Game Referees have used many devices throughout the years to show their players the layout of a room or encounter, ranging from simple pen/paper to dry erase mats to expensive terrain “set pieces”. To address that need and provide a quick and inexpensive option, Blue Panther LLC has created BP Dungeon Floor Tiles. These tiles are an “infinitely configurable” set of terrain pieces that allow you to quickly assemble a room or encounter area for your tabletop role-playing game and miniatures. The set of tiles has multiple pieces of painted, textured and varnished plywood floor tiles that have the standard 1″ grid laser-engraved right onto them. The set comes with pieces for room, corridors and nooks and crannies that you might want to set up.
These are, overall, a nice product and a viable alternative for traveling DMs or DMs like myself who don’t have the time or interest to cast Hirst Blocks or create their own terrain, but want something other than a huge mat and markers lying in the middle of the table. The minor issues with scale do not detract from an overall convenient (and inexpensive) product.
At Winterwar in Champaign IL this February, I picked up a Blue Panther LLC flyer, which advertised a number of games and gaming items made out of wood. What caught my eye was these floor tiles, although the cool wooden castle “dice tower” also pulled at my wallet. I exchanged some emails with the owner of Blue Panther, who quickly answered all of my questions, and I purchased a set. I’ve finally had an opportunity to use them in a game and wanted to talk about them.
My goal in getting these tiles was to have surfaces that I could quickly put together. I don’t normally create “set pieces”, as my dungeons and adventures tend to pace quickly. I use miniatures and settings either for the Big Battles or when the players request. Miniatures can add a level of detail to the tactical aspect, and they can add quite a visual to the game which many enjoy.
The tiles were shipped well packed – the set was almost a puzzle in and of itself as the many various pieces were lined together. I quickly had a pile of several “room sized” pieces, many smaller pieces, and what feels like a ton of single squares. The tiles are thin, light plywood with a “surface” painted over the top of them, then a polyurethane finish over the surface. Blue Panther advertises these as “infinitely configurable” and indeed, with the many smaller pieces that you get in a set, you have a great many options. The pieces are sturdy enough and I had no problems using them. The grid is actually laser carved into the tile, forming a very clear visual effect that looks very nice as part of the whole tile.
For an encounter, I was able to quickly grab a few pieces and construct the setting so that the players could visualize the setup. The tiles did exactly what I wanted them to do and everyone seemed to enjoy their use.
I have only two complaints, which others have commented about as well in talking about these tiles. The amount of smaller bits isn’t as useful as you might imagine, and the scale of the rooms is “off” from what I’m normally used to.
The first issue is about scale. If each square (using the 1″ = 5′ scale) is 5 feet, then to make a 10′ wide corridor, which is the most common setting, you have to put two tiles together. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice to have 2 squares by n squares instead of the 1 square x n corridor pieces. Also, I’ve not really found a use for the single square pieces and I would have glad exchanged a few of those for additional corridors.
Finally, the dimensions of the tiles themselves can be awkward. Most of the pieces, using 1″ = 5′ scale, are representative of 25′ x 25′ or 15′ x 15′ rooms, instead of a more common size in tens of feet: 20′ x 20′ or 30′ x 30′. Again, a nit, but I had to use a big piece and then a corridor piece to scale to what my map called for. The pieces fit together, but it was plainly visible that I had pieced the room together.
Quality of product: 10 – no complaints on the actual construction.
Usability of product: 7 – issues with sizes provided and scales.
Aesthetics of product: 7 – product looks good, but the need to piece tiles together for common scaled rooms takes away from overall look.
Total score: 8 – I’d buy it again, and I find it useful, but it could be better.
(This rating scale is determined by the reviewer, and is not one used across the entire Game Cryer website. -Ed)
I’ve shared these comments with Steve Jones, the owner of Blue Panther LLC and he responded:
Your points are well taken. One of the services we will be offering as part of our upgraded website (coming soon to a www.bluepantherllc.com near you) is the ability to custom order the size and number of pieces that you want. You will also be able to mix and match the colors (white, orange, red, gray). Thus, you could build a set of rooms OR a set of corridors or a combo, and we will be offering ANY size between 1×1 and 5×5. So you would be able to get 2×5 corridors for example, or 3×4 rooms. The price will be about the same as what we currently offer, but you could order as many or as few pieces as you like.
That sounds pretty cool to me, and would definitely address my concerns. I will have to revisit these tiles when he offers this new service and I’ll be sure to follow-up on this review.