Sunday, 24 December 2017

A Year In Review

A year has already passed. I've tried to do one post every week this year, and while I had to occasionally miss a week here and there, I think I managed to write about a lot of different things this year. Most of it was advice no-one really asked for (hope someone out there found it useful), but I also had the luck to do my fair share of reviews this year. The interesting part about products is that despite liking them, and appreciating them, you sometimes just find yourself not using them after a while. Small, not very obvious things just add up, or you get bored when over time. For this reason I hope to look back at my reviews, and the products I used to highlight those that I feel deserve an end of year shout out. So, let's get into it.

Official Dungeons & Dragons

We had 3 books released this year: Xanathar's Guide to Everything, Tomb of Annihilation, and Tales from the Yawning Portal. They were generally solid. Xanathar's Guide to Everything being very much a supplement book. Tales from the Yawning Portal was for those of us who wanted to see some of the old D&D adventures, which of course made it less tempting if you owned the original unless you wanted an updated version. My favourite of the 3 was Tomb of Annihilation, but I've always been a sucker for adventures that also work as adventure supplements. They give me a lot of material to reuse or steal, a new adventure to run and also a large degree of control, unlike a new Player's Handbook, for example. I can control what comes my players come across, where supplements often are harder to reign in.

3D Printing

The end of the year saw me finally being able to 3D print. And at this point I've had the chance to 3D print a whole slew of tiles, and props. The ones that I've used the most so far are the Rampage System and Dragonlock. The ease of printing for Dragonlock made it a favourite of mine, and the modular nature of rampage also made me like them. I still haven't decided which way I'll go but I've been enjoying them both so far. In terms of props, the Black Scroll Games chests have been my by far most used 3D printed props this year. Even 2D printed maps are made better with props so it isn't much of a surprise to why I ended up using them so often. The ability to switch the inserts as needed was extremely useful during play and made them even more useful.

Modular Inn Tiles

I reviewed this set in December of 2016, but over 2017 I used it quite heavily. Before my foray into 3D printing, I used it whenever I needed an inn battle map. Since starting 3D printing, I still use the tiles extremely often. They are just so much easier to print and provide very good visuals. 3D printed tiles often need to be painted. The Modular Inn tiles can just be printed in colour. Nice and easy. As an aside, I'd recommend printing dungeon tiles using white filament to help reduce or eliminate the need for painting if they are meant to be stone. It'll look slightly worse than a properly painted one but will be more usable than pitch black ones like mine. I also don't have the 3D printable sets that allow you to print buildings, so instead ended up re-purposing tiles meant for underground dungeons. That works fine, but it doesn't have the same level of detail as the specialized tiles and takes far longer to set up than the 2D tiles. In comparison, I could print off some tiles, tape them together, and be ready to roll. I could also quickly just set them up on the table and not need to worry about laying out all the props. I did still use a few props, most commonly chests, but I didn't need to completely fill the room in when going to somewhere else for my session. They were instead highlights. When running sessions in my house and using 3D tiles, I could just set things up ahead of time at the time. No problem. Where it got more difficult is when adding new rooms that also needed plenty of props. Either I'd connect the empty room and needed to add the props, or I'd connect the room with the props which caused them to shift. These issues weren't present with the Modular Inn tiles and allowed many different configurations. They are my favourite of all the sets I reviewed from Black Scroll Games so far.

Next Year

We've got a whole new year ahead of us. We'll get some new Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition stuff, of that I'm sure and I'm definitely curious. Black Scroll Games also had a successful kickstarter for Cities of the Black Scroll, which looks great. What's not to like about enough printable tiles to make yourself a bulletproof vest?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Black Scroll Games 3D Prints

Review copies courtesy of Black Scroll Games.

What's a dungeon without things to populate it with? You know, besides an empty dungeon. Even without printing spools worth of 3D tiles and instead using paper tiles, 3D details can really make things pop. Black Scroll Games are probably best known for their 2D but 3D styled tile sets such as the Modular Inn tiles I reviewed.  They also have very impressive looking sets of tiles on Kickstarter right now in much the same style. However, in addition to that they also have an assortment of 3D printable materials that help bring dungeons to life. Honestly, I've had my eye on some of 3D printable stuff for a while (especially the chests). If there is one thing this experience taught me it's that it takes a while to amass a large enough assortment of 3D printed tiles to make it practical in play. Paper tiles though are quick and easy and with such highlights look even more amazing. So far, I've liked what I've seen and I hope to see more of their work in the future. Especially some undead miniatures and more objects for decorating dungeons. Their Patreon is here. They also have some of their older work here. They provide some 3D printable sandbags for war gaming as pay what you want. If you want to get a feel for their work, this is a great way to do so.

