Yes, the Battlemat - humble canvas of our dreams & nightmares, the gridded arena of life and death for our imaginary creations, transmitter of our fantastic visions - take a moment and consider it's import.
|Tomb of Spells!|
|The first tactical encounter map ...|
|The really good ones come with hexgrids too - for Champions! and maybe GURPS too ...|
I am not a tiles kind of guy.
|Well I suppose this does solve some problems, and I'm betting it's cheap.|
I don't think ill of them, but I find they feel very limiting to me. I never seem to have the right set of shapes or the right set of corridors or stairs or a fountain or a river of lava or whatever. I find that my map designs start to hew to what tiles I have. With a battlemat I can draw whatever I want and I can do it as needed. With tiles I need to sort pieces out ahead of time and keep them organized or it becomes rather time consuming. In play it's also difficult to reveal part of a room or part of a hallway - you have to do the whole thing. When I play a published adventure it is unlikely that the author was concerned with tile selection and lord forbid that it be a set of natural caverns with irregular shapes! It turns into a struggle to combine the available tiles into something resembling the adventure map, a problem I never have with a vinyl mat and markers. Plus they roll up for transport, instead of requiring a box, or several boxes.
I do like poster maps for big set-piece encounters. D&D 4E adventures have been especially nifty in this regard.
The one game I have enjoyed using tiles is Star Wars - quite a bit of a typical adventure takes place indoors - starships, bases, buildings, tunnels - so that the gray-toned Galaxy Tiles set works really well. Until the adventurers land on a remote forest planet, and then the mats come out.
|Yep, that works|
I think the printable dungeon tiles do have a future - if I can select and print my own tiles to need on regular paper, then I at least feel less limited when making my own adventure maps. Published ones can still be a problem, but this goes a long way. I realize that one could scan and copy existing tiles too, but it can be a little tricky to use the heavy thick card ones and paper versions of the same at the same time. Here's a good example.
Mapping programs that let you design maps and then print them to a one inch grid are very cool too, but I've never had the drive to sit down and learn how to use them and the cost of printing a sizable map is not zero either. With a battlemet I can spend 20-30-40$ and get some pens and be good for a decade or more, the same as a single ink cartridge that will only last through a few dungeon levels at most. Heck, you can make your own in various ways at very little cost. Dundjinni seems to get it done pretty well though I have only dabbled with it.
Certainly there are those who scoff at the very idea of the mat. For some mini's and a mat are a budget issue and I get that. For others you sometimes get the "we don't play with miniatures" sneer. That's fine - I do, most of the time. I've run sessions of older editions of D&D without it and I don't use one for ICONS or Marvel Heroic, but you can bet that when the 12d6 Energy Blasts start flying the hexgrid mat is out, and when the PGMP-12 is warming up there's a grid on the table too. There are games where a 'mat is not necessary but in others I enjoy the game a great deal more when it's part of the scene.
|The battle rages - and everyone knows where they are!|