So, with Court of Swords we are seeing D&D, as presented by Rollplay, move towards a general use of battlemaps (graphical grid maps) for combat scenes. While such maps aid particularly the use of the mechanics of D&D, or for that matter most tabletop rpgs, they can, in my personal experience, deprive the players and the audience of experiencing the combat scenes in the “theater of their own minds”.
Now, this topic is widely discussed (do a quick google search), and also falls greatly in line with the criticism towards the “Initiative” mechanic of D&D, which also tends to break immersion. In my personal opinion, very graphical battlemaps only further undermines immersion. Simple drawings done in roll20 on grid maps or purely “in the mind theater” as were custom in the early days of Rollplay D&D, again in my experience, tended to have less of a negative effect on immersion.
While the awesome roleplaying of Max, Dan, JP, and Adam are contributing to the immersion beyond comparison, even during combat scenes where graphical battle maps are utilized, I do suggest that perhaps something have been lost since the Original Rollplay, Solum, the many one-shots, and the West Marches.
To reiterate, I’m am purely speaking of immersion in battle scenes, and how very graphical battlemaps can undermine the aspect of the “theater of the mind”, which I deem the core essence of any tabletop rpg.