Black Scroll Games Chests
The two chest types available in the 3D Dungeon Chests pack.


Everything here was printed at 100 microns with a 0.4mm nozzle. It's a standard and unimpressive setting. Not impressive at all from the printer side of things, and very common.


The chests that Black Scroll Games came up with look amazing and actually open up. Need different treasure inside? You can just easily swap the insert, and there are a total of 7 inserts provided. It's a great design and is very adaptable. Out of all the 3D printable chests I've seen so far, they are my favourite. That said, there are some problems. I found that the inserts do not fit into the V2 chest properly. The chest is slightly too big so the insert will fall in. This is easily fixed by printing at 97% size, but I think they should be already sized for the insert out of the box. That way they are in step, and makes resizing the two together much easier. I hope the other sets also don't require such minor tweaking. I also wish that there was another alternate version missing the skull for the V2 chest, a version without the locks, and possibly a variant without the hinge. That way you could have the insert, the removable lid but also the aesthetic of the lack of hinge on the outside of the model. This last one is more a nitpick and would require more work to ensure it somehow stays in place, but would really push the set over the edge and make it something very hard to find faults with in my view. Sure, if I wanted that I could get a different set where the chest is one piece. However, I like how these ones look and would've liked the option with these chests. You can be sure these guys will and have been featured in my tabletop games. 

Black Scroll Games Werewolf
Pretty wolf, isn't he? He is from their Patreon page.


The werewolf mini is nice as well. It looks really nice when printed and the design doesn't need supports. If you are the kind of person who doesn't like terrain in their minis, you might not like the design compared to some others that only have the miniature on a base. However, you'd need some supports for that design because you wouldn't be able to incorporate them into the sculpt in the same way. I tend to prefer my miniatures without terrain on the base but here it doesn't bother me at all. The one thing that I didn't like was the head peg. The miniatures is printed in two pieces and they just didn't fit right for me. I had to file down the peg and I think providing a version without the peg would have been easy and removed this issue. Printing miniatures seems to be giving me the most trouble but this one went rather well.

Black Scroll Games Column
This is the smallest and most broken looking of the columns.


These guys look nice and are easy to print. If you need broken columns for the ruins of a temple or something, it's definitely a good choice for that. There are 7 different variations and some of them have lanterns. They aren't vastly different styles of columns but have varying degrees of disrepair and the variety is appreciated. I think the picture will do a better job of explaining the appearance than my words.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Quick Look: DRAGONLOCK vs. OpenLOCK

I finally did it. For years I admired those people who could print tiles and terrain to their heart's content, or at the very least for as long as their filament lasted. I am happy to say I am now part of their ranks as I now have access to a 3D printer. It was easier and harder in ways I didn't expect at the start. And for that reason I hope to share some of my experiences on the matter. Since I was still trying to decide which way I wanted to go (or neither since OpenForge is an option), this post is purely focused on the trial sets of the Rampage and DRAGONLOCK systems. You can bet I'll be writing more on this topic later since I can't hope to cover it in one post. I have to start somewhere though. If you want the Rampage system you can get it here and the sample DRAGONLOCK set can be found here.


I printed everything using a 0.4 sized nozzle and at 150 microns.

Dragonlock and Rampage tiles.
DRAGONLOCK on the left and Rampage on the right.

Dungeon Tiles

One of the first things that comes to mind is printing all kinds of cool 3D tiles. And the first two sets that grabbed my eye were the Printable Scenery Rampage and the Fat Dragon DRAGONLOCK systems. They look great and allow dungeons to be easily constructed. Naturally, before I used a whole spool on these things I wanted to take a quick test print of their trial packs and see what I thought of them.


The Rampage system is quite interesting for a number of reasons. Disconnecting the wall from the floor like this system does means that it becomes much easier to create rooms. I don't need as many big specialized pieces, such as corner pieces, and instead need column adapters. This means that with very few pieces I have many options at my disposal and I absolutely love that feature.

