If you just want to play D&D, LEGO works great. It requires a little imagination to see those bricks as ancient stone, but that’s kind of the point. I would think these beautiful miniatures would be better for dioramas.
EDIT: Wow. LEGO is also much, much cheaper. Like, a lot.
Some graph paper floor plans and a pack of dominoes for walls also works pretty well with a bit of imagination and is even cheaper than LEGO (which can also be incorporated if you have it to hand). Though I have to admit that if I had limitless amounts of money I’d probably get a whole bunch of the Dwarven Forge stuff just because it does look awesome.
As my first-ever introduction to D&D, I attended a series of Stefan’s theatrical bar sessions in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fun, and he created such an immersive, engaging space in which to learn RPGs. This, apparently, was just prior to the Kickstarter explosion, so I didn’t have any idea about his tremendous success with these pieces. But to experience them in person, with a DM who has unlimited access to the tiles and miniatures was extremely fun. I have since gone on to experience how the other half lives, with graph paper and pens, and I feel it’s every bit as fun as the Dwarven Forge experience, allowing my noggin to fill in the gaps. But I am happy to have had that experience to begin.
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