Posted in: Character Creation Challenge, Dungeons and Dragons, Reviews, Role Playing Games

Review of three RPG battle mats/tiles

Wiz Dice on the left, Role 4 Initiative in the middle and Chessex on the right.

As I was preparing for SaltCON-Summer 2024, I realized that I had not done my review of the three RPG battle mats/tiles that I currently own. So as I was preparing for the con, I had my daughter help me set these out and take some photos for a review. I’ve owned two of these maps for a few years and purchased the gaming tiles last year after I saw them in use at SaltCON-Spring 2023.

The Chessex 26×23.5 Battlemat

So the first battlemat that I had purchased was the Chessex double-sided 26.x23.5 battlemat. The DM for my Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign that ran for several years used a larger version of this product. When my nephew had asked me to run an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons game, I realized that I didn’t have a mat to use. So I slipped into one of my local gaming shops and picked this one up. It has square grids on one side and hexagons on the other. Eagle-eyed readers may spot this map as the background to some of the photos I used for the various Character Creation Challenge entries. Besides the game with my nephew, I was able to use it in a few other games. The surface is a little rough, but I think this is both a good thing and a bad thing. The mat itself is thick and feels solid. However when I drew on it with dry-erase or wet-erase markers, it could sometimes leave the image behind. While I was experimenting with the map for this article, my daughter discovered that using the Mr. Clean MagicEraser would remove the older drawings without (as it seemed) to damage the map. While I could still see some of the older set-in markings, it is a lot clearer than it use to be. Because this map is rolled, I have to use heavy objects to hold the corners down.

The Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat

Just a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to run a OSR game for my daughter and several of her friends who had been playing in a D&D 5e campaign. I had created the adventure myself (and later used it at SaltCON-Spring 2024) and realized that the map I had found on the internet, was too large to use on the Chessex mat that I already owned. So I found the Wiz Dice 48×36 gaming mat on Amazon. It is also a reversible map with hexagons on the other side. For the purpose of the one-shot, I was able to use the map with a dry-erase marker. However, after the event, I really wished that I hadn’t purchased this mat. First, it’s really thin and flimsy. While taking these photos for the article my daughter mentioned that it was like having a shower curtain on the table. While the Chessex surface felt rough, but durable, this map was wrinkly, sticky and felt like it was going to rip if I wasn’t careful. When I attempted to use it at SaltCON-Spring 2024, I discovered that the markers I had brought would not write on the map properly, so we ended up using graph paper instead. Like the Chessex, the MagicEraser product was handy in removing stubborn markings from the map. The other issue that I had with this map is the poor quality of the printing. As you can see in the photo below, there were parts where the grid had misprints in it or were missing. As a rolled mat, it also had to be weighed down at the corners.

Just one example of misprints on the Wiz Dice mat

Had there been one issue, I probably would have been OK with the map. But with both the misprints and the flimsy/thin quality, I really wish that I had spent my money on a larger Chessex mat.

The Role 4 Initiative Game Tiles

When I saw how handy these game tiles were at SaltCON, I had to order a set myself. I picked up the Dry-Erase Hexagon Game Tiles from Role 4 Initiative. While preparing for the latest SaltCON, I decided that I wanted to get all of the tiles out to make sure that they could handle the adventure map I was planning to use. The kewl thing is that you can start out with a small section, then add the sections as needed depending upon where the players elect to go. While these are double sided, they have hexagons on both sides. One side is solid hexagons with broken hexagons on the reverse side. There is a grid version of the tiles available from the same manufacturer that I’ll have to pick up sooner or later. Where the Chessex surface is rough and the Wiz Dice surface was sticky, these tiles were very slick. While it made marking the tiles easy, you could easily smudge a dry-erase marking if you were not careful. There are thirty-three 1/8″ thick tiles that are six inches across in the box. This makes the box a little heavy compared to a rolled up mat. But I was able to store my dry-erase markers in the extra space the box provided. When we were drawing the full map of the planned adventure, my daughter commented that it was like assembling a map puzzle. Here are some various photos.

First opening the box
The solid and broken hex sides of the tiles
We did a timed test with some markings and it erased with no problem after 30 minutes
All of the tiles assembled in a square like fashion with 28 inches across
Drawing the full map of the adventure


The rolled up mats are lighter than the tiles. But the tiles offer greater flexibility for the GM. The costs are about the same (Dice Wiz is lower compared to the same sized Chessex mat). If you are going to stick with a rolled up mat, buy the Chessex for the quality. But my overall advice is take the flexibility of the Role 4 Initiative tiles. They also marked and erased easier.

Have you used any of these three products? If so, what were your thoughts on them? Are there other mats/tiles that I should look into? Tell me about it. This article is open for discussion on the TardisCaptain dot Com Discord server. You can also email me at Carl (at) or click on my social media links with any comments.

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