Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Review: D&D Tactical Maps Reincarnated

TLDR Summary: It's a buy, but not necessarily a strong buy if you already own some of these maps. While several of them are only marginally useful, the collection is still a reasonable deal, providing a wide variety of terrain. I would have liked to have seen a few different reprints with more useful terrain, but on the whole, it's a decent deal for the price.


D&D Tactical Maps Reincarnated collects 20 different encounter maps together from the last few editions of D&D into a single map collection. The maps are double-sided and printed on folded poster paper (so no dry erase or wet erase surface) with a 1 inch grid for tactical play. The paper is standard poster weight, so it requires gentle handling. You should probably get a thin plastic "plexiglass" insert from a cheap poster frame to lay over top the maps to protect them in use.

Note: I own most of the originals of these maps included in this reprint pack, so my impression of this set is based upon the utility I have gotten out of each map over the last several years. For the few that I do not currently own, I try to evaluate their utility based on the terrain and features. An index of the included maps follows at the end.

Green Valley (King's Road)
Green Valley Pass
This map, originally called the King's Road, was included in the Keep on the Shadowfell and reprinted in Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin map pack. This is by far the most useful map in my collection. In terms of utility, I have used this on par with the Paizo Woodland and Forest flip mats. It's a nice generic country side road with different terrain and good cover (damn you, Sharpshooter feat!). Goes well with the D&D Starter Set or really any adventure with an on-the-road encounter... so, basically, all of them.

Farmer's Road (Harkenwold)
Farmer's Road
Included with the Reavers of Harkewold adventure in the 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Kit, this map consists of a couple farmsteads and smaller roadside hovel. This is an excellent generic terrain for traveling along rural roads alongside farms and field. This has also seen a fair amount of use in my games.

Busy Town Street
Prior to this writing, I had not owned this map from Red Hand of Doom. It's utility is obvious off the bat. I have other similar street maps that hit the table consistently, so this is likely to be used in most campaigns. It is unfortunate that the reverse side is less useful (see below).


Ruined Town (Vor Rukoth)
Decrepit Bridge & Ruined Town
Any maps representing the ruins of formerly civilized lands will be eminently useful in any D&D campaign. These two maps are almost certain to find a fair amount of use in anyone's game as they have in my own.


Modest Keep 
Also a part of the Dungeon Master's Kit, the Modest Keep is actually only half of the castle in the Harkenwold adventure. It would have been nice to have a the full keep as a double poster instead of just the half. That does limit its utility slightly, but it does make a good keep gatehouse encounter area. For anyone interested, the full keep is in high resolution is available from Mike Schley's website.

Abandoned Fort (Hommlet Moathouse)
Abandoned Fort
Given that the Village of Hommlet is one of my all-time favorite adventures, I can't fault the inclusion of the Moathouse. The one minor caveat is that this map is smaller in scale than the original moathouse in order to fit it on the standard poster map sized paper. I have used this map on several occasions, as I have run a version on Hommlet in the last few campaigns I've DM'd. Even without Hommlet, it makes a great generic ruin to explore.

Snowy City Gate 
As a part of the Legacy of the Crystal Shard promotion, this maps is an excellent city snippet for a location such as Bryn Shandar in Ten Towns. I rarely get to use snowy maps, but I have more recently for the Storm King's Thunder campaign.

Ice Flower Dugout
The "Icingdeath’s Lair" map comes from the ICONS Gargantuan White Dragon miniature. This map does make for a challenging ice cave or crevasse-riddled mountain location. While snowy maps do have a somewhat lower utilization, it is nice to have one when the time comes.

Bandit's Checkpoint (Vaults of the Underdark)
Source: DM David Blog
Vaults of the Underdark
I've "bundled" 4 maps together in this section since they all came from the Vaults of the Underdark collection: Bandit's Checkpoint, Arcane Hideout, Underdark Caverns, and Mushroom Grotto. If you are running an Underdark campaign, or commonly use dungeon crawls, these maps should be fairly useful. For my part, I've only gotten a bit of use out of Bandit's Checkpoint which I've adapted for above-ground settings by adding bits of terrain. I don't often run the kind of dungeon settings for which these maps would work well, but these are good maps for underground encounters. Your mileage may vary.

