Recommend
18 
 Thumb up
 Hide
45 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: Map detail: How much is too much? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
K G
United States
Delafield
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Movember
Avatar
mb
As did many of you good people, I grew up playing SPI game whose maps were simple, filled only with essential terrain features. It made for clear play, but nearly every map looked like it should be populated by desert Bedouins.

I've moved on to maps that offer more detail and, now, I find myself designing them. The dilemma is knowing when to stop with detail that doesn't really impact play.

For instance, I'm working on a map of an area near Mametz (France) and the soldiers of the time (1916) labeled two trees "The Poodles." Just two trees and they show up on the maps of the time as, I suppose, landmarks. I'm inclined to include them, too, but where do I stop? I could put in literally hundreds of trenches and alleys, but the scale of the simulation does not recognize in any direct way the existence of any but the most formidable and highly developed trench lines. Where do I stop?

In my Bazentin game, being playtested, I developed a second map that includes elevation contours, but the fact is that line of sight is broken by woods and towns far more than an intervening hill. I'm inclined to simply ignore elevation, but the purist in me thinks that would be a mistake.

Like the king of Siam, I say: "It's a puzzlement."

10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lance McMillan
United States
Lakebay
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kluvon wrote:
"It's a puzzlement."


I don't think it's puzzling in the least: functionality absolutely must trump form. First and foremost a game's map must be clear and legible, so that the players know precisely what it is they're looking at and don't have to spend time figuring out whether there's X percentage of terrain in a hex so that you qualify for Y movement penalty or Z defensive bonus. Too many artists (and, more incredibly, game buyers) have lost track of that underlying truth and want the maps to "look nice" even if it results in the map actually interfering with game play.

If a terrain feature is interesting from an historical perspective but has no impact on actual game play, it should only be included if it doesn't otherwise muddy up/confuse the map. Elevation contours should only be included if they effect game play -- if they don't, leave them off. I can think of dozens of games that I won't buy/play because the maps are full of extraneous crap the artists thought made them more "evocative" but impeded actual game play. Please don't go down that road.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pelle Nilsson
Sweden
Linköping
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Trenches. Ouch. That is a huge problem already at Loos 1915 (I must complete that map soon). There are trenches everywhere. (I bet it was even worse in 1916, on the maps you have.) Yes, I know a few trenches that were important in the actual battle, but that includes some communication trenches or short other trenches, and there is nothing saying that they were really more significant in that area than other trenches were there happened to be no battles. On the other hand some of the trenches marked on the map might be so insignificant (eg in very bad shape) that it would be silly to include them. Very difficult to abstract right imo. just marking large areas as being "trenches" does not feel right either, as the direction of front-lines and communication trenches were important.

Would love to read a bit about what others have done to solve that problem. I hope there is something better than to just randomly pick some trenches to include (plus the ones that are mentioned in books).
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lee Kennedy
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
What drives me crazy are extra details that don't impact play but look similar to features that do. For example, having three widths of blue lines for rivers/streams/creeks all over the map, and then in the rules say that only rivers and streams affect play. Same thing with different sizes of city/town that look similar but the towns are only for historical interest.

I'm not against having extra features, especially for things that can help players orient themselves, but they better be easily distinguishable from stuff that matters.

15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mb
pelni wrote:
Very difficult to abstract right imo. just marking large areas as being "trenches" does not feel right either, as the direction of front-lines and communication trenches were important.
.


I don't see why. Major defensive locations can be represented with
well-visible directional trench lines. Communications trenches depend
on the scale (as do minor lines); if turns are a day or so, you can assume
that they will be repurposed quickly enough for direction to be unimportant.

Otherwise, you will need to track the moving changes with some sort
of frontage marker I guess. Unless it's such a small scale fight that
you wouldn't have those kinds of changes (say squad leader); then you
want everything.

Another idea - dry erase marker with a focus on the engineering side.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James
United Kingdom
Sheffield
South Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I flippin love maps. Proper ones as well as game ones.
I was going to buy RAN but the map is bobbins so I have put it off til a later date. I want to buy Brandywine & Germantown and Hungarian Nightmare because the maps are sexy as hell.

A part of a map being attractive is its functionality, and the correct level of detail needed to enhance the functionality is different for every map. But, a map can be functional as well as being boring and unattractive.

Perhaps non-essential detail can remain on the map without distracting from the essential detail. Use of neutral tone can fade information into the background allowing it to be seen when looked for but ignored when necessary.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James
United Kingdom
Sheffield
South Yorkshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
thelivekennedy wrote:

I'm not against having extra features, especially for things that can help players orient themselves, but they better be easily distinguishable from stuff that matters.


Oui oui.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lucius Cornelius
United States
flag msg tools
badge
Lord Protector of Nothing in Particular
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I know it is silly but I want as much detail as possible! I am easily impressed with totally unnecessary details on maps: Look, a mail box in front of a house! How cool is that! wow
22 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
flag msg tools
Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
badge
Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I second Lance that functionality should be the first consideration. BUT - if little details can be included in ways that don't hurt functionality, by all means consider them. Pax Baltica has little symbols for historical battle locations (and a note in the rules that they are for flavor and have no game effect), and I thought that was pretty neat.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Colin Raitt
United Kingdom
Boston
Lincolnshire
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like maps to look pretty, satellite images morphed into hexes is best. Conflict of heroes and Liberty roads are good examples. As many non-functional details as can be unobtrusive. Hex edge as well as whole hex terrain males players search for little details. Remember the access hex-sides from fifth corps? It simulates coup d'oeil in a small way.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff K
United States
Garner
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like maps that have "Mark Simonitch" written on them somewhere.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mb
wifwendell wrote:
Pax Baltica has little symbols for historical battle locations (and a note in the rules that they are for flavor and have no game effect), and I thought that was pretty neat.



