I can see.


It over-abstracts movement and positioning, to the point where it can hurt the immersivenenss of expereince. 4E was especially abstracted to the grid! And there's the problem with measuring diagonal movements ...



if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it

I think the systems are pretty interchangeable. In older editions, I drew a 1" grid on the battlemaps because it was faster and easier than measuring inches. On the flip side, nothing prevents you from ignoring the grid and using a ruler if that's your preference. I've used that method with hex maps that I liked.

However, I think it is best to keep the grid on maps and dungeon tiles (or maybe offer pdf tiles like some companies do that have versions with and without grids), as this is likely easiest for new groups.
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if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it


This here may be a problem inherent with the way they're approaching 5E. Every conversation can't end with "It's modular, so maybe there will be both, and we'll all be happy." That way lies madness (and a completely non-playable game system).

One method will likely be supported by the "core" game rules, regardless of what "modules" are eventually introduced. I'd like to see the "core" move away from a grid system, for the reasons stated above.

What do you favor about the grid system over a measured system? I'd like to hear its strengths from a player who prefers it. I can see how it's simpler and quicker than measured distance, which is great for moving combat along. But I think the benefits of a measured system outweigh those strengths.

if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it

The degree with which that comment misses the point of these discussions is truly confusing. If we were talking about 3e, 4e or any already existing game, that comment would be valid. However, that's not what we're doing. We're trying to design a NEW system, and that system is going to need standardized measurments. Will this system use feet? Meters? Hexes? Grids? Will it base it's mechanics around single square increments? 5' increments? This is actually an important topic and not a "if you don't like it, go away" kind of thing.

Personally, I prefer something that CAN be played without a mat. Therefore I would prefer real world units, like feet, even if they're rounded off ot the nearest 5s.
Personally, I prefer something that CAN be played without a mat. Therefore I would prefer real world units, like feet, even if they're rounded off ot the nearest 5s.


Real-world feet are always a possibility. Though, would/should it be feet? Most of the world is on a metric standard ...

With real-world measurements, a standard conversion (5 feet = 1") could easily play to the strengths of measured combat.

I too wish to spend all my D&D playtime measuring my tabletop.


I think to appease the grogs, we should have all game measurments be in yards (or even better: meters). Make one square = to a yard (or meter). BAM, all problems solved!  
if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it

The degree with which that comment misses the point of these discussions is truly confusing. If we were talking about 3e, 4e or any already existing game, that comment would be valid. However, that's not what we're doing. We're trying to design a NEW system, and that system is going to need standardized measurments. Will this system use feet? Meters? Hexes? Grids? Will it base it's mechanics around single square increments? 5' increments? This is actually an important topic and not a "if you don't like it, go away" kind of thing.

Personally, I prefer something that CAN be played without a mat. Therefore I would prefer real world units, like feet, even if they're rounded off ot the nearest 5s.



I don't see the problem with frothsof's comment.  If "1 hex also = 1 square = 1 inch = don't feel you have to use a map, just use your best guess" from the get go, what's the issue?

I like the idea of a system that says, "yes, we will support battlemap usage...but don't feel you have to."  In the case of what I and then he was responding to, 1 square is 1 inch.  I get more flexibility with 1", or so I feel.  The guy who uses 1 square gets the feeling that his pieces are neatly in place.  We are both happy doing it our way, so long as our table is on board.  (never play off the board)
if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it


This here may be a problem inherent with the way they're approaching 5E. Every conversation can't end with "It's modular, so maybe there will be both, and we'll all be happy." That way lies madness (and a completely non-playable game system).




are you seriously saying they cant come up with rules that work with and without a grid? theyve existed since the 70s, its called d&d

if you dont like it dont use it, hopefully both options will be there and everyone will be happy. it hurts the immersiveness for you, not me, so lets both get what what we want, then we dont have to debate it

The degree with which that comment misses the point of these discussions is truly confusing. If we were talking about 3e, 4e or any already existing game, that comment would be valid. However, that's not what we're doing. We're trying to design a NEW system, and that system is going to need standardized measurments. .



