Were there geomorphic boards in games before SL?

Actionjick

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Before Squad Leader I hadn't seen geomorphic boards in the games I had played although there were plenty of games I never played. Were they out there and if so what were they like? I would be curious about the quality of the boards and the game itself.
 

Eagle4ty

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Did you play these?
In some respects the PB/PL board were superior to the ASL boards (But not many). One aspect of these boards was slopes and abilities to block/hinder LOS along them based upon topography. What they did was to afford the player the ability to gain an advantage based upon the contours of a slope from to other enemy units on slopes (e.g. hull down status). The problems as I saw it was the game system itself though SL/ASL has not entirely rectified this problem with regards to a HA or contours of terrain. As with most board games of the period (and ASL today), the plateau effect of terrain is a limiting factor as well as failure to address "folds" in terrain that may impact actual tactics (i.e. the flat earth concept) of PB/PL/AIW as well as SL/ASL. Overall the Geo approach worked well enough for the early game system presented, but a lack of "add on" boards and addition of innovative terrain types doomed the system to an earlier demise than perhaps it should have had (Keeping in mid the system did vey wel for 20+ years as a good tactical simulation).
 

Actionjick

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Thanks! Vaguely remember seeing PL, a friend had it but don't remember
In some respects the PB/PL board were superior to the ASL boards (But not many). One aspect of these boards was slopes and abilities to block/hinder LOS along them based upon topography. What they did was to afford the player the ability to gain an advantage based upon the contours of a slope from to other enemy units on slopes (e.g. hull down status). The problems as I saw it was the game system itself though SL/ASL has not entirely rectified this problem with regards to a HA or contours of terrain. As with most board games of the period (and ASL today), the plateau effect of terrain is a limiting factor as well as failure to address "folds" in terrain that may impact actual tactics (i.e. the flat earth concept) of PB/PL/AIW as well as SL/ASL. Overall the Geo approach worked well enough for the early game system presented, but a lack of "add on" boards and addition of innovative terrain types doomed the system to an earlier demise than perhaps it should have had (Keeping in mid the system did vey wel for 20+ years as a good tactical simulation).
Thanks! 20 years seems to be a good run for a game.
 

dlazov

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SPI also created a game called Firefight (1976), and it had two maps (those old 22x34 maps), I think they were A and B and you could set them up adjacent to each other in 8 total ways (think big rectangles).
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/4250661/firefight-modern-us-and-soviet-small-unit-tactics

MechWar 2 (1979) also had two maps I think you could do that with as well.

Part of MechWar map A:
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/429087/mechwar-2

Part of MechWar map B:
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/429088/mechwar-2

I think you can move the two about IIRC.

Both were modern tactical war games.

Yaquinto produced: '88' (1980) and Panzer (1979) and Armor (1980) all had geometric boards but they came after SL or really close to it.

'88' maps:
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/188859/88-tactical-game-armored-combat-north-african-fron

Part of Panzer map (Yaqunito version, Excalibur also released a version).
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/734034/panzer-tactical-game-armored-combat-eastern-front

Parts of Armor maps:
https://boardgamegeek.com/image/314293/armor-tactical-game-armored-combat-western-europe
 

The Purist

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There are third party boards for both PB and PL that add quite a few maps. Extra maps also exist for AIW/Desert. There is new terrain and additional level above the usual flat hilltop. The desert boards allow for escarpments and dunes, etc. Unfortunately the desert boards use too many village hexes with inferior graphics (which could simply be ignored, I suppose)

For PB - http://www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com/IMSTRAT PB Maps.html

For PL - http://www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com/IMSTRAT PL Land.html

For AIW and WWII Desert - http://www.imaginative-strategist.layfigures.com/IMSTRAT PL Desert.html

These websites also have variants for the entire war as well as links to a second developer who used more up to date information for variants from the original designer. The improvements are minor overall but he left some original PB/PL units as they were because they were "canon". He didn't fix the issue with infantry firepower.

The problem with the system was not so much terrain or the armour but the infantry. The values were based on AT ability and not infantry firepower and AT ability. There probably should have been tow values for infantry. Thus you have German rifle platoons "out shooting" US infantry platoons, which, considering the amount of lead a US platoon could put down range, was a definite flaw. Allied MG platoons were also woefully under -gunned.

The capabilities of the Russian armour and infantry were also very much "cold war" views that were biased towards the "hoards of bodies and avalanche of steel" view that has only been corrected in the last 10-15 years.

They did fix the problems with artillery in AIW which translated well into PB/PL. You could no longer weaken an artillery attack by stacking the hex to maximum (more density). They also fixed the speed issue (tracked vehicles were rated for max road speed) slowing down the tanks.
 
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Vic Provost

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I absolutely would If I can take my eye off ASL even for a second (I have been ASL only apart from 3 games of Downtown since 2013).
Me too Jackson, Tom and I played those games to death back in the day before SL/ASL and loved them way back when.

Got us involved in tactical gaming and glad they did for sure, many fun times, Vic.
 

Michael Dorosh

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I believe the term "isomorphic" was used pre Squad Leader in gaming circles to refer to maps that could abut each other in multiple fashion.
 

Robin Reeve

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I recall the expression "geomorphic".
 

Michael Dorosh

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I recall the expression "geomorphic".
This may have been first used in the marketing of Squad Leader, I'm not sure. It looks like PanzerBlitz may have been the first wargame to use these kinds of maps - certainly, it was the first major commercial board wargame set at a tactical level. Tac Game 3 came out a year before, but it used a single mapsheet.
 

King Scott

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Did you play these?
I played Panzer Leader, Panzer Blitz, and Tobruk before I played Squad Leader.

PL and PB I did not care for. Nothing wrong with the games at all, just not what I was looking for in a wargame...although, at 12 years old, I did not yet know what I was looking for in a wargame until I played SL. For me, the scale of units used in PL/PB were too large...I just did not like how removing one counter from the board equalled a large number of "simulated units" (be they tanks, half-tracks, infantry, etc.). When I played SL, I instantly liked the scale of the game. Here I am, 40+ years later and still enjoying the game system.

While it was overly complex, I found the hit location portion of Tobruk to be sheer elegance...but the infantry element was wanting.

Semper Fi!
Scott
 
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