Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom!
By Wizards of the Coast & Alliance Game Distributors
Show them who’s boss!
There is a tendency among humans to rubberneck. Also among cats when you’re dangling a treat out of their reach, but mostly among drivers who rubberneck at car accidents or Giis who rubberneck at hot chicks, by which Gamer Bling does not mean a gaggle of geese set afire by a band of adventurers looking to create a diversion. Although it would work. Especially in many metropolitan areas. Imagine a flock of burning chickens running across the lobby of a presitigious bank building…
Gamer Bling brings up rubbernecking because he knows, deep within his aging and sclerotic heart, that whenever this site gets a burst of new activity, it’s because someone posted a link on another more famous if not quite so cool website. Like, most recently as these words are written, Monte Cook’s LiveJournal post of 30 May, wherein he thanked Michael Webb for what he (Monte) received in the mail that day. And in response, someone posted a link to this fine page, where one can actually view the wondrous item that Monte received. And the rubberneckers came. Only a minority of them then lingered to read any of the other reviews, though, which is, frankly, their loss because Gamer Bling indulges in the best of RPG excessories. And, unlike this item, the other stuff is available to the general public. So, to those curiosity seekers, Gamer Bling says this: don’t covet this; just admire it and then go browsing for other stuff you can have.
Side note: Gamer Bling’s fans—both of them, mind you—know that this page is the cutting edge of gaming evolution. That’s because if you check the blog, you’ll see that Gamer Bling first unveiled this monstrosity on 6 March (that’s 0.19 March for those using the metric calendar), that is to say, over twelve weeks prior to Monte’s post. Not that Gamer Bling has anything against Monte, because he’s a seriously cool guy. He’s just 85 days late to the GB party.
On the other hand, Michael Webb—VP at Alliance, bon vivant, and tireless moderator for big huge SWCMG games at Origins—is the coolest man in gaming. So says Gamer Bling, and he knows kewl. Michael Webb is cool because he is the reason that Gamer Bling now has in his squidly little tentacles the much-coveted WotC/Alliance promotional Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! (Number 168/220, to be exact.)
As imposing as the Great Wall of China, longer lasting than the Berlin Wall, and heavier than Pink Floyd’s magnum opus, this is the best DM screen that Gamer Bling has yet reviewed. So now, in the words of Alliance Games’ sales pitch, Gamer Bling can “Play… With Style!”
Because, apparently, without this, Gamer Bling has no style. Sheesh. Michael Webb should know better.
So what exactly is the Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom!? It’s a three-dimensional screen, cast in resin by Gale Force 9 (makers of much blingy lewt for minis games), and hand-painted for maximal coolness. It’s designed in three pieces for all the flexibility of an underage Chinese gymnast and includes shelves for miniatures and cards, two dice towers (literally), and just all-around maximal bling.
In short, it says that you as the DM are way too freakin’ humpbacked def not to lay the smackdown on that bunch of jive-turkey $lusers on the far side of the wall.
So let’s get down to some serious crunching of player characters numbers, and see how they compare to Gamer Bling’s prognostications of same.
|Weight||>18 lb.||<10 lb.||More than GB admits|
|Bling Factor||11||10||A startling 10%|
That’s right, folks, we’re talking almost twenty pounds of smack-down goodness. Gamer Bling had thought the whole affair would be lighter, with thinner walls and cheaper plastic. But no! We’re talking 1/2″ thick resin walls! That’s a lot of faux stone to hide the foes.
Additionally, the entire screen measures just barely shy of 39″ wide when assembled. Note that this measurement ignores the crenellated tower overhang, because Gamer Bling also ignores overhang when measuring his waistline.
Before we continue with a detailed critical analysis of this beast, let’s give you an idea of what it looks like, courtesy of Alliance Games’ promotional pictures:
This is the front of the now-famous Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! And it will likely always remain the Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! because, if Gamer Bling recalls correctly, WotC has a trademark on dungeon master and DM, thus anything better would be made by someone else and therefore known as the Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom!
The center section has a high rampart, two dice towers (one on each side) and a gate over which hangs a seal. The two side pieces each are a wall section with the D&D logo and end with another tower that doesn’t roll dice.
That looks pretty cool, wouldn’t you say?
The DM side is a loss less cool-looking and a lot more utilitarian:
There you have it. Now let’s tear this beast apart GB style.
