Rob Lyon
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Lopez
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BGG: DDM Venue Options



DDM is a long time favorite of many miniature players. From there I’ve ventured into other miniature games with flashier, more complex and well designed rule sets. I don’t know what it is but after a particularly aggressive game of Warmachine, or perhaps after telling the grandkids not to touch the fragile metal figures for the umpteenth time and feeling a bit like an ogre, I pull out the drawer of painted plastic goodness, tell the kids to have at it, and set up for some D&D play with the older of the boys.

What’s new for us with the game, other than the new figures coming down the WizKid pike every few months and gradually getting their play statts from the DDM guild (https://box1055.bluehost.com/~ddmguil1/?q=forum/general/tyra...), are the different board options to choose from. Not relegated to the paper maps of old, nor even the Heroscape tiles that make a good cross–over terrain playing field and of which I have written about on several occasions, several new board options have graced our gaming table of late.

Myself, I go back and forth between delineated, gridded space and organic layouts. It’s as if my mind enjoys the precision of the grid up to a point, then craves open space. Then back again to the grid when the need for order kicks in, again. For gridded play we use hexes, the old 3D Heroscape tiles, as I have said, to create a custom layout of hex spaces. I have never been able to make a satisfying mental transition when running 3D figures on a gridded 2D map surface. Heroscape tiles are readily available on the secondary market and, with some choice HRs, make an excellent miniature venue. Some of the terrain pieces are quite excellent for the impressionistic level props they are. The jungle trees and bushes are the most popular and create about as good a geometric layout as is possible from plastic.



With the tiles you can create a rich vertical relief and it’s loads of fun for a change! We have HR’d rules for elevation advantage but they are essentially common sense decisions. It plays like an urban canyon setting. While the gridded plastic board represents one extreme of our board options, the polar option is verisimilitude itself. In my search for realistic miniature terrain I perused everything I can find on the net. I wanted an aesthetic sensibility that matched my own and I wanted some degree of modular. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck with one unchangeable diorama, a huge white elephant of a board. Eventually, I stumbled on Alex Wright’s site: Wright War Game Terrain.



When I got a hold of Alex Wright, the man behind the screen, he was excited to see what we might put together. In the end, Alex created a modular series of panels that set into a retaining frame. It’s a three panel fit and can be configured with three parallel panels or two parallel and one abutting the ends of the two. It’s clever as hell. The panels are light, molded onto thin, but rigid boards. We have low mountains and rocky fields and each is unique, providing many different configurations. The work is exquisite. In future, if I want additional terrain options, Alex can build a panel in short order. You’ll see a broad portfolio of both his custom and stock projects onsite as well as what he is currently working on. I’ve gotta say, I’ve worked with many, many vendors, PR and Marketing agents in my career as adventure journalist and I have never come across someone as consistently positive and pro-active to work with as this guy: http://www.wrightwargameterrain.com/home.html


We use a ruler when playing without a grid, of course. In reality, it’s easy and oftentimes unnecessary to measure. If measuring has been a deal breaker for you in the past, think again. We use tiny Stanley 3’ tapes the size of a Triscuit and it’s really not the issue we had thought it might be.



Another non-issue that had me initially concerned was the instability of miniatures on uneven terrain. Certainly a butt flat surface is the benchmark for play, but with the thin retaining rim on these minis, they typically perch on uneven ground or rock without a problem. The essential value, of course, of the realism of this style of play is the powerful versimilitude it conveys.



Another option, somewhere between a uniformly gridded, 2D board and a fully 3D diorama, are a printed table mat, or game mat. State of the art in this style of thing, I’d be willing to venture, are F.A.T. Mats, from Frontline Gaming. The mats are huge at either 4’X4’ or 4’X6’. A beautifully depicted themed terrain is printed atop a water repellant fabric and bonded to a mouse pad like material with a grippy bottom. They are available in a variety of themes, from arctic tundra to meadow to blasted earth to wasted urbanscape to ocean and space and more. Warmachine and GW and of course, the 25mm DDM, fit nicely. Small plusses are the dampening effect they have on dice and the fact that it rolls up to travel in a provided shoulder strapped case. Simply get where you’re going and roll it out, then step back to hear the oohs and ahs. It’s a bit like a red carpet.



For play, you can either treat the mat as pure theme, thereby obviating the dirt and grass, rock and snow, city streets, etc., depicted on the mat, and then add your own buildings, rocks, trees and such. Or you can treat the printed terrain as literal, much as you would any official game map, only without a grid of any sort.



