Last year at Gen Con, I was given a slew of things by Josh Wardrop at Arc Knight Publishing to review for the Stew. I was in the middle of a move, a new job, and closing out my old web development company. The Spell Templates, Maps, and Flat Plastic Miniatures got stuck in a box and only unearthed a few months ago. I’m finally getting around to reviewing the work, and apologize for the delay in getting this out there. On the plus side, Arc Knight gave us so much stuff we’re going to be giving away MULTIPLE things with this review, so there are multiple chances to win. So, check out this picture heavy review and go to the bottom for info on how to get in on the giveaway!
What All We Are Reviewing
Arc Knight gave us 4 distinct things to review – 5e Spell Templates, Pathfinder Spell Templates, a selection of Flat Plastic Miniatures, and one of their Map Packs. I’ll break the review into 3 sections, detailing each separately but joining together the spell templates into one review. Arc Knight makes spell templates in both Pathfinder rules and 5e Rules variations, and they’ve got some unique elements to them.
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Let’s talk about the spell templates. The first time I saw these spell templates was when a friend brought them along to a game to use for his wizard. They immediately caught the attention of everyone in the group and worked well for the crunchy style of game we were playing at the time. All of the Arc Knight stuff is made with high quality and fairly thick plastic. It’s certainly not flimsy and it holds up well.
Cut It Out – The templates come in a large size and all have to be cut out. I posted up with my wife and a friend of ours one night and we took scissors to the templates. They cut well, and the thickness wasn’t too tough to get through, unless we were using very small scissors. A box cutter or x-acto knife would have made the work more precise, and that is what we used for some of the smaller ones, but it wasn’t any major pain to cut them out of their overall sheets.
Use In Game – I used a set of these in my own games (5e D&D) and they really added some flavor and engagement. We would often count out the spaces to figure out if a spell would reach, but placing the template on the table around the miniatures gave that level of immersion and engagement I like to get out of miniature heavy games. One square elements like the familiars, arcane eye, magic weapon, and mirror image worked well when we had a lot of elements on the table at once. Since they were flat (in comparison to our 28mm miniatures) they stayed out of the way and didn’t make the field feel too cumbersome. The line spells were more often than not always long enough to reach whatever was being aimed for, so we didn’t need to pull those out except for the large scale battles. Having a visual, well drawn lightning bolt to lay down on the map as it worked its way through multiple enemies really made the players feel like part of the game world.
Really Useful Notations – One incredibly useful thing about these templates is they have the basics of the spells right on them. Can’t remember if it’s a DEX or a CON save? It’s right there. can’t remember how many dice, it’s on the template. The lettering is easy to read and this extra detail takes it from a cool game aide to an incredible addition to your gaming chest.
Pathfinder – The pathfinder spell templates worked a little differently from the 5e ones, because of the difference in how they do squares. Arc Knight accommodated for that, giving two ways to read each line template, whether you were going straight or diagonal. These templates line up with squares on each correct angel, so you always know exactly which “square” it hits. It takes a lot of the ambiguity out of the rules lawyering that can occur in a very crunchy game. The multiple line spell template was great for giving different lengths and effects for different spells. It was a great detail.
Minor Annoyances & Transport – There are some very minor annoyances with using spell templates like this, but they would hold for any non-hollow spell template. If we wanted to get the templates on the table under miniatures, we had to pick up and move all the miniatures. We could hold the templates above and gauge the general distance and know they would hit, but if we needed to do it exact (say in pathfinder to see which of the large group it hit) we’d have to do a little shuffling of the board to get them all synced up. If your play style is crunchy, you’re used to that though, as every step matters.
The other very minor annoyance was the length of the long line spells, again nothing to do with the actual product. 120 feet in 1 inch squares is going to be what it is. I like to try to keep my gaming materials so that they can fit inside of an 8.5 by 11 inch envelope or folder for transport, but that wasn’t quite doable with some of these spell effects due to their size. With one set I engaged in some experimentation and cut and taped the bigger templates to be “foldable”. It worked out adequately enough and made the spell templates a little more managable for my particular usage scenario.
Final Verdict – I really like the immersion these provide, and the art is fantastic. It really adds something to be able to look at a table and see the mage’s spell effects interacting with the map. These spell templates make a very invisible gaming effect shine in the gameplay environment and in the players’ imaginations. I think the templates are worth the money if you are playing casters in D&D or just want something for your group to be able to share.
