I posted a short while back on me using a whiteboard for my D&D sessions. I generally have the players sketch out a general map on a sheet of paper. When things need miniatures being moved around I then switch to a battlemap. For the most part I like using one, but at times I’ve been having a few problems.
One thing that I’ve stumbled on a few times is dissipating the tension during the beginning of an encounter. When my players kick in the door, I gleefully describe what they see, get the group reaching for dice, all to have that excitement slowly drop down a few pegs while I map out the room. Having everything mapped out before hand on a large white board would be clumsy, as I have to cover up sections and hope nothing gets rubbed off as we are shuffling papers around.
I’m a fan of using dry-erase boards though. I like the freedom of sketching things down directly on the map. Using tiles seem doable, but pretty costly and I just don’t have time to make my own tiles. You also need to have a lot of little bits to dump on the tiles for features and terrain. I could use pre-printed maps too, but I find the page size limiting and again cost creeps in a bit with printing/ink cartridge use.
To get around this, I copied the grid sections out of the DMG and laminated them (using self adhesive sheets). I ended up cutting a few sheets into smaller sections as corridors.
So far this has been a great workaround for me over using tiles, or writing stuff out on a larger board. I can draw a few details if needed, erase and repeat having a reusable surface. Another big bonus is I can also write on the back any section notes or tags I give to the rooms. I can pre-draw an entire dungeon and just plop down the next section in a flash.
Cheap and functional. I’ve liked using these so far. I never managed to pick up past dungeon tile sets. I understand that WotC is releasing a lot of the older sets in a new package deal for 2010. I might pick those up, but for now I think these sheets fit the bill nicely.