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Author Topic: Terrain for Grid Based Rules  (Read 1615 times)
Westmarcher
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Sir Oik of Westmarch


« on: 30 October 2018, 10:26:28 AM »

When I first started wargaming, people were trying to get away from the grid patterns associated with games like chess, etc., and for me, an "open table" was (still is) one of the many features that attracted me to tabletop wargaming with miniatures.  Now, grids appear to be making a comeback, e.g., Rommel, To The Strongest, For King and Parliament, Regiment of Foote (and Square Bashing?), etc. As some of you know, I'm not quite "there" - in terms of using grids - not mental health (although you might have a point) - but I'm slowly being seduced and could yet end up taking the plunge.

So, my query is not about the playability of the games - that has been covered elsewhere and I accept that the above are playable, pleasurable and therefore popular rules systems. It's about the aesthetics. It's about what different people are doing to disguise the grids, etc., and representing terrain in a gridded environment. For a start, I know that the grid is being disguised by omitting the lines and marking the corners of the squares only. I also see that the corners are being denoted by placing small stones.

Personally, whilst the stones look like a better idea than permanently marking your table cloth because you can vary the grid size per scenario, I still find that idea a little uninspiring and feel more can be done by the new 'Grid Brigade' of wargamers. How about varying the stones with the odd model tree, a bush, a dead sheep, an intersection of fences, walls or hedges? And what about linear items (walls, hedges, fences, rivers and streams) - presumably these follow the lines of the grid? Also, what do you do about hills? Most of the games I've seen on line so far almost purposely avoid placing hills on the table. I have seen square hills (sorry, Bill - not personal - love your work and know this works for you) but this is not for me. There must be some way of making these merge more effectively into the scenery. What is everyone else doing about hills?

So, with the saying, "there are no straight lines in nature," in mind, my question to everyone is, "What innovative terrain ideas can you (or have) come up with to make grid based games more aesthetically pleasing?"  Look forward to reading your ideas, guys.  

 
« Last Edit: 30 October 2018, 10:35:48 AM by Westmarcher » Logged

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nigel drury
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« Reply #1 on: 30 October 2018, 10:44:23 AM »

The plastic crosses sold as tile spacers can be painted to be less obtrusive and would enable you to try out various grid sizes without marking a cloth.
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fred.
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« Reply #2 on: 30 October 2018, 12:49:43 PM »

You can do lots of things to mark the grid. Some mats are printed very fine and while they have a full grid it’s very unobtrusive. You can just mark corners. You can even mark just big squares, eg 4squares, and eyeball the intermediate squares. One thing I found when using stones as the corner markers is that even if they move a bit, it doesent matter. Your grid does not have to be perfectly square.

One thing to make sure though is that you can see the grid when you need to. I have a desert mat with corners marked by dots. I threw down some small grit and small greenery to break up the expanse of beige. Which it did very nicely. It also meant you couldn’t work out the grid, as the bits of terrain where the same size and shade as the dots! So there does need to be a degree of practically, as the whole point is to speed things up.

With regard to terrain, you don’t need square terrain. As long as it is clear that a box has terrain in or not, it doesn’t matter if things overlap a bit to the next box, or the terrain is only half the box. I’ll try to find some photos this evening.

Also if you have units in different places in the boxes it break up the straight lines as well.

Yes there are some visual compromises, but there nearly always are for a game. The grid gives lots of speed and clarity advantages to the rest of the game it feel worthwhile.
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d_Guy
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« Reply #3 on: 30 October 2018, 03:42:01 PM »

No offense taken, Westie!  Smiley

One thing that Simon mentioned to me several months ago is to put a drape of non-slip netting over the square hills to round and soften them before adding the gridded fleece. I have done this occasionally but usually use the more literal, board game like approach.

I have also experimented with no grid markers at all. I built a square frame which works by always placing your units with the their right hand corner defining the forward right hand corner of the box. As your opponent is doing the same it looks a little strange since they will be slightly offset but it does work.

I even thought (for about a half hour) of using a laser projection of the grid which could be turned off for photos!

I think Fred makes an important point that the corners do not have to be exact, it really doesn’t affect the game. This gives you the option of use a collection of loose (but recognizable) scatter to mark corners. The down side in using non-fixed markers is the set-up time which may give up any time advantage of not having to measure moves.

Don’t know if any of this helps.
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Leman
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« Reply #4 on: 30 October 2018, 04:15:50 PM »

I got some terrain mini-mats from Deep Cut for Square Bashing. Not to everyone’s taste, but they define exactly where the terrain is and can be softened with 3D terrain ob top:



Unfortunately this is the only one I can find at the moment. It is the built up area base, but they also do woods, hills, marsh and rough ground.
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paulr
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« Reply #5 on: 30 October 2018, 06:55:51 PM »

...
With regard to terrain, you don’t need square terrain. As long as it is clear that a box has terrain in or not, it doesn’t matter if things overlap a bit to the next box, or the terrain is only half the box. I’ll try to find some photos this evening.

Also if you have units in different places in the boxes it break up the straight lines as well.
...