well, youve got one thing right, you certainly are confused. let me show you something the actual designers have said

Imagine a game where you can play the version of D&D you love best. And then imagine everyone plays at the same table, in the same adventure. We aim to make a universal game system that lets you play the game in whatever way, whatever style, with whatever focus you want, whether you want to kick down doors and kill monsters, engage in high intrigue, intense roleplaying, or simply to immerse yourself in a shared world."

www.robertjschwalb.com/2012/01/dungeons-...

this is why i said, 'hopefully both options will be there so we can both be happy'. that you could actually have any problem with that whatsoever is astonishing

frothsof, we're trying to have a conversation here. Getting angry with everyone who doesn't agree with you isn't going to help anyone.
the number converts neatly into inches, so there is no real reason for ditching that I can see.


It over-abstracts movement and positioning, to the point where it can hurt the immersivenenss of expereince. 4E was especially abstracted to the grid! And there's the problem with measuring diagonal movements ...


So you're saying that calling it 5' instead of 1 square really makes for the immersion?  And that calling it 1" on the ruler is more immersive?
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
frothsof, we're trying to have a conversation here. Getting angry with everyone who doesn't agree with you isn't going to help anyone.



whos angry? i dont care if you agree with me, thats why i suggested they have both options in the game, so we both could be happy. that was the whole point. and according to the designers, its the point of the edition
frothsof, we're trying to have a conversation here. Getting angry with everyone who doesn't agree with you isn't going to help anyone.



whos angry?


Based on the way you've responded so far? You.

Why not engage in the discussion? I asked a civil question: what do you see as the benefits of a grid system?

So you're saying that calling it 5' instead of 1 square really makes for the immersion?  And that calling it 1" on the ruler is more immersive?


Limiting movement to a grid system is more abstract and less immerive than allowing for full, free 360-degree movement. That's what I'm saying.

I don't care who's angry or not angry. Let's get on topic.

frothsof, I agree that players should be able to imagine whatever they want for their games, but we're talking about BASIC rules here. I really is important that a single measurment system be chosen. The game can't reasonably be expected to use two competing systems of measurment. That is going to cause a lot of confusion very quickly.

Player 1: I move 5 squares
Player 2: I move 5 feet
Player 3: According to the rules, my fireball has a radius of 2 meters

This is NOT good game design.
what do you see as the benefits of a grid system?




to be honest i dont see how it matters what my personal preference is, what matters is that more than one style of play is allowed. so whether you want to measure in inches, go gridless, or play with tiles and minis, everyone can play and enjoy it


what do you see as the benefits of a grid system?



It's fast, easy and intuitive. 
I don't care who's angry or not angry. Let's get on topic.

frothsof, I agree that players should be able to imagine whatever they want for their games, but we're talking about BASIC rules here. I really is important that a single measurment system be chosen. The game can't reasonably be expected to use two competing systems of measurment. That is going to cause a lot of confusion very quickly.

Player 1: I move 5 squares
Player 2: I move 5 feet
Player 3: According to the rules, my fireball has a radius of 2 meters

This is NOT good game design.



i agree. i dont know how dnd got translated in other countries but in all of my books they use feet. squares in 4e are 5 feet, gygax suggests in 1e to use 3 1/3 feet per square. i personally like 5 foot 1 inch squares bc it works great for b/x as well. so what i expect is 1" square=5 feet, or you can play without the grid and use inches, or you can just play in your mind, whatever

id also like to see hexes and optional old-school wilderness travel rules, thats just a personal opinion
I don't care who's angry or not angry. Let's get on topic.

frothsof, I agree that players should be able to imagine whatever they want for their games, but we're talking about BASIC rules here. I really is important that a single measurment system be chosen. The game can't reasonably be expected to use two competing systems of measurment. That is going to cause a lot of confusion very quickly.

