Today we are looking at another product from Loke Battle Mats, this time the Loke Battle Mat Board – Dungeon and Grass. This fold out board creates a 2’ by 2’ (60cm x 60cm) map for RPG gamers to play on. Coming with a 1 inch grid it is aimed at Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder players. Featuring a wipe clean surface and two designs, the Dungeon and Grass board reduces the setup time before the dice can start rolling. However, is it as simple as the tagline “Just fold out & roll”? Let’s find out!
Removed from the slip cover, players will find themselves looking at a quarter of the board – folded up to 30cm x 30cm for storage. Unfolding it reveals a double sided board, with stone dungeon tiles on one side and a grassy field on the reverse. The two sides are completely different from each other and fully depict the one scene – there are no sections where the grass blurs into the stone floor for example. Coming with a 1 inch grid the battle mat board can even become the gridded terrain between 3D buildings of the likes of WarLock Tiles or Dwarven Forge.
Like with the Big and Giant Book of Battle Mats from Loke BattleMats, these boards have a laminated finish. Due to this finish dungeon masters (DMs) and adventures are free to doodle away on them with whiteboard style wipeable markers. From the point of view of the DM this allows scenes to be flesh out. Buildings can be drawn on, a party can bundle their way through that part of the dungeon and then it is simply wiped off. Instantly, part of a town can be sketched or flipped over to the grass side the party can have escaped a dungeon. From a players perspective, they can draw line of sight onto the map before quickly rubbing it off, even sketching a burning hands cone spell on to the board to see what it would hit.
Without being visually repetitive both sides are plain for DMs to add the details. Impressively, there are no obvious patterns within the stone floor, nor the grassy squares. Rather than just copy and pasting a pattern to fit across the board, which would have caught players eyes in a negative way, there seems to be no discernible pattern. While some of the stone tiles are broken or misaligned the grid is always readable. For the grass side the grid is an overlay, rather than being part of the design. Though it is slightly more immersion breaking visually, having a grid still makes sense for being able to use it for encounters – where the grid is key for players to easily understand distances.
While it is a bit awkward when wanting to move out of a building and into a grassy knoll, it is just about possible with one board. By using the board semi folded to have an inside dungeon area and outside grass area, albeit at slightly different heights, you can create an entranceway. This is where combining the board with a second one or another Loke product works wonders. The large dungeon board can sit nicely alongside the Big/Giant Book of Battle Mats, so there is a detailed section before entering an expansive, custom drawn, area.
Via the same logic a building can jut up against the grass side of the board creating a large town field, or perhaps the woods behind a tavern. This instantly creates an interior exterior scene where an encounter can overflow from one to the other. Extending this, for players that own 3D terrain tiles, such as WarLock Tiles or Dwarven Forge, a building could be placed in the middle of the field. This sets up a scenario where a party of adventurers can prepare outside before breaching a location.
Calling the Battle Mat Board dungeon and grass illustrations blank designs does them somewhat of a disservice. There are minor details from mud patches to moss between cracked tiles that gives the board character. Yet, the Battle Mat Board sides are blank in the sense they are ready for DMs to get creative on, with complete freedom – with no walls, barrels or more to work around. Being a double sided board allows the product to hit the table twice as much, making it a more worthy purchase. For those without 3D terrain tiles, it is a quick way to upgrade your experience, whilst maintaining creative freedoms. Even for those with 3D terrain tiles the speed and ease of use can make it useful for unplanned encounters!
(Editor’s Note: The Loke Battle Mat Board – Dungeon and Grass was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The accessory is currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)