Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gaming Paper - Better than Expected

During my last Daruna game session I finally had the opportunity to use the roll of Gaming Paper I had received as a gift a while back. If you're unfamiliar with the product, it's a one-inch grid printed on coated paper in a 30-inch wide, 12-foot long roll. It has the same feel as a nice-quality wrapping paper.

I must admit, I was a bit skeptical. I mean paper is paper, and it's not like the game table is a friendly environment. Pens and markers scribbling, dice and miniatures shuffling and clattering, and, worst of all, drinks and food dribbling. Gaming Paper came through with flying colors.

Since it was the first time I used the product I decided to limit the test run to a single scenario. The volcano race presented the perfect opportunity. Briefly, the party had to escape a town at the foot of a volcano as lava flows advanced and burning rocks fell from the sky, all the while transporting a number of sick and wounded. I decided to use a piece of Gaming Paper to draw out the town in a one-square per move scale, so the party could see the lava and fires as they tried to escape. Here's the original map:
That's about a 30-inch by 30-inch map. As you can see, I didn't skimp on ink. I did use a little caution when drawing this; using a layer of newspaper on the table surface to protect against bleed-through. This was completely unnecessary, as there was zero bleed.

I tried out a variety of markers on the surface, including wet-erase, dry-erase, and permanent Sharpie markers. I had the best results with Sharpie markers, but wet-erase did just fine, and that's what I used for most of this map. Dry-erase markers were a bit faint, but that may have been due to marker age rather than paper performance. Wet-erase markers are perfect for my group, since they work on Chessex mats too.

If you look closely above, you can see a few spots and stains on the paper. That's from me spilling coffee. It may be hard to tell from the image, but there's just a tiny bit of curling, and no ink-smearing. During play we didn't have any issues with spills or smearing, even as I drew in the flowing lava and fires using red wet-erase markers. Here's the end result of the encounter:

As you can see, that's a *lot* of ink--a lot of red ink (the party was about 30 feet in front of the lava when they got to the city gate). Gaming Paper held up perfectly. Post game I rolled up the map so I could take it home and snap the image above. Here's a look at the back of the sheet, showing the complete lack of bleed-through:

Now I wouldn't lay out my map on the silk-covered couch and start drawing, but from this experience I'd be pretty comfortable using Gaming Paper without any sort of protection on a gaming table. I was very impressed with how well it took ink and didn't smear or tear. It's not exactly Tyvek-strong, but it's certainly tough enough to withstand basic use and abuse.

Bottom line: Gaming Paper is an excellent product that exceeded my expectations. If you need one-shot maps or want a permanent record of your explorations and adventures, Gaming Paper is well worth a try. Each roll is 30 inches by 12 feet, and comes in both square and hex versions. Single rolls cost $4US, with discounts for 4-pack and 48-pack purchases. The main Gaming Paper site also has a retail locator if you prefer to support your FLGS.

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