There's a long tradition of these. Skirmish had them for example.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
michael connor
United States
Berkeley
California
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think those GCACW maps are just way too much overkill. Too many roads, junctions, taverns, mills and weird things like 'Old Furnaces' and 'Orchard Knob'. Beautifully made however.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Roger Hobden
Canada
Montreal
Quebec
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Q : Map detail: How much is too much?

A : When you look at the map with a magnifying glass, and you see tiny soldiers waving at you.
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mallet wrote:
Q : Map detail: How much is too much?

A : When you look at the map with a magnifying glass, and you see tiny soldiers waving at you.

That may not be the fault of the map, but of the beverage or smoking material...
15 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Korchnoi
United States
Richmond
Virginia
flag msg tools
badge
My Little Man's first real wargame play: Barbarossa Solitaire
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
russ wrote:
Mallet wrote:
Q : Map detail: How much is too much?

A : When you look at the map with a magnifying glass, and you see tiny soldiers waving at you.

That may not be the fault of the map, but of the beverage or smoking material...


If you shrink yourself down to their size to join their ranks, then there is real trouble brewing.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Enrico Viglino
United States
Eugene
OR
flag msg tools
Slowed - BGG's moderation policies have driven me partially from here
badge
http://thegamebox.byethost15.com/smf/
Avatar
mb
russ wrote:
Mallet wrote:
Q : Map detail: How much is too much?

A : When you look at the map with a magnifying glass, and you see tiny soldiers waving at you.

That may not be the fault of the map, but of the beverage or smoking material...


I don't care what they're drinking or smoking - my troops should be
serious about maintaining the believability of the circumstances of
the game. When they break character, it spoils everything.
11 
 Thumb up
0.02
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Steve Arthur
Australia
New South Wales
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Xookliba wrote:
I like maps that have "Mark Simonitch" written on them somewhere.







4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Welker
United States
Steubenville
Ohio
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Atraxrobustus wrote:
Xookliba wrote:
I like maps that have "Mark Simonitch" written on them somewhere.









+1
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Morris
United States
Raytown
Missouri
flag msg tools
2nd, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, 19th Indiana, 24th Michigan
badge
24th Michigan Monument Gettysburg Pa
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't think it's a question of functionality versus artistic details. Looking at the maps of Mark Mahaffey or Nicolás Eskubi I think proves you can have map art that is both highly functional as well as beautiful.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff K
United States
Garner
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mrbeankc wrote:
I don't think it's a question of functionality versus artistic details. Looking at the maps of Mark Mahaffey or Nicolás Eskubi I think proves you can have map art that is both highly functional as well as beautiful.


I think this is true, up to a point. I do agree that Nicolas makes some amazingly artistic maps, but I had a hard time with the Fire in the Sky: The Great Pacific War 1941-1945 map. The artwork was a little jarring to me, and somehow distracted from play for me. I can compare and contrast this map directly with the Empire of the Sun map (by: guess who?!) Same subject, same size, the latter is much more understated, but so much more functional in my view. I am still not quite sure why this map is so beautiful to me, much more so than the FitS map (oddly enough). It conveys a huge amount of information, and is pretty simple, but it just works. Stark contrast to the FitS map. I have nothing against Nicolas and think he is a great artist, it was indeed a beautiful map, but for me it just didn't work as well for the game. His style is just too stark, it dominates your attention, despite being quite beautiful. The map leaps off the table, so to speak, and can obscure where the units are.

Now, Mark, I will grant you is indeed a fabulous map artist. Maybe it has something to do with him being a cartographer (I think that is correct?), but his maps work for me and are amazing artwork to boot, as you say. But, the major difference between he and Nicolas is that Mark's work is often muted. Whereas Nicolas uses really bright colors, hard lines and bold wording, Mark tends towards earth tones, soft edges and more subtle text. It's easier on the eyes.

A wargame map should not take over the visual representation of the game. It should really become the background/backdrop and enhance gameplay, not dominate it. But yes, I do not think that artistic fundamentally precludes functional, but you have to be careful because one perhaps can ruin the other.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Up Front fan | In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this | Combat Commander series fan | The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me! | Fields of Fire fan
badge
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

Stellar example of cartography in a wargame. Okay, the contour colours are reversed, but speaking as someone with a double major in geography and fine art (who has a passion for cartography) this one's hard to top. And look ... no hexes! (Though that's a whole other kettle of fish.)
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
K G
United States
Delafield
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
Movember
Avatar
mb
DaveyJJ wrote:

Stellar example of cartography in a wargame. Okay, the contour colours are reversed, but speaking as someone with a double major in geography and fine art (who has a passion for cartography) this one's hard to top. And look ... no hexes! (Though that's a whole other kettle of fish.)


But surely point-to-point movement allows us to escape many of the problems we usually face...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg S
United States
Pipersville
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like a detailed map. I am a map junkie.

As long as pertinent terrain is easily recognized, put in all the detail you like and I'll be happy.

But that's me.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff K
United States
Garner
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kluvon wrote:
DaveyJJ wrote:

Stellar example of cartography in a wargame. Okay, the contour colours are reversed, but speaking as someone with a double major in geography and fine art (who has a passion for cartography) this one's hard to top. And look ... no hexes! (Though that's a whole other kettle of fish.)


But surely point-to-point movement allows us to escape many of the problems we usually face...


But this is not exactly P2P movement. There is a lot going on there. It's a hybrid of area move and P2P, but in practice it is much more closely associated with area move than P2P. The main difference is that surrounding terrain has much more of an effect than it does in P2P, which often simply charges you more to move between two points.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.