that Kevin Cook). She buys several sets, lots of new "singles" and often buckets of loose dice every convention she goes to.
While prefers Crystal Caste dice she buys a lot of Chessex dice so this is not an insignificant statement. Choosing to not buy dice at a con could literally mean we can afford to stay and extra night at the hotel.....
Before the self-imposed ban comes, or in case it comes, I wanted to get out there one of my big GM Essentials: Chessex Battlemats. Now I wish I could say I bring this with me to every con, but more often than not if I know Chessex was a vendor I'd leave this at home just so I had an excuse to pick up another one. I currently have about 6 of these battlemats in various sizes and configurations.
Now I do prefer the square ones, but the hexes aren't bad either. I know the single sided mats are going away (I only have two), but Chessex pretty much has whatever size and shape you need. The prices aren't bad at all when you compare them to the other types of battlemats on the market and if you can get to a Chessex booth at a con they usually have a pile of factory seconds. The seconds are usually a bit dirty and may have blemishes, but I've yet to see one that wouldn't clean up nice or had a blemish that was significant enough to be a factor.
I only have three bits of advice when it comes to using these mats. The 1st is to just get the biggest mat you can obtain because I've yet to see someone say "Gee I really wish I had gotten the smaller mat..." The larger ones might be a bit of a hassle to travel with, but in my experience they can handle some minor folding long enough to shove in a suitcase for a flight. The second bit of advice is to invest in some clear vinyl as an overlay. You can get this at most larger fabric stores that would also carry upholstery material. Some use an overlay all the time, but I like to use it occasionally during game prep and when running multiple tables at a tournament (when I'm the Head GM). You can basically lay the vinyl down on the mat and draw out your rooms so they are prepped ahead of time. The last bit of advice I have is to clean your mats immediately after use. Don't let your markers permanently stain the mat! Sure, the stuff from last week will mostly come off, but there will be some ghosting that gets annoying over time. I like to use some 70% Rubbing Alcohol and go over my mats a couple times to get them as clean as possible.