MoonHunter Sayeth 20180402

MoonHunter

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I have to admit. I am a frugal gamer.
(Battle Mat/ Board - Magic Board II)


Magic Boards, a handy tool from long long ago. It is still one of the best tools I use. Today, you have lots of alternatives as portable tablets and apps, stationary technology, and material technology with clever engineering, has given you a lot of options. Sometimes the very basics still work best.

Now battle maps/ battle boards are readily available online or in stores. They can be pricey, but they are handy. They roll up for transport, handy. They occasionally stain, draw back. They are good and bad, still if you are playing a game with a tactical/ board aspect they are indespensible.

In use, I end up having a problem with them. I have to copy down the entire environment from my GM map or make something up as we go. As the action moves on or moves deeper, there is erasing and redrawing. If I do the design work ahead of time, I have to re-scribe things onto the mat.

Now if the size of "the stage" is small, I can use a magic board. I can put a hex/ square grid in it, and draw from there (or I can slip in a pre designed map space). Sometimes I have used several magic boards to define a bigger area. It gets clumsy (Trick to solve that: if you tape them down with a loop or two of "blue tape"/ painters tape, they will stay on the table, not move and not leave a mark. ) Still multiple magics boards, it can be a problem as the crease/ space between the boards always ends up important.

If only there were battle mat sized magic boards.

Well, guess what? There are!

The solution is a plastic "Poster Protector", rather than a page protector. You can get at various sizes at T-Mart or Wall Store or a general retailer of good size. The 20x30" is the average size, but you might find them bigger or smaller (16x20 was a good size).

They are not page protectors scaled up. They're like picture frames, but with thin plastic instead of glass. The frame is minimal clips that go along the side instead of wood and are usually clear. Pull off one or two clips, slide "the poster" inside, and clip it shut again.

Instead of a poster, you fill it with 1" grid paper. Find a 1" grid PDF (They're free, and will stay the right size unlike a jpg) and print out a few.

This gives you a whiteboard that you can use dry-erase markers (or wet erase or even crayon) on that is a grid underlay. You now have a [cue reverb]Battle Board![/reverb]

Note: This solution is less portable than a roll up battle mat, some logistics to consider.

Now, unlike a battle mat, the joy of a magic board comes into play. You can preprint/ pre draw various "tactical stages" where combat (or some tactical/ dramatic event will occur). Simply take an 8x11 or two (or the edited part) and prep the mapped area. When you need to, you can slip them in and position them on the Battle Board. (4 for the 16x20 // 6 for 20x30 with trimming)

If the action moves on: you can open the board up... move the preprinted map pieces and place the new ones. (The replace the markers on the board, which hopefully you took notes as to where they were before you did this). Thus you get to "scoll the action" without tedious redrawing.

It is a very inexpensive and very useful tool.

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Now Battle Boards may or may not be a truly frugal tool anymore. In the early decades of gaming, they were hands down winners over the battle mats in terms of cost and usefulness. These days, the quality of the mats are awesome and the prices have come down to make Battle Mats kind a of frugal and Battle Boards more of a choice.

While they do have the "magic" advantage, their cost and logistics for transport are things to consider. They may or may not be the tool for you.

There are other points to consider

1) The Size of the Battle Board is something the GM should consider. The size of the play area is the big consideration. Can the board be supported? Will your "battles" be contained by the size of your board?

2) If you get excited with your graphics programs and color printers, you can make a superior table play experience. (ooohhh awwww pretty) with a Battle Board. (Make your markers pretty or use miniatures... and markers for game environment.)

3) You might include a battle board in your GM tool kit that will include battle mats. There are uses for both.
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This option makes a Battle Board Totally Metal

This options takes the Battle Board over the top!
Is is also expensive.

You need a piece of light metal that will hold a magnet the same size as the battle board. This takes a stop either at your local hardware or big box building store. You put your papers on top of that and under the plastic sheets. You will use it as usual.

You will then be making markers on Magnetic Inkjet Sheets.. Each marker if you use each individual space will run you about 32 cents eachg. Now while this metal and those magnetic pieces are not frugal by any means. You have markers that will not blow off, fall off, and you can put the play space on a wall!
 
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