What do you look for in a map?

Tuomo

Keeper of the Funk
Joined
Feb 10, 2003
Messages
2,710
Likes
1,021
Points
163
Location
Rock Bottom
#1
I'm always a little surprised when somebody says, "That map will work for this battle I've been reading about". Like, I don't think I understand what it is about THAT village map that seems to work better than six other village maps. So let me throw out some ruminations and see if anything is worth commenting on.

I imagine it must be the general overall view of things, right? Like, the general juxtaposition of the terrain? So, say, a long/thin village running along a road at the base of a hill ridge is a different beast from a somewhat more compact village lying between the arms of a hill, etc? So you're looking at the broad strokes of the board, but you don't particularly care about the smaller, 1-3 hex, details like little stands of Orchards or Grain, etc?

Once the central board is decided on, does a scenario designer then kinda work from the VC area outward as well? Like, you first want the general topography of the main battle area to be correct, and then you add boards to the outside in order to give you the right feel for the first few turns of the scenario as one side maybe enters the board?

Seems to me that a lot of standard geo boards have the Main Theme take place in the middle of the board, but the edges, particularly the A-D and DD-GG columns, are pretty much left as filler. That may be just a function of geometry, but it never feels good to waste those hexes. That also may be why the Fort boards are so successful (at least to me) - their dimensions are less susceptible to waste, and you can engage the players all over the map.

From my perspective as a board designer, I appreciate the differences between different types of boards as mentioned above - I can see how a long/thin village strung out along a road is a very different beast than a compact village in the middle of grainfields. To me, though, there's some added details I care about a lot, but I wonder if scenario designers do - things like how the road net interacts with the buildings and hills, whether there's any streams or gullies to affect the approaches to a town, whether there's any dominating terrain like Level 2 building locations or hills, etc. Not mainly because I like to draw pretty terrain, but because I think it'd be a cool board to play on.

I wonder if those things which make the board *to me* are really not all that important to a scenario designer. And if that guy looks at my board and says "Meh" because of something I haven't appreciated, then I guess I want to understand what THEY think is important. Cuz otherwise I'm just doodling fun terrain, and while that's therapeutic in its own way, it doesn't really get maps connected with scenarios and published, ja?
 

Carln0130

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
4,483
Likes
700
Points
113
Location
MA
#2
Tough question in some ways. I like to see maps of the historical terrain, ie; HASL maps, or geo sized HASL maps that can be used as Geo maps for other scenarios as well. Why? Because seeing the actual terrain helps you immeasurably to design around it.
That said, you can certainly design around situations with the existing Geo maps, all 78 or so of them. To really nail some terrain features though, you need to use overlays and many people flee from those like scalded cats. I am not one of them, but there are people who clip thousands of counters, spend countless man hours sorting their kit, who will not then spend a couple of minutes to lay down an overlay. (shrug) I do like the geo map that is designed to an actual battle and is then available to others to design off of, for their particular battle.
Don't know if that helps, but there you go.
 
Last edited:

BigAl737

Active Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
785
Likes
322
Points
63
Location
AK
#3
I like the novelty of playing off maps that depict the actual terrain of the battle. HASL does this obviously but LCP has published quite a few of these map based battles. Footsteps as well with his mouse pad scenarios. Don’t know if those are accurate terrain maps or not but they sure are novel. No more geo boards. They are limited as you point out and certainly there’s enough variety for designers to adapt from at this point.

Edit: How could I forget to mention DftBs Turnscrew map. I’d love to see more like these in the future.
 

RandyT0001

Active Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
304
Likes
196
Points
43
Location
Memphis, TN
#4
I look for 'similar terrain' that matches the actual battle site well enough so that I can design the scenario. 'Similar terrain' does not have to be a one-to-one scale match but should have significant terrain types in (almost) the correct positional relations to each other. My goal in scenario design is that the players can gain an appreciation of the historical action while playing the scenario. I am willing to use overlays and SSRs to adjust for small details like an 'out of place' stand of orchards, etc. I prefer to use the geo boards published by MMP or BFP since I own physical copies.

I think your comments about the Main Theme taking place in a small section of a board leaving the edges unused is a reflection of tournament sized scenarios.
 

Tuomo

Keeper of the Funk
Joined
Feb 10, 2003
Messages
2,710
Likes
1,021
Points
163
Location
Rock Bottom
#5
I think your comments about the Main Theme taking place in a small section of a board leaving the edges unused is a reflection of tournament sized scenarios.
Possibly so. I have to say, I just don't have any of the desire to recreate historical terrain that I've heard so many others express. Shrug?
 

DWPetros

Active Member
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
211
Likes
157
Points
43
#9
[QUOTE="Tuomo, post: 1918333, member: 2281
I wonder if those things which make the board *to me* are really not all that important to a scenario designer. And if that guy looks at my board and says "Meh" because of something I haven't appreciated, then I guess I want to understand what THEY think is important. Cuz otherwise I'm just doodling fun terrain, and while that's therapeutic in its own way, it doesn't really get maps connected with scenarios and published, ja?[/QUOTE]

Add me to the list of wondering designers. As it stands, there's little coordination between the scenario designers and guys like Tom n' myself. We doodle with our designs and we wonder if such and such board types are welcomed.. My experience is that the boards are typically done first - based mainly on what the board designer wants to see - then scenario designers follow with something that utilizes the board. It would be good to get the scenario designers to speak out on this. With that kind of feedback, we could probably find a pattern ('need more bocage, more flat Ukrainian terrain, PTO villages, etc..).

I agree also with the asymmetrical map idea Tom mentions. I'd also like to see more of those. Here's an idea for one such board; village/woods.
Note use of hedges in a 'design for effect' usage (they represent foliage that blocks Lev 1 LOS)

1521572074632.png
 

von Marwitz

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2010
Messages
8,929
Likes
1,997
Points
163
Location
Kraut Corner
#10
I agree also with the asymmetrical map idea Tom mentions. I'd also like to see more of those. Here's an idea for one such board; village/woods.
I agree. Such asymetrical maps would go well together in (geo-board) pairs to extend some 'diagonal' terrain that is quite absent from the usual two-board ASL scenario.

One could say that with this idea a gap in the terrain type coverage of the geo-boards has been defined and highlighted.

von Marwitz