As a game master, getting started on your miniature collection can be a daunting task. You can’t always anticipate what you’ll need while running a game. I’ve put together a guide to help you get started while getting the most from your investment!
Collecting miniatures is an expensive and space consuming hobby. It’s important to note that almost any TTRPG can be played without costly miniatures. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to your game. That being said, once you take the plunge into collecting it’s hard to stop.
Build A Core Of Monsters
When building a core of monsters, look for really versatile sculpts. Your miniatures should be ambiguous enough to be presented as a multitude of monsters. It’s also not a bad idea to paint them similarly so they look cohesive when paired in an encounter. Here is what I would recommend if I had to boil down a monster collection to 20 miniatures:
You’ll want 6 bandits and 1 bandit captain. Ideally the bandits will have their hoods up. This allows you to present them as male, female, humans, elves, or any other medium humanoid. These will probably be your most used miniatures, especially in low-level games.
Goblins are an excellent choice for small creature miniatures. 6 is a good number to have in your arsenal. They could represent goblins, kobolds, underlings, etc. These make great minions and can be paired with other minis in your core of monsters for variety.
These might be a surprising addition, but you can get a lot of mileage out of a swarm miniature. 3 swarms is enough to keep a party busy. You can select whatever swarm sculpt you like, but these can represent rats, insects, bats, or any other tiny creatures.
Medium sized, non-humanoid monsters round out your collection well. 3 wolf miniatures work nicely and are unspecific enough. You could present them as a pack of wolves, large cats, monstrous beasts, etc. The shape and size of these minis will lend some diversity to your collection.
To start out, you really only need 1 large monster. Again, go for versatility in your choice. A large troll-like sculpt could represent a troll, giant, golem, etc. For the first big monster in your collection, it’s the size that really matters. Make sure you love the model, as it will likely see as much combat as your bandits.
Expanding Your Collection
Once you’ve established your core of monsters you can begin expanding. While it might be tempting to grab that huge dragon miniature, there are a couple of strategies you can employ to build a collection that is useful for any situation you may encounter while GMing.
As you plan out your campaign, think about what miniatures would enhance immersion. Based on the theme I’ll usually pick up 6 medium minis, 2-3 monsters, and 1 large boss. So for example, in an undead campaign I’d add 6 skeletons, 1 ghost, 1 undead beast, and 1 lich to lead to my core of monsters. After a few story arcs you’ll put together an impressive array of miniatures to pull from!
Luckily, many players like to provide their own hero miniatures. However, it’s not a bad idea to have some heroes in your collection. They can also be used as villains if a player doesn’t claim them! A male and female human, dwarf, and elf are a good start. Bonus points if the minis don’t visibly represent gender! After all, you’re looking for miniatures that have a lot of reusability.
I don’t usually recommend buying a miniature for a single session encounter. Unless you can see yourself using over and over, it’s likely to just sit on a shelf after the session is done. That being said, I’m not one to stand in the way of true love. If a miniature calls out to you, go for it.
Sourcing Your Miniatures
You can, of course, buy new miniatures released by your chosen game online. It’s also great to support your local game store! But if you’re on a budget, there are many other avenues available for sourcing your miniatures.
Make Your Games Pull Double Duty
There are so many board games and war games that utilize miniatures! Before investing in specific TTRPG miniatures, consider getting into games like Warhammer Underworlds, Myth, or Descent. These titles are great and offer a built in selection of miniatures that can be used in your TTRPG games.
Search Used Online
There’s no rule saying your miniatures can’t be second hand! People who’ve lost interest sell their old collections on Ebay all the time. You can usually get a good deal on what you’re looking for without breaking the bank.
There are so many options for denoting characters and enemies on the table. You can use printed cardboard standees, go digital with tokens, delve into the theater of the mind, or even use chess pieces! These cost-effective solutions can save you money if you are on a tight budget.
Get Swept Away In Collecting
Once you decide to start creating a collection of miniatures for your chosen tabletop game, you’ll never feel like you’re finished. There’s always something that would refine your collection or an exciting new centerpiece. But with a solid essential collection, you can add miniatures of your choice knowing that your bases are covered.
Until next time, stay creepy and happy gaming.