This is an honest review of Loke Battle Mats‘s “Giant Book of Battle Mats.” For those of you wanting the upfront answer of whether or not I would recommend this product, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” It think it’s a great product, and if you can get your hands on it, you should absolutely do so. For those interested in a bit more of a breakdown, read further.
Let me start by saying this review is not sponsored. My opinions here are my own, and I’m not being paid for this review. However, I was given my copy of the “Giant Book of Battle Mats” for free as a press copy, so do with that information what you will.
That said, let’s talk price for those looking to buy it. Now I’ll say outright that I was actually eyeing this product for purchase before I was asked to do this review. The book is produced in the UK costs £ 32.99, or $43.40 for us Americans at the time of me writing this. The number quoted doesn’t include shipping, so do bear that in mind. However, for those in the UK, the price tag on this item puts you just under the amount for free shipping on their website. So grab yourself something else small and nice and you can take advantage of that. This doesn’t extend to shipping elsewhere, so those in other places should be mindful of that. This aside though, I feel this price is fair, especially for what you’re getting. So let’s look at what all comes with this.
Taking a look at the book itself, you have 62 pages (Single sided) of gloss laminated maps. It wipes clean easily with dry erase, and although I didn’t have any wet erase markers on hand, it seems very much like it would handle that well. Each map is covered in a grid of one inch squares. The book is ring-bound, and flips easily. The dimensions of the book are 16 and a half inches tall by 11 and three-quarters inches wide. This is a good, functional size, but it can make transport and storage a little awkward. It’s a bit big to sit on most bookshelves, and I can’t fit it in my backpack to take it along with my RPG books. That said, I can’t really fit a battle mat of any kind in there anyway, so I don’t mind. The back cover of the book gives you a handy preview of all of the maps contained within, though you can also preview the contents on their website. Honestly, having the preview on the back of the book is a really nice quality of life touch in my opinion. Especially since they’re all listed in order. It acts as a sort of table of contents. Don’t know where the oasis is? Flip to the back cover and find out that it’s close to the end. Note that there’s no numbering system used here or elsewhere in the book. But honestly, this is the only place I would put them. I wouldn’t want numbers on the pages to break up the maps, and a true table of contents defeats the purpose, since you want everything to be double-sided and usable. So a big thumbs up here. Giving us this reference on the back cover makes navigating the book easier, and uses space effectively.
Now let’s get inside of the book itself. The first two pages you’ll see are a stone tile floor. No scenery here, just an open floor plan. There two other instances like this in the book, a dirt floor on the following pages, and then a blank parchment grid as the last two pages of the book. This is great. Having a few blank maps like this allows the Giant Book of Battle Mats to be used in place of a traditional battle mat. You can draw on it and set up whatever scenery you like without being guided by the premade scenery on the other pages.
Speaking of that, the premade scenery in the book is really pretty stuff, and there’s a great amount of variety. There are a lot of functional classics out there, like city streets or swamps. And they look really good. For example, here’s the graveyard included with the book. And I’ll also show you a shot I took from a separate page (cave entrance) to illustrate the level of detail some of these maps have. The half buried skeleton, with a sword nearby that clearly indicates someone died fighting here. It really sells the scene.
Now, I mentioned functionality earlier, so here are my thoughts on that. The ring binding allows the maps to lay flat very easily, and with as little intrusion on space as possible. You can use the map up to and including the spaces that the binding runs through, with no interruption to the grid. It doesn’t effect the standing of the miniatures much, and I’ll show you a little bit of a comparison below.
So there isn’t a lot of weird crowding, and space is used effectively. I’ll also say that the grid is designed for continuity. Each individual page can stand alone as its own map, or it can act as a two page fold out that works well for bigger encounters. Honestly, this is a huge deal. Having a small premade map is nice, but having a large one is a huge boon to TTRPG players of all kinds, and honestly I think the two page maps could even work well for some of the skirmish wargames out there if you’re one of the people who are into that. But wait, it gets even better. If you had multiple copies of this book, you could actually link them together. The edges of each page are half squares, so if you had another book to make up the other half, you could double the size of your map. I will say that this works only in horizontal as far as I can tell. The squares are the top and bottom of the page are greater than half a square, but less than a full square, so aligning vertically might be a bit awkward. But having the option to link up multiple at all is a huge deal, albeit you’d have to buy another book to do it.
Now, all of the above is a pretty glowing endorsement. And I’d while I’d wholeheartedly recommend this product with no reservations, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out a few minor issues I have with it. Again, these are very, very minor complaints, but you should know what you’re getting. The first is condition. There were two small damages to the copy I received. The first was a few bent rings on the spine. Very minor, and something I can easily fix myself. It was probably the result of the book or box being dropped at some during transit. No big deal. The other was something so minute I almost failed to notice it. There was a series of small dents in the back cover of my book, likely from where it had rested up against other copies in storage. Note, for this reason, I’d be mindful of dents and scratches to the book that that might result from rolling heavy or metal dice on it, especially those with sharp edges. Personally, I have no problem with any of these things. But if you’re especially picky about having something in mint condition just know that these sort of things are to be expected. Here’s a look at what I’m talking about, the bent spines are just noticeable at a glance, and the dents are just above the glare on the edge of the cover, running all along the edge.
Oh and by the way, I don’t blame Loke for this in the slightest. For a little bit of context, here’s the condition the box arrived in. From the multiple stickers, you can see it changed hands quite a few times to get here from the UK, and there are lots of dents and scratches on the box. (By the way, I did my best to damage it as little as possible on opening.) I only report this because I was surprised by how damaged the box itself was. Still, the book inside was in pretty great shape, so It doesn’t seem that it mattered all that much.
Now, the other complaint I have reflects the product itself. Honestly, it’s not so much a complaint as an observation of a couple of odd things. The first is on page 7. You get a little bridge over a river. And it seems a bit discolored. Leading up to the bridge is a path of red dirt or clay. It doesn’t extend to the edge of the page, it’s just around the bridge. And on the bridge. I don’t know if it’s supposed to represent material tracked onto the bridge from the path by a cart or something, but it strikes me as really odd that the reddish dirt is just around the bridge and on it, for seemingly no reason. Maybe there’s something I don’t understand here, or maybe it’s just an odd color choice. The second is a similar instance, on pages 19 and 20. This is the book’s snow map. And while I like the layout of it, the color choice seems similarly odd. It looks more like a sand map with a white filter over it than it looks like snow. Maybe that’s just my opinion though. Either way, you can decide how you feel about that. For reference, here’s what I’m talking about.
Tiny gripes aside, the Giant Book of Battle Mats is a beautiful product. The art is beautiful and well laid out. The design is practical, and the size is functional. The price is good, and overall, the product is nothing short of wonderful. If you live in the UK, you should already own one of these. If you live anywhere else, you should still grab it when you get the chance. I cannot recommend it enough.
What did you think of this review? Do you plan to grab a copy of the Giant Book of Battle Maps?
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