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Author Topic: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque? Update: Posted Rules!  (Read 2232 times)

Offline Evil Dave

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 504
Edit: I ended up writing this to get what I was after: The Scouting Phase

Has anyone stumbled across a particularly clever, mini-game-esque terrain set up method? I'm thinking something along the lines of Chain of Command's patrol phase but instead of gaming how you deploy, gaming how commanders chose their field of battle.

I saw this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvSGhALIai8 and it got me wondering if there's anything else out there. Many some kind of bidding mechanic?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2022, 02:37:22 PM by Evil Dave »

Offline has.been

  • Galactic Brain
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Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2022, 07:45:22 AM »
We have used old real maps. Pick them up cheap from charity shops.
Ignore anything anachronistic, eg used some tourist maps of Rhodes.
For ancient games the Airport doesn't exist  :D,
but for the WW2 games it is a great objective.
Real maps pose real problems.
Using one, for pre-battle manoeuvres during a 7YW game, I found
myself having the kind of problems a real commander might face.
The 'best' battlefield for me was about half way between my Saxons
& my opponent's Prussians. He can get his army across country much
faster than I can move mine, so dare not try for that one. You find yourself
thinking thing like, 'I could anchor my left flank on that river, but if I
garrison that village on my right, the army is going to be very thin in
the centre, OR  'That ridge line would give me an advantage, it is only
two days march, so I'd have time to build some defense works on the weak left,
BUT he could advance through that large wood on my right & attack from there.

Try it, you only have some cheap/out of date maps to lose.

Also useful for made up 'countries'
e.g. I took an old map of Warwickshire (UK) and a large felt tip pen.
Decided that Post Apocalypse Britain had been flooded to a depth of
 ????  feet. Take the pen & draw along the  appropriate contour line.
You now have islands & a totally new terrain.  If you want the land
bigger, reduce the flood (use a lower contour line). Islands smaller?
Increase the flood (use a higher contour line).
Next use some cheap paint (I used Matchpots) to colour in the 'sea' .
Then you have the basis for (in my case PA campaign) your 'world'
Tribal groups were based on/near urban conurbations (were survivors
would gather) Birmingham gave rise to the Brum Tribe.  The people
of the Wolf (formally Wolverhampton). I already had tribal colours
(Local football teams) & banners (Wolverhampton= a wolf's head)
Explain away anomalies with some back story. The Motorway, which
went over islands, but disappeared beneath the waters, well that was
the road of the Gods. Only Gods can walk through the seas, and look
how BIG their road is! Gods are hugh.
Added bonus, other maps are available if you want to expand.
To further throw off the players, turn your map so that the top is
East (the rising sun) & not North (which needs a compass). That
was how a lot of old maps were drawn. 

Offline fred

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 4395
    • Miniature Gaming
Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2022, 12:55:12 PM »
Interesting idea on the use of real maps - especially changing them up a bit. Real maps do generate terrain that looks nothing like typical wargames terrain.

A method we used a good few years ago (so is a bit vague due to memory) was very much wargames terrain, and designed to be used on the night of setting up a game.
We had a pool of terrain, say 4 woods, 3 hills, some linear terrain, and some areas of open ground (delineated by a loop of string), rough ground, etc around 10-15 pieces in total.

Each player would use a d6 to select the number of pieces of terrain they wanted to place - this would be done hidden - then both players reveal their number simultaneously. Add the numbers together to get the total amount of terrain. Then each player alternates placing a piece of terrain from the pool of terrain.

We might then have done some slight randomisation to move terrain around.

Seemed to give interesting setups and let the players collectively determine the density and type of terrain - without either having total control

Offline eilif

  • Scatterbrained Genius
  • Posts: 2383
    • Chicago Skirmish Wargames
Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2022, 01:45:00 AM »
I don't have anything particularly insightful, but my favorite way is when the terrain is setup thematically almost like a layout and then board edge for deployment is randomly determined.   Works best for skirmish games where you have a relatively square layout because then you can randomize all 4 sides.  However, anytime the terrain is setup for narrative rather than competitive I'm a happy camper.

Both of the last games I played were KoW where we defaulted to diagonally mirrored terrain setup.  Was very fair and I had a great time. and we at least used different types of terrain so it wouldn't look as samey, but it wasn't as cool as a more irregular narrative arrangement.

Offline Elbows

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 9487
Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2022, 04:31:15 PM »
I'm with Eilif.

I don't play tournament/competitive games, but the thing I hate the very most in wargaming tables is the video-game inspired symmetrical terrain allocation, etc.  I prefer to make a cool looking table that looks thematic and "realistic"...then decide on the armies, deployment, game, etc.  I also like when a 3rd party sets up a table.

Asymmetrical design, varying degrees of terrain density, some open spots, some cluttered spots, etc. 
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Offline Easy E

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1966
  • Just some guy who does stuff
    • Blood and Spectacles
Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2022, 08:36:17 PM »
I put some thoughts about different ways here.....


.... but to be honest, I really do not want terrain set-up to be a mini-game as much as I want it to be done quickly, interestingly, and done so we can move onto the game.  I feel the same way about deployment too. 
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Offline Evil Dave

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 504
Re: neatest terrain setup method you've seen? mini-game-esque?
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2022, 03:02:26 AM »
Thanks guys.

