Gale Force Nine has recently released a range of accessories and products, to go alongside the recent Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook release – named Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. Delving into the snowy and arctic landscape the team at Gale Force Nine have created scatter terrain, maps and even a Dungeon Master screen. We have recently got hands on with some of the products of the range, but do they add to the Icewind Dale experience? Let’s find out!
(Editor’s Note: If you are unaware of the D&D Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden sourcebook check out our review of it here.)
Caverns of Ice 3D Terrain Set (8 pieces): Icewind Dale
Included in this set are 7 pre-painted stalagmite terrain pieces and 1 pre-painted pond. A variety of shapes of the stalagmites are included. There are two pairs of identical terrain pieces – with two 2 x 2 inch square pieces and two L shapes. Simply rotating these pieces makes them look different from each other, and the rest of the pieces are uniquely shaped. This allows them to be used separately or combined into larger zones of stalagmites or long paths of icicles blocking off sections of a map.
The icicles have an alluring icy appearance, being mostly frosted white but with light blue glistening through, thanks to a great use of transparent plastic. The stalagmites with their snowy bases don’t completely fill full inch squares. Regardless, they fill enough so that it is clear where they block and maintain some natural curves. The same alluring look unfortunately doesn’t quite make it from the stalagmites to the pond. With small rock-like ice shards around the 3 x 3 inch pool, these are vastly scaled down compared to the stalagmites. Including one or two of the same sized stalagmites could have made it visually more part of the set. Then, the pond itself is just one flat colour. Being a deep blue it’s as if it were a hole in the ice, seeing into deep water below, whilst it supposedly represents a pond.
A decision to cut a corner has been made by Gale Force Nine to not include an insert for the terrain pieces to sit in, opting for lots of bubble wrap instead. Bubble wrap does the job of keeping the items safe. Still, it is rather time consuming when setting up or packing away. Bubble wrap also doesn’t have the same premium quality that a plastic insert would afford the product. Thankfully, the items themselves don’t seem to have been skimped on but the packaging certainly has been.
Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden – D&D DM Screen
Dungeon Master screens are there to instantly provide information to the DM, as well as hide storyline content, dice rolls and more. This DM screen is no different; having useful information about Ten-Towns, environmental qwirks of Icewind Dale (such as icy water) and a potential encounters table. Even some of the earliest quests in Rime of the Frostmaiden have the potential for players to fall into frigid water, making this a great inclusion. Information of Ten-Towns is included on the panels: from the names and crests through to the comfort levels and populations, this can be useful as a quick reminder. Plus, each has the page number of the associated Ten-Towns quest from the sourcebook, so DMs can flick straight to the right pages in the book.
As Ten-Towns features so heavily in the first chunk of the adventure, and pops up throughout, having this information to hand will consistently be useful. The same cannot be said for the single quest details on the fourth panel. For some reason it features a map of the Caves of Hunger. This is the setting of Chapter 6 in the Icewind Dale Rime of the Frostmaiden adventure. It seems a random choice to have been that chapter and not another. This could have been used instead to have the standard DC check or skill check type tables.
As a comparison in component quality to other DM screens the Gale Force Nine Icewind Dale screen is at least average, if not slightly above. It sits above that featured in the Dungeons & Dragons Essential Kit in thickness. It has a glossy rather than mat finish, though not enough that it becomes unreadable when in odd lighting conditions. As always, the player facing side of the screen features some stunning artwork, with the consistent icy blue tones that come straight from the shivers of the Icewind Dale cold.
Caverns of Ice Map: Icewind Dale
Coming rolled up in a storage tube, the Caverns of Ice encounter map unsurprisingly depicts a large icy section of terrain. Made from a vinyl material it unrolls with ease, not attempting to roll itself back up. The material results in a mat finish rather than a super glossy finish – unlike laminated battle mat style products. Despite this, the caverns of ice map is still wipeable when using a wet erase pen – allowing DMs to doodle on details. As with most D&D or Pathfinder related products the map features a 1 inch grid. The grid is clear and obvious – allowing players to easily determine distances in combat. Though, it doesn’t dominate the mat, so the icy cold terrain beams through in light blues.
One downside is that the map isn’t double sided. Perhaps expectations have been spoiled by recent releases of WarLock Tiles or the Loke BattleMats. Yet, Gale Force Nine is also releasing a second Icewind Dale encounter map and that will be double sided – though those maps will be locations not generic icy tundra. The size, measuring 30 x 20 inches, and the design of the mat helps to counter the lack of a second design on the reverse.
Dungeon Masters are easily able to zone off a section of the ice map to use for an encounter. This works incredibly well with the Caverns of Ice 3D Terrain Set, to instantly create a believable Icewind Dale snowy location. Rather than having a line drawn along an edge, adventurers can be zoned in by the stalagmites. In this sense, the generic icy tundra design is a huge benefit of the caverns of ice map, as it enables it to be used constantly for many locations.
Each of the Gale Force Nine products helps take adventurers’ or Dungeon Master’s Icewind Dale experience to the next level. From the ice map and stalagmites creating believable and chilly looking locations, to the DM screen having sourcebook specific information ready to hand for the Dungeon Master. It’s wise when looking at the product range to know the minor drawbacks, such as the slightly lackluster pond or the slightly wasted 4th panel on the DM screen. Still, gamers will find the Gale Force Nine Icewind Dale range to be a solid one, with these products hitting the table time and time again throughout the Rime of the Frostmaiden campaign.
(Editor’s Note: The Gale Force Nine products were provided to us by Asmodee for the review. They are currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)