Should I use a map when playing Mines of Madness in the D&D Next playtest?
I can't tell if it's suppose to be run with the map or not. This will be our first time playing D&D.
No, the Mines of Madness crawl does not require a map, but it will help a lot. Without a map, imagination is all there is to see the field and not all people will see a description the same. Maps keep everyone on the same pace and help things flow smoothly. I recommend using a map as first time role players, unless you want more of a challenge. Make sure you know the rules inside and out before attempting to play with out a map as distractions will lessen the enjoyment of the adventure due to a loss of detail (in know from personal experience).
While D&D Next tells you a map is not necessary at all, most combat options involve distances, from the character having different speeds to the range of weapons to the area of spells.
I strongly advise you to use the gridded map: its use makes fictional positioning obvious and the rules support it.