For some time, I've been looking at Future Armada's Invictus with a curious eye, but I haven't had actual need for it. A few days ago I run a session of Babylon 5 and went to check what DriveThruRpg has to offer. I had been looking at High Space's Euphoria as I was planning to use it's setting Lantern as a base for the game.
I already had Fad Dragon's starship tiles (I'll provide links at the end, as well as photos of Argos tiles in use) and wasn't sure if I needed any extra maps, but as I'm a sucker for all kinds of eye-candy for my games and during my visit on the Store I hit my eyes on a space station (Argos III) from the Invictus's creator. Watching through the preview showed me command centers (for flavor if nothing else, as the heroes are command staff of the station!), crampy technical spaces, living quarters and lot of other stuff, and I was pretty much sold. I then saw that there is a bundle selling Argos and Invictus together, and bought them - as well as Euphoria for High Space, as it was very cheap and was supposed to be on the spot where I wanted the station to be - if you're interested in this, you should check out High Space by Storyweaver for Savage Worlds; I'm not running it as is but instead picking what I want for my B5 -game - and it works great that way.
Like the preview hinted, Argos got my printer singing. No, I haven't printed but minority of the items so far, and no duplicate tiles yet. The set of pdf's coming with the purchase has great, accurate sector maps but I don't believe I'll be looking tile placements too accurately and will be using just a few randomly chosen habitation tiles on habitation sector and so on. I'll be able to create any sector on the station with the tiles, although I Believe I'll be using old starship tiles for docking rings. The pack contains also cool pictures of the station (from outside). It has detailed deckplans with maps, showing points of interest marked with numbers and providing information on sectors and various details about them. The information isn't super-detailed but I'm okay with it; I would have preferred some roleplaying hooks and character personalities instead of stats for the station and other crafts that have gazillion hitpoints, but that's a personal preference. I bought these items for map tiles after all. The document has a few lines about the commander and Sendai corporation representative but not too many hooks.
Invictus has mostly same tiles than argos, and if I would have known that, I might not have bought the bundle. The price increase for the bundle wasn't huge though and I might one day run a campaign on a spaceship - Galactica perhaps? So I might have use for Invictus too. Anyway, in the pdf's it's clear they use same parts and Invictus's map key chart has all the new pieces emphasized, there's total of 17 of them. Argos has much more tiles including a number of green refreshment area tiles, but Invictus has some cool new ones including launch ready Vip... Fighters and shuttles.
Map tiles for modern roleplaying
While Argos and Invictus are meant to be used as space station and spaceship, they get a huge value boost if you open your mind a bit. You get an university auditorium (attention ETU gm's!) that sufficiently works as movie theatre too, small swimming pool and gym, hair salon, laundry, offices (rooms and cubicle-areas), apartments, hotel rooms, machinery, a jail section, grass field with trees, hospital sections, bars and restaurants, stores (although they look a bit funny IMO) - you get a huge amount of interior stuff you can use with your modern(ish) games, whether it's zombie apocalypse, espionage, cyberpunk or something else. Blue shade may disturb some but if you have any Photoshop or Gimp skills you may try to do some color tweaks.
Euphoria is quite different from Argos. While maps and plans take two thirds of the pdf, you get just one (big) bar and a temple (which has a few rooms). High Space aims for weirder, more 'scifi' feel than Argos. The bar is round and quite big though and I could see it as a place for quite interesting encounter, but the maps aren't really to my tastes. The bar has a graphic square pattern that goes out of sync to the grid on the map which is quite confusing and the terrains have unprofessional -looking repeating patterns. But the meat of the pdf isn't the maps but all the characters with their hooks and tensions towards each other, which will surely lead to interesting situations. I have a lot of plans for my B5/Euphoria game but when I'm running a session concentrating on delvers, I'll surely use these.
Comparing to Starship tiles
Starship tiles from Fat Dragon are quite different in flavor. While Argos is very cool, I really like the style of these tiles, especially doors. While I use Argos to present a space station in Babylon 5 -style game, I could see using these tiles more in Star Wars -games. And especially I'll use them as alien stations, and ones infested with Aliens (Giger's aliens that is), as well as for hangar sectors of my Babylon 5 -campaign's / Argos station. I could think of photoshopping some of the tiles for alien-like stuff on walls...
Printing issues and colouring
I'm using an OKI color laser printer and I've had some issues with it. The printer uses way too much ink, making the the tiles look too dark and colors too bright in addition to increasing printing costs. I've resolved the issue by turning ink saving from Advanced -dialog to low level while preserving black, increasing lightness by 10% and reducing color intensity by 25% (not 100% sure I remember correctly the settings but they are quite close believe) This looks good to my eye, even if I may have more than compensated for printer's excess color use. Too bright colors don't fit rpg maps too well IMO as they make them look less realistic. When I look out of the bus window right now, the only thing I saw that was bright and pure color was a car that looked just washed. If you want more cartoonish look, then it's ok to use brighter colors, but to get a bit more realistic look you need to fade color birghness down a bit.
I'm on lazy mood so I don't try to put pictures nicely along the text, so here's some Argos terrains in use:
I don't regret getting Argos a bit, I love it! Invictus felt a useless with Argos but might get some use. Euphoria is more of an adventure and I'll be using parts of it - even if I was a bit disappointed at unclarity in High Space pdf's and Storyweaver never answering questions at Savage worlds forums where they initially were quite loud of the setting. But I don't need map of Euphoria, but I'll have to admit they have some originality even if they aren't most beautiful maps in the world.