The OpenLOCK connector is also interesting and is important. Since we are connecting more pieces in order to achieve the same result, the connection needs to be strong and well thought out. I also really like these connectors for a few reasons. That it's an open standard is very nice and means that quite a few OpenForge tiles can be connected. I won't be going too far into OpenForge here, but free and open tiles? That is great and them having such a great connection system is a massive benefit to the hobby in general. The other nice thing is that this connection system keeps the pieces close together. They don't wobble very much and there are many points of connections. Even the walls connect to other walls with 2 connectors. If you use the full total of connectors that the system allows, the setup is very sturdy. You can cause some shifting and experience some wobbling if you only use one clip. I'd recommend it only for smaller rooms or for connect rooms to each other over the course of the game. Otherwise use 2. All that said, I've found that the middle connector doesn't work as nicely as the outer 2. If you use one of the outer connectors it works fairly well and if you use both it is a very good connection. The only down side here is that it requires a lot of connectors compared to other systems but the sturdiness is nice.

I also have to commend the starter set. It gives you everything you need to make all the rooms you want. What's that, you want more? There is also a castle set provided. As far as starter sets go, this is very nice. Need floors? It's here. Need doorways? It's here (well, it's an open arch way or with a grate but it's better than nothing for sure). Need corner pieces? They can be built using all of the columns provided here. I wish the floor was more stone square style or at least one was included though. I think that style would be more versatile.

The biggest thing to note here is that the print quality really matters. The walls in particular have 2 connectors, one low and one high. If you get warping like my first one did, you'll end up with an unusable lower connector on the wall. One will still leave the piece functional but you'd want both to work so you will want to print using a brim. It is far easier if you do so for this set, and I'd say is essential for the walls and columns.

The designs are quite nice here. The wall is well detailed and textured. I like how the floor piece and how it resembles a floor due to its smoothness. It looks like the kind of thing purpose made to be walked on instead of being rough. And again, the connector works well.


This set is a more traditional wall-attached-to-floor affair. However, it looks great and has some advantages to the other design from a printing perspective. The wall pieces are obviously going to be more stable since they are a single piece instead of being 2 connected pieces. Being attached to the wall like this, no brim was needed either. The wall piece was one of my very first prints out of my printer and it came out slightly warped due to me needing to adjust the bed level, but it still attaches perfectly to the other tiles. This is another nice thing from this set compared to the Rampage system. Warping doesn't cause nearly as many issues from my experience.

The clip design here is different and also interesting. I've found the Dragonbite v2 to be a bit wobblier than OpenLOCK. The clip allows the pieces to be moved apart a slight bit. If you did that much with OpenLOCK, they would separate. The v3 clips are better in this regard and have a much better fit. My trial pack, however, came with the v2 set and I had to download the v3 after printing a whole bunch of v2s. So make sure you print the v3s. They also have connectors only at the bases, which means large rooms can flex a bit when lifted off the table. When placed on the table, none of this matters or affects things.

I really like the look of these tiles. The back wall in particular looks great. I think a good part of this comes from the texture of it. I absolutely love it. The floor is nice as well but it's on the rough side. A few people I've shown them to said that they thought it was too rough for a floor meant for something meant for humanoid feet. They said it's more like the floor of a cave or mine, but the walls suggest otherwise. I can understand why someone might prefer a smoother design for the floor, perhaps with cracked stones due to time, but I still like it because of the texture it has. If you wanted that smoother style, you'd probably want to check OpenForge. I'll definitely need to take a look at them later, especially since they now use the OpenLOCK connection system.

The starter set contains no door pieces or corner pieces, in contrast with the Rampage system. If you want to make use of the free trial pack, you'll need to combine them with tiles from OpenForge or the Rampage system. This is really a shame from the trial set and makes it a far inferior as a complete set. It really is more of a trial set where as the Rampage system provides a starter set. If I had the starter sets for both sets though, it would become a lot more even. These tiles are very good from an aesthetic, usefulness (the connectors are very good), and ease of printing perspective.

Update: This comparison is out of date now that there is the DRAGONLOCK Ultimate: Dungeon Separate Walls set. This set allows you to attach walls in much the same way as the OpenLOCK system. These parts must be purchased, however, and the starter set remains as I reviewed it. I will be taking an in-depth look at the set shortly. It's very nice to have this option as well and removes the distinction between the approaches. Now you can use them both in the DRAGONLOCK system. 

Closing Thoughts

I'm not sure which I prefer. It's a hard choice and may depend on which side of the bed I'm waking up on. I took a quick look at the other offerings from both and I think I like the Dragonlock door better than the Rampage one including in the trial set, but I don't have the set yet so I couldn't print it. When taking the whole complete set into account it becomes far more even and that's why I'm having trouble choosing. As plain trial sets go, the completeness of the Rampage system makes it far more usable. So if your budget is free, Rampage and OpenForge will get you into the 3D printing game. It's nice that we have this kind of choice and we have even more options to choose from as well. However, I think this much will need to be enough for now.