2/27/2015

Frugal GM Review: Big Hexyland 2

Frugal GM Review: Big Hexyland 2
Last week I was stoked to hear on my G+ feed that Doug Anderson had finished his Big Hexyland 2 set. Doug puts out some great stuff and I've already reviewed his 25mm Dungeon Maps and shared his Dungeonteller RPG. I put the new download in my DriveThruRPG wishlist and "vocalized" that I was looking forward to reviewing it.

Doug decided to send me a review copy, which is even better! I really looked forward to customizing these new tiles and having them run off at my local print shop. My thought was these tiles would look great on foamcore and maybe even laminated. Last Monday I had to go downtown to the Boise State University Library for some FrugalGM research and I figured I's just stop by FedEx and have a few tiles printed.

Since my players have been adventuring for some time in a forest region I thought I'd make up a bunch of the Oak Forest tiles. That one tile has 25 different layers to play with! My initial enthusiasm was dulled a bit when I realizes that the base color for that tile wasn't uniform, but blended from brighter green to a duller khaki color. No worries, I can tweak that in Photoshop. Then I realized that you really can't place these tiles "wherever" you want. The hexagons aren't "perfect" or "regular" hexagons, so you cannot rotate them as you will. Some of the layers show shadows (like the Oak trees) so you probably wouldn't want to do this anyway. Whatever...still some good looking tiles...I might want to pick up the 1st set at this point.

Locked down too much
Not the best setup
That enthusiasm quickly waned as I was completely devastated by my next discovery. When I had gone through all my layer tweaking for my 1st Oak Forest tile (of several) I went to print it off to PDF......and I couldn't. The PDF is secured such that I can only print to my local printer. No setting up the hexes for some professional printing for me. No page extraction, no cleaning up anything in Photoshop....nada. I instantly went from thankful for the free PDF to thankful that I didn't pay for the PDF.

Then I noticed that some of the layer elements "broke" the edges of the hexagons, so printing these off and securing to foamcore meant I'd have to mangle something along the way.

I'll admit that all this bugged the living hell out of me......but I have to assume I was really looking forward to getting this all put together. Taking a look at Doug's website it is clear that he meant for these to be used in a very specific way which just wasn't complimentary to what I was expecting. There were no grandiose promises that these could work like big geomorphs....that was all on me.

That the file is locked down too much for mortal use....I'm putting that all on Doug. Now I only have a Black & White laser printer right now. It is a great printer for the overwhelming majority of my needs, but it sucks at printing off this PDF. I think I held the first sheet in my hand for all of about 2 seconds before circular filing it. Now I think I could go down to FedEx and rent some computer time to edit the PDFs to send to their printers, but that is an added process and expense I'm just not willing to do. I'd spend more on the computer time than I would buying the set to begin with....and I'd need to do this every time I wanted tiles?

Frugal GM 3 Star Review: Big Hexyland 2
TL;DR: Big Hexyland 2 is a cool PDF that should be able to create some good-looking gaming tiles, but you need to be accepting of the tile's limitations and realistically be able to print them out from your home computer. I'll be waiting to make my tiles when I have access to a better printer.