Volcanic Treasure Trove & Red Dragon Lair
These lava themed maps came with the ICONS Colossal Red Dragon "miniature". While these have intriguing terrain and are aesthetically attractive, the usefulness of a volcanic encounter area may be small. They are further limited in that they are front and back of the same map, so you can't lay them out side by side on a large table. I think the terrain does have a cool factor that might spur some creative juices, but it's likely you won't use these maps more than once.


Bloodstone Clearing / Sapphire Shrine
This is one of the few maps in the collection that I do not already own. While the Bloodstone Clearing is a half decent location, it's literally only half decent because it is only half of the poster. The Sapphire Shrine half is limited by the specific details and features. The D&D design team likely considered that they need to include some unique maps from which DMs could be inspired to build their own encounters. But some of the maps are so specific, you'd be lucky to use them once. 


Draconic Shrine / Forgotten Road (Red Hand of Doom)
Source: DM David Blog
Forgotten Road / Draconic Shrine
This map pair comes from the 3rd edition Red Hand of Doom module. While the forgotten road is a fairly nice generic wilderness setting with a cottage ruin, it also makes up only 1/2 of the poster map. Given how specific of an encounter area the Draconic Shrine map half is, it's essentially wasted space.

It would have been better to include a different more generic wilderness road map, like the Monster Lair / Crossroads map from Dungeon of Dread starter pack, or perhaps pair up Forgotten Road with the Bloodstone Clearing. These were likely included unaltered because they were the reverse of the Busy Street map and reprinting them as-is is cheaper.

Portal Chamber
From the 4th Edition version of Tomb of Horrors, this map contains an intriguing cave chamber, which would have made for an excellent generic monster lair... Except the giant portal feature in the center of the main chamber utterly cuts the legs out from the map's usefulness. Given that there are several dungeon tiles that have a portal or summoning circle feature that could be overlaid on any map, they should have edited out the giant portal before republishing this map. This is a missed opportunity to provide something really useful.

Temple of the Dragon Gems (Demon Queen's Enclave)
Source: DM David Blog
Temple of the Dragon Gems 
This map from the Demon Queen’s Enclave adventure (4e) is actually quite cool, but has so many very specific and unique features that I just can't see how it would be useful unless you plan to run the actual adventure from which it hails. Otherwise, you'd have to write your own custom adventure to go with the various rooms. I own this and it has never seen the table.  Given that there are already a few "creative" maps in this collection, I can think of other maps that would have been better choice.

Throne of Death and Despair 
I do not currently own this map, but it is so specific in nature, I can't see this ever hitting my table unless I wrote a custom encounter specifically for it. It's also a fairly boring encounter area that could be easily recreated with dungeon tiles instead of a poster. This is a disappointing inclusion.

Surprising Omissions


Given the recent adventure paths, I'm quite surprised a number of obvious maps were not included. The Jungle Temple (Dungeons of Dread) map and the Yawning Portal Tavern maps are obvious candidates for Chultan and Undermountain campaigns. The Market Place and Ratfang Sewer maps from City of Peril are perfect for city-based campaigns. Similarly, the town maps from King of Trollhaunt Warrens or The Slaying Stone would have made excellent general purpose selections.

A number of maps would have better fit the most recent adventure paths. I'm a bit surprised Wizards of the Coast did not include them for this publication. I suspect a second "reincarnated" map set may be in the works, but given the current product line, the omission of certain maps is puzzling.

Final Thoughts


Since the price of out-of-print maps on the secondary market is usually daunting, this selection of maps isn't terrible for the price. I only wish it were just a little bit better. If I didn't already own most of these maps, this collection would be worth the price, even if a few are unlikely to see play. For most who don't already have these maps, it's worth it.

Special thanks to DMDavid.com for graciously allowing me to borrow a few images for the review. Check out his galleries of all the various battle maps from 3rd and 4th Editions.

Side note: There is a book of short adventures on DMsGuild.com written specifically to go along with this map collection.

Post Script: For my money, Paizo's Pathfinder Flip-Mats are also almost always worth the investment, especially the wilderness-based ones such as Woodlands, Forest, and Deep Forest.


Reincarnated Map index from D&D Beyond

1 comment:

  1. Post Script: For my money, Paizo / Pathfinder Flip-Mats are often worth the money... Especially the wilderness-based ones. https://amzn.to/2IDNo1e

    ReplyDelete

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