2/20/2016

Frugal GM Review: More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps

Frugal GM Review: More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps
This week I dipped into my DriveThruRPG "wishlist" and purchased More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps from Doug Anderson over at Blue Boxer Rebellion. You may remember that I reviewed his 1st set of maps a little more than a year ago.

I'm pretty sure I've picked up just about everything from Blue Boxer Rebellion except this one download, so it was time to round out my collection.

The second set of maps is also 20 pages long, much like the first, but it is only 21.4 MB compared to 71.4 MB. A quick flip through shows that there aren't any of the colored graphical embellishments I really didn't like before. The PDF file is secured, which is a bit of a shame, but I'll get into that later.

A good carry-over from the first set is an overview page showing thumbnails of pages 3-20. Where most folks would have a written table of contents, if anything at all, Doug went with a graphical approach which just makes sense. He even added little red lines delineating the different parts of the download. I'm not sure that was needed, but it doesn't hurt. After this visual TOC is a one-page set of instructions/guidance for using what is referred to as the "Pro Builder Set". Basically you get a few pages of tile pieces you can cut out to assemble your own rooms and is a great continuation of tiles from one of Blue Boxer Rebellion's other offerings (the Ultimate Hand-Drawn Isometric Battle Maps).

I checked through both sets and I didn't find any carry-over between the two, which is awesome. I could see some folks re-using some basic elements, but Doug didn't half-ass it here.

There are some minor typos on the instruction page, little more than incorrect page references, but I consider them relatively inconsequential. The one big issue I have with this download is that the artwork hadn't really been cleaned up any as part of the creation process. It looks like Doug simply scanned his artwork and put it in as-is and in full color. This does give a softer appearance to the graphics, but it makes the files large than they need to be and....this might be hard to express...makes the whole thing look a little dirtier than needed. A little post-scanning processing would really kick the download up a notch and help standardize the various isometric products.

This is also where the PDF's security becomes a factor. By default you can't really fix any issues yourself. Certainly you could try to print the pages at a different scale with a bit of trial-and-error effort, but doing much more than that would require bypassing the PDF security. I did this with my copy just so I could open up one of the pages in Photoshop to do a side-by-side example:

Art Tweaks
Click to View Larger

This is page 13 from the download. The top third is how it looks straight-up (as-is). You can clearly see the white of the art paper this room was drawn on. This portion is in full color. The smudge in the upper left is where I blurred my watermark. The middle third is where I simply changed the color mode from full color (RGB) to Greyscale. This is probably close to what you'd see if your printed out the page, depending on your printer (of course). The bottom third is me making a single color level adjustment.This removes some of the smudges and clears up the picture a bit. You can still see the edge of the paper in some places, but that is because there were some more smudges along that line. A little more time actually working on this page could easily clean that up. I really didn't spend any time on these adjustments. It took me far longer to type out this paragraph than it did to tweak this one page.

Frugal GM 4 Star Review: More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps
Overall though, for $2.50 to $3, I still think More Battle Ready 25mm Dungeon Maps is well worth the money. Personally I'd love to have a huge collection of finished rooms that I could use with a virtual table-top. The isometric view would be ideal for online games where everyone would essentially be getting the "right" viewpoint sitting at their own monitor. While I do think a little more time could be spent optimizing the files, the artwork is awesome and pretty unique.

You should also check out the Blue Boxer Rebellion blog....just saying.