The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=28271.
City Ruins depicts a very urban area (factory or warehouse district, crowded urban design) after some type of disaster struck, natural or unnatural. This is not a post-apocalyptic style of ruins, but rather a city block after something caused a good amount of destruction to the buildings and surrounding environment. There is much debris about and one of the buildings appears to be a multi-story structure that has collapsed near the middle.
The city block appears to be centered on a side street or at least something that dead ends into some type of industrial yard. The colors are extremely muted and the street ends quite oddly at a building, in addition to the ground textures ending oddly near that building. Some of the map elements are a little awkward such as down telephone poles with no cables strewn about. In addition, the map doesn’t just end on the city block allowing your creative mind to keep the city depiction going as you please. The whole thing truly captures that “urban jungle” feel and what could potentially happen in the wake of a disaster.
City Ruins is a pretty good battlemap. Using the Virtual Tabletop image as a guide helps to maneuver visually throughout the different pieces of the battlemap within the PDF to bring the whole thing to life. The buildings in this ruined part of the city are fairly big so having a guide such as that is quite valuable (granted that’s not what it’s for, but it definitely comes in handy). The battlemap has a lot of greys and an almost excessive use of muted colors. However, the road ending in such an awkward way in front of a random building does not increase the appeal of the map, but if used as a post-apocalyptic scene, it could make sense. The cover illustration depicts a wall (I believe) at the end of that road, but this is very difficult to discern from the map and still doesn’t feel quite right.
Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
Maps with buildings this size can be tricky to cut from page to page without losing too much visibility of what the building is. DramaScape does a good job of laying out the map across multiple pages and keeps them in a nice order. However, the map could benefit from some loose elements to shape the scene better, although not at all a requirement. It should be noted that the map comes in square-, hex-, and no-grid layouts.
Visual Appeal: 6 out of 10
Yes this is an urban depiction and yes it has lots of urban coloring. However, the lack of contrast between the different textures makes the map difficult to discern. When you look at the greys between the rooftops, alleys, sidewalks, road, and industrial yard, it’s almost too much grey and not enough other colors (even to use black or a much lighter grey). In addition, a structure with the multi-story collapsed building, I would expect to see a lot more debris than is depicted. On the other side, the muted colors do a great job of depicting the ruins and the dismal atmosphere after disaster and could work extremely well in a post-apocalyptic environment. But with that type of environment, I would expect to see a lot of overgrown buildings in addition to the destruction (again not required because it’s not actually a post-apocalyptic map).
Desire to Use: 9 out of 10
Yes I did not give a glowing rating for visual appeal, but the use of this niche map could be quite extraordinary. When I look at it, I see a great stomping ground for some type of street gang or the sparks of a zombie apocalypse. The map just has a “panicked” appeal to it that says something really bad has happened and this area suffered, but what’s lurking within these buildings and around those corners? You could also make it the scene of horror as if something supernatural has come upon the city and has destroyed it or caused the natural disaster that destroyed it. Either way, this is a great place for an urban fight.
Overall: 8 out of 10
The City Ruins battlemap can be a great place to house a cinematic urban battle with no shortage of open space to hide in and no shortage of debris to hurl at your enemy. The coloring makes it a bit tricky on the eyes but it definitely holds a sense of despair. Regardless of what the disaster was, this part of the city did not hold-up well.
[4 of 5 Stars!]