I second all Fred has said above, I think the two points above are particularly relevant

For hills I use my normal ‘rounded’ hills under the base cloth, measure carefully so they will fit the grid when it is added. If you use the right size hill it is pretty clear which squares are up hill and which aren’t

Hedges are very good for marking boxes and look ‘natural’, I’m making some appropriate length hedges as part of my ECW project

Streams can generally follow the edges of the squares but again it is pretty obvious in practice which edge the stream is on
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Norm
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« Reply #6 on: 01 November 2018, 08:34:05 AM »

I should start by saying that I actually want to see the grid. mainly because many of the games I play have ranged fire and counting hexes / squares over distance is integral to virtually everything that is done, including line of sight. Even as an advocate of hexes, I will be the first to say that compared to an open table, grids are not pretty …. period! but those using them are striking a balance between that and functionality.

I find that once I am playing the grid becomes only subconsciously visible, rather than consciously visible, but I think that is just because I am used to it.

Perhaps the best way to help 'soften' the grid is to allow terrain to slightly flow over into a neighbouring cell, especially if the terrain is an irregular shape. The terrain is of course not influencing the cells it flows into, it is just an aesthetic.

Virtually everything laid to conform to a grid starts to reinforce the grid presence. Perhaps the worst offender for making square grids look like square grids is the use of multiple fields and hills that are each 2 squares wide, they can only be placed in two orientations and enough of them on the same table will reinforce the grid in an unnatural way. I suppose you could craft some curved kidney shaped hills with irregular edges that pass through 3 squares and the curve will make the one feature look like it is in 2 different orientations.

But whether squares or hexes, sometimes I think you just have to get over it, they are what they are and just enjoy the benefits that come from them. More true if you are going to worry about aesthetics and then start placing playing cards down all over the table! I know tokens are largely replacing them, but the point is worth mention.
« Last Edit: 01 November 2018, 08:40:13 AM by Norm » Logged

Leman
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« Reply #7 on: 01 November 2018, 11:40:45 AM »

I must admit that for Square Bashing I find the terrain fitting the grid works well in the context of that game’s mechanism.
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Westmarcher
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Sir Oik of Westmarch


« Reply #8 on: 01 November 2018, 01:23:22 PM »

Interesting to read the different ideas and perspectives. I’ve mentioned the “join the dots” approach - e.g., using small stones to make an “invisible grid.”  I’ve also considered the option of drawing a very faint “grid” in a slightly different shade of colour to that on the table mat.

Either way, it occurs to me that the grid does not have to be exactly square - indeed, virtually any quadrilateral (squares, parallelograms, rhomboids and trapezoids) would be fine provided each area is still able to accommodate the prescribed number of units per the Rules.

In fact, taking it all one step further, if you decide to draw a faint 'grid' pattern on the table mat, the sides don’t even have to be straight lines. So, ensuring that the edges of the ‘grid' were properly measured and marked out, you could draw it free hand so that each line slightly curves and bends (with the caveat, of course, that each area is still able to accommodate the prescribed number of units per the Rules).

[By the way, I assume that the normal convention for hills with grid based systems is that if any slope encroaches into a ’square,’ the whole ’square’ is usually assumed to be hilly or high ground? With the same going for a BUA?]

On the subject of the “join the dots in your head" approach, I also see Pendraken have some nice haystacks and wall and hedge corners you could use for ‘dots’ in addition to trees, bushes and small stones, etc.  Smiley
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Norm
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« Reply #9 on: 01 November 2018, 10:30:37 PM »


[By the way, I assume that the normal convention for hills with grid based systems is that if any slope encroaches into a ’square,’ the whole ’square’ is usually assumed to be hilly or high ground? With the same going for a BUA?]


No, I don’t think that is generally true. Many tactical games that are hex based have a dot in the very centre of the hex and the rule is that whatever terrain is under the dot (i.e. forms the center of the hex) dictates the whole terrain for that hex. So some spillage would be ignored.

Line of sight is often drawn from the centre of a cell to the centre of the target cell. What can change between systems is whether the line of sight should fall across the actual terrain silhouette to be blocked or is it just a case that if it passess through any part of say a forrest hex, the LOS is blocked, regardless of whether it actually passes through a tree or not

the latter is better because it means you could move trees around to accomodate the troops you have just put in there, without it mattering that the trees have moved i.e. it was a woods hex before, it is a wood hex now and it will always be a wood hex, regardless of where the trees are sittimg.

You can eye-ball these things and say ‘that is a woods hex’ or ‘that is a town hex’, the fact that it might spill over into another cell can be totally ignored - so if it spilled over into a cell that was obviously an open ground cell, then that cell would still be classed as open ground, because it is obviously open ground by any measure or consideration and the spillage is incidental.

Hedges and walls (usually called hexside terrain) can be put close to a cell side, so that it only protects / blocks from fire or movement that crosses that one particular side.
« Last Edit: 01 November 2018, 10:34:52 PM by Norm » Logged

fred.
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« Reply #10 on: 01 November 2018, 10:34:41 PM »

I agree with Norm. If terrain spills over a little, I would ignore it. The idea is that each box (or hex) is clear what terrain it contains, and the whole box is that type of terrain. So a small amount into an adjacent box would be ignored.
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paulr
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« Reply #11 on: 01 November 2018, 11:20:43 PM »

Agreed, this is the simplest approach and allows flexibility for aesthetics
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Westmarcher
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Sir Oik of Westmarch


« Reply #12 on: 01 November 2018, 11:25:33 PM »

Thanks for clarifying that situation. Poor wording on my part - I envisaged a significant encroachment and not just any. The 'dot in the centre' approach looks like a good rule of thumb.   Thumbs up
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