Digital vs. Traditional: Pros and Cons of Using Digital Battlemaps

In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the debate between Digital vs. Traditional battlemaps is a common discussion between Dungeon Masters. Each approach comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, catering to different playstyles and preferences. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of both digital and traditional battlemaps to help you navigate the terrain of your next DnD campaign.

Digital Battlemaps:


  1. Versatility: Digital battlemaps offer unparalleled versatility, allowing Dungeon Masters to swiftly select and use a map on the fly to match the situation.
  2. Dynamic Elements: Integration of dynamic elements, especially with tools and virtual tabletops like Roll20, such as animations and fog of war, can enhance the immersive experience for players.
  3. Ease of Storage: Digital maps take up no physical space and can be stored effortlessly, freeing up the gaming table and minimizing clutter.
  4. Size Abundance: With specialized tabletop software, your maps’ size is only limited by your imagination. You can create and use maps of any size.


  1. Technical Dependencies: The use of digital battlemaps require special software and/or equipment. You can either show the map on a flat screen placed on the game table or use a specific tabletop app. Both options take time and effort to set up.
  2. Learning Curve: There may be a learning curve for Dungeon Masters and players unfamiliar with the software or tools used to create and display digital battlemaps.
  3. Initial Setup Time: Crafting intricate digital battlemaps may require more upfront time and effort compared to drawing a quick sketch on traditional paper. Thankfully, there are many apps that aid in the creation of battlemaps. Some examples are Inkarnate and DungeonDraft. You can also commission a professional artist to create those battlemaps for you.

Traditional Battlemaps:


  1. Tactile Experience: The physicality of traditional battlemaps provides a tangible and tactile experience, enhancing the sensory immersion for players. Combine this with the unmatched feeling of moving your custom character’s mini, and you are for an unforgettable experience!
  2. Quick Setup: Drawing a battlemap on paper or using physical tiles allows for quick and spontaneous map creation during gameplay.
  3. Low Dependencies: Traditional battlemaps don’t rely on technology, minimizing the use of software and expensive hardware.


  1. Limited Flexibility: Traditional battlemaps may lack the dynamic features and quick adaptability of their digital counterparts.
  2. Storage Challenges: Storing a collection of physical maps or tiles can take up space, and finding the right map for a specific encounter may require extra preparation. This issue is amplified if the Dungeon Master prefers using physical props instead of drawn ones.
  3. Size Limitations: Physical maps are limited on the size of the game table. Digital maps can provide an infinite playing field.

Ultimately, the choice between digital vs. traditional battlemaps boils down to personal preferences, the playstyle of your group, and the level of technology integration you desire for your Dungeons & Dragons adventures. Whether you opt for the click of a mouse or tactile feeling of moving a plastic mini, both approaches offer unique opportunities to elevate your gaming experience.

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