And finally, taking 2D to a more graphically detailed level than the broad brush stroke themed depiction of the F.A.T. Mat, and doing it in modular fashion, are the recently introduced Misty Moorland tile set, a TerraTile product from Rainn Games. A recent Kickstarter campaign funded the project and the tiles are very nicely rendered. There are forest and rocky outcrop, path, rock wall and stream and open meadow and specialty tiles, and more, even, than I can remember. Another Kickstarter has produced a set of coastal themed tiles that are in production. They come in a box of 66 double sided tiles, enough to fill up a 4’X6’ area! The tiles are thick and precisely cut. There are half tiles to help fill out the perimeter. They pack neatly into a small box for storage. The tiles measure 9” across a flat side. Rainn has a template available for those that want to stencil on a playable grid. They also have a set of risers for sale to create elevation on the battleground. All in all, a rich bag of board tricks for miniature gamers. Rain Studios: http://www.rainnstudios.com/mm/


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Ira Fay
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Awesome stuff here, Rob!! Great pictures and analysis. I personally like the chess-like qualities of the 2D grid maps, but I love that you're finding something that's even better for you. I look forward to seeing more reports!
 
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Rob Lyon
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Thanks Ira. Tell us more about that, will you? I started out on the maps, mostly with Warhammer Quest and Hybrid, but had more trouble accepting the disconnect between flatscape terrain that I was forced to imagine and 3D figures that towered in front of my face.

Perhaps if the grid maps represented more abstract qualities like void squares where you couldn't move, and, like columns, provided cover. And magic squares that provided buffs. And victory squares, which there are. Point is though, concede the abstract, so it was truly more like a chess match than an attempt to make it appear realistic.

Just saying. I'd like to be convinced. It would be a lot more convenient and there are a ton of maps for variety. But I don't think I'm wired that way.
 
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Fil Darkonios
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Always a pleasure reading your articles, Rob. Most of the time i play on the printed grid maps, because we are more used to them, thus the game runs faster.

But when time permits it, i thoroughly enjoy playing on a table with rulers and three-dimensional terrain, rocks, trees, hills, they all add a level of realism that is very rewarding to the eyes and mind.

Great photos, love all your different setups, that's a great way to keep each game fresh and interesting. Your grandson is one lucky man!

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Rob Lyon
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Hey Fil!

Yeah, I go back and forth but never to the level of printed maps. Don't know why but just can't relate. Been playing again on the HS tiles and love the precise layout.

It's a miracle I'm in a 25 yr monogamous relationship the way I cycle through my taste!

Rob

 
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Amund Christensen
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Brockville
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Hi Rob
I know this is a late reply to this, but I have just seen it.
I am pretty new to the game but really like the trial games I have played so far. I have a decent enough selection of old figures and a lot of the newer series and their cards from the DDM site. I have also been looking at the Terra Tiles...they look fantastic....but they are huge, so one tile as one square is not going to work. You are an active and positive poster both here and on the DDM site...could you give me your insight on the games as a non-grid game. How well does it work and does it require any house rules or maybe I should stay away from that until I have played a lot more.
movement looks to translate pretty easily...but what about things like " adjacent" or " area of effect " and those types of things.
I have some battle mats and really like the look of the RAINN product but wonder if I should leave the grid so to speak.
Thanks in advance for any advice you have.

cheers
 
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Rob Lyon
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Hey Amund,

Good to hear from you. Here's the deal for me of late. I had a change of mind with regards to the maps and now use them in rotation with the Heroscape terrain. I have a frame tray with glass overlay that flattens and brightens the map and it works well.

That said, the Heroscape terrain is easily my go to layout. It just works great and looks in theme with the plastic pre-paint figures. I have some alternate tree terrains I will post on shortly. Apple trees and pine trees. Currently we have the simplistic conifers and everybody's favorite, palms.

My advice would be to go wit the HS terrain. It is easy to pick up on the secondary market. Playing with TerraTiles will require the ruler and while that's not at all a problem, I do gravitate to demarcated spaces like hexes and squares these days.

As to HRs, some of that is required. It seems intuitive though and not a big problem. Check my posts here and at the 1e page and you'll see the changes. Otherwise, let me know if you have any further questions.

Best,
Rob
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Amund Christensen
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Hi Rob

Thanks so much for the reply.....food for thought.
I do have a TONNE of heroscape terrain.......but I like the look of the TerraTiles very much. Do you use the overlay with them? That is a really good idea.
Is the moving back to a grid a visual choice or about rules playability?
I have all three Axis and Allies games too, so was hoping to use the tiles for a few games.
Not sure what the 1e page is...first edition?
Will join the DDM site tonight after just reading for a year lol.

Cheers
Amund
 
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Rob Lyon
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Amund,

1e is the original version of the game. Here's a link to some HR I suggested on the forum there: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/385765/thoughts-how-enjoy-g....

The thing about the HS tiles is they are 3D. You have elevation and trees and the minis sit discreetly in the middle of a hex and look perfect like that.

Biggest issue might be movement as the hexes are larger than squares, but most often I play it straight up the same.

Rob
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Amund Christensen
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Thanks again.
Lots of good reading there. Trying to broaden things out and have big modular terrain...but not to over complicate and take the fun out of a great skirmish game.
Cheers
A
 
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