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Subject: Original WWII tactical maps? Influence on game maps? rss

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I've seen plenty of maps in history books, but I don't think I've ever seen what maps the troops on the ground (infantry and armor commanders) would have used when conducting operations.

I'm not only wondering what they looked like, but also if any wargames have been inspired by them.

I've played a lot of WWII games. Some of my favorites from the golden age of wargaming have a clear functional and graphic style - Panzer Blitz, France 1940. As printing has gotten better we've seen more sophisticated variations of the same style - Combat Commander. Recently we've seen amazing photo-realistic maps - Conflict of Heroes, and comic book illustration style maps - Band of Brothers.

But what about games that look like period maps? Anybody know any?

I've been thinking it'd be an interesting design choice for a while and I've meant to look into it. I finally got prompted to go dust off this idea when Guns of Gettysburg went on Kickstarter.

So... anybody got any leads on period maps or games inspired by them?
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Loads of stuff at the the Lone Sentry, including period intelligence memos with maps.
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Pelle Nilsson
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I know you specifically asked for WWII maps, but this site is too awesome to not mention in this context anyway:
http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/ww1/ndx5to40.htm
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Brian Morris
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I think historical maps and wargames have pretty much gone hand in hand as the hobby has evolved. Of course a wargame map and a historical map while similar serve two completely different purposes. A wargame map is designed to give you an easy to see representation of a historical battlefield. The historical map is designed to get you from point A to point B. Thus I don't think historical maps themselves are good for wargames aside from a historical guide to the features of the battlefield.

I have a number of large scale historical maps of civil war battlefields such as the famous Elliot Map of Gettysburg. A fascinating thing to study the Elliot Map but I would never base a Gettysburg game's board upon it in terms of graphics. A wargame map needs to be thematic but also practical in terms of it's ease of reading at a glance. A historical map on the other hand is not meant to have counters placed upon it but to help you find your way. So while I love it when wargame maps have a sense of the historical period to them functionality and clarity in my mind should always trump style.
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pelni wrote:
I know you specifically asked for WWII maps, but this site is too awesome to not mention in this context anyway:
http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/ww1/ndx5to40.htm


I got involved with some PbeM Kriegsspiel using these sets of maps. Great gaming.
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mrbeankc wrote:
I think historical maps and wargames have pretty much gone hand in hand as the hobby has evolved. Of course a wargame map and a historical map while similar serve two completely different purposes. A wargame map is designed to give you an easy to see representation of a historical battlefield. The historical map is designed to get you from point A to point B. Thus I don't think historical maps themselves are good for wargames aside from a historical guide to the features of the battlefield.


I would love to be good enough at drawing game maps to make playtest-quality maps in the style of original maps (eg ww1 trench maps). I agree that the original maps are not ideal for gaming, but using the same colors (or lack of colors) and map symbols I think it would work well to play on. Like much else in this hobby it is often good enough that something looks authentic at at distance.
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mrbeankc wrote:
I have a number of large scale historical maps of civil war battlefields such as the famous Elliot Map of Gettysburg. A fascinating thing to study the Elliot Map but I would never base a Gettysburg game's board upon it in terms of graphics.


I've never seen the Elliot Map but check this out:



It's magnificent. Wikipedia has a map from the Battle of Carentan in WW2, they use the same blue/red front lines as Napoleon's Triumph and Guns of Gettysburg:



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Here's a site with some good examples of WWII tactical maps. Remember that Allied forces were not averse to using German maps and vice versa when the need/occasion arose. Local maps were also used on a similar basis.

http://www.oldhickory30th.com/Maps.htm

Also some good stuff here:
http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/
http://mapy.amzp.pl/tk25_list.cgi
http://www.simmonsgames.com/research/authors/GermanyHeerGene...

The British Army Wargame - 1956 is intended to be played on 1:50,000 maps, though I think I will probably use somewhat simplified versions for ease of play.
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HarlemMimeSchool wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:
I have a number of large scale historical maps of civil war battlefields such as the famous Elliot Map of Gettysburg. A fascinating thing to study the Elliot Map but I would never base a Gettysburg game's board upon it in terms of graphics.


I've never seen the Elliot Map but check this out:


When Bowen was creating Guns of Gettysburg he did a designer blog. His map of the Gettysburg battlefield is one of the best if not the best I've seen and his blog talking about how he went about it's design is great reading. See all those little buildings in Gettysburg itself? Those aren't randomly placed for decoration but the actual buildings as best Bowen Simmons could discern from old maps of Gettysburg including I'm sure the Elliott Map. The map itself is an achievement in my opinion. Can't wait for the game!

Here's a link to a high def image of the Elliott Map. It's an important map for a number of reasons including it marks the grave sites of many of the Confederates after the battle. Although some are inaccurate such as the 500 bodies in the Rose Woods (long story that) the map is of great historical value.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/h?ammem/gmd:@field%28NUMBER+@band%28g3824g+cw0332000%29%29


Guns of Gettysburg is a great example of using historical maps with modern map design.
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In the Gamers/MMP Tactical Combat Series, originally not just the map graphics, but the suggested graphics to be used on the opsheets and the counter graphics were derived from current practice (which resembles US wartime practice).



Note the ellipse on the counters - this corresponds to the shape that would be drawn on a situation map to represent the location of the unit.

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HarlemMimeSchool wrote:
It's magnificent. Wikipedia has a map from the Battle of Carentan in WW2, they use the same blue/red front lines as Napoleon's Triumph and Guns of Gettysburg:

Those aren't Wikipedia maps, those were produced by the US Army's history office. There are a whole series of them. Example: Battle of Poland. They're in the public domain because they were produced by employees of the US government.
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Australian unit war diaries contain maps of key areas. They're typically towards the end of each periods diary (scroll to the very end, then begin scrolling up). They're also typically found in Appendices either attached to or linked separate from, the dairies.

