Wizards getting back into the miniatures game – sort of

While this may already be common knowledge across cyberspace, I hadn’t heard about this product release yet, so I’ll mention it here in case any readers live under rocks adjacent to mine.

Contained in this summary of events planned for the upcoming Origins Game Fair is an entry for a demonstration of Dungeon Command, a new miniatures skirmish game Wizards of the Coast will release in a few months.

A brief search on the product title yielded this page, which gives more detail about the product. Apparently, WotC will be selling miniatures in groups of 12 called factions; these minis will be packaged with dungeon tiles, stat cards and game rules, and will retail for $39.99. While a quick start version of the game will enable two people to play from the same box, each player will need his or her own box to play the full game.

The miniatures will be compatible with other WotC products, including D&D and WotC’s Adventure System Board Games.

A bit more digging around the WotC site led to a product release schedule. Two faction sets are slated for release July 17: Heart of Cormyr and Sting of Lloth. Amazon.com is offering pre sale copies of a third faction set, Tyranny of Goblins, although I didn’t see this product listed on the WotC release schedule page.

The folks over at Board Game Geek were kind enough to provide a link to this video from Pax East, in which Chris Dupuis describes it as a combination board game/skirmish game. The miniatures depicted in the video look very similar to previous D&D Miniatures releases. The Board Game Geeks also posted several product images here.

Geeks Playing Games was present for the play test, and drafted a pretty thorough review of play, which is posted here.

While it seems that this product will contain far fewer sculpts than prior DDM releases – and therefore be of reduced use for a dungeon master – it is better than nothing. And at least a DM will know which figures are in which box, a welcome change from the random packaging of yesteryear.


Own any D&D Minis? Now might be a good time to review their value

All kobolds are not created equal - the figure on the left (Kobold Archer #41 from the Dungeons of Dread set) is valued at about $3.50 U.S.; the one on the right (a World Game Day promotional figure of the same sculpt) is valued at about $22.

The now-defunct D&D Miniatures (DDM) line was useful in many ways: the figures from the line were pre-painted, saving the dungeon master valuable preparation time; they were made from a nigh-indestructible, rubberized plastic; the figures depicted actual game monsters, having either been taken directly from the books or introduced into the D&D roleplaying game by virtue of a stat card; and the cost per figure was competitive, even if the randomized packaging sometimes made it difficult to get enough of a certain monster type for an encounter.

In preparation for a game I plan to run in a couple of weeks (the first in months, and likely the only one for the next few months – how disappointing), I visited Miniature Market to check availability for a few figures I needed. While I could always use TokenTool or a graphics program to make tokens for the session, it would make for a better game if I could obtain the required miniatures at reasonable cost.

Even though I knew the minis have been discontinued for quite some time, I was astonished at the prices at which some of the figures I own were marked.

Continue reading

Miniature Gallery Page Updated

These Goblin Ninjas from Reaper are among the most recent additions to the gallery.

While toying around with a new point-and-shoot camera last week, I snapped 20 images of other minis I’ve painted. They’ve been uploaded to the Miniatures Gallery page, accessible through the navbar across the top of the page, or by clicking here. A few of the images are retakes of miniatures that were previously posted to the page; if I liked the way the new pix looked, they replaced the old ones.

In the future, I’m planning to post images of terrain pieces I’ve done, and perhaps posting tutorials for minis and terrain alike.

Miniature terrain: photo tutorial for three-hour forests, part II

This is the second in a series of posts on how to create copses of forest terrain for D&D or miniature wargames. The first post in this series can be found here.

Step 7. Drybrushing.

To give the appearance of greater contrast and depth to the ground surface, drybrush a coat of tan paint across the high points of the irregularities made by the sand. You can also highlight individual rocks with different colors of paint.

Step 8.  Static Grass.

This step is completely optional, but it can make your ground cover look more realistic (and less boring). With a 1:1 solution of white PVA glue and water paint out some areas that would make for good grass patches. Sprinkle some static grass on the glue and tap off the excess.

Step 9.  Grass Flock.

Another completely optional step, but it does add character. With all of the irregularities in the sand, there are sure to be low spots that would be ideal for moss; if you put green “grass” flocking next to static grass, the flock looks like moss. We’ll put the “moss” where it seems to make sense.

Step 10.  Attach the Trees.

The last step is to attach the trees back to their bases. To help smooth the transitions between tree and base, I glued some moss growing up the tree trunks.

Here is the finished product:

Miniature Gallery Page Added

While this is not primarily a miniature painting blog, the RPG Athenaeum does touch upon the miniature aspect of the hobby. What was missing, as one astute reader pointed out in a recent message, are photos of finished miniatures.

To this end, an image gallery of miniatures painted by the author has been added to the site. It can be accessed under the “Pages” heading in the navbar to the right, or by clicking here.

The author isn’t a skilled painter, and it shows. The author isn’t a photographer, and that shows, too. Having said that, if you get any ideas about painting your own figures from the colors the author has chosen, or even if you can take heart in the fact that your own painting is better (and there will be plenty of readers who can say that), this gallery will have done its job.

Nine tips for leveling-up your miniature painting skills

While many may consider the practice of painting miniature figures to be a hobby separate from role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, the origin of these games traces directly back to tabletop wargaming, and the painted miniatures associated with them. And although the recent availability of pre-painted miniatures has served to separate the activities of painting from game play, a significant subset of Dungeons & Dragons players and dungeon masters still paint their own miniatures, just as they have for more than 30 years.

Clearly, the idea of buying pre-painted miniatures “to save time,” – as if miniature painting was some sort of chore – is a foreign concept to these game masters, who recognize that painting one’s own figures can bring great satisfaction and can inspire creativity. Continue reading

Need miniatures for your D&D game? Explore these options


Almost anything can be used to represent monsters on the battle mat. Here, the Dungeon Divas have put Lego bricks to good use.

Almost anything can be used to represent monsters on the battle mat. Here, the Dungeon Divas have put Lego bricks to good use.

It is theoretically possible for the fourth edition (4e) Dungeons & Dragons game to be played without a battle map and miniatures, but the vast majority of 4e games employ miniatures as playing aids. There are numerous sources for miniatures – or objects that can effectively serve as miniatures – but their cost effectiveness and availability vary widely, so penny-wise Dungeon Masters (DMs) must carefully compare the needs of their games against the limitations of their budgets.

The list of options for obtaining miniatures presented below is by no means all-inclusive, but it does highlight some of the most common sources for these playing aids, along with this writer’s subjective comparisons of relative cost, durability and utility. 

Wizards of the Coast D&D Miniatures

Wizards of the Coast has been kind enough to release pre-painted, appropriately-scaled figures representing official 4e D&D monsters and heroes. These carry significant benefits: the monsters are representations of monsters from the rule books or modules, or are new “official” monsters; cards, printed with game statistics, are provided with all miniatures; the miniatures are pre-painted, so no time or material investment is required before play; and the rubberized plastic used to make the minis is nigh indestructible.

Unfortunately, the drawbacks of the D&D Miniatures line are almost as significant. The detail on these soft plastic figures isn’t particularly high, and the factory paint work, while improving over the earliest sets, is still far below the ability of a painter just beginning the mini-painting hobby.

Apart from “teaser” figures visible through the packaging, these figures are randomly packaged, making it difficult to easily amass a group of similar creatures for an encounter. For example, the current set, Dangerous Delves, offers five miniatures (including one large-sized mini) for $14.99 U.S., for an average of $3 per randomly selected miniature. Continue reading