Wizards of the Coast clearly has an eye set on making Dungeons & Dragons accessible to new players. They have published a starter set of books, an essential kit, a core rules gift set, and a Stranger Things tie in adventure. You can find these things under the “Where to Start” label in the WOTC product catalog on their website. What doesn’t show up under that heading, but should, is the new Campaign Case: Terrain product. This is something that will come in handy for most aspiring DMs.
The Campaign Case: Terrain is what it sounds like, it’s a case that has terrain in it… sort of. It’s a black case, about a foot wide, nine inches tall and three inches deep. It’s black, with a shiny blue D&D trademark “&” dragon on both sides. It has a nice black rope handle and it is held closed by a magnet. Popping it open, you find a folder containing five sheets of reusable Adventure Clings, a folded cardboard “Adventure Grid”, and thirty terrain tiles.
The Adventure Grid is a double-sided 22×25 inch grid with dungeon or wilderness backgrounds. The terrain tiles are 5×5 inch interlocking double-sided terrain tiles with the same style wilderness or dungeon background. The Adventure Clings are reusable clings sporting an assortment of items you might want to represent on a map during an adventure, like stairwells, barrels, statues, and campfires among many other things.
The Adventure Grid and interlocking tiles have a gloss coating and can be drawn on with a dry erase marker. Dark markers show up distinctly, but lighter markers may be difficult to make out against the green or gray backgrounds. That makes these terrain pieces perfect for laying down on the table and drawing out a setting for miniatures or tokens to be placed on. The terrain pieces are identical in both shape and background images, so they feel pretty redundant. But, because they are square interlocking pieces, you can lock them together to create a wandering underground passage or maze in forest, or a road, which offers more flexibility than the Adventure Grid gives you.
Once you’ve laid out your terrain pieces and drawn your dungeon or whatever scene you need, you can use the Adventure Clings to spice up the map with top-down perspective dressing. There are dozens of objects represented on the clings. Just a few examples are wells, pits, fountains, trees, stairs, rubble, horses, tents, wagons, graves, a cave entrance, a campfire, tables, rugs, coffins, treasure chests, and more. These clings are just like the ones you might have played with as a kid to put costumes on a cardboard figure, or the kind that are used as seasonal window decorations. The artwork is good, and you can tell right away what most of the objects are. There are a few that are probably supposed to be doors, and something that looks a little like the lower third of a didgeridoo, but I think might be a scroll tube. And three dead or maybe unconscious bodies. The clings work well, although some of the (possibly) doors blend in with the background terrain for me. I am colorblind, so I don’t know if that might not be an issue for people with normal color vision.
There are four main things to evaluate in this set. The first thing, and my favorite, are the clings. They are pretty cool, and I think they are convenient too. The five pages here give you dozens of useful and common items to flesh out a dungeon or wilderness setting. I would like to see more of these, maybe folders with different themes. I am concerned that using them on maps that have been drawn on with dry-erase markers will get them dirty and they won’t stick back on the sheet well, which will lead to them getting lost.
The second thing is the Adventure Grid, or the big rectangular map. I like this, it’s easy to throw on the table and draw on. It gives you the ability to walk into your friend’s house or your local gaming place and start a battle right away. If you don’t already have a battle mat with a grid, this is a very nice one to start with. If you already have one, this one might still be good for you, especially since it has wilderness and dungeon terrain and supports dry-erase.
The third thing is the interlocking terrain pieces. These I am less enthusiastic about. They are pretty redundant as far as artwork is concerned, but I guess it prevents issues with uneven matching along edges. Still it would have been nice to see a few more patterns in the set. Also, I’m not sure how necessary it is to have these, when they could have just included another Adventure Grid that could be set against the other one to provide a larger area to draw on. There are not a lot of tables that can accommodate a really long tunnel-style map using ten or more of the tiles in a row. They may also not be as useful to many DMs as just throwing on the larger Adventure Grid and drawing on that, rather than piecing together a windy pathway of 90 degree angles to draw on.
The fourth thing is the carrying case, which is sturdy and attractive. One thing I didn’t mention above is the artwork inside. When you open the lid you are treated to a pretty picture of a wilderness scene. The image is thematic and spruces up the inside of the case, which is very attractive and handy. The case has an insert that holds the Adventure Grid and the folder of clings, under which is a cardboard insert that holds the terrain tiles in place. The cardboard insert is pretty flimsy and I am concerned that it won’t stand up to a lot of banging around, which could be a problem, since the set is presented as your grab-and-go terrain kit.
The Campaign Case: Terrain is a companion piece to another D&D product called, Campaign Case: Creatures, which we have reviewed here.
Dungeons & Dragons 5E
While the tiles could use a bit more variety, and a few of the clings are a little hard to identify, overall this is an great product for a new Dungeon Master. It provides the tabletop accessory that you will likely need to map out a combat encounter in the wilderness or in a dungeon. The clings are very useful, especially if you don't have a large collection of dungeon decorations in the form of cardboard chits or actual miniature terrain. For the experienced Dungeon Master though, you might not need all of the contents of the carrying case, and the carrying case itself isn't worth getting the whole kit.
- Clings are well done and have a good variety
- Gives newer DMs a good starting point for mapping encounters
- Carrying case is attractive and sturdy
- Terrain tiles are redundant and maybe less useful than they appear
- Insert is flimsy
- Clings may lose clinginess from dry-erase dust