On occasion a company will reach out to us to review a product or two. However, sometimes a company we know and love will reach out to us to review a product that, unbeknownst to them, we not only already have, but also use in our DnD games. In this particular case, we’re talking about the amazingly cool Dungeon Craft modular map pieces from 1985 Games.
What is Dungeon Craft?
Dungeon Craft is a series of dungeon and map titles that are not only beautiful, but incredibly functional. The Volume 1 pack, which we are reviewing today, contains over 1000 individual map pieces that feature a tasteful 1 inch grid, as well as the ability to handle wet and dry erase markers. The pieces are fully laminated which makes them both durable and more functionally useful. Everything come in a lovely flat pack box about the size of a DnD manual. Simply pull out the stock, cut out the smaller pieces along the dotted lines, and then you’re ready to go.
One of the things we love about these tiles is their sheer versatility. The first volume includes pieces for towns, dungeons, forests, roads, and more. Better still, the pieces all have an A-side and a B-side. For example, town buildings have an A-side that is the roof of the building, but the B-side is the layout of the interior. This allows you to arrange buildings in a town and then only reveal what’s inside as your players enter the establishment. We use this as a sort of table top fog of war system mostly, but some of the other B-sides add more interesting features, such as a ruined version or a location variant.
In addition to the locations, Dungeon Craft comes with a huge assortment of props, effects, and scenery. Even when you spend a lot of time working on miniature terrain, you’re never going to quite have everything you need as a 3D mini. At our table, we often use the Dungeon Craft pieces in conjunction with our larger grid mat and 3D accessories. It can be a bit of a hodgepodge aesthetic, but it also allows us to spend a lot more time on the game itself and a lot less time describing things that are there in combat or meticulously drawing out props we didn’t have ready.
Dungeon Craft is More Than Map Tiles
The last piece of the Dungeon Craft volume 1 set includes several sheets of monsters. We love these because they’re the monsters you always need more of and never seem to have enough of: orcs, goblins, undead, bandits, guards, and so on. These are a huge time saver, especially when you’re hosting DnD away from home. We can’t bring all our enemy minis with us every time we DM, so having a bunch of “minis” that pack flat in a binder and are easy for travel is amazing.
Our first set of Dungeon Craft tiles actually went straight into a binder. We cut everything out and then slid the pieces into binder sheet protectors between labeled tabs. If we need something, we just tab to the section of the binder it’s in and pull out the pieces. This allows us to make simple, elegant game maps in seconds. Even if you have a dungeon mini map you’ve drawn out beforehand, you can easily create just about any map you’d like withe pieces you have and a simple Chessex grid mat to keep track of larger rooms or connecting areas.
Quality and Simplicity
Let’s talk about actual play usage. The dungeon tiles are great. There’s more than enough to build a full skirmisher dungeon or crypt from what’s provided without running into the trouble of not having enough pieces. The largest dungeon room is only 7×10, which makes sense given the presentation of the game, but this is easily supplemented with a Chessex mat or any other grid. In fact, 1985 Games has a dungeon-like grid in their BattleMap: City set that works perfectly for making extra large rooms, especially when paired with their Dungeon Wall add-on pack. If you’re just looking at Dungeon Craft Volume 1 though, you may need to break out the markers to make larger rooms.
When laying out a dungeon we found that you can typically replicate most mini maps you’ve made ahead of time with ease. The hallways are very versatile and it’s pretty much a lay and play kind of setup. We go a little above and beyond in our setup and generally build Zelda-like dungeons that have various keys and some backtracking involved, but even with a more advanced setup like that, there are more than enough pieces to get you through.
Downsides are Few If Any
Since we’re giving this our honest review here, we will now talk about the downsides. The biggest drawback to these tiles is that they can easily be slid around. While that works great when you want to move stuff on the fly, we’ve had a couple map mishaps with some of the smaller pieces and a table bump. This isn’t too bad for the larger pieces though, as they are not so slick as to mess up your layout every time someone moves a piece.
For us we solved the problem in two ways. FIrst for the 2d minis we use mini stands that you can buy in bulk from Amazon. For the map pieces we use very tiny balls of poster tack that dot on the back of them. This keeps them from sliding around, but is not so sticky as to ruin the cardstock or make them a pain to flip when needed. Overall this is an extremely minor gripe for some amazing tiles.
Also, cutting these out well can take awhile. It took us about 30 to 45 minutes to cut everything out between two people, but we were also being extremely careful.
Who Should Buy Dungeon Craft Tiles?
So who are these titles for? Honestly we think anyone who runs an in person game and uses maps and minis can benefit from a set of these. They are extremely inexpensive at $40, but definitely worth their price in quality and versatility. They’re super lightweight and compact, so they travel extremely well and they’re durable for cardstock map tiles. Overall, we can’t recommend these enough as we were already fans long before 1985 reached out to us.
Who aren’t these for? Well, if you mostly use theater of the mind, these won’t help you much, but we’d still encourage you to give them a try. If you’re just not going to use minis, you don’t need map tiles, but you already knew that. These also might not have a place at the mini maniac tables where you spend more time on models than on actual DnD. But like we said before, we use these mixed in with our other game pieces, so it all depends on your style.
Bottom line, Dungeon Craft titles are extremely worth it. Volume 1 is a great base set, but there are also tons of other terrain packs available over at 1985 Games’ website. We love them and we expect you’ll probably love them too. These make map making simple, fun, and easy to use in your games. The titles are portable and the monsters make up for not having about 60 minis worth of monsters to lug around. The pack is high quality and they’re both wet and dry erase, which goes above and beyond for paper craft map pieces. For the price, this set probably adds the most tabletop value for maps and monsters in a single pack we’ve ever seen.
If you’re interested in picking up a pack of titles for yourself you can visit 1985 games here and get Dungeon Craft Volume 1