Simply put, my players and I love these dice trays. Since we play in the living room instead of the dining room, these trays go a long way towards preventing dice from falling off lap desks, end tables, and the crowded edges of the central cocktail table. While they are large (about the size of a dinner plate) they fit comfortably on the arms of my leather sofas without compromising people's elbow room.
In addition to their obvious purpose for corralling errant die rolls, they are also great for clean-up purposes. Whenever it's necessary to swap out a map or clean-up at the end of a session, we simply place our pawns, pencils, and minis in the dice trays and our clutter is out-of-the-way.
The only improvement I could possibly think of would be to make the side rails a little bit taller. Doing so would allow us to keep all of our pewter and plastic minis and pawns standing up instead of having to lay the taller ones on their backs when we stack them.
Other reviewers have already summed up how immensely useful the content of this book is. There's no need for me to rehash that. The few typos and lack-luster art would not be enough for me to deduct more than half a star.
The reason then that I am rating this at 4-stars rather than 5 is for the printed copy of the book...
Unless the printing method has changed, the copy I received has a folded and stapled binding with non-glossy pages. Had I known that before-hand, I would have simply purchased the PDF-only and printed my own copy. I much prefer the more durable type of bindings used for the Adventure Path volumes, and appreciate the fact that I can open them even to the foreword or bestiary and still have them lay flat on my desk without issue. The same cannot be said for a stapled binding such as this.
As feedback then, I would just like to say that I find far more value in paying a few extra dollars for a good-quality binding than saving what amounts to a couple cups of coffee.
To Recap: PDF: 4.5 stars (essential content, mediocre artwork)
Book: 4 stars (as PDF but binding is stapled)
Would I buy it again? Yes. I'd buy the PDF and then bind my own copy.
6/04/2011: Note that as of the 2nd printing, this book is now perfect-bound! Great to see customer feedback implemented so quickly! Adjusting rating to 4.5 stars for the book too which it up to 5.
Note: One small thing to keep in mind when using this book is that the hexes are of somewhat different size than those in Kingmaker. They are 12-miles to the side, whereas the ones in Kingmaker were intended to be 12-miles from center-to-center. The difference is 375-sq miles vs. 125-sq miles. Very little (if any) effect on gameplay, but I figured it was worth mentioning in a review. More info on the difference here.
This is what I would like to more of from this series: maps that have different yet complimentary images on each side. (We all have plenty to choose from with blank surfaces on the reverse side at this point.) In this case we get a small island on one side and a sandy beach on the other.
Unlike the maps of buildings and structures, the inclusion of only one tiny room on the island-side makes it very easy to use a more ambiguous scale with this map. Using a 5-foot scale, you get a nice little hideaway with small trees and scrub. Need something bigger for actual exploration? Treat the sqaures as large to colossal and simply use a token to represent the entire party. For encounters then just "zoom in" using other maps in your collection.
The only improvement I could hope for would be to finally be able to acquire these without the folds. Naturally, something like that wouldn't be feasible for shipping, although with GenCon and DragonCon around the corner, perhaps unfolded maps could be convention-only specials...
There are some really solid and well-thought feats & weapons in this inexpensive little PDF. The mechanics used to represent fencing are great and could easily be adapted to fighting styles such as Sword & Board with some ingenuity.
An affordable must have for swashbucklers and bards. I'd like to see further supplements in this vein.
When they say wet erase ONLY they mean it. I just had to get rid of my mat that I had for the past 15 years after one of the kids I'm teaching to play D&D thought they could use dry-erase markers on it (like we do on the Flip Mats). :(
The greater size and soft, rollable nature of these mats are nice but I'm not going to replace my old one because there's just too great a risk of botching the markers again. Plus it's kind of nice being able to use my whiteboard and Sharpie markers on the flip mats. If only I could have it both ways...