While I am not much of a minis player, I am dazzled by the gorgeous tables and setups I see at conventions and online. Dwarven Forge terrain blows my mind but I don’t have the time, money or energy to properly set it up. When I opt to do more grid or miniatures based combat I’m usually fine with some dry erase markers and tokens. If I have a specific set piece in mind, I’ll breakout something from Paizo’s excellent Flip Mat series.
Over the past few years I’ve found a middle ground between simple hand drawn maps and elaborate terrain. Papercraft offers terrain that looks good without gobbling up space for storage. When I get a new papercraft building, it’s become something of a family affair to assemble. My kid finds the numbered pieces and I put them in the slots.
Dungeon CraftThe sets from Dungeon Craft walk the line between traditional flip mats and the craftier stuff. They pack a lot of sheets into the boxes and keep the costs down by not pre-cutting them. They also have a lamination coating that takes markers well. These are great sets that can enhance a flip mat with accessories, small buildings and other details that can spice up a battle mat and spark creative ideas from players during a combat. They also offer some quick palette swap enemies that can be useful for keeping bad guys straight during a battle. The scenery pieces also are great for changing a battle. Buildings offer a roof on one side and an internal view on the other, while statues and wagons often flip to a destroyed or on fire side.
Clever PaperThis Russian company has a lot of great buildings right on Amazon. I started with their tavern and built up a decent little small town ten to twenty bucks at a time for these buildings. They have an old world charm to them that really fits something like Warhammer Fantasy but are great to set up for a skirmish next time the crew wanders out of the dungeon. They open up for further detail but the only minis that really work inside are the punch outs that come with the sets (though these minis work great as innocent bystanders). The company makes Wild West buildings and dungeon sets too, though those require a little more hunting online to find places that carry them.
Battle SystemsA friend of mine brought these to my attention because of their similarity to the Clever Paper buildings. What really caught my eye about Battle Systems were their sci-fi sets. They look great with my Star Wars and Starfinder minis and offer a decent amount of set up and flexibility. It’s harder to find sci-fi terrain and maps. I can punch out doors and reuse them and build some fun dingy space station corridors for shootouts. They take up a little set up time, so I tend to use them for climactic battles, but those fights look like they’re right out of a movie.
Wizkids GamesIt seemed like a matter of time before licensed papercraft items came out. Wizkids dipped their toe in the chilly lake of Rime of the Frostmaiden for some buildings. The interiors of the buildings are sparse, but they are sized for mini battles within and without unlike the Clever Paper buildings. The material feels a little more brittle than the heavy cardboard used in most of these sets, but the construction process on these was easier because they took the time to label tabs and slots.
These are the papercraft materials I’ve enjoyed. If you’ve found a brand that you like, please share them in the comments so I can check them out!