The center section is, obviously, the centerpiece of the screen. With a tower at each end, it is very stable. Although Gamer Bling will have a challenge getting the little Styrofoam bits out of the crevices. There is no shelf on the bottom, one fully hidden shelf in the middle, and another shelf at the top that allows the figures to be seen by the enemies players, so they can be part of your epic fights. The shelves are 2″ wide, and the clearance between the shelves means you can stash minis up to 3.5″ high in there with no problem. This is good: you don’t want a standing player to catch a chance glimpse at the nasty surprise you have in store for them. Neither of the shelves has a lip, so use them for miniatures, not stat cards.
The gate visible on the front does not go all the way through, so it’s just for show. Also just for show are the archer slits, as well as the ornamentation above the gate: a reproduction of the infamous demon idol with gemstone eyes from the 1st Edition AD&D Player’s Handbook. And GF9 even went so far as to add two little plastic gems for the eyes! Gamer Bling will go pry one off now; that thief rogue has been trying for far too long.
The center section also has two dice towers: one aims out for public die rolls, and one aims in for private (i.e., faked) die rolls. But to call these dice towers is perhaps a misnomer: the dice towers that Gamer Bling has previously reviewed all had sloped shelving on the interior to tumble the dice. In fact, the very first dice tower that Gamer Bling ever saw was a hand-built beast with nails driven through the walls making a sort of pachinko dice tower that made semi-musical noises when used.
These towers, in contrast, are empty, so they’re more like dice cisterns. You drop the die in, it falls to the bottom and hits a sloped floor that sends it out. At first, Gamer Bling was skeptical. But, upon testing, he discovered that when dice hit the bottom of the dice cistern, the angle they hit sends them in a random direction, and as often as not makes the die rattle several times around the interior of the cistern before being dumped out. This obviously adds some randomness, and also has the curious side effect of making dice tossed into the cistern stop rolling within a few inches of the tower’s egress. Most of the time. On the other hand, the unpadded resin cistern has a sharper and harsher sound than your standard padded-wood dice tower.
Curiously enough, the hole into which you toss the die is 1.75″ wide, but the door portal through which the die exits the cistern is only 1.5″ wide. Engineering FAIL. And having a smaller diameter hole at the top would have made the towers a little better platform for miniatures in a siege situation.
Now as for the side sections, they are essentially identical, except that one has a corner cut off the bottom shelf so as not to interfere with the dice rolling cistern that dumps inside the DM’s fortress stronghold. Each has a decorative tower and two 1″ wide shelves. The shelves have a small lip that helps hold stat cards in place. No one wants your stat cards sliding off and landing in your salsa when someone’s die hits your Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! Well, okay, maybe the players would if the monster in question is kicking their butts all over the vinyl grid map.
With one shelf on the base and the other halfway up, you cannot put any defenders along these walls, which is kind of a shame, because it’d be pretty cool to use this for a siege diorama.
The raised D&D logo on the outside of the wall is painted in blood red and gold, the two favorite colors of pretty much any adventurer. And the towers don’t have holes that your minis might fall into.
So there it is.
Gamer Bling is curious to see how long before one shows up on eBay.
The sole weak point is that Gamer Bling will now have to hire a sherpa to get his hawt gear to game night. Or maybe buy an alpaca as a beast of burden. Gamer Bling could justify that to the Official Companion as a new business venture…
Well, okay, Gamer Bling can’t let anyone get off that easy.
The paint rubbed off the idol face’s nose during shipping. In places it’s easy to tell that the monstrosity has been drybrushed. The side sections are a little wobbly. Not unstable, just wobbly. And Gamer Bling is a little concerned about the dice cisterns; repeated use could be hard on the dice, the cisterns, the ears, or all three.
And if the dice cisterns get too loud, the alpaca might spit.
The Bottom Line
Bling Factor: 11
Price: Either $1,614.69 (the cost of the goods needed to garner one, assuming a 45% retail discount) or $0.00 (since, technically, it’s free with said order). Gamer Bling will buy any unwanted Ultimate DM Screens of Dooooom! for the latter price.
You need: One. Definitely.
Michael Webb of Alliance assures Gamer Bling that other, even cooler promotions are in the works. Gamer Bling finds that very hard to believe.
But he never saw this one coming, either.