Update – Learn From My Mistakes, Remove The Film
Arcknight reached out to us to comment that the spell templates actually have an opaque white film layer that peels off. It’s a testament to the strength of the manufacturing that the film didn’t come off when we cut out multiple spell templates. Other pictures I’ve seen are completely clear, which is what I expected with the first review. Below you can see a mix of the original photos (with film on the templates) and some updated photos after I removed the film.
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Flat Plastic Miniatures
The spell templates were something I had encountered before, but the flat plastic miniatures were something new to me, and I instantly fell in love with them. At first look, they seem to be a bit bigger than other miniatures, but put side by side they are in line with other gaming miniatures, painted and unpainted. The art on these is FANTASTIC! It’s detailed, expressive, bright, and really shows off the subjects. Each of these sets is packed as well, offering multiple miniatures for a fairly cheap price.
They don’t have the physical feel of Reaper or other molded or lead miniatures, but they look beautiful on the gaming mat. The art is just beautiful and it really makes the table look great. The clear backgrounds also don’t interfere in the same way white backgrounds on cardboard ones do. It’s easy to just forget the plastic see-through areas and to focus on the drawings. The plastic is hearty and strong as well. They don’t feel flimsy and the front and backs of the miniatures are drawn, so you know which way they are facing.
I’m probably spending a decent chunk of my Gen Con budget on getting a few sets of these for my collection.Â The flat ones are great for travel and I run a lot of convention games.
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The Arc Knight map pack we were given for the review was a robust set of 8 pages that had multiple sides. They had a 1 inch grid that was very light but easy to use and didn’t interfere with the art, although I’ve gotten used to seeing grids rather than points at the edges from my own games. The quality of the maps are good and sturdy and the art is in line with other digitally designed maps out there. The mix and match options connect together well, and one map page is large enough to comfortably handle a lot of dungeon crawl.
The maps aren’t 100% seamless, so one page may not sync up quite how you want it with another one, but that is easy enough to mitigate. They definitely beat the dry erase maps I pull out of thin air. These pages are dry erase friendly, so you can easily make modifications or add things as needed. Overall, a very nice map set that will work well for your games and stay strong for years to come.
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Okay, let’s give some stuff away! We’ll be splitting our review set up into multiple sets to spread the love as much as possible. There will be 5 prizes for this giveaway.
- A full uncut set of 5e Wizards spell templates
- A full uncut set of the Pathfinder Spell Templates (A few of these were cut out for the review, but most pages remain uncut.)
- Another full set of 5e Wizards spell templates (The one we used for the review.)
- The Grove’s Horde plastic miniatures & The Spider Queen’s Horde plastic miniatures
- The Winding Caverns Map Pack
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post with a valid email between 07/16/2018 and 07/23/2018. We’ll be randomly selecting (by die roll or random generator) 5 winners to take home one of these review copies.
- We can’t give you a choice of review item, unfortunately. We’ll pick an option, roll the die, and give that person the review item.
- If you live outside of the U.S. and the shipping is prohibitively expensive (over $15), we may ask you to cover shipping.
- These are LARGE items and we’ve paid 3 times in shipping what a product is worth in some of our giveaways. We think the flat nature of these will make them fairly cheap to ship, but we wanted to warn this might happen. We don’t want to prohibit our international readers from being eligible, and we’ll do our best to work out all the details and not have to ask you to cover shipping if we can afford it.
So, leave a comment, let us know what mapping options you like or if you’ve used spell templates like these, and best of luck in the giveaway!
I’ve seen these on Arcknight’s site and have always wondered about them. Thanks for the review!
Hey Chris c! Congratulations. You are one of the winners! You are getting a A full set of the Pathfinder Spell Templates. Iâ€™ve got your email and will be contacting you to get your shipping address.
I always wanted to see a review of the Arcknights products. Specially the minatures and and spell templates. Great review
Really appreciate the review and the pictures. I had looked at those spell effects before, and my FLGS has the flat plastic miniatures, but they’re hard to evaluate being all packaged together. These photos give a better idea of what they look like.
This was a very helpful review. I have been looking at a number of different options for spell templates for my 5e games, and these are some of the best I have seen.
Interesting. Have not seen these products before.
Hey Chris! Congratulations. You are one of the winners! You are getting a full uncut set of 5e Wizards spell templates. I’ve got your email and will be contacting you to get your shipping address.
Looks great. Iâ€™m definitely gonna try some out.
Love the flat miniatures, I’ve always been overwhelmed with the amount of DnD miniatures I want to have. (see zombies)
Would love to grab the pack.
