The first game I ever GMed was Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play, or Warhammer FRP, and a delightful little mission called the Oldenhaller Campaign. Most of the “Dungeon” we explored in our minds, with maybe a basic sketch on some scrap paper to help us imagine the scene. The final scene however, was lovingly mapped out by me in pencil to scale on a large sheet of paper, with a grid to help with moving and ranged combat. Today there are more scale maps for miniatures than you can shake a D100 at, and I thought I’d take a moment to review Wizards of the Coasts own map line of Dungeon Tiles.
To date I’ve bought five of the sets. “The Wilderness” master set, which includes numerous wilderness scenes including ruined towers, huts and tents. “Desert of Athas”, the desert themed set, includes a number of 3D elements such as a stair case, stall and wagon. “Caves of Carnage”, is of course set in a cave, but could just as easily map out parts of a sewer system. “Caverns of Icewind Dale”, possibly my favorite set, includes ice, snow and water tiles for both cave and outdoor scenes. “The Witchlight Fens” include swamplike terrain and would probably be useful in any Jungle setting.
Ooh, so pretty. The tiles are well illustrated and detailed, and I have yet to see anything better out there. My only gripe is that some of the tiles don’t match up, such as water tiles from the different sets don’t seem to have a uniform colour, which is a pity since every set has a number of water tiles and these would be good points to connect the different sets.
Right off the bat I think you should consider buying a number of sets or duplicate sets, since you’ll get more use out of them that way. Out of the average set you’ll get two small maps or one medium sized map, which I think is pretty good. If a set includes 3D elements then the size of the map will decrease drastically. Still, you can combine the tiles with poster maps like those for Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures or in the Red Box to make those maps much larger and more interesting. The Master Sets have more tiles and are probably the best place to start your collection.
Since most of the tiles are double sided (only the 3D elements are not always), you have many options to build from. If you’re not a perfectionist you’ll be able to extend the maps even further, otherwise some tiles only match up to certain others. Most sets seem to have at least a few tiles that would integrate with another terrain type, such as the wilderness set, but as I said these don’t always have the same colours to fit seamlessly together.
You can use the tiles in any role-playing game or wargame of the same scale, with or without the grid. I’d like to try them with Warhammer or Doom: The Boardgame, or similar games.
For D&D or Parthfinder I’d say they are worth the purchase. They’ve inspired me with some great encounter ideas that I’ve recorded for later.
A nice surprise is the number of useful items, particularly modes of transport, you’ll get. With my five sets combined I have five boats, a cart and two horses. The five boats come in handy when you realize just how much water there is on these tiles, even the desert set.
Repacking the tiles in the frames is a big hassle, but the Master Set comes in a box that you can even use as terrain, and has enough space for two more packs along with the contents you get when you buy the set.
The tiles are made of cardstock, so they won’t survive water or bending too well. But with proper care you should get years of use out of them. The 3D tiles are less durable and tend to rip the surface when you slide them into each other.
Value for Money
Probably the best buy in terms of maps is a dry erase map, but these tiles are very pretty and inexpensive and give you additional options for the games table, which to me is a win. I’ll probably get at least one more set of Master Tiles to round off my collection, which I think says something.
If you found this review helpful leave a comment below, or just let us know what maps you use and any neat tricks you have up your sleeve.