A while ago we had the chance to check out a special item from Dog Might, as they sent us one of their wooden Valhalla Screens for DMs to use. We've had a couple of products come out way from Dog Might, and each of them are mighty fine pieces of wooden artwork used for gaming. But none of them were this big or intricate. So much so that they had to send it to us in this wonderful carrying bag you see here. So how well does their Valhalla Screen hold up when used in a game? We tried it out for a few sessions to see how well it works.
So first and foremost, this is basically an awesome art project. The screen itself comes in three main pieces with some accessories to keep it all together. As you can see here, these are the three primary pieces that we received. This particular design is called the Tavern, designed to mimic candles, cups, and steins around the table, complete with a sword and a scroll. As if the weary adventurers at your table are sitting around talking over a pint before heading off to the next battle. It comes in a wonderful Black Walnut wood with a polished finish to it. I immediately fell in love with this design and have been getting compliments from everyone who played with me.
The three boards that make up the screen have these small magnets inserted into the sides in a very specific pattern. In other words, you know which is the left, middle, and right pieces. The magnets are held together by two long metal pipes that they're attracted to. This way you can put them together and adjust the screen without going through a lengthy process to put them together or connect them to make them fit. I like this design for its simplicity, but if the table gets rowdy, it can be shaken out of place.
As we said before, the screen comes with a series of accessories. There are several available on Dog Might's website for you to choose from, but as you can see, we were sent a sampling of them here to test out. Each of them come with magnets, as you might suspect, which attach to magnets placed inside the wood. The magnets are pretty powerful, so it takes some effort to knock them from their place.
The two we have here are a flat plastic screen and a dice tower. The tower doesn't require a ton of explanation, as you place whichever way you want the dice to roll top to bottom, and then put the small tray underneath it. I tested it out with several different forms of metal and plastic dice, and all of them rolled well. The metal ones hardly left any kind of scuff marks or impressions, which is good, as it shows how balanced the tower is. The plastic screen is an interesting addition. This is basically their version of a whiteboard. I didn't have any dry-erase markers on me, but you can jot down information on the fly as needed and put it here, such as monster initiative, health, and other stats.
They can also be used to place paper behind them and keep them in place, just in case you have something you need to reference right away but don't have the time to keep pulling it up or out of whatever you're keeping it in. Another accessory you can see here is a pencil holder. You can also use this for pens or the aforementioned dry-erase marker. It's a nice place to keep your writing utensil close and within reach without it getting lost under paperwork.
The next item is this three-shelve attachment. You can keep dice loaded on here, mini-figures, trinkets, tokens, or other important items you need to get to in a hurry. I like the shelf system, but it does take up a bit of space on the board, so I recommend it for people who have to get figures ready on the fly. The set also came with eight small metal balls. What are these wonderful items used for? You can slide them in-between the magnets of each item to make them stand out more for you if you so desire. But for me, I enjoyed using them as metal post-it notes for items like the clear screens.
The final addition we received for this set were initiative trackers. Many modern-day DMs will use some form of tracking system along the top of their screens to mark for everyone at the table and themselves who is next up in order. The screens have a few options ranging from the clear plastic ones you see here, all the way to personal wooden engraved ones for games where you know the players will be around for a long time. Much like the screens below, you can use a dry-erase marker to write down who is going when, and erase easily for other games or add different people/enemies to the mix.
I absolutely loved the Valhalla Screen from Dog Might. It gives you a lot of options for a DM who is hardcore into being a DM and wants something more than the usual cardboard screens you get from game companies. The screens have more options out there like engravings, specific dice holders, lighting, and more. That said, these do start at $155 each. You're getting a lovely custom piece of art that will last you for years to come, provided you don't treat it like garbage and let it get beat up. But it's also the reason why I say it's for hardcore DMs as that is a good chunk of change for some people. If you want to up your game and throw in some style, this is a great way to go.