Saturday, 10 March 2012

Prone figures - love 'em or hate 'em?

What's more important on the tabletop - believability or appearance?

Obviously this is a loaded question.  As sci-fi gamers, we strive for a good blend of each.  If we're playing near future games, we want something that looks like a terrestrial army may use in a generation or two.  Even if we're playing far-future space opera games, we want to have something that we can relate to.  

But there's one thing that I don't personally like on the tabletop - prone figures.  Take a look at these Harook Sniper greens posted this week by Mad Robot Miniatures:

From Mad Robot's preview article

I love that figure on the left.  He's crouching down, and would look great behind covering terrain (crate stacks, rocky outcroppings, whatever you have).  But he also looks like he's able to move during his game turn.  On the right we have a prone sniper.  Obviously this is a more realistic firing pose - that's not even a question to me.  But on the game table?  I'll use it, but I'd personally rather have two of the figure on the left.

I'm certainly not picking on Mad Robot - either Steve's concept or Pedro's excellent sculpt.  And they certainly aren't the only ones to use this kind of pose.  Rebel Minis' early sniper teams (Earthforce and Sahadeen) take this a step farther by having the sniper and spotter as a single conjoined figure.  And even before that, take a look at Ground Zero Games' figures.  Most of the early factions were available as advancing, kneeling, and prone variants of the same figures.  And many of the new-sculpt heavy weapon troopers are also available as prone figures.  

Stolen from Mini Metal Mayhem -
Paul has great pics of many GZG figures

This is a cool idea in concept, especially if your rules somehow utilize a trooper's stance.  But in practice, I'd rather see them advancing or kneeling.  I personally don't want recreations of combat photos.  I want game pieces!  My figures should "feel" mobile, like they're ready to accept new orders at any time.  If I'm using rules that let figures go prone or hunker down, I can always represent that with a counter.  

So how does everyone else feel about that?  Do you like your figures in more realistic combat poses, or do you like them to be mobile game pieces?



  1. The other issues with prone figures are that they overhang the washers/pennies that most of us use to base them on, and that it is bleedin' awkward to paint your ground colour between their legs or to paint the inside legs while not getting the uniform colour onto the ground.

    I agree that for some troopers the prone pose looks "right", but like you would prefer kneeling/squatting/advancing poses for gaming.

  2. For my two cents I would say I like prone miniatures but only as a small percentage of any force. One per platoon or so. I do think that figures who's job it is to perform tasks that might make them prone (such as sniper and scout or mechanic) should be so.


  3. I'm a proponent of the prone-figure. I game on small scale, usually no more than 11-12 figures per side. My rules reflect both the difficulty to see and to hit a prone figure; and its reduction in distance of movement: such as a crawl move. Plus, I enjoy both the visual aspect of the prone position on the field of battle, and the "hands-on" action while gaming. If you were to play with me, you would be able to see your troops, crawl; stand-up and run, maybe even a combination of the one move! Now for me...that's icing on the gaming-cake.

  4. Well, I hate prone figures... how can you think that your minis are advancing when you see they are lying on the ground?

  5. I must admit I do like prone figures, but like others have said, only a small amount of figures in the army, and only when it's appropriate really for the weapon.

    It's the same thing as building scenic bases, especially ones that the model is interacting with rather than just stuff lying about. How come they always manage to find a chunk of masonry to stand on/jump over/take cover behind.

    At the same time, prone models can cause problems with line of sight rules, especially if it's one of these true line of sight things, and you're not sensible about it. Then of course you get the people who abuse it. I have seen pictures of things like a wraithlord modelled so it was prone, so that it was easier to place behind cover.

  6. i say the more the better in poses. you can always buy more standing or crouching . but if no one made the prone figs you just would not have them. its not like we are over run by them. i think a good rule of thumb for me would be just make poses like the green army men , :)

  7. I like having prone figures available and am perfectly happy to use them. I have seen problems with crouching and prone figures in some rules where los is meant to be what you can see on the table. This meant that some figures cannot see over the terrain, but those rules are the exception. My ideal situation is to have a standing, crouching/kneeling and prone version of each figure so that I can represent its current status on the table rather than using counters or trying to remember.

