It began innocently enough, as these things do.
Sometime in 2006 the original D&D Dungeon Tiles accessory came out.
“These will go great with my miniatures,” I thought, as I stood in my favorite local gaming store. “Oh, and they’re only $10.”
So I bought the first set of Dungeon Tiles and I went home.
There I opened up the package, looked through the tiles and sorted through the tiles thinking, “wow, these are pretty great. Well made. But there really isn’t enough to make a complete dungeon.”
So sometime later I went back to my FLGS and bought another set and went home. “There, now I have enough to make a complete dungeon. A least a small one.” I put them in my D&D Starter Set box.
For my next D&D session, I tried designing a dungeon around the tiles. I put them out on a table and looked them. “Huh… these tiles don’t have much variety for what I want to run. Where’s the caverns? Where’s other special stuff?”
Fortunately the next set, Arcane Corridors soon came out. So I went to my FLGS, bought a set, and went home.
“Well,” I later thought, “maybe I could use these for the published modules I’m running.” But it soon became apparent that pieces really didn’t match up with the maps inside the adventures.
And I soon learned that using the tiles during play took time to set up. You had to keep them organized, choose the tiles you wanted beforehand.
“But they’re still a great deal.” The price for each, as I recall, went up to $12.
So I went to my FLGS over the next few years, bought more sets, and went home. I had to upgrade to a small box to store and keep them organized.
By this time D&D Fourth Edition came out. “Wow,” I thought as I perused the core books. “This game looks even more miniatures-intensive than 3.5e. I should get lots of use out of my dungeon tiles now.”
And I did get a lot of use out of them–for about three months. And then I realized I hated 4e. So I sold my 4e books and put my dungeon tiles in storage
Somewhere, however, along the way I ended buying more sets because, well, you know… they’re still a great price. And then I went home.
I used them twice more in an epic battle inside a big cavern, and an ongoing melee in the wilderness. Then they went back into storage.
Then I moved to Georgia and took all of my RPG stuff with me.
Then one day, while sorting through my things, I came across my dungeon tile collection, and remembered how a pain they were to set up at the tabletop, and how little use I got from them.
So I put them up on Ebay and sold them for a decent price.
Finally, I took all of them to the Post Office, sent them away in a package to one lucky buyer, and then I went home.
In retrospect: Dungeon Tiles seemed like a good idea at the start, but they eventually became a hassle to use at the tabletop. It was often quicker to draw the battlefield than try to find the correct tile, and they weren’t really compatible with maps in published modules anyway.
Because of these reasons, I found them to be more of a constraint to the imagination.
But there are players who use them, collect them, and swear by them. I don’t object. If it works for you, use it.
You can find a complete list of Dungeon Tiles the blog DM David, which is a great website in its own right.