Well, something new to try. 🙂
So I tried to intro my kids into D&D with mixed results. My kids were around 8 and 11 when we tried.
- Using Dungeon Mapp with the IPad on the TV worked well. Using it to keep the hit points was OK at best, because I don’t like to make that public. Also it could use more graphic options, but for the price it worked great.
- The downside was my kids invited other kids their age to play. My wife and another adult played as well, but I didn’t feel it really worked out. Too many kids.
- I tried to scale it back to my wife and my kids. I think that might work at some point, but I can’t trust my sons (certainly not the younger) to keep track of spells used, etc. Just too much record keeping at this point. I think my older son is ready, but I can’t focus on him and my younger to keep things straight. This is something I can DM around, but I’d like for them to learn.
- I’m going to try and figure something out in the summer, until then I picked up Wrath of Ashardalon.
I think this might solve a number of issues…
- I think this will give me the structure needed to keep things in control.
- The watered down version of D&D 4e will show them the ropes of record keeping a bit more.
- I can play on the kids ‘team’ and have fun that way.
I never thought I’d buy a D&D board game (just play the real thing), but I think this might work out. I’ll do a review later.
So I’ve played a few rounds of D&D…
As far as the 4e rules are concerned, I like them. The play is smooth overall and even as a newbie I know where to look when I have a question. I know a number of folks still play 3.5e, but having played a bit of both I like the simpler rules of 4e. Clearly YMMV and I can see why 3.5e holds appeal.
I also want to talk a bit about Dungeon Mapp (DM) and about the Pluses and Minuses of these iPad apps that take the place of minis in general.
I started the group off with the Forgotten Realm campaign in Loudwater as a starting point. I had a group of 6 first level players fighting 13 goblins. DM was a big timesaver in setting up the maps the players are going to use in advance and tracking initiative and everyone’s hit points. Just for that, it’s worth it. DM had some bugs tracking the goblins initiative, which has been fixed now, and flagging a goblin as dead, flags all the goblins running under the same object as dead (not fixed). So when they died, I just deleted them.
I still have some issues with DM which are not show stoppers: The hide room function has an issue of not hiding the monsters when you reload a map (revealing a hidden room, even one you already revealed, rehides the monsters) and the last update made DM crash anytime I reloaded an old map. Clearly, the old maps didn’t work with the new code, but a warning would be nice about that before I updated the code that I was going to lose the maps. Overall, as some who has written code for more languages then I would care to count, I just don’t get the feel that this code gets tested well enough before it goes out the door.
All that said, it was a huge timesaver and I wouldn’t trade it in for any of the other options out there right now.
Also, I want to give a warning to anyone using any of these apps and the more people you have in the group, the bigger this downside… Really only one or two people can look at the map at once time (unlike using minis), so that keeps players a little more out of the loop. My solution for this is that I got the iPad’s AV connector, so now I can show the map on the 50 inch TV. That’s an extra $40 cost and I’m not sure this will work on an iPad (I have an iPad2 and it works great), but I’ll use the AV for other things as well. Still it’s something to keep in mind.
Overall, the pluses outweighs the minuses, but there is room for improvement and there is no way I’ll start investing in minis. This is looks to be the best option going forward. It’s only going to get better from here.
Some options I’d like to see going forward:
1) More graphic art. Some more has been added and it’s animated art, which is nice. However art is key from giving each new location a different look and feel. It could use more. If memory is an issue then make ‘art packs’ that can be loaded and unloaded as needed.
2) Flag spell effects. If I’m going to put up an anti-magic spell or a wall of flame, I should be able to mark that on the map somehow.
3) Maybe some more movement options. If, for example, there is a building in front of you. Flag those squares so they don’t count towards movement.
I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more as I use it a bit more. Overall, it’s a good start!
So I spent the $9 for Dungeon Mapp (DM) and tested it a bit with my kids.
- Easy to build Dungeons
- Lowest Cost between the 3 apps
- The functionality for tracking hit points and initiative has bugs, but the programmer seems to be willing to fix most of it soon (I Hope)
- Needs more graphics. The current selection is a bit light.
Rooms are easy to build with DM and can be done quickly if needed. That makes me glad I didn’t pony up for Battle Map (BM). BM is working on a new app from the ground up (which I assume is going to cost at least $30). It’s got to knock my socks off at this point.
As for RPG Cartographer, clearly the maps are nicer, but I, in theory, like that I can manage the group with DM. I say ‘in theory’, because DM doesn’t track more than 100 hit points per character\monster and its initiative roller doesn’t really work with monsters. That’s not going to cut it for a lot of groups. This tells me that whoever tests Dungeon Mapp hasn’t done much to test it. Not good.
That said, I’m going to hope that DM fixes those problems quickly, if not then RPG Cartographer could be the better choice. If I can’t have the tracking of the battle built in the app, then I’ll take the better graphics.
As I said, when I see Battle Map 2, then I’ll re-consider it. To be honest, considering that Battle Map (and maybe Dungeon Mapp to a degree) is hitting the wall a bit on what it can do with the hardware, I’m not sure that the iPad will allow Battle Map 2 to give all the functionality it needs to make it worthy of the $30 (and maybe more) price point.
Anyway, I have a lot of players to get up to speed in 4e. Hopefully I’ll have a report in a few weeks.
So where am I in D&D?
First, a friend of mine had PDF files of the core rulebooks for 4e and he gave me a copy. Yes, this is against copyright rules, but don’t worry, if this pans out I will buy the books. My kids are young (elementary school) and I want to see if this is going to work before I plop down $60+ dollars. I could have used the Quick Start Rules since they are free, but my kids will be into it more if we make a character for each of them instead of the pre-made ones.
4e is heavy into using minis and maps. Instead of buying all that I’m looking into iPad apps to fit the bill. I’ve been reading reviews of each and trying to figure this out. Here is where I’m at, if someone has used any of these and stumbled onto this blog, I’d be happy for your input.
It seems to have the most options in terms of graphics. You can play directly off of the app, but it has the least number of ‘bells and whistles’ for that. It also seems to be the hardest to use, but certainly not to the point that it’s not worth buying.
My Thoughts: I’m going to punt this for now and look at other options.
Easiest to use for creating maps. That is clear from the YouTube video and it has line of site options as well:
It is also clear that this app has the least amount of graphic options. You can add your own graphics, but it seems that can crash the app if you add too many. Battle Map is a memory hog and the developer is in the process of building a Battle Map 2 from the ground up, likely to fix those issues.
My Thoughts: I want it, but the $30 price gives me pause. I would likely take it over RPG Cartographer because of the ease of use and other live gaming options, but I have one more option.
This seems to be a middle point between the two and yet, it’s the cheapest. Also it has light version that you can try out for free. It also tracks hit points, etc.
My Thoughts: I have to at least ‘kick the tires’ on Dungeon Mapp and see how it goes.
So I’ll download Dungeon Mapp light. If I like it then I’ll have to figure out if I should go for that or Battle Map. If this works well, then Battle Map 2 is going to have to knock my socks off to get me to shell out another $30+