The infantry diaries are available here: http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/records/awm52/class.asp?lev...

For example, these are from the Appendix to 39th Battalion's war diary for July-December, 1942 (during the Kokoda Campaign):





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Amnese wrote:
Australian unit war diaries contain maps of key areas. They're typically towards the end of each periods diary (scroll to the very end, then begin scrolling up). They're also typically found in Appendices either attached to or linked separate from, the dairies.


Same with the Canadian and British diaries. The appendices are also very nice for finding after action reports. My not-so-secret trick to finding tactical game scenario ideas.

(Speaking of ww1, but I guess ww2 diaries were not so different?)
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pelni wrote:

(Speaking of ww1, but I guess ww2 diaries were not so different?)


In the Australian case the general style and pattern of reporting is very similar (and both are accessible from the AWM website in case anyone is interested). The main difference is the WW2 ones tend to be more typed-up, whereas WW1 is more often written in pencil.

Here are two examples from WWI, from the 16th Battalions (AIF) diary. The first from April, 1918, the second from August 1918 [hard to make out details on this one as it was a large map].


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jumbit wrote:
HarlemMimeSchool wrote:
It's magnificent. Wikipedia has a map from the Battle of Carentan in WW2, they use the same blue/red front lines as Napoleon's Triumph and Guns of Gettysburg:

Those aren't Wikipedia maps, those were produced by the US Army's history office. There are a whole series of them. Example: Battle of Poland. They're in the public domain because they were produced by employees of the US government.


Been looking at those maps for decades - the US Army produced a boat load of these things.

Very useful stuff.

How about this very detailed Soviet One on Novorossiyk?



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Years ago I ordered copies of actual maps used in NW Europe by the US Army, from the US National Archives. In fact, they were free and I just had to pay a small postage fee. I ordered some 1:50,000 maps of the Metz area.

They're very rich with contour lines, roads, and whole bunch of information. And, I remember thinking how abstracted our wargames maps are. I can't imagine how actual commanders used those maps doing the real thing.
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By spending a lot of time over them, in particular.
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Gotta love maps, kudos to the OP for getting this ball rolling!
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isaacc wrote:

Years ago I ordered copies of actual maps used in NW Europe by the US Army, from the US National Archives. In fact, they were free and I just had to pay a small postage fee. I ordered some 1:50,000 maps of the Metz area.

They're very rich with contour lines, roads, and whole bunch of information. And, I remember thinking how abstracted our wargames maps are. I can't imagine how actual commanders used those maps doing the real thing.
.


I'm glad you made that point. Many people simply cannot read a map - even with training. They can't do terrain association or keep track of where they are while on the move. During my active duty time we typically used 1/50,000 scale which means each square was 1000 meters across. At the company and platoon level or below it can be a challenge but with practice is certainly manageable. The maps do contain a lot of info but the trick is being able to use the contour lines and other features and recognize them as you are approaching or moving among them. Folks get lost all the time. Map reading is a skill being lost today due to the proliferation of GPS and other aids.

The advent of indirect ary fire also was greatly impacted by the need for quality maps and survey tools.

As you noted most game maps bear no resemblence to reality particularly in map scale though I do think that designers have become more sensitive to this issue and are making great efforts to get it right.

Good thread.
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I wasted all kinds of time last week on this website with detailed maps of the battle of the bulge.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/maps/wwii/essay1a.ht...
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Slightly off topic, but the histories are full of instances where units (and entire armies) got lost, or were stopped or delayed due to map issues. I know some people express dissatisfaction with chit-pull or other mechanisms that don't allow them to move their units in the order they want, but I see part of this as reflecting units having "map issues" and maybe not moving or having to retrace their steops unitl they can effectively move.
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badinfo wrote:


Thanks all! These are fantastic and exactly what I was looking for - I knew the fellow geek-nards would not disappoint! Great reference sites.

zuludawn wrote:

Loads of stuff at the the Lone Sentry, including period intelligence memos with maps.


My search-fu seems to be bad on this one, the only maps I can find are the ones in the article you quoted on reading captured Japanese maps... good article though and loads other useful stuff on the site.

badinfo wrote:

These are particularly good!

M St wrote:
In the Gamers/MMP Tactical Combat Series, originally not just the map graphics, but the suggested graphics to be used on the opsheets and the counter graphics were derived from current practice (which resembles US wartime practice).

I'll have to check this out. The hex grid is pretty strong and the colors of the map are still pretty naturalistic, but it seems like a good starting point.

Bowen Simmons work is of course the inspiration for all this. I think with modern printing it's be possible to capture the "map" feel of these black and white maps, while adding just enough color to distinguish the various elements.


 
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zuludawn wrote:


Loads of stuff at the the Lone Sentry, including period intelligence memos with maps.


Quote:
So... anybody got any leads on period maps or games inspired by them?


Not WWII, but this really reminds me of the design choice in Omega's Ranger.
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calandale wrote:
zuludawn wrote:


Loads of stuff at the the Lone Sentry, including period intelligence memos with maps.


Quote:
So... anybody got any leads on period maps or games inspired by them?


Not WWII, but this really reminds me of the design choice in Omega's Ranger.


yes it does, a link to the 1996/97 US Army field manual on operational terms and graphics...this does change a little from time to time (and a newer version might be available on the web) but this is still relevant for the wargamer
http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/army/docs/fm101-5-1/f545con.h...
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The TCS and Ranger games were what I immediately thought of when I read the title of this forum.
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