This is a little bit of a weird idea, but bear with me.
If you want to try playing 4e without minis, try this. For each of the PCs' powers, give the players the flavor text for the powers and nothing else. Same for magic items (you'll have to handle flavor text for magic item powers).
Let players track everything else about their characters - hit points, stats, and so on. They can still roll attacks, and maybe the shortened powers still have attack bonuses and damage expressions, but the other details are behind the screen.
You (the DM) track the mechanics for their powers.
Now, when a player uses a power, in most cases you can just apply its effects as per the power card. However, if a power uses forced movement, you can describe an appropriate effect that fits the situation. It might be something simple ("the orcs stumble away") to more extreme ("the troll pitches back and down into the pit.")
Basically, if you don't want to use minis the DM is taking narrative control over setting the scene. In that case, just go ahead and give all that control to the DM.
It's more bookkeeping for the DM, but it avoids the disconnect that can set in when the DM has full control over the scene, and likely isn't tracking things with exacting precision, and the players are throwing effects into the game that rely on precision. Rather than fight that, tuck that precision into the DM's pocket and let him play with it as it best fits the scene he's building.
I've always been fascinated by the idea of an RPG where the players' resources had no mechanics, only descriptive elements, and the DM's rulebook had all the actual mechanics. I think it goes back to AD&D, when the combat rules were in the DMG, not the PHB.
Anyway, just a crazy, random thought that bubble into my mind.
Kalamazoo Day Two
2 days ago