Good info, and free stuff to boot )
I have a bunch of the other sets and I admit that they are some very cool minis. Haven’t played with the spell effects or maps yet, but you can carry a ton of different minis in one small container. (And they now have Ancient Rome minis…so Weird War Rome, here we come!)
These sets look amazing! For me the very visual representation of spells make it very clear who may or may not be hit in friendly fire, vs. intended target!
Hey Kendra! Congratulations. You are one of the winners! You are getting a full set of 5e Wizards spell templates (The one we used for the review.). Iâ€™ve got your email and will be contacting you to get your shipping address.
These look very nice. Certainly better than hand made cardboard cutouts. No more guestimating.
Hey Gayle! Congratulations. You are one of the winners! You are getting The Groveâ€™s Horde plastic miniatures & The Spider Queenâ€™s Horde plastic miniatures. Iâ€™ve got your email and will be contacting you to get your shipping address.
ðŸ˜ðŸ˜ðŸ˜ I foresee a forest encounter with the spider queen in my players future. Their web covered corpses shall hang from the trees as a warning to anyone foolish enough to follow. ðŸ˜‰
I can see my self easily using the 5E spell template, maps and minis very detailed description of the spell and maps and minis are good art as well. Definitely could come in use for convention gaming to save space. Nice job ArcKnight
Cool template and maps and minis. I could see using them for convention game and regular games especially the 5E accessories. Nice artwork ArcKnight and great reviews Gnome Stew
I fell in love with miniatures when they were all lead. Then pewter, painted plastic, and now with these I may finally afford the correct miniature for every encounter?
First lead, then pewter, prepainted plastic, i can never find the right mini for every situation. Maybe with these I can afford the correct many for every encounter!
I love flat minis and have been meaning to check out Arcknight for a while now, awesome review!!!
Been eyeing up the spell templates for a while now, thanks for the review!
All of these look awesome, especially the plastic miniatures.
These look awesome, especially the plastic miniatures.
The templates and the clear miniatures look great. I wonder if ArcKnight would consider publishing stickers of the artwork and blank clear plastic for a more “do it yourself” model. It would lower their production cost and let the user build miniatures as needed.
There all do sound great. The spell templates seem similar to ones nremember from like 20-ish years ago or longer..butbas was mentioned, having the info about the spell printed on the template is a good idea.
I saw another comment about making stickers for the miniatures for greater customization. Like that, another idea. You briefly mentioned “hollow” templates. These woukd not have to be super thin, and you would probably Need a knife to get the interior cut out. Leave enough room to still have some graphic elements, as well as the spell information printed on them. … bonus? You could perhaps fit more spells on a sheet, as you could put smaller area of effect spells Inside larger ones, may be even twice-nested. Mightbcutbdown on the plastic used overall, make the product lighter, or just able to include more spells (perhaps multiples of some that are more static.
Anyway, thanks for the opportunity for us to win some of this plastic goodness!
I got all the spellcaster sets at PAX unplugged last year, and I’ve been using them since and I have many thoughts. I love them, but I’ve using them less and less. First and foremost: THESE ARE ONLY THE SRD SPELLS! There are plenty of spells missing, or missing their familiar names. Second, you’re right; it’s tough to transport some of the larger ones. Lastly, if you want to lay down an area of effect spell that will remain on the map, you need to move all the minis to lay it down, and the players tire of this dance and kind of wave off the spell templates. I feel like if made the extra effort to cut out the transparent middle of all the big radius spells it might help…but that’s a good amount of work.
I’ve heard a little about these templates, but this is the first review I’ve read. Thanks for looking into these great products!
I’ve heard about these templates before, but didn’t know much about them. Great to find your review; thanks for doing this!
Thats a great review on a product I’ve only seen mentioned on Sly Flourish. I was curious about the magic guides and the flat plastic miniatures, but now hearing the extra level of detail on each item and on the maps makes Arc Knight a quality gaming resources shop.
I actually supported the Kickstarter for the original flat plastic miniatures. I would not turn down extras or the spell templates or maps
I have purchased some of the miniatures from Arcknight in the past, but have been curious about getting the spell effects as well. The review was actually helpful in helping me make that decision, thank you!
Nice, was just looking at these.
Hey Miguel! Congratulations. You are one of the winners! You are getting the Winding Caverns Map Pack. Iâ€™ve got your email and will be contacting you to get your shipping address.
These do look really awesome, thanks for reviewing them!
Love the flat pack minis
Beautiful! I’ll definitely be checking these out.
These look really interesting. I’ll need to check these out either way.