20 April 2011

GameTalk - Maps

Redmond Simonsen once said
The designer should never lose sight of the fact that most gamers are deeply influenced by the game map: a good map goes a long way towards creating a positive impression of the game. Since the map is the most constantly used component, it should be the most effective in doing its job of providing the basic environment for the game.

What do you like in a map? What do you dislike? What can't you live without? What will immediately make you hate it? Give some examples of game maps you like/dislike. And if you include a link to an image in your comments, we'll come back and edit this post to present a few of them.

By: Brant


Brian said...

I loved Simonsen's maps, once he found his stride. Even his experiments were interesting.

Everyone will mention the map for Sorceror, so I will do it first, and include a link:


I mean, as jumbled-looking as this is, it still has the important tables and player information well displayed.

I liked his muted colour palette, a good example from a disliked game (though not by me) is South Africa's:


The Kalahari Desert pops off the map, but it's important in game terms so it works.

His section of the SPI book "Wargame Design" on "image and System" is pure gold.

Every aspiring designer should read it again and again. I'll admit graphics are not the strong suit in my own designs, but I have had good help.

(ha- captcha word for this message is "presses"!)

Zachary said...

OK, here is my first take on this. I think I'll have more to add in a day or so.

I like maps that don't use hexes. (Don't misunderstand me, I don't dislike hexes, I just prefer games that don't use them.) My current favorite game that eschews the hex grid is Napoleon's Triumph by Bowen Simmons.

Nap's Triumph: http://www.simmonsgames.com/products/Austerlitz/Board.html

There is also Simmon's Bonaparte at Marengo:

I also like Eagles of the Empire: Preussisch-Eylau. (as well as Borodino and Friedland)


What can't I live without? A map key. Please include a map key.

OK, it's getting late, I'll try to contribute more in the morning.

Zachary said...

OK, a couple hours rest and I'm right as rain.

I tried to think about what qualities I don't like about maps and I could only think of two.

The first would be space on a map that is never used during play. No pieces enter the board from this region, nor is it ever likely a player would ever maneuver their forces in these areas. This seems to happen mainly in operational level games, but maybe someone has another example.

Small hex grids are my second dislike. I am not fond of 1/2" counters. I prefer 5/8" or possibly larger. I don't like small hex grids that force me to stack many counters on top of each other, making it very difficult to get at the pieces without disturbing other players stacks or my other units.

One game that get hex grid size right, in my opinion, is Streets of Stalingrad 3rd Ed.


Anonymous said...

What Zachary said.

Marc G said...


I don't care how realistic a map is; if the elements that are mechanically important are not easy to pick out from about 3 feet away, I get very annoyed (and my old eyes get very tired).

That being said, I like a bit of "flavor" on the maps to make it feel right.

I'll also concur that I don't like small counters anymore. I loved my old copy of OGRE and how portable it was, but moving those small counters around was always a bit of a pain.