The Gazetteer, Volume I, Issue V

…and here we are at the end of this first volume of the The Gazetteer. Worry not though, as we’re always getting new review copies of maps, tiles and dungeons sent to us, so with enough requests, we’ll do this again. We have three maps to look at today, all of which are a bit out of the ordinary. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Combat Tiles Set 1 Extra: Elevator Room
Publisher: Cobra Games
Page Count: 3
Cost: FREE!
Release Date: 07/30/2011
Get it Here:

This is a nice little idea for a theme map and the price isn’t something you can complain about either. Cobra Games is literally giving away a map of an elevator that can be used in just about any campaign except for a fantasy based one.

The map isn’t very big, but that makes sense as it is an elevator. How often have you seen a large and roomy one of those, eh? The map comes with two versions of the elevator room, one light and one dark and these can be used in a few different ways, like to designate the time of day, different floors of the building and…yeah, that’s about it. At least there is a variant, right?

Each version of the map also comes with six interchangeable 2×2 squares that you can cut out to use for the elevator chamber. This is a very nice idea, but the map gives no indication of what these are or what the various chambers can/should represent or even that this is what they are for. Common sense will lead you to this conclusion, but the map is very user unfriendly when it comes to first time gamers or younger folk.

An elevator map is a good idea as modern era campaigns will encounter elevators sooner rather than later. Still it’s a thumbs in the middle here as the map is free, but it’s also not laid out very well.

Modular Towers 3: Signal Towers
Publisher: Scrying Eye Games
Page Count: 10
Cost: $1.99
Release Date: 07/28/2011
Get it Here:

This is a really fun idea for a map. This is a straight up circular watchtower and to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a map specifically for this location, even though it is a pretty standard thing to encounter in a fantasy campaign. The map has a grid for each level, which makes it perfect for miniatures usage. The first two pages of the map are for the ground floor and outside surrounding of the watch tower. The tower is for use on a body of water, so it’s also possible to have this map double as a lighthouse due to the location and layout of the map.

There are seven pieces to map besides the ground floor pieces, each with their own unique look, yet still keeping to the circular shape of the location. You can make the watchtower as high or as small as you would like thanks to the modular pieces and you can even have several pieces in play at once if your players are spread out through the location. My favorite aspect of the map is it really shows how hard fighting up a spiral or circular staircase can be and it’s not something that a lot of gamers or DMs think about unless they are actually shown what it would look like. This map will force even the most avid hack and slashers to think a little bit about strategy before trying to stab their way to the top of the tower.

There is an amazing amount of detail to this map and Scrying Eye games have thought of just about everything except for one of the two things most map makers forget: a place for cooking and a place for umm…what happens to the food after you’ve eaten it. It was really cool to see a table with a tea set and even a place for dinner, complete with a rolled napkin. I love it when map designers actually think of what a location would actually have in it and not just the bare bones layout. Modular Towers 3: Signal Towers is a wonderful map from beginning to end and now I have a map for that haunted lighthouse I’ve always wanted to try.

Fabled Lands World Map
Publisher: Greywood Publishing
Page Count: 1
Cost: $3.50
Release Date: 08/01/2011
Get it Here:

I really hate to end “map week” on a sour note, but here it is. Many of the maps we have looked at are exceptionally cheap AND exceptionally detailed. There have been a few exceptions, but this is a perfect example of the sort of thing that pisses me off.

The Fabled Lands World Map is a specific one page full colour map of a location that can only be used with a very specific setting. This is fine, but charging $3.50 for a niche product like this when you can get thirty plus page maps which are able to be used with multiple settings and contain story hooks or antagonists? Well, it’s flat out insane or stupid (I’m not sure which) to charge this much to newcomers who just want to see how the world they are playing in looks. Look at the Beasts and Barbarians map we looked at yesterday. It too was a world map but it was FREE. It was a handout to players and it was meant to entice gamers to try the campaign setting. All the Fabled Worlds map is going to do is drive gamers away by asking for more money than some adventures cost! Seriously, I would love to know who thought this price point was a good idea with the sheer amount of competition in tabletop map making right now. Sheesh.

The map on its own is…okay. It’s full colour, it’s has a decent amount of detail to it and it has a few artistic flairs to it like a map made several centuries ago. However, without the handbooks for the game, the map is unusable and because it costs $3.50, it can’t just randomly get picked up and act as an advert for the campaign setting. I’m really hoping the core book for the game includes this map in it, because otherwise players of Fabled Worlds are getting especially boned by this quick cash grab.

The map contains three continents, and a score of islands. There is no scale for the map so you have no idea how large the world really is. If this map was scaled to say, Earth side though, the layout is utterly unrealistic and the landscape would be riddled with earthquakes, volcanoes or both. It’s like someone just doodled without thinking about the lay of the land. Really, REALLY disappointing product here and there is absolutely no reason to pick this up, even if you are playing Fabled Worlds. Worst map of the fifteen we’ve looked at, and again, I’m sorry the week had to end with such a crappy downer.

…and there we go. Fifteen maps in five days. We’re always being sent more maps to review here at Diehard GameFAN. Whether we devote another week to them or do them individually in the future is really up to you, the readers. Do you like this format? Would you prefer something different? Do you not care about tabletop maps? Let us know.



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