One of the reasons, beyond the tactics, and social aspect of miniature wargaming and board gaming that pulls me in to the hobby is the aspect of world building.
The ability to set up a game and in that game to step outside space and time, to be immersed with good friends and live in that world, and story for a few hours.
Mechanics is an important part of this, but so it presentation.
Does the board game invoke the narrative?
Recently there has been a *huge* explosion of board games with miniatures as the focus- loads and loads of miniatures- monsters, minions, heroes, and bosses.
As a wargaming enthusiast, naturally, I *love* miniatures, so it is an easy sell.
But are they always needed?
Before the mini-craze, and now the current mega and massive size miniatures on Kickstarter, there was the humble standee.
A cardboard figure, square, or token representing the hero, monster, or boss on the game.
One vs. the other.
I find that miniatures vs. standee depends very much on the mechanics of the game- is it an action game or a story game?
Two examples of favorite titles from my own collection.
Heroes trying to escape a sci-fi base station as literal hordes of xenos flood the station ,backed by some big boss abomination miniatures. The game is about the tension and flood of miniatures running after you real-time.
Standees just wouldn’t create that visual tension.
On the opposite side of the spectrum we have a title like Of Dreams & Shadows. Fantasy story telling and discovery across the realm which makes use of standee figures.
The artwork is amazing, full color and texture, adding to the theme of the game, and building the story- mostly being used as placeholders for locations on the map. In this case miniatures (unpainted) would pull away form the presentation of the game being mono-color and without the illustrated artwork to showcase the game.
I find one must really take the game mechanics and narrative in to account to arrive at which one is best- miniatures or standees?
As a board game enthusiast which is your preference, putting painted miniature aside for the moment, as few games come with them stock, and that is another complete aspect of the hobby- painting your board games.