Player 1: I move 5 squares
Player 2: I move 5 feet
Player 3: According to the rules, my fireball has a radius of 2 meters

This is NOT good game design.



It should obviously be uniform in game design, but there is no reason you can handle this all right in the begining by saying "range = squares.  also, as each square of our maps is 1 inch, please feel free to use 1 " instead of 1 square.  If you want a narative conversion, multiply every distance by 5 feet"

 
Terrible idea. I like to be able to see clearly and quickly how far I can move and who will be included in area effects. And how do you propose to do movement in more than a straight line and zig-zagging through combat? Thumbtacks and a string? Not to mention the inevitable arguements over what is touching what (I am 1/8 inch out of your range, ha-ha can't hit me!"), etc.
If I had to make a compromise to 5e from what I've been used to playing with 4e, going back to feet/yards/parsecs is fine with me. 
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So you're saying that calling it 5' instead of 1 square really makes for the immersion?  And that calling it 1" on the ruler is more immersive?


Limiting movement to a grid system is more abstract and less immerive than allowing for full, free 360-degree movement. That's what I'm saying.



It's also slower. 

So if Fireball has a radius of 15 feet, or 3 inches, you have to put forth a significant bit of effort in tracking everyone with not insignificant precision to ensure that it hits the people it's supposed to.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Really? Meters would probably work best. Each square is one meter, so if I say that I move 3, that can be interpreted either way. It's also closer to Gygax's optimal 3 1/3 feet. It ALSO makes for more detailed maps without rooms becoming overly huge just to be able to move around in.
I don't care who's angry or not angry. Let's get on topic.

frothsof, I agree that players should be able to imagine whatever they want for their games, but we're talking about BASIC rules here. I really is important that a single measurment system be chosen. The game can't reasonably be expected to use two competing systems of measurment. That is going to cause a lot of confusion very quickly.

Player 1: I move 5 squares
Player 2: I move 5 feet
Player 3: According to the rules, my fireball has a radius of 2 meters

This is NOT good game design.



It should obviously be uniform in game design, but there is no reason you can handle this all right in the begining by saying "range = squares.  also, as each square of our maps is 1 inch, please feel free to use 1 " instead of 1 square.  If you want a narative conversion, multiply every distance by 5 feet"

 

The issue the OP is raising is not what units you use to count the grid, but rather the presence of a grid rather than a real-world Euclidean geometry.

D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
I personally like the cubist 4e approach. Yes diagonal are wierd, yes, fire square and not fire ball. But it's abstract simple and effective.

I played may games with abstract engagement mode (AD&D 1st I played free, Ars Magica, GURPS, Vampire). GURPS you could go full hex with max turn and all that. Not having grid/map is very interesting, but it can lead to problems when you have to keep in your mind all that is happening.

I think measuring inches and angles is not really the best use of my time. For not having that I accept the square grid, and square circles.

Personally I think having a good system to run combat without grid or rulers would be great. Then you could have a grid and a ruler based system. That would please every bone.
And how do you propose to do movement in more than a straight line and zig-zagging through combat? Thumbtacks and a string?



i about spilled my coffee

ps i dont think they should use meters. also at the risk of sounding blasphemous, i like the way basic did speed better than 1e (always in 10s of feet, so always divisible by 5ft for sqrs)

I don't care who's angry or not angry. Let's get on topic.

frothsof, I agree that players should be able to imagine whatever they want for their games, but we're talking about BASIC rules here. I really is important that a single measurment system be chosen. The game can't reasonably be expected to use two competing systems of measurment. That is going to cause a lot of confusion very quickly.

Player 1: I move 5 squares
Player 2: I move 5 feet
Player 3: According to the rules, my fireball has a radius of 2 meters

This is NOT good game design.



it is a modular system  (at least i heared that rumor.)
so when setting up your campaign and come to the section about battle maps the Dm and players decide on witch of the options to use in this campaign. It is a cooperative choice of the gaming group
 
wizards will probebly make one the default option probebly squares as this is what they used in 3rd and 4th.

but if you want the system more customizable to what you enjoy as a gaming group i think the options hexed maps and mesured inches should also be provided.

