Pre-printed maps can be a godsend to us overly busy game masters, but how good are they? Too often, if you are using a pre-printed map over and over again, the players start getting use to them. The more strategic minded guys quickly find that one spot on the map that favors their style. Archers find an elevated perch where they don’t have blocking terrain. Tanks find the narrows where they can defend the squishees.
But how bad is this? Well, if you use the same map over and over again (and I have to admit we did back in the days we played BattleTech), the veterans have such an incredible home field advantage, that the new folks just don’t stand a chance. I don’t like that! I know it’s more work, but here in my old age, I won’t use pre-printed maps anymore. I just don’t see it as appropriate. Once or twice? OK. A dozen times? no!
Admittedly, this affects the true combat games vastly more than the role-playing style games, but it holds true in either. Once you figure out that anyone coming around that one corner is within your range, and you wait for them, you’ve cheated. Now if the map you’re using happens to be the character’s home (castle or other place to defend), then you should probably let them study it in order to give them that home field advantage, but that isn’t the most common occurrence, and we all know it.
Board Enterprises doesn’t publish these products, mainly because other companies have more artists then we do. I’m not trying to ruin their business, but I think you’d do better using a random map generator than using the same one over and over again. Random is just as easy on the GM, and doesn’t give anyone an advantage.