Eric, I stumbled across your post and agree that's pretty much what's out there at the moment. I'm not in the same boat as you though, so long as the actual game isn't going to last 3+ hours I'm all for a fun/different approach for messing with your opponent. I think a 5-10 minute investment would be worth it, at least enough to give it as an option for people (the other options you write about are easy enough to add to any game).

I've been poking around some more for something and think that Patchwork Express could be modified pretty easily. Both players use the same board, draw some terrain on the shapes, and the winner at the end gets to chose the area on the board that gets used on the tabletop.

Offline Evil Dave

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 504
So I knocked this together, if anyone's interested: The Scouting Phase

Offline fred

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 4395
    • Miniature Gaming
Hey Dave, thatís a very interesting approach - Iíve had a quick read and feel the need to try it out to get all the ideas.

But a couple of questions from a read through
Terrain tiles are double sided - but I canít see why?
Some of the tiles have a 5 dash mark symbol in a kind of sunburst - what does this represent?
Roads are mentioned in placing terrain - but I canít see any on the tiles?
Rivers - how would you handle these, I find rivers perhaps the most impact on a game of any terrain

I do like the time chart - and having it as a spiral is cool
And being able to make different sets of mini terrain tiles would be cool, eg desert or jungle would be pretty simple and give a way of producing quite different tables.

Offline Evil Dave

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 504
Hey Fred, the tiles are double sided so you can flip them over and put them on the map grid in different ways. It gives you more shape options with the odder shapes (although not with the ones that are straight lines and squares).

The sunburst like symbol is meant to be a marsh. I should add a key.

I did not have an icon for roads and rivers, so I didn't include them on the provided tiles.

Rivers work the same as roads, there's a sentence at the end of the placing terrain paragraph about them.

Thanks for looking, let me know if you end up using it before a game.

Offline fred

  • Galactic Brain
  • Posts: 4395
    • Miniature Gaming
Thanks - double sided to give more placement options is good

I think roads and rivers would work better with coloured lines, rather than symbols - but do also add a lot of complexity around the joining of tiles.

When placing terrain at the end - what do you intend for squares that arenít covered by a mini terrain tile?

Have you tried this with another player, canít decide if it would lead to analysis paralysis or should crack along at a good pace.

A further option could be to provide a different number of scouting tokens based on the army - we have done something similar in our home brew rule, where units like light cavalry and flyers generate more scouting points for a force.

Offline Easy E

  • Mastermind
  • Posts: 1966
  • Just some guy who does stuff
    • Blood and Spectacles
Scouting Phase- A great name for this idea! 

The idea is intriguing and definitely getting my brain mush turning on this topic.

Well done, and I would like to see it in action.   

Offline Evil Dave

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 504
Thanks guys.

@fred, ya I was trying to keep placement simple with the road/river. I didn't want to turn it into a game of Carcassonne with such a small map grid where players don't end up with a workable table set up quickly.

The empty square on the map grid would be empty areas on the table. In Epic Armageddon I shoot for 12ish terrain pieces on a 24 square foot table, so I tried to have a comparable number of terrain pictures on the 63 squares worth of tiles. That left roughly half of them empty.

I have not tried it yet, I just wrote it over the weekend. I'll see if the guys are interested in trying it a few times the next time we get together. That might result in some scouting/time cost changes on the tiles, to make sure it moves things along.

I agree on the variable starting tokens based on the army (or even cost discounts/surcharges). I thought about it, but in the end opted for simplicity for the most compatibility between games. Definitely worth a house-rule though.

Offline ced1106

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 895
Dug out my old TerraTiles hex system and found it surprisingly good for generating random -- and, more importantly, interesting -- terrain setups.

It's all 9" cardboard hexes with open on one side and feature on the other. So shuffle them and slam them on the table. If you don't like a feature, just flip the tile.

Has rivers and roads, and it's not hard to ad hoc build a river or road across the map. I build a 3x3 map for my generic fantasy miniature skirmish games.

TerraTiles is mostly OOP, but check out Gamefound for their upcoming campaign. Tiles will be different from what I described, with the same feature on both sides and one side with a grid. Also expensive because of today's shipping (cardboard is heavy!).
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Offline jon_1066

  • Mad Scientist
  • Posts: 928
I hate the "plonk six pieces of terrain and make the table even" approach.

First idea - One player sets up the table, forces and scenario then allow the other player to choose which faction to play

Second idea - One player sets up the table and the other player chooses which edges to deploy from

Third idea - Designate one player the defender.  They remove 25% of their forces but can set up the table and choose which board edge to deploy from.  The caveat is if it is too one sided the opponent can refuse battle (eg first player decides to place an unfordable river across the middle of the table!).

Fourth idea - Have a larger map that the battlefield will be drawn from (perhaps grab an OS map that covers a suitable type of location).  Play out the CoC patrol phase on the map (perhaps convert inches to cm to suit the size of the map.)  Once all markers are locked down the battlefield is the section of map that covers all the patrol markers.  You could add free moves for scouting type troops or remove free moves for particularly slow units. The players deploy from the table edge closest to their markers.


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