1 page explaining hexed and mesured inches their benefits and disadvantages.
and what changes you have to make to make them work if any.


How about using paces? WRG Ancients did this. The scale for 25mm figures was 10 paces per inch, or 4 paces per cm, depending on whether you were using English or metric rulers.

The bigist problems I find with getting rid of grids/hexes are:
1. How to handle oversized bases, such as heroclix figures.
2. How to handle reach.
3. How to handle opportunity attacks. This is not trivial -- allowing free movement makes it much easier to avoid getting within 5' of another figure, and also a figure on a larger base would have a larger reach.    
to be honest i dont see how it matters what my personal preference is, 


In a discussion about the relative merits of different combat systems, you don't see the point in sharing what you view as the merits of your preferred combat system? Surprised  Um ...

You know what? Nevermind.

It should obviously be uniform in game design, but there is no reason you can handle this all right in the begining by saying "range = squares.  also, as each square of our maps is 1 inch, please feel free to use 1 " instead of 1 square.  If you want a narative conversion, multiply every distance by 5 feet" 


That sounds great, but speaking as someone who's tried to take a grid-based system and adapt it to measured combat before, it leaves a lot of footwork for the DM and the players. Grid systems function differently than measured systems; it goes beyond merely equating inches to feet to squares. Try converting 4E blast rules to a measurement-based system, and you'll quickly see what I mean.

At the very least, I'd love to see WotC develop a seperate optional module with such rules. But I feel it's time for the core game to embrace them.

It should obviously be uniform in game design, but there is no reason you can handle this all right in the begining by saying "range = squares.  also, as each square of our maps is 1 inch, please feel free to use 1 " instead of 1 square.  If you want a narative conversion, multiply every distance by 5 feet" 


That sounds great, but speaking as someone who's tried to take a grid-based system and adapt it to measured combat before, it leaves a lot of footwork for the DM and the players. Grid systems function differently than measured systems; it goes beyond merely equating inches to feet to squares. Try converting 4E blast rules to a measurement-based system, and you'll quickly see what I mean.

At the very least, I'd love to see WotC develop a seperate optional module with such rules. But I feel it's time for the core game to embrace them.


WriterAtLarge... I absolutely agree. Often I find drawing buildings and even just module maps that you will get walls and things in half squares and it makes movement rather difficult. Reading back through some of the previous posts I just want to toss in my 2cents. Diagnal movement doesn't work, as it is now the only sort of movement players make given the choice, and I feel it can't work with any sort of fix such as every other square costing double.
Measuring distances sounds like 'make work', it's necessary for large table top battlegames and the ideal way to play them.

95 times out of a hundred though we're in a dungeon with square rooms. Squares work great and that is what I would keep. Except I'd reduce the square space to 3 feet but I doubt they'd do that. 

Ideally if I was starting from scratch, I`d go with Hexs, I much prefer the movement with hexs.


Either way, I think they`ll keep the Dungeon Tiles going, they sell decently and base movement off of them. Plus bursts, Blasts and such are amazing in 4th.

If I`m playing with minis or chits or whatever, I wanna glance and know the distance precisely for effects. I really don`t want to measure and use a protractor and then grab a compass to figure out my move and my range for my fireball and then the explosion radius. I think we`re trying to speed combat up a little bit. 
And how do you propose to do movement in more than a straight line and zig-zagging through combat? Thumbtacks and a string?


I'm guessing you have no experience with miniatures combat games -- Warmachine, Malifaux, Mordheim, Warhammer, etc. There are ample examples out there of systems that have solutions to these issues. But the rules have to be written with them in mind. A simple "1-inch = 5 feet is you choose not to use a grid" isn't enough.  

95 times out of a hundred though we're in a dungeon with square rooms.


Ahh, but what came first? The square dungeon room, or the graph paper that determined that square was the easiest shape to draw?

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