Review: Binder Maps–Intimate Encounters

In a Nutshell: A dozen 28mm scale modern urban maps for a couple of bucks. Fast, easy, get the job done.

CONTENT AND FORMAT

This a 13 page PDF from Joseph Fox’s SmileyBomb Productions, cost $1.99 at time of writing. Of those 13 pages, 12 are maps, each 10” by 8”, which is a reasonable compromise between European A4 and US Letter – you’ll almost certainly be able to print one of those on your home printer. The maps are in inkjet-friendly greyscale, faintly but legibly marked with the 1” square grid which D&D made the standard.

The maps themselves are a family apartment, a suburban backyard, a bridge, a stretch of four-lane highway (labelled “car chase”), a churchyard, a fairy cavern, two versions of a town hall / church / theatre called “Gaffox Hall” (with different seating layouts), a hobby shop, the Gelato Vera Cafe (pretty certain that should be Gelato Vero, Joe, but maybe the owner is called Vera), a laboratory with an intriguing glowing circle thingy (could it be… a Doorway… to Another Dimension!?*), and a parking lot.

These can be combined easily into larger structures, for example Gaffox Hall plus the churchyard gives you a church, or the apartment plus the suburban backyard gives you a house – although in that case you need to think about where the second door in the apartment is, I decided one of the windows was actually a big glass door, much like the one from my house into our backyard.

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

There are areas on some of the maps that look faded, or imperfect in some way; it took me a little while to realise that they represent light streaming in from the windows. There are a couple of other things, like the clothes hanging up in cupboards, that I didn’t get at first glance. A key would have helped me figure those out earlier, but it hasn’t caused any real problems, I got there in the end.

Either here or in a later product, I’d welcome some external maps – a wood, a hill, a pond and so on – to represent parkland areas, and allow me to play suburban or rural scenarios. The bridge and the fairy cavern would make more sense in a park setting.

The cafe and hobby shop can be easily repurposed as other types of business, but I felt the need for an out-and-out office of some kind; a bank, a house (as opposed to an apartment), one floor of a hotel, a garage / gas station and a police station would also be welcome. The Apartment map would be slightly better if it had an area of corridor just outside the door, currently I’m using the blank space at the foot of the map to represent that.

CONCLUSIONS

I’m always on the lookout for useful maps, both for RPGs and solo miniatures gaming, and this one attracted me because of its low price point and focus on modern suburbia – most such products are fantasy-oriented. The intent of these seems to be that the GM carries them in his campaign file, and when the PCs go off-piste and he needs a generic location in a hurry, out they come.

My immediate thought was to print out three of everything, laminate them, and use them as tiles to build an All Things Zombie board, like this:

2013100601s

  • Top row, left to right: Laboratory, Gaffox Hall Version 2, Hobby Shop.
  • Middle row, left to right: Car Chase, Car Chase with zombie, Car Chase with Captain Flack and crew (28mm figures by eM4).
  • Bottom row, left to right: Apartment, Apartment, Gelato Vero Cafe (note that this is a two story building, with both floors on one sheet of paper).

That layout is about 30” square, which is as big as I can fit on my dining table in any case.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5. It gets the top rating because before I had finished printing and laminating, we’d started using them – for Shadowrun, as it happens, but they’d work well for any modern or near-future setting.

* Sorry, channelling Angry Beavers again.

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