Grid maps and battle mats are a staple of tabletop gaming. Let’s figure out which kind would be best for your adventurers and your game.
Whether you’re crawling through a dungeon, fighting monsters, springing traps, or solving puzzles, often times in tabletop games knowing exactly where you are in relation to everything else is very important. Casting a spell with a certain range? Need to know how many feet you are from being able to strike the target with you sword? Wondering exactly how big a room is? All of these questions can be answered with good maps.
Starting out basic and obvious, the Big Book of Battle Maps gives you a variety of landscapes for endless rooms and locations. Moving from a field to a cave to a tavern is as easy as flipping a page or two, and the compact nature of books makes it something you can bring with you to any game. If D&D and fantasy aren’t your setting of choice, there are a variety of other books with background more suited to different locations.
Why play on a single story surface when you can build up? This inn set give you the option to show every adventurer on a different level of the game, literally, and stack them up as the climb the stairs without losing out on what’s happening on the floors below. The simple build and very low weight makes this setting very portable and quick to assemble, making it an easy building for the team to return to again and again.
If you’re looking for something a little more constantly updateable and a a lot more fancy, this digital map case lets you store your map electronically under a sheet of protective plexiglass. Utilizing a smart TV you can update your map on the fly, scroll through locations in real time with your players, and roll direction on the plexiglass without worry. The handles make it portable in theory, but this will be more of a centerpiece in your game room than a tool you travel with.
If you’re game is a little less exact and a little more visual, Townscaper will help you build quint towns, curvy streets, city skylines and more. The stylized art will transport your players into the town you’ve built and make them feel right at home. Without a proper grid system it may be a little difficult to know exactly how far one party member is from another, but if you’re not the kind of DM who worries about that kind of thing then it’s a feature you won’t miss.
Sometimes you don’t need to get fancy, you just need a bunch of squares, a few dry erase markers, and a group of friends with imagination. These mats are drink spill proof, tear resistant, and reusable for session after session and game after game. Need a forest? Draw it. Not playing D&D this week? That’s okay, this grid is universal. For some groups, the simplest solution is the best one.
What do you use for battle maps? Do you have a fancy set for every occasion, a single well loved dry erase board, or something in between? Does your group forgo the map and rely on the theater of your mind? Let us know in the comments!