  8. I'm 100% with you on this Chris. My one reason for hating prone figures is that I have to put them on big bases. (my UNSC support troops had to go on a 25mm base) Other than that they are fine.

    If I played a squad based game like FOW or Valkyrie I would welcome them with open arms!

  9. To be fair, figures like snipers and even some anti-tank troopers are more than welcome for me as prone figures. These figures often hang out on their own on the game board so the odd base size doesn't bug me so much in those cases.

    I do like the weapon teams that are integrated into my squads to be up on their feet like the rest of them.


  10. Even though Pedro decided to go with a prone figure(I gave him the freedom do choose the poses), I think there is valid argument on both sides.

    Emilio asked..."how can you think that your minis are advancing when you see they are lying on the ground?"

    I would ask..."How can you think your sniper is controlling his breath and drawing an accurate bead on his target when he is advancing?"

    One could solve the problem by using both minis to represent one sniper ;)

  11. Quite a mixed bag of opinions-almost a 50/50 split. I like the appearance of prone figures, yet as has been said, base size starts to be a problem for some. However, we can all appreciate the minis for what they are, and include them, or not, as we please!

  12. I don't mind the occasional prone figure, especially if it's a special weapon trooper that can be stuck on a base with a colleague to form a weapons team. I find that 2 figures on a 2 pence piece works well.

    As others have said, if you use a specific base size for your army, prone figures become a problem because they don't match the rest of the force! No prone figure will fit neatly on the small washers that I use as bases.

    I did prefer the older GZG styling where if you wanted them prone you could order the specific "kneeling and prone" pack rather than having them mixed in with your normal troops.

  13. Yeah, I'm not a fan, either. I don't mind them as much for snipers (I've painted up the Rebel Earth Force snipers), but I don't care for some of the GZG packs arrangements where half of your SAWs or riflemen are prone. My bitz box is half full of prone GZG figs.

  14. The only good prone figure is a dead prone figure. ;-)

    I would much rather have my snipers or other specialist guys kneeling on the same bases as my other infantry. I feel this is one of those situations were tabletop aesthetics trumps real world experiences. Plus, snipers fire just as often from kneeling and squatting positions as they do prone positions. Especially in urban environs.

  15. My problem with prone figures lies in making squads that look cohesive on the tabletop. A nice mix of kneeling, advancing and aiming figures suggests a squad or fireteam on the move. Until you look at that one prone figure in among the rest of the squad who completely trashes the feel of tactical movement.

    That said, I don't mind prone sniper teams and missile teams. But as Tamsin says, they are an absolute pain to base.

  16. Honestly, I prefer prone to kneeling figures. I don't know why exactly. Just a personal preference thing.

  17. I dislike them because they need bigger bases.

  18. Just speaking about the Harook in particular, since I sculpted them I believe this discussion is a clear indication that the opinions are split.
    When designing a miniature I try to reach as much collectors as possible and looking at 10 rifle Harook with no prone and 7 special weapons harook with only one prone ( the sniper) it's a 16/1 ratio besides even in the sniper team you still have one kneeled option.

    What I'm trying to say is even if personally for my private collections I prefer a mix of poses and that prone is just a small little variation and not the main thing I do understand that when sculpting things for others you have to take in consideration that some of players do really like prone poses.

    If a big percentage of minis in your army is prone that would not be OK IMO, but one or two minis here or there just for variation sake I think it's the perfect balance.

    In short I hope that more options are good for a wide range of collectors, as long as those options are not prevalent to the general look of your army.

  19. I just base them differently, my GZG prone guys are on plasticard 25mm x 12.5mm (1" x 0.5"). The standing/crouching guys are on 15mm dia M8 washers.

    Most of the prone guys are weapon team types (anti material rifle, ATGM teams) so they are not the sort to be running around with the assault types anyway, more likely to hold back in overwatch.

  20. I am not a big fan of the prone figure, except for snipers. Usually, snipers don't move around a lot. The Mad Robot has one possible option: use two figures for the same unit. This is kind of like using both mounted and dismounted figures for dragoons, but where you may have quite a few dragoons in an army, you usually won't have many snipers. So cost is not as big a factor there, since you don't have to buy double the figures for large units.

    of course, I am buying double the figures for my High Martians as I go, so that I can have the same number in flight and on ground. But I am weird that way, and it explains why I have yet to field them...