Campaign Case: Examination of the Ground – Adventure Maps on the Go

Wizards of the Coast clearly aims to make Dungeons & Dragons accessible to new players. They’ve released a set of starter books, an essential kit, a core rules gift set, and a Stranger Things link in the adventure. You can find these items under the “Where to Start” tag in the WOTC Product Catalog on their website. What doesn’t appear under this heading, but should do, is the new product Campaign Case: Terrain. This is something that will come in handy for most budding DMs.

Illustration inside the box.

The case of the campaign: the terrain is what it sounds like, it’s a case that contains terrain…sort of. It’s a black box, about 30cm wide, nine inches high and three inches deep. It’s black, with a glowing blue D&D-branded “&” dragon on both sides. It has a nice black rope handle and it is held closed by a magnet. Opening it reveals a folder containing five sheets of reusable Adventure Clings, a folded cardboard “Adventure Grid,” and thirty terrain tiles.

The Adventure Grid is a 22×25 inch double-sided grid with dungeon or wilderness backgrounds. Terrain tiles are 5×5 inch interlocking double-sided terrain tiles with the same wilderness or dungeon background style. Adventure Clings are reusable eyecatchers emblazoned with an assortment of objects you might want to represent on a map while on an adventure, such as stairwells, barrels, statues, and campfires, among other things .

The Adventure Grid folded for transport.

The Adventure Grid and interlocking tiles have a glossy coating and can be drawn on with a dry erase marker. Dark markers appear distinct, but lighter markers may be difficult to distinguish against green or gray backgrounds. This makes these pieces of terrain perfect for laying on the table and drawing a backdrop on which to place miniatures or tokens. The terrain pieces are identical in shape and background images, so they seem quite redundant. But, as they are interlocking square pieces, you can fit them together to create a wandering underpass or a forest maze, 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 any other scene you need, you can use the Adventure Clings to spice up the map with top-down perspective dressing. There are dozens of objects depicted on clings. Some examples are wells, pits, fountains, trees, stairs, rubble, horses, tents, carts, tombs, cave entrance, campfire, tables, rugs, coffins, treasure chests, etc. These eye-catchers are like the ones you might have played with as a kid to put costumes on a cardboard figurine, or the ones 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 meant to be doors, and something that looks a bit like the lower third of a didgeridoo, but I think it could be a scroll tube. And three dead or possibly unconscious bodies. The eye-catching works well, although some of the gates (eventually) blend in with the background terrain for me. I’m color blind so I don’t know if this might not be an issue for people with normal color vision.

Sheets with various hooks.

There are four main things to assess in this set. The first thing, and my favorite, are the hooks. They’re pretty cool, and I think they’re practical 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, maybe folders with different themes. I’m afraid that using them on maps that have been drawn with dry erase markers will make them dirty and won’t stick well to the sheet, which will lead to their loss.

The second thing is the Adventure Grid, or the large rectangular map. I like it, it’s easy to throw on the table and draw. It gives you the option to enter your friend’s house or your local game location and start a battle right away. If you don’t already have a battle mat with a grid, this one is great to start with. If you already have one, this one might still be good for you, especially since it has wild terrain and a dungeon and supports dry erase.

The tiles in the case of the terrain.

The third thing is nested terrain pieces. These excite me less. They’re pretty redundant when it comes to artwork, but I guess that avoids uneven matching issues along the edges. Still, it would have been nice to see a few more models overall. Also, I don’t know how necessary it is to have them, when they could have just included another adventure grid that could be placed against each other to provide a larger area to draw on. There aren’t many tables that can accommodate a very long tunnel-style map using ten or more tiles in a row. They also may not be as useful for many DMs as just throwing on the larger adventure grid and building on that, rather than piecing together a windy path of 90 degree angles to draw on.

Tiles on the table with a few hooks.

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 image of a wilderness scene. The image is thematic and embellishes the interior of the case, which is very attractive and practical. The case features an insert that holds the adventure grid and snap back, under which is a cardboard insert that holds the terrain tiles in place. The cardboard insert is quite flimsy and I’m afraid it won’t hold up to a lot of beatings, which could be a problem as the set is billed as your on-the-go field kit.

The Campaign Case: Terrain is an add-on to another D&D product called, Campaign Case: Creatures, which we reviewed. here.

Although the tiles could use a little more variety and a few of the snags are a bit difficult to identify, overall this is a great product for a new Dungeon Master. It provides the tabletop accessory you’ll likely need when planning a nature or dungeon combat encounter. Hooks are very useful, especially if you don’t have a large collection of dungeon decorations in the form of cardboard tokens or actual miniature terrain. However, for the experienced dungeon master, you may not need all of the contents of the carrying case, and the carrying case itself isn’t worth getting the full kit.

—Steven Starkey

Steven spends his days working deep in the bowels of a government building and his evenings with his wife and daughter. He has spent the last quarter century working in and around the US military. His passion is table games. You can see him playing, speaking, reading, and writing about RPGs, wargames, board games, board games, and card games. Steven is originally from Texas, but currently lives in Virginia.

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